How Much Does Asbestos Removal Cost?
Asbestos removal costs are mainly dependent on the material being removed, the size of the contaminated area, and disposal fees. Homeowners can expect an average cost of $1,123 to $2,872, with a national average of $1,994.
- Typical Range: $1,123 to $2,872
- National Average: $1,994
Asbestos is a known carcinogen that was used in construction due to its fire and heat resistance. It’s usually found in older homes or buildings built before regulations limited its usage in the United States. If asbestos has been identified, removing it should become a priority. A professional asbestos removal company is certified to remove asbestos using proper safety equipment. The average asbestos removal cost is $1,123 to $2,872, with a national average of $1,994. Most of the asbestos removal cost will go toward materials to protect the area from additional exposure during removal. The price may increase depending on the size of the job.
Factors in Calculating Asbestos Removal Cost
Preparation and setup for asbestos removal is the most significant factor when determining asbestos removal cost. A small area with asbestos tile may only need a single room protected from contamination, but an entire floor would require far more materials and preparation to prevent additional exposure. Setting up and sealing the area accounts for approximately 60 to 70 percent of the total price. Disposal fees vary by location, as do material costs.
The Size of Area
In many cases, asbestos is not found throughout a house but only in particular areas. The more difficult the site is to reach, the more expensive it may be to remove the asbestos. A crawl space or small attic is more hazardous to the person removing asbestos, and more care will have to be taken while sealing the room. Removing asbestos inside the house can range from $5 to $20 per square foot, and removing it from a roof or siding could cost up to $150 per square foot. An asbestos remediation project on an entire house could start at $15,000.
Pre-Clean and Setup Costs
Setting up to remove asbestos is a time-consuming process designed to protect workers and homeowners from flying asbestos fibers that should not be inhaled. The HVAC system will be turned off to prevent extra air movement. A decontamination area will be constructed, rooms sealed off, warning signs posted, and disposal containers prepped. Setup costs typically average $240 to $350 per hour, including materials.
Asbestos removal usually involves a team of people to seal an area and coordinate the removal process. An average project takes about 8 hours to complete, and at least two employees will usually complete the job. Labor costs approximately $75 to $200 per person per hour.
Material and Equipment
The cost of materials and equipment needed to remove asbestos will also significantly affect the price. A larger exposed area will need more materials to safely seal off the rest of the home or building. Additionally, each person removing asbestos needs new protective equipment like safety goggles, respirators, protective suits, disposable gloves, and rubber boots. A HEPA vacuum will need to be rented or purchased, and sealants, negative pressure airflow fans, or other removal equipment may be required. On average, materials and equipment will cost $450 or more.
Each state has its own fees for asbestos removal, though the EPA has set national standards for disposal regulations. A permit to dispose of asbestos usually costs between $50 and $100, while the disposal rates range from $10 to $50 per cubic yard. Any hazardous waste must be labeled appropriately and disposed of in a special landfill to prevent contaminating local water sources.
Location affects asbestos removal costs—and not just for disposal fees. Permits vary by location, as do overall prices for services and equipment. Urban areas can expect higher prices than suburban or rural areas. Some states, including California, consider certain types of non-friable asbestos (which means it’s more stable and can’t be crushed) as nonhazardous during disposal, making it easier and cheaper to dispose of.
If you suspect asbestos in your home, you’ll want to have a specialist inspect and test your home. The specialist will perform a visual inspection and lab tests. If it’s not already required by state law, use a separate inspection company than the removal company. Testing and inspecting for asbestos usually costs $250 to $850—a wide range due to the variety of regulations from city and state laws. Check online for “asbestos removal near me” to learn about local requirements.
Additional Costs and Considerations
When considering asbestos removal costs, there are a few other things to keep in mind. Removing asbestos from a commercial building often includes more areas than a residential house. If the asbestos doesn’t require removal, encapsulating or repairing the area might be possible at an additional cost.
Residential vs. Commercial Buildings
Generally, a residence and a commercial building have the same challenges for asbestos removal. The primary difference is that a commercial space often has more square footage than a residence, and it may cost more to seal off the area during the prep. Removal and disposal techniques are the same for a commercial building as for a residential house. Still, only a licensed professional can do asbestos abatement in a commercial building or multifamily dwelling in some states.
The primary concern with asbestos is that airborne fibers can be inhaled and cause chronic health problems. Not all asbestos has to be removed unless it’s at risk of becoming airborne, as is often the case during a remodel. One option to avoid removing asbestos is to encapsulate or seal it instead—if an inspection proves this is a safe option. A special coating is applied to bind the fibers together, and this is commonly done in ductwork. Encapsulation costs 15 to 25 percent less than asbestos removal costs.
Asbestos siding repair cost will vary due to state regulations but average $700 to $10,000. Removing all asbestos siding isn’t required in some states, which means homeowners won’t have to shell out the cost of brand-new siding on their house. Encapsulating the siding can be cheaper than doing a complete repair when allowed. Suppose ductwork, drywall, tiles, or other materials with asbestos cannot be encapsulated. In that case, they’ll need to be removed and then repaired, which is an additional cost beyond the asbestos removal cost.
