Asbestos or not? That is the question.

I inspected a home today built in the 1940s. It had a wrap around the ducts and I’m fairly confident that it is asbestos. But I would love for a second opinion on it. I just thought asbestos was a darker grey color. (see image)

Man that’s not much to go on but it looks like it (especially 1940s). If you are fairly confident, I would report it.

May or may not be asbestos, can only be confirmed with a sample test.


If I see what I think is asbestos I report “an asbestos like substance was present and further evaluation is recommended”.

If you do not know how to deal with this situation, how come you are inspecting? This is a no brainer; have it professionally tested.

Hard to tell from your pic. Being the age, probably. I never state that it *is for sure *asbestos. I include something like this;

[size=2]Safety:[/size] A material suspected to contain asbestos fibers has been used to insulate the (*****). Asbestos containing materials (ACM) are considered hazardous when they are friable. Friable simply means that the material is fragile and can release asbestos fibers into the air. Asbestos is extremely common in the air and soil around us, and has been used for decades in approximately 3,000 commonly found household products or building materials. How much danger this may pose to the client is unknown. If this is a concern, I recommend having the air in the home sampled by a licensed/certified asbestos remediation specialist, who can best determine whether any friable particulates are present and whether there is a need to encapsulate this material or remove it altogether.

This is a forum to ask questions and to be helpful to other inspectors…thats a no brainer.

Does it smell like asbestos???

More asbestos products to think about !!!

Just state suspected, Only testing can tell for sure.
we grew up with this stuff in Play clay. tiles, wall coverings, duct tape. we hhavvvvvve nooooooooooo ill effects , sorry i was coughing.
Good question, though if not sure ask a questions and do not worry.

Thanks, guys, for weighing in on this one. There are no certified asbestos inspectors within 100 kilometers of here and no accredited labs in the province. The lab I use is closed for the holidays until next Monday. I understand the whole “when in doubt, defer it out” motto of home inspectors (Gary, you’re a peach) but since there is no one else they could talk to, it would just lead my clients to a dead end. I have seen a number of homes which have asbestos insulation in the attic but none which have it wrapped around their ducts. The closing date for my clients on this home is Thursday and the presence or lack of asbestos is crucial in their decision-making, so I thought this might be the fastest way to get them some better information than I can provide. Vaughn, after the smell test my results were inconclusive, so I tasted it and I thought I got a bit of the asbestos flavor out of it. :wink:


See (read) post 6 above.

In clear language, asbestos is not a serious health risk in a home unless the material is damaged and fibers are friable (Air borne)

The serious helath risks come from working in a factory that produces asbestsos products over an extended period of time.

The paper wrap over ducts in walls will not be a hazard, however if the ducts are exposed and the wrap is damaged there might be an issue over an extended period. It could be easily removed or wrapped with something else to encapsulate it.

There was an article in the Toronto Star this weekend regarding asbestos mining in Quebec. The dangers are explained. I’m sure it is avaliable on-line.

I’ll see if I can find a link to it and post later

Hope this helps


How did you get those samples? Was the material damaged? Did you wet the material to reduce airborne emissions before collecting the sample? Did you repair the area where you collected the sample? Did you contaminate the room/home by not following proper procedures when collecting the sample? I hope the picture you submitted is not an actual sample you collected from your inspection.


Go to the star website and type in asbestos in the search box at the top right.

I don’t know how to post the link to the article.

Always report the presence of anything you think might be a health hazard and suggest further testing.


Inform the buyer. Let them decide whether or not to have it tested. You now have disturbed it, and have opened yourself up to…

It may or may not be. Only a certified testing lab can know for sure, and may take weeks to get the results. Lots of info on google. Inform. Sleep tonight. Our job is to inform. When questions arise, their agent may have to be involved to extend the contingency period. It is up to the buyers; not you.


That is a great web site. Thanks

I appreciate the concern. I took all the precautionary measures I could in the situation. As soon as I discovered the possible asbestos I had the clients leave the area and I followed them. The area in which the pipes were located were not really in a liveable space. It was technically a basement but it was severely wet with high humidity (there were puddles all over the floor and evidence of water pouring down the walls). I never went down there again. I was told that nobody ever goes down in this basement because it is in such poor condition. There is NOTHING down there except some of the “guts” of the home. The safety of the person living in the home is my biggest concern at this point in case he ever decides to go there for whatever reason. I’m still working on getting the situation worked out.