Asbestos seemed to have almost magical properties — highly durable, resistant to fire, corrosion, dust, and pests, as well as useful in soundproofing, it was also affordable. It’s no surprise that around half of all American homes contained asbestos at some point, then, but when it became apparent that this naturally-occurring compound also posed serious health risks, its use was gradually rolled back.
Starting from the 1970s, new asbestos ceiling materials were no longer being manufactured. Pre-existing ceiling materials were installed throughout the 1980s and even into the early ‘90s, however. While older popcorn ceilings are the most likely to contain asbestos, some ceiling tiles have asbestos in them, too.
If you have recently bought a new home, and it hasn’t been refurbished in decades, chances are that you could have an asbestos ceiling. That poses a huge problem, especially because popcorn ceilings have well and truly gone out of style — so you’re probably going to want to have it replaced with a more modern-looking ceiling.
That’s precisely when asbestos is most dangerous, since asbestos dust “escapes” when the material is interfered with. How can you determine whether your ceiling contains asbestos with certainty?
Calling in a Professional Asbestos-Testing Company
Your first option would be to make an appointment with a local asbestos-testing company. They will send trained workers to your home to collect samples in a safe manner, after which the sample can be tested in a lab. Once the test results come in, the company will let you know whether your ceiling contains asbestos.
By allowing the professionals to take care of the testing process, you can take comfort in the fact that you and everyone else in the household remains safe, and asbestos dust won’t be flying around your living room. That’s precisely why the Environmental Protection Agency recommends that asbestos samples be taken by accredited asbestos professionals. This is also, however, the more expensive option.
Using a DIY Asbestos Testing Kit
Homeowners who are looking for the most affordable way to find out if their popcorn ceiling contains asbestos will likely consider DIY asbestos test kits. These are not approved in all states for safety reasons — taking a sample requires disturbing the asbestos, which itself poses a serious risk.
To use an asbestos testing kit, you have to take a sample from the ceiling while following the instructions very precisely and wearing personal protective equipment that includes a disposable N95 respirator, coveralls, and disposable gloves. Once you have the sample, you send it to a lab and once again wait for results.
In addition to the fact that using an asbestos self-testing kit places you and your family in harm’s way, unskilled people may also take the sample incorrectly — potentially leading to inaccurate results, or to be precise, false negatives.
What Is the Best Way to Find Out if Your Popcorn Ceiling Contains Asbestos?
People who are considering using a do-it-yourself testing kit for asbestos should consider that the use of asbestos building materials is banned because of the danger asbestos dust poses when the material is disturbed. Asbestos ceilings can potentially remain in place for decades without any danger, so long as they are in excellent condition. They become a health hazard when interfered with.
For this reason, the EPA strongly advises you to leave undamaged asbestos alone, and to avoid damaging it — something the use of a test kit could do. Instead, call a certified asbestos professional to have the ceiling tested, and should it turn out that there is indeed asbestos in your ceiling, have it removed safely by a certified contractor like Zona Restoration.