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Asbestos Abatement Explained

Below are some photos and explanations of our asbestos abatement methods. Also, we have included examples of common building materials frequently encountered in the Greater Boston Area that contain asbestos.  We at Dudley Services have the experience and expertise to address solutions to your asbestos related problems. If you’d like additional information or a quote on abatement options please contact us.

Sealing Off the Asbestos Abatement Area

Sealing Area for Abestos Removalhepa-filter-diagramThe photos to the left are what it looks like when we “seal off” the work area. What you see in the foreground of the top left photo is a common type of heating system called a “snowman” boiler.  The machine in the front of this photos is a device called a “negative air machine” which is equipped with a HEPA filter.

This heavy 6mil plastic you see to the left was installed by our workers and it needs to be sealed at the top and bottom with an adhesive to enable the creation of a vacuum within the work area or as we call it, a “negative air pressure zone”.  This type of abatement process is called “full-containment” style of removal. We feel this process is the safest method for protecting those in and around the abatement area because it is effective in controlling the air currents during removal and encapsulation procedures.  We often choose this full-containment method of abatement over the second option which is the “glove-bag method”.  The glove-bag method (shown below) does not require the construction of this “negative air pressure zone” that controls the air currents.


We will recommend the glove-bag method only when small amounts of material need to be removed for repairs and when accessing the insulation will not cause it to be disturbed and become airborne.  The decision of which abatement method to be used is usually a judgement decision on behalf of the Asbestos Contractor so be cautious of inexperience when making this choice.  If your insulation looks like the photos below (which is considered “friable asbestos”) then we recommend utilizing the “full containment method” as the abatement of choice.  Applying a glove-bag around this pipe could cause the material to become airborne which would then pose a hazard due to “uncontrolled air currents” carrying released asbestos fibers to areas where you would not want them to go.


Asbestos Covered Oil & Gas Boilers


Asbestos Covered Snowman Boilers

This photo above to the left is an asbestos covered “snowman” boiler.  The photo in the center shows the boiler once the asbestos has been removed.  Finally, we re-insulated a similar boiler, shown above on the right with non-asbestos material.







The interior “combustion chamber” of this boiler (shown in the photo on the left) is where the super hot flame shoots into the boiler. This chamber  was completely removed by us and replaced with a new, non-asbestos pre-formed combustion chamber (shown in the right photo above).   We realize it is not possible to identify if there is asbestos within these old combustion chambers until you start to dismantle the boiler sections so we must assume that it is inside of every older boiler we encounter.  We at Dudley Services have the ability to install these new combustion chambers (even if for one night!) which assures customers that there will not be any interruptions of heat service.   In the New England area we all know how unpredictable the weather can be so being without heat is never a desirable occurrence.

Re-insulating these old “Snowman” boilers is sometimes recommended when home sellers are in an “exit strategy”.  When selling your home, one never knows what a future buyers intentions may be. Perhaps they will want to eliminate the steam system and convert to a “hydro-air” system that provides air conditioning. Or, when buyers decide to renovate the kitchen and put on an addition years from now they may wish to  convert to a forced hot water radiant heat system.  There are just so many unknowns.  If a buyer plans on this renovation in the near future yet needs time to plan it out with a designer or heating specialist then “buying time” by eliminating the asbestos issue and keeping the old system operational should be the choice.  However, never should safety be compromised.  If the old system is not in good enough shape Dudley Services will have  the expertise to know when a system can stay functional or not.  This is what differentiates us from our competitors.

Two snowman boilers side by side

This is a common thing to see in the Greater Boston Area. Many two family homes have these types of systems still in use today. These two were “re-done” by us just recently and provided a safe alternative to an owner looking sell.  With new non-asbestos preformed chambers designed to handle the high temperatures from oil heat and updated modern safety controls we felt confident keeping these systems operational.

Four years later the home was sold and converted to condominiums.  The steam systems were eliminated completely at that time.

Asbestos Wrapped Ducts and Pipes

This is an old flue pipe that was uncovered during a renovation of a two family home in Cambridge, MA. The piece of material hanging is asbestos paper that was applied during the installation of this flue. It is also common to see ductwork for warm air systems wrapped with this material (see photo’s below).

Many of these ducts were installed inside interior walls during the initial construction phase.  It is best to inspect older homes prior to demolition to make sure unsafe conditions aren’t made even worse.

Asbestos Floor Tile Removal


The photo above shows 9″x 9″ vinyl asbestos floor tiles that have been damaged by flooding. Situations like this require proper handling and precautions should be taken not to raise dust. The photos show tiles that are in fairly decent shape yet they have been loosened and will crack once walked upon. The only way to know for sure if tiles have asbestos within them is to have them analyzed under a microscope.

If you think your tiles may have asbestos in them then keeping them in a “state of good repair” is the best advice unless they are damaged.  Apply floor wax at least twice a year to keep the tiles smooth and eliminate the possibility of fiber release. To remove floor tiles the “full containment” method of removal is most often used.

Asbestos Backed Linoleum Flooring


Coming across linoleum flooring with a high percentage of asbestos content in its backing is a common occurrence in the Greater Boston Area.   Many try to “rip”  kitchen floors into small sections with skill-saws or sawz-alls which can release large amounts of asbestos into the air.  Testing the linoleum and the associated backing and glue used to hold it down to the substrate is the best first step to changing an old floor.   We have many years of experience helping homeowners through the budgeting process and safety precautions needed to address renovations of this type.