I recently replaced an interior door in my house with a prehung unit.
When I removed the old door, I found the original contractor had
sprayed drywall texture all over the 2x4 framing in the course of
spraying the sheet rock. I didn't think much of it at the time, and of
course I knocked some of the material loose and created some dust. I
had a drop cloth down but I was just trying to catch the bigger
debris, not maintain a clean room environment.
Someone told me the compound probably contains asbestos. I didn't want
to believe it, but testing was cheap so I sent a sample to an out of
state lab. They confirmed it contains 3% chrysotile - the "safer"
At the same time I had also removed two windows and replaced them with
vinyl sliders. In the course of that project, I had to cut and drill
the drywall, again producing lots of dust.
I thought asbestos was a problem that was over and done with years
ago. I thought that unless you bought a house built in the 40s or 50s,
you had nothing to worry about.
The first thing everyone says is that as long as you don't disturb it,
you're safe. That is fine in theory. There are a few problems with
that in practice, however. First, how do you not disturb sheet rock?
The house is 40 years old. In some places the sheet rock has been
damaged by condensation from the aging windows, or the inadequate
bathroom ventilation. Almost every wall has signs of amateur repairs,
meaning there have been many fiber releases in the past. There are
nail pops and places where the walls have been bumped by furniture or
otherwise damaged. Paint of course is a temporary cure, but it only
covers over the problem. Removing any of the trim exposes unpainted
wall texture and releases dust in the process. OSHA puts wall texture
in the most dangerous class of asbestos containing material, because
it is a dry powdery substance that easily crumbles and becomes
Even if I could leave it alone, I don't intend to live in this house
for the rest of my life. My wife and I bought it with the intention of
living here for a few years while we start a family. We have pretty
much outgrown it already. We planned on making some improvements and
catching up on the deferred maintenance, then selling the house when
we outgrew it. We never thought we'd make a profit off it, but we
figured we could come out even, or at least be no worse off than if
we'd payed rent for a few years.
The biggest problem is that now I am legally and ethically required to
disclose the presence of asbestos to any potential buyer. I know I
would not have bought it knowing the asbestos was there. I imagine it
makes it very hard to sell your house, unless you are willing to
discount it for professional removal, which I figure would cost
upwards of $5 a square foot. We're talking ceilings and walls here, so
it will be significantly more than the square footage of the house.
And removing the wall texture would basically mean a full remodel. I
might as well go down to the studs and start over.
I am not sure if I should tell my neighbors, who have identical houses
built at the same time. I suspect the older ones who don't ever intend
to move would just shrug it off and forget about it. The younger ones
would either ignore it or regard me as the bearer of bad news. I have
no doubt, human nature being what it is, that the hazardous substances
box would not be checked on a lot of the seller disclosure forms
mandated by the state. Not necessarily out of a willful desire to
endanger or cheat someone, but simply out of an inability to
comprehend the facts of the situation. My wife will not allow me to
bring this topic up at all, but wants to proceed as if I never had it
tested. It might have been better if I had not, except that I would
now be blithely sanding, drilling, and demolishing the sheet rock in
Anyway, if you've come this far, thanks for reading my rant. I'm about
out of steam for tonight. Any thoughts you have on my situation are