If you manage a commercial building that you plan to remodel, you may need to have some asbestos removed. Here are several general pointers for managing asbestos.

How do you know if asbestos is in the building?

Asbestos is hidden in many places, such as insulation around pipes, and you can't discover it by looking. You can hire a qualified person, such as an asbestos removalist or an occupational hygienist, to take a sample for analysis in a laboratory. Check your state government website, which will have a link to appropriately qualified people.

You can get a good idea of whether a building contains asbestos by considering its age. In buildings built before 1990, assume asbestos exists somewhere. Find out what materials the building consists of. When uncertain, the safest course is to assume the presence of asbestos. From 1990 on, asbestos wasn't typically used in construction.

Where exactly is asbestos likely to be in a commercial building?

Asbestos can exist in various places in commercial buildings, such as in external wall cladding and around doors and window frames. Some fire doors have asbestos inside because it's non-flammable.

Asbestos may also lie within ceiling sheets and the backing for vinyl flooring and ceramic splashback tiles. Manufacturers used it for roofing, gutters, downpipes and loose-fill insulation. You will probably find asbestos in many more places in a building besides the spots mentioned here because the construction industry used it as a staple.

Who can remove asbestos?

When hiring an commercial asbestos contractor consider what type of licence they own. Someone with a class A licence can remove any form of asbestos. Their qualifications allow them to handle both friable and non-friable forms.

Non-friable asbestos is bonded to another substance, such as cement sheets. This means it's less likely that asbestos fibres will float into the air, where workers can inhale them. However, once a non-friable product is cut or drilled, the fibres can loosen.

Another form, friable asbestos, is less stable as it's in a loose structure and the fibres can escape when people crush or disturb the product with their hands. Thus, it forms the biggest threat.

A contractor with a class B licence is only permitted to handle non-friable asbestos and the dust it may leave behind. In some cases, a non-qualified person is allowed to remove small quantities of asbestos. You should check your state website for the exact regulations.

For more information, contact a local company, like Lightning Asbestos and Demolition Services.