Yesterday I came across a dorm older 1950’s room with a pipe with insulation around it. Due to the look of it, I suggested the owners of the apartment get an asbestos inspection done. However, I was wondering if any of you have any idea if the insulation in question does indeed contain asbestos or if there was any cause for major concern at this point. I have attached photos and it appears that there are cracks from where the pipe meets the wall and the material does indeed seem to look like asbestos. Could there be any other material that could account for how the fibrous material looks? Thanks ahead of time for your response.
Asbestos fibers are invisible to the naked eye, hence the need for lab testing to actually determine if a material does indeed contain asbestos. There are many other fibrous products used in wrapping pipe etc such as fiberglass, cotton and spun nylons. Asbestos was often mixed into mortar like products and spread on and into woven material as well.
Most older pipe with asbestos wrap was on steam boiler systems that generated heat in excess of 400 F in the pipe thus the asbestos war not to insulate against loss but to prevent transfer to combustibles. Every one I have seen has long since been converted to a hot water boiler which runs typically at about 185 to 190 and thus no need for any insulation as heat loss from pipe contributes to local heating.
Removal and disposal ( Pretty costly) would have to be done by a qualified contractor in the removal of asbestos not Billy Bob contractor , so risk should not be there ( if they are qualified ) more risk leaving it unsealed . I had equipment covered in this , we removed it back in the 80’s and 90’s . rooms had to sealed totally and sanitized after . Still lots of it still around . and laboratory test is the only way to confirm or deny it’s present . A system that old likely so. Not our job to decide the cost of the repair just to identify it as a possible issue .
The heating system hot water pipes are insulated with a potential ACM (Asbestos Containing Material) and laboratory testing is the only method available to confirm any presence of ACM. The majority (95%) of the hot water pipe insulation Encapsulation system is intact and there is no visible evidence of a friable condition in the deteriorated (5%). If this hot water pipe system is still in use, and seeing as these hot water pipes traverse from the floor up to the upper wall area, and is possibly in an area that small children may occupy (potential burn hazard), it is strongly recommended that the deteriorated Encapsulation be immediately repaired or replaced by a qualified contractor and then maintained in the future. If the system is no longer in use, a licensed and qualified professional should be consulted for testing and removal options.
OP says it’s a dorm, later an apartment.
If this was an inspection a much higher than home inspection standard applies here, or would where I am. AHJ apartment building requirements are much stiffer, building owners are held more legally responsible for building condition and occupant safety than homeowners typically are. Liability potentially much greater as well.
So recommendation has to be to consult AHJ and insurance requirements for owners of apartments and or student dorms re IAQ.
Need to get the entire building tested for asbestos concentrations in the air should the lagging on the pipes in the picture contain asbestos (10:1 for).