Table of Contents
- Why are asbestos ceiling tiles dangerous?
- How do I know if I have asbestos ceiling tiles?
- What do asbestos ceiling tiles look like?
- What do I do if my home has asbestos ceiling tiles?
- Is asbestos removal covered by home insurance?
- How to protect your home
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Asbestos ceiling tiles are difficult to identify without an expert coming in and taking a sample. If your home was built before 1980, you will want to have a professional check your ceiling tiles for asbestos, as it can pose serious health risks.
Up to 10% of all homes in the United States are estimated to contain asbestos ceiling tiles. And if your home was built between 1920 to 1980—when asbestos was commonly used as a construction material—it could be one of them.
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Why are asbestos ceiling tiles dangerous?
Asbestos was a common construction material between 1920 and 1980. Asbestos ceiling tiles, also known as drop ceilings, acoustic ceilings, or suspended ceilings, were a popular choice for kitchens and basements because of their insulation and noise-reducing qualities.
Asbestos has since been proven to be carcinogenic and linked to serious lung conditions like mesothelioma. When asbestos fibers are released into the air and inhaled, they settle in your lungs.
Asbestos ceiling tiles are more tightly woven than other asbestos construction materials, meaning that it is less likely the asbestos fibers will be released and harm you. That said, they’re probably not something you’d be thrilled to find in your home.
How do I know if I have asbestos ceiling tiles?
The only way to be certain if you have asbestos ceiling tiles is through professional testing. An asbestos abatement specialist will take a sample of your ceiling tiles and send it off to a lab for testing. You can’t identify asbestos on sight or suspicion alone.
What do asbestos ceiling tiles look like?
Just because you need professional testing to confirm whether you have asbestos ceiling tiles doesn’t mean that there aren’t things to keep an eye out for—especially if you have an older home.
Asbestos ceiling tiles are often in 2x2’ or 2x4’ panels and are lighter in color. They have a crumbly, powdery appearance and often feature pinhole-like texturing.
Another way you can check if you have asbestos ceiling tiles is by checking the manufacturer and date. Asbestos had its heyday between 1920 and 1980. The following companies often used asbestos in their ceiling tile production:
- United States Gypsum
- National Gypsum
- Owens-Corning Fiberglass
- Flintkote Company
If one of these names is printed somewhere on your ceiling tiles and the dates line up, it may be time to call a professional.
What do I do if my home has asbestos ceiling tiles?
Yes, asbestos ceiling tiles are dangerous—but there’s no need to run for the hills. Asbestos is only dangerous when it is airborne.
So, if you suspect you have asbestos ceiling tiles, do not do any renovations. Any drilling or hammering into your ceiling tiles could release asbestos into the air and damage your lungs. Hanging up that new lighting fixture can wait!
You’ll need to call an asbestos abatement specialist to confirm the presence of asbestos in your home. If asbestos is confirmed, you can either encapsulate or remove the tiles.
Encapsulation seals the ceiling tiles with a special coating so no asbestos fibers can become airborne. This is a good solution only for the short term, as the encapsulation can wear off with time.
If the coating does wear off, you may not be able to move the asbestos ceiling tiles lest they release harmful fibers into the air.
Removing asbestos ceiling tiles is also an option—but do not attempt to do this yourself. Asbestos is dangerous to handle, so you’re better off leaving this in the hands of a professional.
Removal is the recommended method if your home is going to be renovated or remodeled, as the movement and vibrations of renovations could cause the asbestos to become airborne.
While this is a more permanent solution, removal will cost you a little more than encapsulation alone.
Is asbestos removal covered by home insurance?
Unfortunately, asbestos ceiling tile removal is not covered by standard home insurance policies. It may be covered if you’ve purchased additional pollution coverage for your home, but you will want to double-check your policy and confirm.
Otherwise, it looks like you’ll be paying out of pocket for any asbestos ceiling tile removal or encapsulation.
How to protect your home
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How much does it cost to remove asbestos ceiling tiles?
Removing asbestos ceiling tiles typically costs $5 to $15 per square foot. Encapsulation is around 20-25% cheaper.
Does home insurance cover asbestos removal?
No. Unless you’ve purchased additional pollution coverage, your homeowners insurance policy will not cover asbestos removal or encapsulation.