The Original Asbestos Issue

Contractors used to use asbestos tape to help hold HVAC system ducting together at the joints and prevent air from escaping. While the tape provides an effective seal, asbestos poses health risks if fibers become airborne. Inhaling airborne asbestos fibers can cause severe respiratory diseases like mesothelioma. Use caution when doing DIY projects on older homes as asbestos insulation materials may be present.

Modern duct tape is asbestos-free, making it a safer option for repairing and sealing air ducts. Unlike other tapes that may not withstand hot/cold cycles, duct tape is designed specifically for HVAC systems.

While old asbestos tape does include asbestos, it has minimal friable fibers, meaning fibers that can escape into the air and pose health risks. With proper precautions, which we’ll describe below, you can safely remove small sections of asbestos tape and replace it with new duct tape.

Asbestos Risks

When inhaled, asbestos fibers can pose health risks such as lung diseases that include mesothelioma, asbestosis, and lung cancer. Asbestos exposure is unsafe — homeowners should minimize or avoid it whenever possible.

How to Remove Asbestos Tape

DIYers can work on limited asbestos-containing materials without licensing — a few inches of asbestos tape falls within safe DIY removal limits.

Follow these tips for asbestos tape removal:

Wear an asbestos respirator mask from your local hardware or safety equipment store. These masks filter out asbestos fibers before they can be inhaled.

Lightly mist the tape with water to minimize airborne fibers.

Slowly peel away the tape in short sections rather than long strips. Water loosens the old adhesive.

Keep removed tape intact rather than crumbling it. Place it in a sealable plastic disposal bag.

Wipe any residue off ducts with wet rags or paper towels. Discard rags/towels in the disposal bag.

Seal the bag fully and label it for asbestos disposal. Check local regulations for proper disposal procedures.

Why Duct Tape Is a Good Solution

Once you’ve removed the asbestos tape, it’s time to reseal your ducts. Modern duct tape provides a practical option for creating an airtight seal for improved HVAC efficiency.

Follow these duct tape application tips:

  • Clean dust and debris from the ducts so the tape adheres properly.
  • Apply in the direction of airflow for maximum bond strength.
  • Wrap joints with 50% overlap and press firmly to seal. Two to three winds ensure a tight seal.
  • Remove old duct tape and reapply fresh tape as needed to maintain the seal over time. The adhesive can weaken and loosen from heat and cold cycles.

Enhance Efficiency By Insulating Ducts

While repairing ducts, also consider wrapping them with insulation. Insulation regulates temperature and reduces wasted heating and cooling. In climates with extremely warm and cold seasonal temperatures, homeowners can typically experience worthwhile energy cost savings by improving the thermal efficiency of their ductwork systems.

Today’s Homeowner Tips

Opt for R-6 to R-8 fiberglass duct wrap if the existing ductwork lacks insulation. Secure it using foil tape, metal bands, or wire.

Don’t panic over the presence of asbestos. Replacing asbestos tape with modern duct tape is a safe, effective DIY solution. Use proper precautions — a respirator mask during removal and adequate asbestos disposal. New duct tape provides a tight seal without asbestos risks. Combine replacing asbestos tape with adding insulation for optimal efficiency.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much asbestos tape can I DIY remove?

Contractors and homeowners can typically work on up to 160 square feet (about 120 linear feet) of asbestos duct materials without licensing.

What type of duct tape works best?

Opt for HVAC-grade duct tape, not multipurpose tape. Look for a -20°F to 200°F temperature rating to withstand heating and cooling cycles.

Should I hire asbestos abatement pros instead?

Hire certified asbestos abatement contractors to safely remove and dispose of extensive asbestos tape.

Can I leave damaged asbestos tape in place if it's not actively causing issues?

Repairing or removing damaged asbestos tape is best to prevent potential fiber release into your home’s air. Sealing with new duct tape is a good asbestos tape replacement option.

Editorial Contributors
avatar for Elisabeth Beauchamp

Elisabeth Beauchamp

Senior Staff Writer

Elisabeth Beauchamp is a content producer for Today’s Homeowner’s Lawn and Windows categories. She graduated from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with degrees in Journalism and Linguistics. When Elisabeth isn’t writing about flowers, foliage, and fertilizer, she’s researching landscaping trends and current events in the agricultural space. Elisabeth aims to educate and equip readers with the tools they need to create a home they love.

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photo of Lee Ann Merrill

Lee Ann Merrill

Chicago-based Lee Ann Merrill has decades of experience writing and editing across a wide range of technical and scientific subjects. Her love of DIY, gardening, and making led her to the realm of creating and honing quality content for homeowners. When she's not working on her craft, you can find her exploring her city by bike and plotting international adventures.

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