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      During a recent crawl space inspection, I was delighted to see a nice new ground cover laid down throughout—-plus plenty of head-room—-SAAWEET!  Usually the ground cover is more like a sheet laid out with the express purpose of collecting dead vermin and rodent feces—–and assorted other varieties of nastiness—-but still better than none.  To not have to crawl on one’s belly through the whole space—-now that is luxury.  This particular crawl space was divided into 3 sections and as I entered the 3rd area which was under my buyer’s condo unit—-this is what I found.

White powder in the crawl space

     Well, I knew immediately what it was—-but for the sake of this post, what do YOU the reader think it is?   Let’s make a list of possibilities—-just to give you a sense of some of the things inspectors can encounter in crawl spaces—-as well as some possibilities that I would hope would NOT be encountered very often.

1.     Sport climbing chalk, (Owner owns a climbing gym?)

2.     Drywall dust that filtered down through a knot hole in the sub-floor above, (Recently remodeled?)

3.     Insecticide from treatment for Wood Destroying Organisms, (House had bugs?)

4.     Baby powder, (House was a day care?)

5.     Lime, (Used to be a farm house?  Perhaps an outhouse?)

6.     Cocaine, (Not likely—-it would NOT have gotten left behind!)

7.     Crushed stick of kid’s driveway chalk, (You never know where kids are going to play with chalk?)

8.     Crème of Tarter, (Someone was REALLY into making pancakes?)

9.    Fiberglass dust, (Previous owner used to build boats in his basement?)

10.  Asbestos, (What house doesn’t have asbestos?)

11.   Rice Flour, (Hey—-it’s possible!)

12.  Laundry soap, (The laundry is nearby?)

13.  Borax hand cleaner, (How do these things end up where they do?)  

14.  Rotenone, (There is a huge garden in the back yard?)

15.  Diatomaceous Earth, (Ahhhhh, hippies—trying to kill bugs the natural way?)

16.  Sugar, (That big hole in the kitchen floor?)

17.  Salt, (You have to store it somewhere when it isn’t freezing outside!)

18.  Baking soda, (The butcher the baker the candle stick maker?)

19.  Titanium White artists pigment, (Former owner was an artist?)

20. Most anything, (What can you think of?)

21.  Most anything white. (What can you think of that is white?)

     This next picture should give you the answer.

Asbestos Wrapped Pipes

     If you picked Asbestos, from the list you were correct.  These old asbestos wrapped heating pipes had been whacked by workers in the crawl space which created the friable mess below on the ground cover.

     While one of the popular recommendations for dealing with these materials is to leave them alone and protect them from becoming friable, now we have a situation were the “big guns” (asbestos abatement company) have to come in and properly clean up the mess.  Perhaps the big guns should have been called in the first place.

     Some materials with asbestos in them are not very easily made friable—-this old type pipe wrap is not one of them.  It is easily damaged.

     Here are the requisite sites for “official” information on how to deal with these types of materials:

    The Environmental Protection Agency.

    The Puget Sound Clean Air Agency (for those in Washington State—-the information is still good for all interested).

     Lastly—always wear proper breathing protection in the crawl space.

 

Charles Buell

 

 

 

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Click on the Rose A Group by any other name. to check out: AHA!—A Forum of Landmark Proportions—your Group

PS, for those of you that are new to my blog (or for some other “unexplained” reason have never noticed)sunsmileall pictures and smiley-face inserts (emoticons) (when I use them) have messages that show up when you point at them with your cursor.

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Raven DeCroeDeCroe, is my “ethereal” home inspector assistant and occasionally flies into my blog and other people’s blogs to offer assistance. To find out more about her beginnings just click on Raven.

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