What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral that has been used for many centuries. A large amount of asbestos material has been commercially imported into Britain over the last 150 years and used in a range of products to enhance their strength and durability.

Asbestos was used because it has many good properties including:

  • Heat and fire resistance
  • Strength and durability
  • Non-corrosive - resistant to acids

As a result of having these qualities, asbestos fibres were added or mixed to a wide range of materials that have been used for fireproofing, insulation and soundproofing.

Due to concerns about the health risks associated with asbestos the importing and use of most forms of asbestos was banned in the early 1980s.

Due to its worldwide use and the mining operations to extract it, we are all exposed to very low levels of asbestos in the air we breathe every day, however it is unlikely to harm people’s health.

It is also unlikely that levels of asbestos found in our buildings will be harmful, but if you have damaged, suspected asbestos materials in your home you should seek advice from the Repairs Section where you will be given guidance on the best course of action to take.

Asbestos is not dangerous if it's sealed safely and in good condition. It’s can be dangerous when it is broken and fibres are released into the air.

It’s important you don’t:

  • drill a hole through any asbestos boards
  • cut or break off any parts of asbestos products
  • rub down asbestos panels, or artex, with sandpaper
  • use wallpaper scrapers on asbestos products
  • remove asbestos panels to gain access to services.

Why was asbestos used in homes?

Asbestos was a popular material for house builders right across the UK as it’s resistant to heat and chemicals.

It’s likely to be found in homes built between the 1950s and 1980s. Homes built since the mid-80s are unlikely to contain asbestos in the fabric of the building, but they may have some traces in parts of the building.

Common area of homes which may contain asbestos materials:

  • roof and floor tiles, including adhesives used for vinyl tiling or linoleum
  • wall panels
  • insulation panels inside storage heaters
  • packing between floors and partition walls
  • cement fireplace surrounds and central heating flues
  • garage and shed roofs
  • soffits, rainwater goods including gutters and drain pipes
  • textured paint and plastering, commonly known as Artex
  • electrical fuse boxes
  • heating cupboards and older flue pipes
  • water tanks
  • pipe lagging/insulation
  • asbestos has also been used in some heat-resistant household products, such as oven gloves and ironing boards

Asbestos is safe if it remains mixed, bound or sealed with other material.

Is asbestos still used in homes? 

Homes built after 1999 almost certainly don’t contain asbestos anywhere in the building.

If there’s asbestos in your home, you must not damage or disturb it. Don’t use any electrical tools or use a hammer to break any asbestos.

Unless it is worn or damaged Asbestos containing materials should be left undisturbed as it is safe when mixed and bound together.

We do not normally remove asbestos from our properties.  If it is damaged we will seal, enclose/encapsulate or remove if necessary.

I want to carry out DIY in my home. What should I do?

If you want to carry out DIY then speak to our Customer First Centre First on 0800 479 7979. They can check if there’s any asbestos in your home.

Some older forms of decorative textured coatings e.g. Artex type decorative coatings are known to contain small amounts of asbestos. Please seek advice prior to these surfaces being disturbed.

Do not attempt to remove or work on asbestos-containing materials yourself.

We do not routinely remove all asbestos from housing properties.  We may need to carry out asbestos removal if it is damaged or if we need to disturb an area during Capital Upgrade Programmes, such as replacement kitchens or bathrooms. All asbestos works are carried out by a licensed asbestos removal contractors.

Further useful information can also be found at