During the course of our everyday work- we often come across soffits that may look a little suspicious. What do we mean by suspicious? Well asbestos has been used for many years in the construction industry and can often be found used in soffits.
There are two types mainly used. AIB (Asbestos Insulating Board) and AC- (Asbestos Cement).
It is absolutely vital that the first step if asbestos is suspected – that a test is carried out to determine which of the two above is present. (If indeed asbestos is present at all- as sometimes it can look suspicious but turn out to have no asbestos content). There is no way of knowing what type of asbestos is present without having them tested.
Samples should be taken- (you can get self- test kits- but we prefer to use a licenced contractor). These are then sent to a laboratory and the content determined.
If it turns out that you have AC soffits then these can usually be removed by a competent contractor with the correct certification for non-licenced asbestos removal. Correct removal procedures will then be used to remove the AC soffits and bag them correctly keeping any danger to a minimum. (Mac installers all have this qualification).
It still needs to be treated as hazardous waste and collected by a specialist disposal company- but the costs for this are fairly reasonable.
If the test results show that it is AIB then this is a completely different matter. This can ONLY be removed by a licenced HSE contractor. This type of soffit can release dangerous fibres when disturbed.
Any company that does not spot that soffits are potentially asbestos containing materials- should probably be discounted. Asbestos can be dangerous and therefore should only be dealt with by the correct tradesman.
Covering over asbestos soffits is NOT an option. This would require fixing into suspect soffits and this will result in releasing potentially dangerous fibres into the air. Not only putting the tradesman at risk- but the home occupiers and neighbours.
If they are left undisturbed they will not harm you- however if you suspect that your soffits are not wood and are unsure if they contain asbestos- make sure you use a company that will follow the legal procedures required correctly.