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Thread: removing asbestos-covered pipes

  1. #1

    Default removing asbestos-covered pipes

    Hello!

    I have a 75-year-old house that was converted from hot water radiation to electric baseboards some twenty years ago (before I owned the place.) The move was done to take advantage of the extremely low electric rates (they're still low), but the hot water pipes weren't removed. I am now planning to finish the basement, but there are several places where the pipes steal an extra foot of ceiling height in what is already a mere 7ft ceiling.

    I know about the rules of asbestos abatement (a job for pros only, hasmat suits, the works). What I'm considering is leaving the asbestos on (not disturbing it and not making it airborne) and just cutting the pipes (with a chain cutter, perhaps?) and carefully removing the lengths.

    Why? Because just removing the asbestos (not the pipes) would cost $1600 for our small basement and wouldn't solve the problem at hand. And the two quotes I got from plumbers were...chokers.

    Anybody have any advice?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    I suspect that just touching the pipes...i.e. removing them...invokes asbestos abatement. Leaving the wrap on is probably less hazardous, but what do you do with the whole pipe?

  3. #3

    Default Asbestos

    Not sure where/how to dispose of it. I figured I'd cross that bridge when the pipes are out.

    For what it's worth, I have a friend who is a chemical engineer who says that asbestos, while no picnic, isn't nearly as potent a hazard as they say. In her words, "you really have to have worked in an asbestos mine and have been a serious smoker to get asbestosis." Or something that.

    If/when I do attempt this (and I really think I can) I will wear the full-body gear and a respirator, not just a N95 dust mask. Even then I don't expect to do more than shift the asbestos an inch or two to expose bare pipe, cut it, then carefully carry it outside and, depending on the length, enclose it and seal it within a contractor trash bag.

    IOW, I'm not going to be cavalier about it. I just don't think I should be doomed to live with this stuff until I can afford several thousand dollars to pay someone to do what I think I could do with a little care and patience.

  4. #4
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer jadnashua's Avatar
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    If you could cut the pipe without compromising the covering, say at a joint or a valve, then carry the stuff outside, you shouldn't release much. You'd want to do a couple things first: cover the walls and floor with some plastic sheeting, spray the pipe covering with a mist of water to dampen it first so any vibration or motion wouldn't dislodge any. In most places, if the asbestos is wrapped properly, it can be disposed of without further problems. Check with your local people.

    You'd want proper protection while doing this and cover the path out of the house so you don't trail and spread it throughout.

    The fibers will only go airborne if they are dry, so water is your ally.

    Proceed at your own risk.
    Jim DeBruycker
    Important note - I'm not a pro
    Retired Defense Industry Engineer; Schluter 2.5-day Workshop Completed 2013, 2014

  5. #5
    Radon Contractor and Water Treatment 99k's Avatar
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    The fibers will only go airborne if they are dry, so water is your ally.
    NO! The force of the mist will release fibers. This is NOT a DIYer job ... get a pro and spend the money. Where do you propose to throw this pipe?

  6. #6
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    If you do it your self you need to coat all the asbestos with Future Floor Wax first while it is in place, 2 coats. That will encapsulate it.

    Then you can cut at non asbestos points. Bag it, then it must be disposed of at a place that accepts asbestos.

    Good luck trying to find one.

  7. #7
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    Asbestos can only become airborn if it is friable.

    I would use a brush and apply it slowly.

  8. #8
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    FYI...after applying the Future Floor Wax it only needs to be removed if there is a reason...it can stay encapsulated in place for as long as you like.

  9. #9

    Smile Many thanks to all!

    Except for the advice that has been superseded, I will do everything that's been suggested here.

    Some notes:

    1) There are several sections of the pipe that have been painted already (though not by me). The stuff is silver and almost reflective.

    2) There are several gaps where, for a couple of inches, there is no asbsestos at all. That's good. I'll cut there.

    3) The path to outside is up a short flight of stairs to a landing and the basement door. After that it's the backyard.

