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Where To Look For Friable Asbestos: Advice For Home Renovators

by Javier Carter

In some Australian states, experts estimate that you'll find asbestos in up to 98 percent of homes built before 1976. As such, when you decide to renovate an older property, it's likely that you'll need to consider the risk of asbestos. The most harmful type of asbestos – friable asbestos – is not as common as non-friable asbestos, but you need to thoroughly check your property for this material before you start any type of renovation. Learn more about potential hazards in your new renovation project with the following tips about where to look for friable asbestos.


Asbestos was once a popular material with builders in Australia because of the mineral's excellent natural insulating properties. Asbestos was also cheap, durable and heat resistant. As such, the manufacturers of vinyl and linoleum floor coverings often used asbestos as a backing for these popular materials.

When renovating an older home, these older floor coverings are particularly hazardous. As you rip the linoleum or tiles from a bathroom or kitchen floor, you're likely to disturb significant quantities of friable asbestos particles. Before you tackle these parts of the home, get an asbestos expert in to analyse the surface area, so you know if you need to take special precautions.

Ceiling insulation

Asbestos was also a popular choice for ceiling and roof insulation. To keep costs down, some contractors would literally just pump friable asbestos particles into roof cavities, creating an efficient and cost-effective way to regulate the temperature. These contractors often worked extensively in certain parts of Australia. For example, one contractor worked extensively in Canberra, Queanbeyan and the surrounding areas, so properties in these suburbs are more likely to have the problem.

You cannot assume this material is only in a ceiling or roof cavity. In fact, before you renovate any walls, ceilings or cornices, you need to check for asbestos. This risk also means you need to check for friable asbestos before you tackle a wiring project, unless all the wiring is surface-mounted.

Hot water pipe lagging

Just as friable asbestos could keep the home warm, hot water pipe lagging and boiler insulation materials also benefited from this mineral's natural properties. Unfortunately, the fibrous material used on pipes and boilers can flake and powder easily, creating a serious health hazard.

This type of friable asbestos normally has a protective coating. If the coating is damaged or broken, you can easily inhale the friable asbestos particles, so you need to take extreme caution. The protective coating comes in various colours and isn't always easy to recognise. As such, you should always get a qualified asbestos removal expert to inspect any suspicious areas.


Asbestos fibres are naturally heat resistant, so manufacturers often used this material to insulate stoves. While the material may remain intact, if you decide to replace the stove with a newer model, you may dislodge and release friable asbestos fibres.

It's not always easy to spot friable asbestos on an old stove. For example, door gaskets on older models may pose an asbestos risk. As such, it's better to assume the stove is a problem so you can take all the relevant precautions.

General household items

Australian manufacturers also once used friable asbestos for a variety of household items. If you're renovating an older property, you may find items around the house that contain friable asbestos. It pays to approach everything with caution, but products that often featured friable asbestos include:

  • Woven fire blankets

  • Friable rope

  • Ironing board covers

  • Heatproof mats

These items are most hazardous if damage has allowed the friable particles to come loose. Nonetheless, even if the item is still fully intact, you cannot simply throw it in a skip and take it to landfill. Ask an asbestos removal expert for advice about how to dispose of these items.

Friable asbestos presents a serious risk to human health. If you want to renovate an older property, make sure you talk to an asbestos removal expert, such as those at Asbestos Audit Pty Ltd, about how to deal with this issue.