A reader's Asbestos question: Asbestos siding cleaning?

Robert K.   from   Horsham, United States   had this Asbestos siding cleaning question.

Hi Bill, I have another question for you. My wife and I decided to keep the asbestos siding on our house but we want to paint it. What is the best and safest way to clean it before we paint?

Bill's reply

Hi Robert, A point to bear in mind, the asbestos content in siding is quite small and it it encased in cement. Wet and none abrasive methods are quite safe.

Some of the photos on my site show examples of moulded products that are extremely weathered with loose fibres on the surface. We are not talking about that here.

For smaller areas do the cleaning by hand with a hose pipe and water. Plenty water.

  • Refer to your local regulations for guidelines.
  • Tape plastic protection round any electrical sources.
  • Do not use scourers, wire brushes or sandpaper. Nothing that will create dust.
  • If you have any areas of mildew or mould then wash it down with a weak solution of chlorine - household bleach.
  • Be particular in washing off the chlorine afterwards, especially around metal frames. Chlorine is a great corrosion promoter. I have seen terminal damage to steel sheds used to store swimming pool chlorine. Use it because it does kill the mould spores, but wash it away after.
  • For bad stains you can use sugar soap or plain soapy water.
  • If the sheets have been painted but the paint is flaking off, then use a spray bottle of soapy water and keeping the work area moist lightly peel off the paint with a paint scraper.
  • Wear the correct personal safety equipment while doing this.
  • Dispose of cleaning rags etc. according to the same procedure used for disposing of any asbestos products.

Robert, don't obsess about the cleaning, don't try for perfection. Anything that is stubborn, leave it. Modern paints are excellent for sticking to surfaces like old cement sheets.

At a guess, without any complications, an average size three bedroom ground level house should take about a morning to clean.

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Please Note! The information on this site is offered as a guide only!  When we are talking about areas where building regulations or safety regulations could exist,the information here could be wrong for your area.  It could be out of date!  Regulations breed faster than rabbits!
You must check your own local conditions.
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