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Warning to DIY Enthusiasts- Your 1970's House Could Be Full of Asbestos!

Mar 13, 2008
With all the fears about mesothelioma, an asbestos-induced incurable cancer, we had a real shock just before Christmas.

We went away for a week in Spain, and when we came back, we found our bedroom carpet was like a wet sponge. Looking up, we saw water marks right across our bedroom ceiling, and across the upstairs landing as well.

Rushing up into the loft, we quickly saw the cause of this leak, a sticking ball valve in the main water tank. Although there seemed to be no damage apart for the stain on the ceiling, we though we had better call the insurance company in case there had been some more permanent damage to the roof.

Well, the response I got from the insurance company was mind-blowing!

They asked me what type of ceiling, and I told them it was 'Artex'.


"Do you realise there may be asbestos in your ceilings" we were told, even though our house was built in the mid 1970's.

They said that they would have to send a specialist out to check the roof, and the cost of the repair would either be about $200 to repair the ceiling, or several thousand if they found asbestos was present. Regardless of the outcome, they would meet the bill.
Well, the specialist came, with his special mask and breathing apparatus, who checked the ceiling, and sure enough, it contained asbestos!

So we were going to end up having to have all of our fitted bedroom furniture dismantled, and then the ceilings in both our bedroom and landing removed, and a new one fitted, plus the bedroom, hall, stairs and landing all redecorated - all for a $200 excess on the insurance.

Talk about total disruption!

Luckily we had built a 'Granny annex' for my father who died some years ago, so we moved into that for two weeks, while the decorators took over.

But - when the day came for the ceilings to come down, well, the best Sci-Fi show had nothing on our house. They arrived in a great big truck, with generators, and air conditioning, and all sorts of space age gadgets. They sealed all the upstairs doors, except for our bedroom, built a plastic airlock across the bottom of the stairs, and then two of them waddled from their truck in what looked like space suits complete with air tanks, vanished though the air lock and proceeded to demolish our ceilings.

When they had gone, we were left staring through our rafters at the outside roof tiles! Boy was it cold that night.

It's quite scary really, as over the years we had knocked our kitchen and dining room into one, smashing part of the ceiling in the process, drilled holes for TV cables, and latterly Ethernet cables to go through the ceilings. After all, why should we be worried about the presence of asbestos? We thought they stopped using that, what, in the 1950's?

But that's not all!

While the supervisor was here, he looked at our garage."Did you know your garage has got absolutely lethal asbestos sheeting under the eaves?" Well. Here we go again. 'Torchwood, we need you again'.

Do It Yourself-ers - Beware - there is no cure for asbestos-induced cancer.
About the Author
Geoff Morris has been accused by his family members as being 'all thumbs' when
it came to Home Improvements. But
after a little training and the right
there's no holding him back. Have a look at the book that got him
started on fixer upper projects.
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