We purchased a house built in the 60's about a month ago. Had a general inspection done prior to going to contract and was told that there were no red flags seen regarding Asbestos.

  • Insulation: Layer of Balsam Wool with Blown in Cellulose
  • Walls: Sheetrock
  • Floors: Oak
  • Siding: Vinyl
  • Roof: Asphalt
  • Ceiling is flat sheetrock
  • Plumbing is Copper or Pex
  • HVAC is updated

We had some electrical work done to add high hats, outlets and switches replaced etc. Few older windows replaced and was waiting to paint. We did a thorough cleaning and moved our stuff in so we could be settled for Christmas.

Everything was great until we decided to run an air test in the house after the mess of Cellulose falling from the high hats. The inspector took a few other wall samples around the house while they were exposed.

The two PCM Air Samples taken came back at <.003 fibers per cubic cm and .005 cubic cm. Sheetrock came back clear but of the samples of Spackle one was 3% and 2 others 1.5%. which was devastating to hear. Neither of us have heard of Spackle containing Asbestos before researching more about it online.

We have two small children and my wife is destroyed to hear that our dream house has become a nightmare. She is staying at her parents with the kids until we figure out what we're going to do. I realize the air samples are well below what is considered safe but even the slight presence and knowing that the spackle contains Asbestos is a big problem.

I just want to clear the house out, and have the walls and ceilings abated professionally down to the studs. My wife seems to think that could make things worse by releasing additional fibers. Air samples only need to come back at .01 fiber/cm3 to deem the house safe. The abatement company could just do all the work and say well this is what we guarantee.

At the same time I wouldn't mind fixing a few issues with pillowing ceilings and under insulated walls. Redo the Master Bath and update the built ins.

I'm afraid that if we leave it - regardless of it being undisturbed or not, we'll always know it's there and every time we go to hang a picture or put a shelf up etc it'll be like a bad penny. We plan on living at this house for a long time.

I need some guidance and direction! Thank You.

  • 2
    My dad ran a small construction company I grew up doing demos on everything from Victorians to 60' s era homes even putting in popcorn ceilings (one of the worst asbestos products) back then we never used any kind of masks although my dad died many years ago neither myself or my brother have had any issues, yes asbestos can cause serious problems but I think some of the hysteria about it is over blown. I currently live in a 1930 house and have no concerns about my family having problems with asbestos or lead when I remodel rooms. I do take precautions but stress over this I think is far worse.
    – Ed Beal
    Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 9:04
  • 1
    It appears based on recent findings, that different types or mines of asbestos differ in health effects. Some, quite bad. Some, not so much.
    – Bryce
    Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 9:56
  • 2
    fwiw, asbestos is way over-hyped as a consumer hazard. You need heavy long-term exposure to develop meso. Nail holes and even a few sporadic weekend projects are not nearly enough to develop a serious problem. the ones who got meso were miners and office workers under poorly-made ceiling tiles that rained down dust with every vibration...
    – dandavis
    Commented Jan 3, 2018 at 16:28

2 Answers 2


There are lots of different kinds of asbestos and it’s in all kinds of building products. You’re right to be careful.

We’ve had our remodeling projects tested for many years (30+) and a testing agency just found it in the window glazing compound..the stuff that holds the glass tight to the wood window frame. That’s a new one for me.

I guess my point is you probably can’t remove it all...in fact there’s probably some in your in-laws house...they just don’t know it.

The good news: I didn’t see “chrysotile” listed in your report. I’d get a copy of the original report and have the testing agency explain the different types. Some kinds of asbestos you should worry about and some don’t matter. Spend some time with them until you understand the EXTENT of the area involved (I doubt if it’s the whole house.) We often re-test once we find some “borderline limits” or if we suspect a past remodel project that could limit the extents.

OSHA requires the construction work site to be free of asbestos if it’s disturbed. We have it tested, removed and then we have the air tested to make sure it’s a safe “work environment “ for the workers. Depending on what you’re doing (remodeling), I’d do the same.

However, it has to be above a certain level before it matters. Yes, you can have asbestos (or mold) in your house, but it won’t affect you or your children until it gets above a certain level.

Hanging a picture or two won’t be enough to cause a problem, but tearing out cabinets, could disturb enough that you may want that area abated.


Since this is a DIY site, Here's an article from Australia on DIY exposure to Asbestos: http://theconversation.com/diy-renovators-now-most-at-risk-of-asbestos-cancers-3206

A study published in the Medical Journal of Australia says the increase in the number of malignant mesothelioma cases in Western Australia over the past decade is the result of home renovation and do-it-yourself (DIY) projects involving building products containing asbestos. (Author Bill Musk).

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