Asbestos ducts... Realtor accused me of trying to kill her deal...

Hey Guys…
Came across some abestos ducts the other day in a home built in 1970… ducts were white and obviously original, and yes, I know that it has to “tested” to be confirmed… but I stated that in my report if tested and confirmed, they should be removed and upgraded with a modern duct system.

The Realtor called me up… “Are you trying to Kill my deal” - I told her that I am in the business of FULL DISCLOSURE, and it is my opinion regarding the duct replacement… I have NEVER killed any deal! Buyers and Sellers do that!

Anyways, I just wanted to see what you guys do when you come across asbestos… Keith Swift gave me a wake up call on one of his stories, that there was a 100k lawsuit just for a “transite” pipe! not even a duct system…so after reading his story, I have taken the approach to recommend “FULL” replacement whenever I come across suspected asbestos… (I need to learn how to spell it still) Anyways… even the transite pipes in the home were white… and I am sure had asbestos…

Let me know what ya think,

I would of done the same thing Justin…frigging realtors…:twisted:

Barry Stone:
Ask the Inspector
Asbestos may be lurking in the air ducts of that old furnace

If it’s undamaged and not exposed to routine contact, there is no hazard. Otherwise, it’s best to call a contractor.
June 25, 2006

**Question: **A gas company serviceman said my furnace’s air ducts are made of asbestos. The house was built in the 1960s, and I’m afraid the old ducts may now be in violation of the building code. Am I required to have them replaced? Are they hazardous to the health of my family?

**Answer: **There are no laws or building codes that require homeowners remove asbestos-containing materials from their homes. As for the health risks to your family, that depends on the type, location and condition of the material.

From the mid-1950s through the early 1970s, sheet-metal air ducts for forced-air heating systems were commonly insulated with — or wholly constructed from — a cardboard-like material that contained asbestos fibers. In some cases, close examination is necessary to determine whether these old ducts are made of asbestos or merely insulated with it.

The material itself is not regarded as a significant health hazard if it is undamaged, securely attached and not exposed to routine contact. In such cases, the accepted advice is simply to leave it alone.

When metal ducts are wrapped with asbestos insulation, the asbestos-containing material is on the outer surfaces, not exposed to the air stream within the ducts, providing little or no opportunity for contamination of the circulating air. If the material is intact, it should be left as is. If it becomes loose, detached or physically damaged, patching or removal should be assigned to a licensed asbestos contractor.

Ducts that consist of asbestos material are not common, but they do exist. The interior surfaces of these ducts are covered with metal foil, preventing direct contact of the air stream with the asbestos material. However, if the ducts become punctured or torn, asbestos fibers can be released into the air. In that case, repair or removal by a licensed asbestos contractor would be advisable.

The position of the real estate agent, although understandable, is totally irrelevent in this case (or any case, actually). If accurate reporting kills a deal, so what?

Just be extremely careful not to identify a material as being asbestos prior to having it tested and I would add that remediation should be left to the experts. Recommendations as to what corrective action would be appropriate prior to identifying the substance could be premature.

“The age and appearance of the duct work is consistent with what could possibly be asbestos and should be tested by a professional in that area and, if tested positive for asbestos or other harmful material, further consultation will be required to select the best method for remediating it.”

I would totally agree its not what you say but rather how you say it. Big difference in informing a client and scareing them half to death before the facts.

Thanks guys!
Yes, I could never be a realtor, this lady was a true shark… She was upset, because she wants to cash in a 6 % representing buyer and seller! So I got her nerves all twisted…

Anyways, thanks for the information… I have read similar literature on the topic. And although the Govt. says leave asbestos alone and leave it undistubed… HOW DOES ONE KNOW THAT IT IS NOT DAMAGED INSIDE THE DUCT, so like you said, refer to a specialist, do not endorse it, and if tested positve, aim to replace it… common sense to me!

You will like this… I also told the realtor, “How would you like to buy that house and not know if the ducts were harmful?” And breathe in asbestos and develop cancer???

There really are some “bad” realtors out there… sharks, i tell ya!

Oh by the way… one more bit. I called the BUYERS who were an elderly couple, very sweet good people… that there REALTOR called me and snapped me for my report regarding the asbestos…

They were very happy that I called them! And I told the buyers I represented them, and the realtor’s financial interests have no effect on me or my reports…

They chuckled… and I wish I could hear that phone call between the buyer and realtor! ha!


I am a very strong believer in protecting my clients.

There are two ways to make a statement.


There appears to be a problem in the kitchen would everyone please exit by the front door in an orderly and timely fashion.

Everyone is protected and happy and you are still on the sharks list as a preferred home inspector.

Simple Beans or Steak.