    To 99K:

    As I said, I know that this is not supposed to be a DIY job. But the abatement guys won't remove the pipe, and the plumbing guys, who don't have the training/expertise for abatement (just like me!), want an arm and a leg. "Get a pro and spend the money" really isn't an option. This project is the first step in a basement reno. If I went pro, the reno wouldn't get past the studs until after next year's check from Uncle Sam.

    I'm gonna be troll for a little more free advice (hopefully it will be as good as what I got here), then I'll tackle this as safely as I can. Calls will be made to find out who would like to take this treasure off my hands.

    Thanks again, everyone!

  10. #10
    Radon Contractor and Water Treatment 99k's Avatar
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    As I said, I know that this is not supposed to be a DIY job. But the abatement guys won't remove the pipe, and the plumbing guys, who don't have the training/expertise for abatement (just like me!), want an arm and a leg. "Get a pro and spend the money" really isn't an option. This project is the first step in a basement reno. If I went pro, the reno wouldn't get past the studs until after next year's check from Uncle Sam.
    You obviously need to have the asbestos removed first and then have the plumbing modified second. This is a two step process. Then do the remodel ...

  11. #11

    Default Thanks again!

    99K,

    Will you send me a check in the mail or just Paypal me?



    Actually, maybe I'll just dip into my 401k a little bit. I'll look at my most recent statement now.

    [sound of ruffling papers]

    Nevermind.

  12. #12
    In the Trades Gary Swart's Avatar
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    The problem you are facing is really no different that many schools faced when this asbestos problem first came up. It is a very expensive, time consuming job that is to be done by professionals. This of course means it is very expensive. While asbestos wasn't just in schools, I use them as an example because they too really could not afford the expense. Unlike Joe Homeowner, they could put the job off. It had to be done, and they had to find the means to pay for it. I fear that even if you go ahead and remove your asbestos, you will have a very difficult time find a legal way to dispose of it. I really think you need to have this professionally handled.

  13. #13
    Plumber Cass's Avatar
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    While the silver color is most likely paint I would use the Future Floor Wax on it also.

    If there are any gaps between the asbestos layers or on the pipe ends where the asbestos stops I would caulk the gaps closed before using the Wax. Be sure the caulk is in the gap well and allow it to cure 24-48 Hrs before applying the Future Floor Wax.

    Don't use any other Brand of floor wax.

    I would also coat all the pipe not just the asbestos covered so if there are any fibers sitting on them now they will become encapsulated also.

    I agree this should be done by a professional but it doesn't sound like you are going to take that path.

    Normally after removal of the asbestos every thing is air tested and fiber counts are taken until the counts reach the acceptable level.

    If there is a floor drain it might be a good idea to wash the area down after to remove fibers that are there now.

    If the wax is applied right and only non asbestos points on the pipe are cut it will be fairly safe but professional removal would be best.

    When cutting snap cutters would be good for cast iron and a fine tooth saw on other pipes to lessen pipe vibration.

    The very worse thing you could do is cut on the asbestos...this will cause the asbestos to become airborne.


    .
    Last edited by Cass; 10-09-2008 at 05:04 AM.

  14. #14

    Default

    Here is a very good site:
    http://www.fiberquant.com/asbestos.htm

    After we bought our house here, I was outback digging for a garden and what do you think I found buried?

    a) A dead body
    b) asbesto
    c) a horse

    Actually I found B and C.
    Last edited by Cookie; 10-09-2008 at 05:11 AM.

  15. #15
    Plumber jimbo's Avatar
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    Here's a problem....you take out the pipes into the back yard. Then you call to find where to dump the pipes. Now you are on record, and some guys in black suits show up and want to know how the pipes got into the back yard. Next thing you know, not only your house, but also the yard, have beed declared superfund sites.

    BUT, check into another possibility. I have had inspectors allow old transite flue pipe ( cement/asbestos) to be "abandoned in place". That is it was taken off the furnace and left laying on the rafters in the attic.

    I would discretely ask around your inspector's office to see if your old pipes with the asbestos intact and treated as described, could be left in your attic, in the garage rafters, in the basement....something.

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