Repair and Removal Repair involves either sealing or covering asbestos material. Sealing (encapsulation) treats the material with a sealant that either binds the asbestos fibers together or coats the material so fibers are not released. Pipe, furnace, and boiler insulation can be repaired this way. Covering (enclosure) involves placing a protective wrap or jacket around the material that contains asbestos to prevent release of fibers. Only a professional trained to handle asbestos safely should undertake these repairs. With any type of repair, the asbestos remains in place. Repair is usually cheaper than removal, but it may make later removal of asbestos, if necessary, more difficult and costly. Repairs can either be major or minor. Doing minor repairs yourself is not recommended; improper handling of asbestos materials creates more problems than it solves. If you decide on removal, be sure to get written assurance from the contractor that he or she has followed all local asbestos removal and disposal laws. Homeowners should also ask for a disposal manifest prior to paying the final bill to verify that the material will be disposed of in a landfill licensed to receive asbestos. Only contractors licensed by the state to perform asbestos abatement activities should undertake its repair and removal. As when hiring any contractor, ask for references and a list of similar projects that the contractor has recently completed. Check with your local air pollution control board, the local agency responsible for worker safety and the Better Business Bureau to see if the firm has had any safety violations. Insist that the contractor use the proper equipment to do the job and that workers wear approved respirators, gloves and other protective clothing. Homeowners should also verify that the contractor has a general liability and workman's compensation policies that cover this type of work. In many states, contractors are required by law to notify federal, state and local agencies that they are about to perform abatement activities. At the end of the job, before the contractor removes its containment system, the industrial hygiene specialist who first evaluated the property should return to take air samples to be sure that no asbestos fibers have accidentally escaped. For further help in dealing with asbestos problems in the home, contact your state's environmental affairs agency. If handled properly, asbestos can be prevented from ever causing a problem in your home.
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