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old joint compound removal - logistics and concerns


After scraping six layers of wallpaper from a section of the living room in my 1902 folk Victorian I have discovered: a) that the plaster walls are cracked and, in places, crumbly, and b) that I'm not the first person to expose the underlying plaster to repair it (there is joint compound in many of the cracks). I'm pretty confident that I can reattach the intact plaster to the lath and/or patch the bigger holes with hot mud. I'm not so sure how to approach the old joint compound, however. I'm concerned here about the presence of asbestos--the previous repairs are at least fifty years old. Making matters worse is that the sixth layer of wallpaper is firmly glued to the old joint compound in several places, and I can't remove this paper without scraping the material to which it is adhered. Any advice on how I might remove the remaining wallpaper and restore the plaster without undue risk?

Thanks in advance!

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