Modern life and design in our historical American Foursquare home

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Asbestos and electrical updates

By on June 17, 2013

Not all of our house updates are especially conspicuous or pretty to look at. In fact, our home inspector found some evidence of asbestos and electrical issues behind the walls during the pre-contract inspection, which was not welcome news but also not that surprising to us. So we decided to get the ball rolling as soon as possible to address these problems before we actually moved in. Since the seller was not living in the house during the contract period, we were able to get an asbestos abatement company and an electrician to come in and look around before closing.

Our home inspector had noted some asbestos around an exposed duct in the basement, so we knew that definitely had to be removed.


But we weren’t sure if there was more asbestos elsewhere in the house, so John contacted an abatement company to go through the house thoroughly. Turns out we did have more asbestos than previously found, and it had to be carefully removed so as not to release harmful materials into the air (and our lungs). Luckily, it wasn’t too widespread. Only a few ducts and vents were affected and needed to be professionally treated. We set this up to be taken care of the day after closing, and we had to stay out of the house during most of this treatment for safety reasons, but John got a few photos while they were setting up their equipment. The main rooms affected were the spare bedroom and the basement.

Asbestos abatement

Asbestos abatement

The semi-finished part of the basement has a tiled floor that contains asbestos, but as long as it’s not disturbed (and we don’t try to tear it up ourselves), it’s safe to leave as-is for now.

We also called in an electrician to look into the house’s electrical issues. A few hours after we signed the closing documents, John and his dad tore down the drop ceiling in the basement to give the electrician better access to some of the wiring (and discovered a little more asbestos to be abated).

Basement Before

Basement ceiling

Asbestos abatement

Knowing the house’s age, we weren’t surprised that some of the wiring was out-of-date and not up to current safety codes. Our electrician told us that the house was only wired to 100 amps (current standard is 200 amps) and wasn’t properly grounded, our electrical box needed replacing, and some of our outlets needed upgrading.

Basement Electrical Box before

Electrical box

One issue we decided to put on hold was burying some sagging wires that run from the back of the house to the garage. Originally we wanted to put them underground so that they weren’t exposed. But since we may be tearing down the entire garage at some point (which is something else the home inspector recommended), it makes more sense to bury these lines at that time. For now, the electrician just tightened and raised them, so that we don’t bump our heads against them when we are in the backyard.


These improvements are not as visible a fresh paint job or a new shower head. But it was important to spend some of our budget in these areas so that we feel safe in our house. We can sleep at night knowing that outdated electrical wires won’t spark and burn the house down, and that we’re not breathing in asbestos fibers from our vents. It’s good.

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June 17, 2013

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