Common Places to Find Asbestos in Homes and Buildings

Asbestos was used in more than 3,000 building products throughout most of the 20th century. The most common occurrences of residential asbestos in older homes built prior to 1986 are described below. All of these products can release dangerous asbestos fibers if they are sawed, sanded, drilled, cut, worn or otherwise damaged.

  • Roofing shingles or siding made of asphalt or cement
  • Asbestos blankets and tapes used to insulate steam pipes, hot water pipes, boilers and furnace ducts
  • Floor tiles made of vinyl, asphalt and rubber, plus the adhesive used to install these products and the backing on vinyl sheet flooring
  • Products used in conjunction with woodburning stoves, furnaces or coal stoves, including door gaskets, surrounding wall insulation and decorative elements such as fake embers in gas fireplaces
  • Soundproofing and decorative material sprayed onto walls and ceilings, including popcorn ceilings, popular from the 1960s to the 1980s
  • Acoustic ceiling tiles

Construction compounds:

  • Plaster
  • Joint compounds
  • Textured paint
  • Adhesives
  • Caulking


Other areas of concern:

  • Household products such as fireproof gloves, stove-top pads, ironing board covers, curtains and certain hairdryers. Many homeowners paid premium pricing for asbestos curtains, which were marketed for their fire retardancy and sound dampening qualities.
  • Wallpaper manufactured before the 1980s, especially with a vinyl finish, and its corresponding adhesive
  • Wall and ceiling insulation
  • Transite asbestos furnace flues, which are lined with asbestos. These tend to deteriorate over time, flake apart and collapse. Throughout this process, asbestos can be back drafted into the home.
  • Drywall, drywall mud and tapes
  • Electrical panel housing

Vermiculite insulation was a popular form of insulation until 1990. Vermiculite itself is a harmless product, but from 1919 until 1985, more than 70 percent of the nation’s vermiculite was mined in Libby, Montana. This vermiculite was contaminated with asbestos. The mine was shut down in 1990 after the contamination was discovered, but it is possible some products were still sold.

Additional Information can be found at:  Homeowners/Buyers Guide to Asbestos


Dave Park
Advantage Inspection | AdvantageNC | Homeowners and Home Buyers Guide to Asbestos