November 28: Day 15
We’re two weeks in, and still doing demo. Nothing like stretching out a dirty, dirty job for as long as possible, amiright?
At this point, I think we’ve uncovered just about every old-house toxin you can imagine. I guarantee that the door and window trim we’re saving is covered in lead paint. I can’t imagine that the extinct cockroach nests we’ve uncovered are good for us, either…hey, since this blog is largely based on pictures, you might want to avert your eyes:
Sorry, I had to. For anyone who is under the mistaken impression that DIY renovations are glamourous.
And then there’s the asbestos. We knew it was there before we started punching holes in walls, although I was hoping we were wrong — since when am I such an optimist? But alas, we were right. Being on a tight budget, and knowing that professional remediation was not planned for, we decided to do some research and tackle this one ourselves.
Let me just say first though, if you find asbestos in your home, you are FAR better off hiring professionals to do the abatement. No amount of imagination can envision the pain-in-the-ass-ness of trying to properly remove and dispose of asbestos. Professionals have the necessary equipment and experience to get it done quickly.
Not to mention, it’s hard to find how-to articles on removing your own asbestos. There’s a reason for that, people. And I’m not going to tell you the nitty gritty details of how we did it, either — because you should just hire someone.
But we’re crazy. And short on cash. (A terrible combination). So on Monday night, we donned our “hazmat” suits and squirt bottles, wrapped half our first floor in plastic, and turned off our heating system.
Here’s a decent pic of the ducts we needed to move:
All three of them (two on the left, one on the right) are located in sections of the wall that are slated to become doorways. If we hadn’t had to move the ducts, we would have left the asbestos alone. But we had to choose between opening up the middle of the wall, which would have required us to move that gigantic cast iron stack, or opening up the sides and moving HVAC. If the house stands another 100 years, that stack will still be there. So we chose the HVAC.
We were up until 2am Monday night/Tuesday morning, wresting with those ducts. Silly me, I thought the asbestos would be the hard part, not the ducts themselves! Although we were able to disconnect those ducts from the basement (allowing us to turn the heat back on over night, thank God), we only succeeded in pulling out one of the three ducts. And “succeeded” might be overstating a bit.
It seems we have to keep learning this lesson over and over again: if we’re dealing with original house parts, we can figure it out. If we’re dealing with a previous owner’s re-muddle, we’re screwed. Their solution to EVERYTHING was framing nails. As many as possible. Even in ridiculously tight spaces, like inside an HVAC duct.
Luckily (if you can call it that), only one of the three had been messed with. The other two came out a bit easier on Tuesday–mostly thanks to Chris, who took over the project while I went to work. I only got to swoop in at the end and snag all the credit. Here’s our asbestos-free wall now:
I have to say, OSHA would probably have a field day with this. We probably broke rules left and right, especially that part where we left the job half-finished overnight and turned the forced air back on before everything was completely removed.
I hope my future health-insurance company isn’t reading this.
The moral of the story: if you think you’re going to find asbestos in your remodeling project, plan for professional abatement in your budget. And if you can’t afford it, wait to do your remodel until you can.
You can go ahead and say, “I told you so, Sarah.”