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Asbestos in boiler rooms

As a UK-wide asbestos consultancy we come across boiler rooms riddled with asbestos every day.

Sometimes, businesses will have had asbestos removed from their boiler rooms 20 years ago but the standards then were completely different to today. As a result, what we find left behind now is not so much fully insulated pipes but the debris, insulation debris and splashes of raw asbestos insulation residue on walls, pipe brackets and nut heads. This is nowhere near the standards we expect today.

If you are a duty holder you have different options when it comes to dealing with your boiler room and all of them have a cost element. There are the costs of the physical removal works, for putting stuff back, moving items and possibly replacing items. So, what are your options?

Fully Remove the Asbestos

To fully guarantee there is no asbestos left in the boiler room the best solution is to remove everything from the boiler room, including pipes, cables, ducts, conduits and brackets. The boiler will also need to come out and this can be costly.

The contractors then thoroughly clean the area and remove all the paint because asbestos residue may be under the surface of the paint.

Thorough Cleaning

If you don’t want to replace your boilers and cables etc, it is possible to get near to cleaning the room fully, although there may be asbestos insultation and debris or residues trapped behind elements a contractor cannot reach. For example, a contractor can only go to the edge of a fuse board.

Essentially, in this option a dustless blasting machine is used to get rid of residues without affecting the walls of the boiler room itself. However, because it is a blasting machine it does create damage, so contractors will need to box around any items that are to be kept. Once the main works are done, the boxing comes off the wall and the areas around the fuse box or panels will need to be encapsulated.

You might want to do partial works with a dustless blasting machine if you are having new equipment fitted in the boiler room but you are not completely gutting the room. This will leave you with clean sections that the engineers can enter to install new equipment.

Making Safe

Next on the list, is making safe. This may be the option you choose if you need to make an area safe before you do minimal works which do not require you drilling into any walls. You clean down walls and brackets, manually scrapping off any of the large residue. You encapsulate walls where asbestos residue has been identified. This protects the asbestos in situ and seals the area, making the area safe without gutting the room.

Labelling

Labelling doesn’t have to be done, and isn’t a legal requirement, but it is your last line of defence. This will help you to help other people on site and protect people in the future.

A lot of sites we work on require labelling to be done however, in schools they don’t label. This is because, in their experience, some kids will kick it and break it just so they can get a day off school when the contractors have to come in to repair it.

Close the room off

Your final option only works if you don’t need to access the boiler room or you can put that boiler room under a permit to work system. In this case, you literally lock the door and shut it. It won’t cost you much other than a lock and padlock to prevent anyone from accessing the area.

If it is a disused boiler room which you never need to go into this may be the option for you. However, if access is required this will not be an option for you. If you have trades that need to go in to take readings or for maintenance or you use the area to store equipment this is not the solution for you.

We’re a professional asbestos consultancy helping businesses deal with asbestos compliance using asbestos surveys, asbestos testing, and asbestos removal. Please call one of the team, or use the online form to obtain your free quotation. If you would like further information or advice on asbestos and asbestos training, contact the team on 0844 818 0895 or email mailto:info@acorn-as.com.

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