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This question is around the rules, regulations and safety of removing an asbestos pipe in the UK. I'm trying to get a contractor to remove, what I believe to be (and has been confirmed) an asbestos pipe from the side of the house. The pipe is a flue pipe for an old boiler (long since disconnected).

My question is around the regulations surrounding this: what should I expect the contractor to do as a precaution, will the house need to be vacated while the job is in progress; and, given that this pipe has been there for many years, would it actually be safer to leave it as is?

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In the U.S., regulations allow a residential home owner to remove a certain amount of asbestos without training or license, (i.e.: 9 square feet of asbestos floor tile per day, etc.) However, disposal is highly regulated, both in proper container and location. You’ll need to check with your local governing agency for specifics.

If you hire the abatement to be completed, be sure they are licensed and have insurance for such work. (They could contaminate your neighbors property and you could be held liable.)

Licensed contractors will seal the area off from the rest of the house AND provide a fan or two to provide a “positive air pressure” in the rest of the house so asbestos air particles will not contaminate the rest of the house.

When we hire a company, we require a statement from them that they got it all.

If the pipe is located in a remote location and it’s likely that it will not be disturbed, I’d leave it alone.

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  • Applying a fresh coat of paint to the outside of the pipe every time the house is painted (assuming it's painted) will help keep the asbestos contained. It's only the free particles/fibers floating in the air that then get inhaled that are the hazard. Sealed and contained under paint/tar/whatever they are no danger at all. – FreeMan Oct 1 at 16:59
  • If it's an unpainted house (brick, etc), just paint the pipe every few years. Leave an unpainted warning in a non-visible location (to general sight, not to someone working up close) warning future workers that it's asbestos and should not be scraped without appropriate precautions. – FreeMan Oct 1 at 17:02
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Any dealings the company I worked for had with asbestos they contacted an abatement company to do the work. The company would come into the building and encapsulate the area, don special suits with breathing masks, remove and package the asbestos and put it into sealed containers and dispose of it. The size of the job determined the necessary steps needed to do the job successfully. I never saw an invoice for the work since that was not my job. You could work outside of the containment area but not enter that area. In your case what you can and can not do will be up to the company removing the asbestos. If the job was small enough a company would bring in a "bag" as they called it and remove the asbestos using that bag assembly. The above description was how it was done 12+ years ago but I doubt that much has changed since then.

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