Sometimes one has to educate the Realtors that their Clients might not need (or want) the house currently under consideration, but they still need (or want) a house, just not that one. So there is no killed deal, just some new cards on the table.

You as alway are absolutely correct but would it not also be very nice to have been the one to inspect both homes by simply presenting the facts in a different manner.

Beans or steak


I never recommend removing things that might have asbestos, or even do have asbestos, unless they are damaged, in a bad location, etc. And I probably never will. I do, however, provide lots of information about asbestos.

I state “asbestos like material, confirm with laboratory testing”.
I also state verbally that because the house is X years old, the chance are that it likely is Asbestos. If it is in good shape it is sometimes better to leave alone or encapsulate especially if very small quantities.

And what does laboratory testing do other than spend money?

If one goes under the presumption that something does contain asbestos, then take appropriate precautions. No need to spend money to find out if it does or does not contain asbestos.

I do that with most things in my life. If it looks dangerous in some form or fashion, or I think it might be dangerous in some form or fashion, I take appropriate precautions, all the while never having to spend money on something that really doesn’t help me address the issue any better.

The only thing I would have done differently is not recommend removal and replacement. Leaving the asbestos in place and encapsulating it is way better than demolition.
Quote from EPA website on asbestos:

What Should Be Done About Asbestos In The Home?

If you think asbestos may be in your home, don’t panic! Usually the best thing is to LEAVE asbestos material that is in good condition ALONE.
Generally, material in good condition will not release asbestos fibers. THERE IS NO DANGER unless fibers are released and inhaled into the lungs.
Check material regularly if you suspect it may contain asbestos. Don’t touch it, but look for signs of wear or damage such as tears, abrasions, or water damage. Damaged material may release asbestos fibers. This is particularly true if you often disturb it by hitting, rubbing, or handling it, or if it is exposed to extreme vibration or air flow.
Sometimes, the best way to deal with slightly damaged material is to limit access to the area and not touch or disturb it. Discard damaged or worn asbestos gloves, stove-top pads, or ironing board covers. Check with local health, environmental, or other appropriate officials to find out proper handling and disposal procedures. If asbestos material is more than slightly damaged, or if you are going to make changes in your home that might disturb it, repair or removal by a professional is needed. Before you have your house remodeled, find out whether asbestos materials are present.

So regardless Justin you did do what your buyers expect of you, and that is to inform them of any problems, and concerns. Maybe recommending replacement is overboard, but it puts the problem on the table for them to research and decide for themselves how they are going to deal with it. If they want it tested, they have an opportunity. Some people would prefer to remove it, and they have a chance to do that. They may say this is not the house for them, and the agent should understand, and be happy to help them find another home.

My opinion is you performed the task that you were hired to do. The real estate agent clearly is not acting in the best interest of her clients when she is accusing you of “killing the deal”.
…By the way full time agents that sell more than a few houses per year don’t usually use the phrase “deal killer”. In my own experience that is a term used by the part time agents, maybe a stay at home mom, that sell two or three houses as year. When the deal flips, they loose their “mad money”…makes them a little viscious :slight_smile:

Guys I was trying to steer this thread into good report writing rather than weather asbestos was or was not reported and I did not make it. I almost set a world record RR answered my question with just one word (yes) then he blew it he added another paragraph.:wink:

My point is we as home inspectors walk a very narrow bridge between our business of reporting what we observe and the real Estate agents perception of what we observe its all about good report writing and if we fall from that narrow bridge we better know how to swim.

RR one of these days time permitting I am going to post one of my full Summary pages that is included in my computer generated report as I highly value your expertise in this field and will give you and anyone else the chance to whack at me. My manhood are the size of grapefruit:)


Darn margaritas :margarit: .

Or have Ms Margarita and Dr Cuervo standing by to rescue me?

Or having our ankles and waist attached to a bungee cord when we fall?

Just thinkout aloud. :cool:

In other words KISS. Clients some not all want to know if it is asbestos. I think they want to know so they can have purchase price adjusted or try to at least.

No Mr Wand kiss was your words not mine. I don’t think you read all of my post or at least understood.

Yes I do kiss a realtor most every morning have been married to one for the past 38 years.

Last time I kissed a reatlor they changed into a frog!

thanks for the insight, I agree… and yes, The agent(s) was a mother and son team?! I hate getting nasty callbacks from realtors, doesn’t happen very often but when it does they are nasty… the last call back I received about 1 year ago, was even worse…

Why did you recommend the bathroom, kitchen outlets to be GFCI PROTECTED??? The agent flipped out… now that’s even worse than asbestos beefs! I couldn’t believe that one… I am sure it will not be the last. And I throw safety hazards back in there face, and tell them how would they feel if the new buyers were electrocuted on accident??! it always makes them pause… on the phone.