Buying, selling or running a home – everything you need to know about your home and garden!

Asbestos Water Tanks

Ossie writes:

I’ve just moved into a house with an asbestos (header?) water tank in the loft. There is no cover (top to it) and no insulation. Would it be safe to cover it with a piece of wood or flattened cardboard box resting on the top to stop dust, spiders etc getting into the water and help prevent it freezing? Also, does it need to be insulated or lagged?

I’m aware of the dangers of asbestos, which is why I ask!

Ossie, this is a tricky one. I’m going to answer the best I can…

The first thing for you to do is check the state of repair of the tank. Use a good torch/flashlight, a good respiratory mask and gloves. Check the inside and outside thoroughly. Also check the top edges of the tank for any sign of wear and tear.

If the tank is in good condition, then I suggest that simply leaving it be may be the best course of action. You can put a piece of ply or cardboard on top if you wish, this is not a problem – simply lay it on top, don’t try to hammer or screw it onto the asbestos…

Having said that, I would suggest that the tank is replaced ASAP. This tank feeds your house water – and if there are any particles or debris in that water, then that is possibly going to be bad for your health and the health of your family.

I’ve been doing a bit of research and have come up with the possibility of getting the old tank removed and a new tank installed – my estimate is somewhere between £1,000 and £2,000 for this. A lot of money, but not as expensive as bad health!

For the removal of the tank, you must bring in a licensed contractor. These guys have the right tools and knowledge to be able to do the job safely. PLEASE do not attempt to remove the tank yourself.

Whether you choose to replace the tank is up to you. I would suggest that whether you end up with a new tank or stick with the older one, it should be lagged. Lagging cuts down on your heating bill, for one thing – and is a cheap and easy way to do so!

I would suggest that it might be worth you calling your local council and asking if they have a department who can help you further. Many councils have fully trained staff who can come out and give “on the spot” advice and information. This service is usually (but not always) free of charge. If you explain the problem to them, they will be able to let you know more fully the financial and health implications…

Ossie, good luck, and please let us know how you get on.