Asbestos Removal Cost by Location
Removing asbestos from a garage, house, or office building is typically the same process. Ducts, attics, walls, floors, and insulation are generally the same, so removal methods don’t vary much. Areas with little or difficult access or large surface areas will have a higher price for removal. If a pipe needs remediation, the scope of the job depends on how many rooms the pipe runs through since each room will need to be sealed off. On average, expect to spend between $5 and $20 per square foot for asbestos removal inside a building.
Pipes and Ducts
Asbestos can be found glued or taped around some pipes as insulation. Removal depends on how the material was affixed and whether the pipe section or entire pipe will be removed. Setup fees run between $2.50 and $10 per square foot, with an additional per-linear-foot cost of $2 to $5 for removing pipe wrap.
Ducts are usually entirely removed since asbestos is typically used to hold ductwork pieces together. Since ducts are in enclosed spaces and linked to the ventilation system, removal is a more delicate process. On average, removing asbestos ductwork costs $35 to $55 per square foot.
Attic and Roof
Asbestos is often found in old attic insulation. Some attics have plenty of room to work, while others are difficult to access. By nature of how insulation is made, it’s more dangerous to remove asbestos-laden insulation since fibers easily come loose. Expect to spend $800 to $15,000, with an additional $900 to $1,900 for replacement insulation.
Steep roofs can be dangerous to work on, and they have a large surface area—both of which increase the price. Containment is another concern since removing asbestos on a windy day can make the process challenging. Removing asbestos from a roof averages $20 to $120 per square foot, and replacing an asphalt roof could cost $1,700 to $8,400.
Wall and Drywall
For homes built before 1986, it’s not uncommon to discover that most of the walls are contaminated with high amounts of non-friable asbestos. In a worst-case scenario, the walls would need to be removed and replaced, which could cost $16,000 to $20,000 for a 1,500-square-foot home. An inspection may reveal that it’s safe enough to have the walls encapsulated instead. A high-grade specialized sealant can help ensure the asbestos won’t be an airborne risk. Encapsulating typically costs $2 to $6 per square foot.
Ceiling and Floor
Popcorn ceilings and old ceiling tiles are common asbestos harborers. Removing popcorn ceilings with asbestos usually costs $3 to $7 per foot or about $1,600 if there isn’t any asbestos. Alternatively, the ceiling could be eligible for an encapsulation spray which runs between $2 and $6 per square foot. Asbestos ceiling tiles can also be encapsulated at the same price; otherwise, complete removal costs between $5 and $15 per square foot. Vinyl floors could have asbestos in the backing or adhesive. Unless the flooring is damaged and the fibers can be vacuumed or swept into the air, simply encapsulating the floor may be sufficient to reduce exposure.
In some cases, tile and tile mastic used to glue them down may have asbestos in them. Asbestos tiles typically cost between $5 and $15 per square foot to remove, plus an additional $1,500 to $4,500 to replace. Simply encapsulating the tiles is possible if an inspection has shown there is no danger of exposure. Another option is to cover it with new flooring of almost any kind. Most older tiles are barely thicker than ⅛ inch, so the floor height won’t rise appreciably.
Decades ago, old landfills used to be bulldozed and filled in before being rezoned for commercial construction. Hazardous materials weren’t always adequately disposed of, so asbestos sometimes leached into the soil. Removing asbestos from soil typically costs $4 to $6 per square foot.
Since asbestos is fire resistant, it used to be a popular material in insulation. It’s often used around pipes and HVAC systems and in walls and attics. Insulation has a lot of loose fibers; any asbestos insulation will have to be removed and replaced. Removing asbestos from walls typically costs between $11 and $25 per square foot.
Do I Need Asbestos Removal?
Contrary to popular belief, finding asbestos in the home doesn’t automatically mean it has to be removed. The only time asbestos is a danger to your health is when the loose fibers are inhaled. Sadly, some diseases take years to appear after asbestos exposure, so it’s best to check any areas of concern promptly. Any sign of water damage or tearing is an indication that asbestos may be loose and need to be removed; otherwise, encapsulation may be sufficient.
There Are Symptoms of Asbestosis
People who have had long-term asbestos exposure may develop a chronic lung disease called asbestosis. Symptoms usually develop 10 to 40 years after exposure, making it challenging to identify when or where the exposure occurred. The fibers are trapped in the lungs and cause scarring over time. Some common symptoms include a dry, persistent cough, shortness of breath, loss of appetite, chest tightness or pain, and widened fingertips and toes (also called clubbing).
You’re Starting a Home Improvement Project
Older homes are often slated for remodeling projects, but many materials may be unknowingly laced with asbestos. Keep watch for the telltale white, brown, or blue fibers as you demolish areas of the house. If asbestos is found, you’ll need to carefully handle the area to maintain the health of anyone working on the remodel. Cover the exposed material tightly until it can be properly inspected and tested, then proceed based on the recommendation.
