Animal, Vegetable or Mineral Home Inspector Discusses

Asbestos on remnant ductworkAs a home inspector that services a large portion of the eastern Iowa area, I get to see a wide variety of homes.

Many of  the older homes in Iowa that originally had gravity fed furnaces have modernized and updated to the higher efficiency forced air furnaces.

When the HVAC contractor updates the system, they often leave the original registers in place and tie in to them with the new ductwork.

This is not a problem so much from a performance standpoint, but, from a home inspection standpoint it leaves something behind that needs to be discussed. Asbestos!

Asbestos is typically referred to in two ways. Friable and non-Friable. Friability refers to the ability of the substance to be reduced into small particles with relative ease. The asbestos that is seen on the duct work of these older furnaces should be classified as friable and should not be disturbed.

Most gravity fed furnace duct work was wrapped in asbestos to insulate the ducts and keep heat flowing to where it should be going. When the original registers remain, I often see that the asbestos wrap remains as well which needs to be pointed out to the client.

There are several ways to contend with this. A good HVAC contractor, or a contractor that performs asbestos mitigation will be happy to help. Or, just ask your home inspector. I have seen asbestos taped over, removed, and even painted to encapsulate it. Once encapsulated it is no longer deemed friable. One thing for sure is that it should be pointed out and discussed on the report. If you’re a Realtor you should suggest home inspectors with experience in construction. If you’re an inexperienced inspector, you should hang out with someone out of your area that is experienced and learn everything you can because if your missing these things your clients are losing out and we don’t want that.

Remember, It’s all about the client!!!