Asbestos Insulation Identification

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What is asbestos insulation?

There are different types of asbestos insulation and it varies in appearance.

It was a very common material used in homes that were built in the 1950’s and 1960’s.

As such, some older properties may still contain some form of asbestos insulation.

Asbestos was frequently used because of its excellent heat retaining and fire proofing properties.

Let’s look at the different types of insulation containing asbestos that you may come across in older homes:-

Loose Fill Asbestos Insulation

Loose asbestos is most commonly found in lofts as loft insulation, but it can also be found under floorboards an inside cavity walls, both in domestic and commercial properties.

It’s very easy to identify as it has a fluffy, almost candyfloss like appearance, which is usually white or a blueish grey colour.

Out of all the asbestos containing materials you may come across, loose fill asbestos is probably the most dangerous.

This is because it is made from pure asbestos fibers, so if breathed in will cause the most damage to health.

For this very reason, you should never attempt to remove this type of asbestos yourself.

Always use a licensed asbestos removal contractor to safely remove and dispose of loose fill asbestos insulation.

asbestos insulation in a loft
Loose fill asbestos in a loft area

Pipe Insulation

It’s still quite common to find asbestos around pipes, boilers and heating systems.

Although it has many different appearances, this type of asbestos can usually be identified by its flaky and powdery appearance.

It can be difficult to identify when used as insulation on pipework as it’s usually painted over in a different colour or has had a protective coating applied on top of it.

Again, asbestos found on pipework is one of the most dangerous materials containing asbestos.

Asbestos fibers can be released very easily when the pipe lagging is disturbed.

You must be a licensed asbestos removal contractor to handle this asbestos material.

asbestos pipe lagging
Damaged asbestos pipe lagging

Asbestos Insulating Board

Asbestos Insulating Board (AIB) is a very common building material that was used extensively in residential and commercial buildings.

Used most commonly as a fireproofing material, it was also used in ceiling tiles, partition walls, soffits, lift shaft linings and panels below windows.

Asbestos insulating board and non asbestos containing materials can be difficult to distinguish between as they look very similar in appearance.

Removal of AIB materials can be carried out by non licensed operatives providing they are fully trained and it’s very short duration minor work (less than 1 hour for 1 person in a 7 day period, not to exceed 2 hours spent by all workers).

However, any work that is classed as major eg demolition or extensive refurbishment would be classed as notifiable.

A licensed contractor is required for work that is likely to last beyond 1 hour for 1 person in a 7 day period, or more than 2 hours by all workers.

Old asbestos ceiling tiles
Old asbestos ceiling tiles

Did you find this article interesting?  Then check out our other interesting articles below.

Duty holders and employers have a legal responsibility to manage asbestos in their properties, carrying out an asbestos survey in their building so as not to put employees at risk.

So make sure you contact our Armco office to arrange an asbestos survey, before it’s too late! 

Whether you need an asbestos management survey, or a refurbishment/ demolition survey, contact us on 0161 763 3727 or by visiting

Finally, for all your asbestos training needs call 0161 761 4424 or visit book an asbestos awareness training course.

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Published Jun 10, 2019
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