Asbestos Can Be Costly for Locksmiths

Nov. 15, 2017

Winning the lottery or bowling a perfect 300 game always seems to happen to somebody else. When something good or bad happens to you then it really begins to hit home.

Our family locksmith business was given a lucrative assignment last summer to install a dozen exit devices in a school building.  This was an older school building. Inner hallway doors had served as passage doors for many years and the only hardware on the doors were push and pull plates. The local fire department was now requiring exit hardware to be installed to keep the doors latched.

Parts had been ordered and were ready in stock.  The day finally came when school recess began and our workers could enter the building for the installations. However, as the first door was being drilled, our workers noticed a white power substance coming from inside the drilled hole.   An immediate thought was that the substance may be asbestos. All activity was halted and the mysterious powder was sent to a local testing lab for analysis.

As suspected, the white powder was determined to be asbestos.  Since these doors were interior doors and contained no fire door labels, or labels of any kind, our workers made an early assumption to accept the job without actually probing the interior of one of the doors. It was an expensive lesson in how to lose time and income.

Valuable properties of asbestos were first discovered in the mid 1800s. Asbestos is light weight, heat resistant and has strength characteristics which made it desirable to be mixed with concrete, added to roof shingles and wall board and used as insulation around heating pipes. 

Any commercial building built before 1980 may contain asbestos materials. It is most important for locksmiths to check before drilling into old doors as indicated above. Another prime asbestos location is the inner doors in old safes. Cement containing asbestos may have been used to insulate contents against heat during a fire.

Prolonged exposure to asbestos can cause lung problems and there is no cure. According to environmental protection agency (EPA) reports, at least half the school buildings in the United States still contain asbestos hazards of some type.  Teachers are one of the largest groups of people currently affected by asbestos-caused lung disease.  Treat any product which might contain  asbestos with caution. Beware of drilling holes in old doors or ancient safes.