removing asbestos-covered pipes

Discussion in 'HVAC Heating & Cooling' started by holybuzz, Oct 8, 2008.

  1. holybuzz

    holybuzz New Member

    Messages:
    29
    Hello!

    I have a 75-year-old house that was converted from hot water radiation to electric baseboards some twenty years ago (before I owned the place.) The move was done to take advantage of the extremely low electric rates (they're still low), but the hot water pipes weren't removed. I am now planning to finish the basement, but there are several places where the pipes steal an extra foot of ceiling height in what is already a mere 7ft ceiling.

    I know about the rules of asbestos abatement (a job for pros only, hasmat suits, the works). What I'm considering is leaving the asbestos on (not disturbing it and not making it airborne) and just cutting the pipes (with a chain cutter, perhaps?) and carefully removing the lengths.

    Why? Because just removing the asbestos (not the pipes) would cost $1600 for our small basement and wouldn't solve the problem at hand. And the two quotes I got from plumbers were...chokers.

    Anybody have any advice?

    Thanks.
  2. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    I suspect that just touching the pipes...i.e. removing them...invokes asbestos abatement. Leaving the wrap on is probably less hazardous, but what do you do with the whole pipe?
  3. holybuzz

    holybuzz New Member

    Messages:
    29
    Asbestos

    Not sure where/how to dispose of it. I figured I'd cross that bridge when the pipes are out.

    For what it's worth, I have a friend who is a chemical engineer who says that asbestos, while no picnic, isn't nearly as potent a hazard as they say. In her words, "you really have to have worked in an asbestos mine and have been a serious smoker to get asbestosis." Or something that.

    If/when I do attempt this (and I really think I can) I will wear the full-body gear and a respirator, not just a N95 dust mask. Even then I don't expect to do more than shift the asbestos an inch or two to expose bare pipe, cut it, then carefully carry it outside and, depending on the length, enclose it and seal it within a contractor trash bag.

    IOW, I'm not going to be cavalier about it. I just don't think I should be doomed to live with this stuff until I can afford several thousand dollars to pay someone to do what I think I could do with a little care and patience.
  4. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,126
    Location:
    New England
    If you could cut the pipe without compromising the covering, say at a joint or a valve, then carry the stuff outside, you shouldn't release much. You'd want to do a couple things first: cover the walls and floor with some plastic sheeting, spray the pipe covering with a mist of water to dampen it first so any vibration or motion wouldn't dislodge any. In most places, if the asbestos is wrapped properly, it can be disposed of without further problems. Check with your local people.

    You'd want proper protection while doing this and cover the path out of the house so you don't trail and spread it throughout.

    The fibers will only go airborne if they are dry, so water is your ally.

    Proceed at your own risk.
  5. 99k

    99k Radon Contractor and Water Treatment

    Messages:
    460
    Location:
    Fairfield Co.,Connecticut
    NO! The force of the mist will release fibers. This is NOT a DIYer job ... get a pro and spend the money. Where do you propose to throw this pipe?
  6. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    If you do it your self you need to coat all the asbestos with Future Floor Wax first while it is in place, 2 coats. That will encapsulate it.

    Then you can cut at non asbestos points. Bag it, then it must be disposed of at a place that accepts asbestos.

    Good luck trying to find one.
  7. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    Asbestos can only become airborn if it is friable.

    I would use a brush and apply it slowly.
  8. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    FYI...after applying the Future Floor Wax it only needs to be removed if there is a reason...it can stay encapsulated in place for as long as you like.
  9. holybuzz

    holybuzz New Member

    Messages:
    29
    Many thanks to all!

    Except for the advice that has been superseded, I will do everything that's been suggested here.

    Some notes:

    1) There are several sections of the pipe that have been painted already (though not by me). The stuff is silver and almost reflective.

    2) There are several gaps where, for a couple of inches, there is no asbsestos at all. That's good. I'll cut there.

    3) The path to outside is up a short flight of stairs to a landing and the basement door. After that it's the backyard.

    To 99K:

    As I said, I know that this is not supposed to be a DIY job. But the abatement guys won't remove the pipe, and the plumbing guys, who don't have the training/expertise for abatement (just like me!), want an arm and a leg. "Get a pro and spend the money" really isn't an option. This project is the first step in a basement reno. If I went pro, the reno wouldn't get past the studs until after next year's check from Uncle Sam.

    I'm gonna be troll for a little more free advice (hopefully it will be as good as what I got here), then I'll tackle this as safely as I can. Calls will be made to find out who would like to take this treasure off my hands. :)

    Thanks again, everyone!
  10. 99k

    99k Radon Contractor and Water Treatment

    Messages:
    460
    Location:
    Fairfield Co.,Connecticut
    You obviously need to have the asbestos removed first and then have the plumbing modified second. This is a two step process. Then do the remodel ...
  11. holybuzz

    holybuzz New Member

    Messages:
    29
    Thanks again!

    99K,

    Will you send me a check in the mail or just Paypal me?

