If you are wondering how to remove asbestos from a shed or garage at home, then the following advice should help you….
Firstly, you may be wondering whether or not your shed or garage actually contains asbestos……check to see if the roof is made of a grey coloured corrugated material. If it is, then it more than likely contains asbestos.
If it is made of another material such as reinforced plastic or corrugated iron, then it won’t contain asbestos.
Any panels that are made of asbestos cement will be resistant to harsh weather conditions, so any boarding panels used on the outside of the structure that are exposed to the elements will probably contain asbestos.
Once you have established whether your shed or garage contains asbestos or not, the next thing you’ll want to know is if you should you remove it. The general advice is ‘no’ if it’s in good condition and not been damaged in any way.
Asbestos cement is very hard-wearing and will last a good fifty to sixty years before showing any signs of deterioration. So as long as you leave it alone it is perfectly safe. It only becomes dangerous if the material is disturbed and releases dust and fibers into the atmosphere that can be breathed in.
So if you know, or suspect that your shed or garage contains asbestos, then it would be best practice not to use any power tools such as drills, sanders etc on the structure of the building.
If your shed or garage does contain asbestos and has been disturbed or is in bad condition, then contrary to popular belief, there is no need to employ a specialist licensed contractor to remove it. This can be very costly and is unnecessary.
You can remove it yourself if you are a keen DIY enthusiast, with the help of another person if there is a lot of it as it will be heavy. Or if you don’t feel comfortable doing it yourself then any competent building contractor should be able to do it for you.
A competent contractor will be up to date with asbestos awareness training, and should have the relevant certificates that they can show you as proof they have had the correct training.
Contractors working with asbestos, and handling it as part of their job, need to undertake an asbestos awareness refresher training course every 12 months.
Preparation is key
If you do choose to remove the asbestos yourself, then the following advice should be followed, but always seek advice if at any time you’re unsure:-
Once you are sure that the panels or roofing sheets are made of asbestos cement, you will need to plan in advance how you are going to dispose of it.
Most large towns will have household waste recycling sites, where you can take the asbestos waste and put into designated skips which are for the disposal of asbestos cement.
Visit your local council’s website to find details of your nearest site.
Make sure you have the right tools at hand for the job of removing the asbestos panels. These should include some ladders, an adjustable spanner, large screwdriver, claw hammer and a hacksaw.
You will need to keep the asbestos cement wet, so have something to hand like a hosepipe or handheld water spray gun.
Ensure that you have plenty of plastic sheeting to wrap the panels and/or roof sheets in as you remove them.
You will also need heavy duty plastic bags to put any smaller pieces or debris into. These can all be purchased from any good DIY store.
You will need to wear clothing that can be thrown away afterwards, preferably a paper overall, or alternatively any old clothing that you don’t mind throwing away.
It is also essential that you wear a fiber mask This must fit properly ensuring that it fully covers your nose and mouth and there are no gaps.
However, please ensure that wherever you buy your mask from that it is made to EU standards EN149 (type FFP3) or EN1827 (type FMP3), as these offer the highest level of protection that is available.
The HSE website provides further guidance on what PPE (Personal Protective Clothing) you should wear when working with asbestos.
The protective clothing (PPE) and any disposable face masks (RPE) must be wrapped in heavy duty polythene sheets or placed into heavy duty rubble sacks and sealed after use.
Safety precautions to take
Before you start work on the removal of asbestos, you must ensure that the area is safe and there are no children, animals, or anyone else present who are not wearing the protective clothing.
Certain other safety measures must be taken. For example, any electrical supply to the building must be isolated and properly disconnected. You may enlist the help of an Electrician to do this for you.
If you are going to be handling the asbestos containing materials, you MUST ensure that you don’t eat, drink or smoke whilst doing so.
Don’t under any circumstances be tempted to go onto the roof, as this is extremely dangerous. Asbestos cement roofs are known for being very brittle, so if you stand on them you could fall through. Not only that, but if the roof is wet it could be very slippy.
There shouldn’t be any need to go onto the roof anyway as most of the work can be done from the inside.
It’s advised that you keep the asbestos cement really wet inside and out until it is packaged. You can use a garden hose to do this, or even better, wait until after it’s rained and carry out the work then.
Do make sure you only use low pressure water from a hose or spray though.
Using high pressure water jets could mean spreading the asbestos dust or fibers.
Removing the asbestos
Follow this procedure for how to remove asbestos from a shed or garage. Firstly, keep a lookout for any silt debris that is left in the bottom of the gutters. This will have come from the asbestos-cement roof and will therefore probably contain asbestos fibers. Soak it really well with water and put it into a heavy duty plastic polythene bag.
It is recommended that you first use a red coloured bag to put the asbestos debris into, seal, and then put into a clear plastic bag before sealing again (called double bagging).
These specialist heavy duty asbestos bags can be purchased in many online stores such as Protective Masks Direct and will typically measure 900mm x 1200mm.
Don’t forget to clearly label the outside of the bag with it’s contents.
This can then go with all the other asbestos-cement sheets and guttering ready for disposal.
Once you’ve checked for any silt in the gutters, you can then proceed to take the screws or bolts out of the asbestos-cement sheets. You may need to use a hacksaw, or you may get away with using a screwdriver or spanner depending on the type of bolt used and it’s condition.
If nails have been used though, or you are unable to unscrew the bolts, then you will have to push the asbestos panel up through the head of the screw. Doing this will mean a small amount of damage around the head of the nail or bolt, but just ensure you wet the area thoroughly and place any bits into a plastic bag and secure.
Once you’ve removed the sheets as one piece (don’t break them up into smaller pieces), get your plastic sheeting ready and wrap each one as you remove them. Don’t worry about lifting and moving the asbestos sheets until later, just concentrate on getting them wrapped and sealed first and foremost.
Anything that is bagged will have to be clearly labelled.
If any breakages do occur, then just ensure they are dampened down and wrap the smaller pieces and place into the heavy-duty bags for disposal later on.
Once all asbestos containing materials have been wrapped and double bagged, make sure to clear the area and that no small pieces of asbestos cement remain. Then hose down the area once finished in order to remove any debris.
Lastly, make sure you wash yourself thoroughly once you’ve completed the job of removing the asbestos. And even if you’ve been wearing gloves, ensure you wash your hands and fingernails to remove any dust or debris.
Disposing of asbestos waste
If you have access to a trailer to dispose of the asbestos waste or the back of a commercial van, then this is preferential to putting it in your car boot as you can clean it out afterwards using water.
Check with your local council where you can take the asbestos waste to dispose of it safely, as not all recycling sites will accept it, so make sure you check beforehand.
If you would like anymore information on the subject of how to remove asbestos from a shed or garage, then please refer to the HSE website www.hse.gov.uk/asbestos
Duty holders and employers have a legal responsibility to manage asbestos in their building so as not to put employees at risk. Contact our Armco office for asbestos management and refurbishment/ demolition surveys on 0161 763 3727 or by visiting http://www.armco.org.uk/