How to remove asbestos
5 minute read
Removing asbestos isn’t usually a small or easy job. In fact it’s so dangerous that homeowners should stay away from this task altogether and call in a professional to do it on your behalf.
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In a previous guide, we talked about how to identify asbestos in your home. So, if you think you have it, the next question is how can you get rid of it? Below, we reveal everything you need to know about getting rid of asbestos safely, as well as how much it could cost to have it removed.
Who can remove asbestos?
If you think you’ve uncovered asbestos, you should stop what you’re doing immediately and visit the government website. Here, you can enter your postcode and be redirected to your local council. The council will likely inspect the property to confirm whether the material is asbestos or not and, if it is, will arrange for professional removal.
Due to the danger associated with this material, only a licenced asbestos contractor can work with asbestos. This doesn’t just include the removal of it, but also handling and cleaning too.
Only trained professionals that hold a BOHS (British Occupational Health Society) P402 Standard certificate, are HSE (Health & Safety Executive) licensed and have a Hazardous Waste Carriers Licence to transport the asbestos once they remove it, should remove asbestos.
It’s an offence to remove asbestos if you’re not a contractor and licensors must comply with the Control of Asbestos Regulations 2006.
How to get rid of asbestos
Asbestos can be a tricky material to get rid of. This is because, when the material is whole and undamaged, it doesn’t pose much of a threat, but when it is broken, you’re at risk of breathing in its fibres. For this reason, it may be better to leave it where it is in some instances. For example, asbestos floor tiles that are in good condition and undamaged could be left where they are and a new floor installed over the top. This is what's called 'asbestos encapsulation'.
Where asbestos has to be removed, there is a strict process to follow.
When you hire professionals to remove asbestos, they will likely arrive at your home dressed in personal protective equipment (PPE). This could include disposable overalls that have a hood, boots with no laces (laces can be hard to decontaminate, so licensors generally won’t wear them) and respiratory protection.
Prior to removal, they will aim to protect any non-asbestos surfaces from contamination by wrapping them in 500-gauge polythene sheets that are fixed in place with duct tape.
Next, they’ll begin to get rid of the asbestos. The HSE recommends breaking the asbestos as little as possible to reduce the amount of dust and carcinogenic fibres the material sheds. To minimise this risk large sheets will need to be lowered to the ground rather than being thrown.
The asbestos material and any fasteners, bolts and other fixings will all be placed in an asbestos waste bag that is clearly labelled with a warning sticker. In some cases, they may first be wrapped in 1,000-gauge polythene sheets and sealed with duct tape before going in the waste bag. If a waste bag isn’t big enough for the job, such as asbestos roof removal, a lockable skip can be used. It’s important that it is sealed and lockable to prevent any fibres from getting into the air.
When they’re done, the contractor will remove any trace of the asbestos from your property. They will likely ensure that all residue has been swept up and removed and they will take the asbestos with them for suitable disposal. It cannot be taken to a household recycling facility.
How much does it cost to remove asbestos?
The cost of asbestos removal can depend on the type of asbestos you have, where you’re located in the UK, the square footage to be removed and even the type of building that needs to be cleared (flat vs house, house vs office building, and so on).
As a very rough guide, the average cost of asbestos removal is around £150* per square metre. This price will go down to an average of £25 per square metre, if you choose to have the asbestos encapsulated. You should also factor in an asbestos removal survey into your budget, to have the material confirmed. This will cost in the region of £200-£1,000.
Once the asbestos has been removed from your home, and has passed a UKAS accredited air clearance test, it will be safe to return.
*Cost correct as of 2023 source checkatrade.co.uk