    ;)

    Actually, maybe I'll just dip into my 401k a little bit. I'll look at my most recent statement now.

    [sound of ruffling papers]

    Nevermind.
  12. Gary Swart

    Gary Swart In the Trades

    Messages:
    7,358
    Location:
    Yakima WA
    The problem you are facing is really no different that many schools faced when this asbestos problem first came up. It is a very expensive, time consuming job that is to be done by professionals. This of course means it is very expensive. While asbestos wasn't just in schools, I use them as an example because they too really could not afford the expense. Unlike Joe Homeowner, they could put the job off. It had to be done, and they had to find the means to pay for it. I fear that even if you go ahead and remove your asbestos, you will have a very difficult time find a legal way to dispose of it. I really think you need to have this professionally handled.
  13. Cass

    Cass Plumber

    Messages:
    5,980
    Location:
    Ohio
    While the silver color is most likely paint I would use the Future Floor Wax on it also.

    If there are any gaps between the asbestos layers or on the pipe ends where the asbestos stops I would caulk the gaps closed before using the Wax. Be sure the caulk is in the gap well and allow it to cure 24-48 Hrs before applying the Future Floor Wax.

    Don't use any other Brand of floor wax.

    I would also coat all the pipe not just the asbestos covered so if there are any fibers sitting on them now they will become encapsulated also.

    I agree this should be done by a professional but it doesn't sound like you are going to take that path.

    Normally after removal of the asbestos every thing is air tested and fiber counts are taken until the counts reach the acceptable level.

    If there is a floor drain it might be a good idea to wash the area down after to remove fibers that are there now.

    If the wax is applied right and only non asbestos points on the pipe are cut it will be fairly safe but professional removal would be best.

    When cutting snap cutters would be good for cast iron and a fine tooth saw on other pipes to lessen pipe vibration.

    The very worse thing you could do is cut on the asbestos...this will cause the asbestos to become airborne.


    .
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2008
  14. Cookie

    Cookie .

    Messages:
    5,658
    Location:
    .
    Here is a very good site:
    http://www.fiberquant.com/asbestos.htm

    After we bought our house here, I was outback digging for a garden and what do you think I found buried?

    a) A dead body
    b) asbesto
    c) a horse

    Actually I found B and C.
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2008
  15. jimbo

    jimbo Plumber

    Messages:
    8,997
    Location:
    San Diego
    Here's a problem....you take out the pipes into the back yard. Then you call to find where to dump the pipes. Now you are on record, and some guys in black suits show up and want to know how the pipes got into the back yard. Next thing you know, not only your house, but also the yard, have beed declared superfund sites.

    BUT, check into another possibility. I have had inspectors allow old transite flue pipe ( cement/asbestos) to be "abandoned in place". That is it was taken off the furnace and left laying on the rafters in the attic.

    I would discretely ask around your inspector's office to see if your old pipes with the asbestos intact and treated as described, could be left in your attic, in the garage rafters, in the basement....something.
  16. jadnashua

    jadnashua Retired Defense Industry Engineer xxx

    Messages:
    22,126
    Location:
    New England
    Call some disposal (dumps) and ask first if they accept asbestos, then if yes, find out how it has to be packaged. Double-bagged with the appropriate bags is my guess. They don't want it flying around while they move it, nor should you.
  17. Cookie

    Cookie .

    Messages:
    5,658
    Location:
    .
    That was pretty funny stuff, and no one wants to know what killed the horse?:D
  18. 99k

    99k Radon Contractor and Water Treatment

    Messages:
    460
    Location:
    Fairfield Co.,Connecticut
    Here's the last bit of advice. I have no respect for someone who trys to save a buck (such as you) as asks me to perform work in a basement when an illegal asbestos abatement has been performed. The telltale signs are obvious and I have walked off of more than one jobsite because of this. Go ahead with your plan ... just put others at risk.:mad:
  19. Cookie

    Cookie .

    Messages:
    5,658
    Location:
    .
    Well, at least he asked first. I wonder if you realize just how many homes you were pro ably in that did the very same thing. Without asking of course. Your kids probably ( if you got kids) played in someone's basement or even your own basement without any knowledge that their was once that dreaded stuff; and not taken out properly. You want to know how that stuff is disposed of alot? Maybe, you don't want to know come to think of it. It might not make your day. But, I will give you a hint, watch where you dig and don't apply for a refuse collectors job. Just an added tidbit of information here about those fibers, it takes a zillion years, ( I forget the true number but it is alot/huge) of years for a fiber to drop from your eyelash to the floor. I only know this because my favorite cousin removes it for a living for our fair state. He dealt with my collection of it for me in my yard. I was grateful to him, I tried to give him some tomato's but he wouldn't take them, :D None of my neighbors over 80 wouldn't take them, so I guess they know who buried the stuff and the horse.
  20. nhmaster

    nhmaster Master Plumber

    Messages:
    3,189
    Location:
    S. Maine
    I guarantee he heard what he didn't want to hear, will go ahead and do it anyway and we will never hear from him again.

    These are the same folks that made match head bombs when they were kids.
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