Home >> Why have it inspected? >> Vermiculite inspection – Zonolite

Inspect for Vermiculite - Zonolite

Used primarily in the 1920s to 1990s, vermiculite is an inexpensive, grayish, shiny insulator that resembles small stones. Excellent thermal and sound insulator, it was popular due to its many qualities: incombustible, unalterable, rot-proof. It is generally found in the sub – roofs.

In Canada, nearly 300,000 homes were insulated with vermiculite that was contaminated with asbestos. In fact, the source from which the vermiculite came was contaminated with asbestos. However, not all vermiculite insulation contains asbestos. Only e vermiculite inspection by a professional can determine if it actually contains asbestos.

Should we be afraid of vermiculite?

According to Health Canada , the risks of asbestos contamination from a house insulated with vermiculite are almost zero if:
  • The insulation is never disturbed by renovation work or the installation of ceiling lights; 
  • The insulation is sealed and cannot leak into the air; 
  • The insulation is not in direct contact with the living space.  
  • Insulation is not removed without professional help.  
However, insulation that will need to be moved and that may contain asbestos can be a health hazard. Prolonged exposure can lead to serious breathing problems, lung cancer and even death. Problems with asbestos contact do not appear until 15 or 20 after exposure, which may explain why the issue of the presence of the substance in homes took so long to make a lot of noise.

Buy or not a house insulated with vermiculite

A few years ago, it was common to knowingly buy and sell an asbestos-contaminated home . Today, this question compromises real estate transactions. Insurance companies are cautious, financial institutions rigid when it comes to buying a property containing vermiculite , even if it does not necessarily contain asbestos. The decontamination of a house requires investing s financial stake no one wants to take.

Before buying a home, it is therefore recommended to do a vermiculite inspection by a certified home inspector if it is found to be present as an insulation. Laboratory analysis is the only way to verify with certainty the presence of asbestos. It costs between $ 200 and a few thousand, depending on the materials. The inspector should take care to lift the mineral wool in several places. This is because vermiculite may have been present in the past, but only removed in certain places.

Some homeowners will try to reassure buyers by providing inspections for negative vermiculites, that is, they do not contain asbestos. However, it is impossible to ensure the veracity of these tests and your inspector will likely recommend that you perform them again.

If you find vermiculite at home, it is estimated that there is a one in two chance that it is contaminated with asbestos. The only tolerance for the presence of asbestos is 0.1%; when the samples come back positive from the laboratory, they contain 1% and 5% asbestos.

What if you find vermiculite contaminated with asbestos?

There are only two solutions. The most expensive solution, but the most durable, is to hire a specialist company to remove any presence of vermiculite . This will permanently solve the problem. Homeowners can also choose to simply completely isolate the vermiculite from the living space, and therefore seal the ceiling and attic. This solution does not pose a health problem, but leaves a major problem: the resale of a house contaminated with asbestos becomes almost impossible, because neither the buyer nor the seller will want to bear the costs of decontamination .

One thing is certain, the dangers associated with the presence of asbestos are significant. In fact, having a vermiculite inspection carried out by a qualified and recognized company is the first step to having a clear heart on the condition of your home, or the property you are coveting.