Asbestos Removal Cost: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
Despite the hazards of asbestos removal, there are no federal regulations preventing homeowners from doing their own asbestos removal. However, some states have restrictions in place due to hazardous conditions. While some asbestos DIY kits are available for those wondering how to remove asbestos, be advised that they provide only minimal protection and may not include all the necessary equipment for your situation.
Since labor is not the most significant factor for asbestos removal costs, you won’t save a lot of money doing it on your own. The last thing you’d want to do is risk your own health just to save a few dollars. Asbestos removal is best left to the pros who are appropriately trained and certified to contain, clean, and dispose of hazardous materials.
Special suits and respirators protect employees during the removal process, and homeowners are sometimes asked to leave the home for their own safety. The entire area is carefully sealed off, and then water is used to dampen the fibers to prevent excessive floating as they are captured. When done correctly, asbestos removal won’t contaminate the rest of the house. A licensed asbestos removal company will clean every surface and perform air testing before removing the barriers and doing a final cleaning. From start to finish, professionals are capable of handling the job with ease.
How to Save Money on Asbestos Removal Cost
Dealing with exposed asbestos can be a frustrating and unexpected cost. It’s natural to want to find ways to save money on asbestos removal costs, especially if new materials like flooring or drywall will have to be installed. Here are some money-saving ideas for asbestos removal:
- Use a third-party inspection company to test for asbestos rather than having the removal company test. This avoids any conflicts of interest since you don’t want to pay for asbestos removal if there isn’t a problem.
- Only use encapsulation methods when it’s legal and safe to do so. Saving money isn’t worth it if it puts your family’s health at risk.
- Get quotes from multiple reputable companies to ensure you’re getting a good deal.
- Check to see if your local government has a program for asbestos removal assistance to help homeowners offset removal and disposal costs.
Questions to Ask About Asbestos Removal Cost
Removing asbestos can be a daunting process, especially if a significant amount of asbestos has been found. You’ll need to consider several factors tailored to your situation, whether asbestos is located in ductwork, tiles, shingles, or siding. An experienced professional can confidently answer your questions and help put your mind at ease. The following questions can help guide you through the process.
Ask the inspector:
- Are you certified to inspect and test for asbestos?
- How much do you charge to physically inspect for asbestos?
- How quickly do the test results come back?
- Do we go over the results and recommendations in person or over the phone?
- Do you provide the results to the asbestos removal company, or do I share them?
- Are there any special state regulations that affect how the asbestos in my house will have to be handled?
- Will I need an additional inspection after the job is done?
Ask the asbestos removal company:
- May I see your credentials for removing and disposing of asbestos?
- Have you ever had safety violations from the local pollution board or local workers’ safety program?
- Have you worked on a removal project like mine?
- Will you provide a contract stating work scope, cleanup plan, and regulations that must be followed?
- How long will it take to complete?
- Can I stay nearby during the process?
- Do you use new protective gear at each jobsite?
- How will you prevent fibers from being released into the house?
- How many employees will you send?
- Is your team able to remove contaminated ductwork (or shingles, tile, or drywall as your situation requires)?
- Will a qualified subcontractor need to be hired to help remove any materials like plumbing?
- How do you collect and remove the contaminated materials?
- What is your cleanup process?
- Will you complete an air test before removing the containment seals?
- How soon can I have new or replacement parts and materials installed?
If you require asbestos removal in a residential or commercial building, you’ll probably have some questions about the process. Talking with an asbestos inspector or removal expert can help clarify any questions you may have. For quick reference, here are some of the most frequently asked questions and answers.
Q. How do I hire an asbestos contractor to work in my home?
Before hiring a contractor, a different company will first need to perform an inspection. You can call your local health department for a list of certified inspectors who can complete a visual inspection and get lab testing done on collected samples. Check the company’s reputation on the Better Business Bureau and ask the local pollution control board if the company has any recorded safety violations before calling for a quote.
Q. Are there any special questions I should ask when I’m selecting an asbestos contractor?
Make sure the contractor has any state-required certifications for asbestos removal. Ask if each employee has been trained and credentialed. Ask how they plan to prevent fibers from going airborne or contaminating the rest of the house. Finally, consider asking about their cleanup process to ensure you feel confident that they’ll get the job done safely.
Q. How will the contractor remove asbestos from my house?
Any materials or protective gear that comes in contact with asbestos will be disposed of. The contractor should have large, leak-proof, heavy-duty plastic bags to collect all waste. It’s best to avoid breaking the asbestos materials into smaller pieces to avoid releasing more fibers. All surfaces will be mopped down or vacuumed with a special HEPA vacuum specially rated to trap hazardous particles like asbestos. The containment seals will be carefully deconstructed and removed in plastic bags as well.
Q. What is the difference between a friable and non-friable asbestos?
Friable asbestos is more dangerous to humans. It’s crumbly and easily releases toxic particles into the air. Non-friable asbestos is locked in a stable matrix and resists releasing fibers easily unless damaged. Old floor tiles and some walls contain non-friable asbestos.
Q. How long does asbestos removal take?
A typical asbestos removal job takes a team of people only a day to complete. However, getting an inspection and test results takes longer, depending on the number of samples and testing performed.