Thread Number: 84788  /  Tag: Ranges, Stoves, Ovens
Vintage oven...asbestos exposure? Please help!
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Post# 1092475   10/8/2020 at 20:35 by Anolis (Florida)        


I recently purchased a 1950 Frigidaire electric oven (model RM-65) and noticed fluffy insulation peeking out from the holes in the bottom & back of the range. Not thinking much of it, I continued to scrub down the greasy beast, thinking my cough was due to the cleaners I was using. When I moved it later, I noticed some of the insulation had fallen, and it had also left an expanse of shinny dust (like finely ground metal barely detectable in the right light.) I was later told that these old ranges used asbestos in their insulation, and in my frantic research found that Frigidaire did indeed use asbestos insulation!

I plan on having the material tested (mail in sort of thing) but was hoping someone on here might know more about it. I’m PRAYING it is just fiberglass insulation, but know nothing about the different insulation or where they were used in this oven. Any information would be really helpful.

Post# 1092511 , Reply# 1   10/9/2020 at 00:44 by MattL (Flushing, MI)        

There is nothing wrong with asbestos insulation as long as it's not disturbed.The range is pretty much a sealed box so really not an issue.

I'm sure others here who have dealt with older ranges will have more info.

Post# 1092512 , Reply# 2   10/9/2020 at 01:00 by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
Asbestos In Older Oven Insulation

combo52's profile picture

Yes there probably is some asbestos mixed in with the fiber-glass insulation in your old range, it was very common to mix asbestos like this.


The small amount of asbestos that you will be exposed to cleaning and using your range will not ever hurt you, and FGI is believed to be about as bad as asbestos anyway.


Any cough you got cleaning the range was likely from spray cleaners and maybe general dust.


John L.

Post# 1092514 , Reply# 3   10/9/2020 at 01:31 by thomasortega (El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora de Los Angeles de Porciúncula)        

Is asbestos dangerous? Yes, it is.

But have in mind that it's not like a deadly virus. I mean, you cleaned the oven, you didn't take the oven apart and rolled on the asbestos-fiberglass blanket.

Even in you inhaled tiny traces of asbestos (very difficult to be a fact, but of course not 100% impossible) it won't cause any harm at all.

Also also doubt that any tiny fragment of asbestos that you could rarely have inhaled would cause instant cough. Cleaning products would probably be the cause in your case.

Regarding testing, I wouldn't bother or waste money testing. I'd simply presume it DOES HAVE asbestos and have in mind you shouldn't take your oven apart to a manner that the insulation gets exposed (i mean have ALL the insulation exposed and handle it).

Regarding the rare possibility on inhaling super tiny traces of asbestos during the oven cleaning process, it's not more dangerous that a simple sniffing out of your window, considering the air pollution.

It's just like you're walking on the street and pass by somebody smoking cigarretes and you can "smell" the smoke for 5 seconds. Of course you won't develop a lung cancer BECAUSE of that.

You also don't need to be afraid of using the stove. As John mentioned above, asbestos is dangerous IF YOU DISTURB IT. IT it's sitting there, quiet, it will do absolutely nothing, no harm at all.

As it was the first cleaning, I bet you went much deeper. The next times you need to clean your stove you probably won't need to detail it that much and the chance of a second exposure is even smaller.

Post# 1092519 , Reply# 4   10/9/2020 at 02:47 by gizmo (Great Ocean Road, Victoria, Au)        
Disagree strongly

Sorry but I strongly disagree with the reassurances given above. It s just plain wrong to say that "the small amount of asbestos you will be exposed to in using and cleaning your range will never hurt you" and "even if you inhaled tiny traces of asbestos it won't cause any harm at all."

There is no safe level of asbestos exposure.

If asbestos is getting out through any holes, those holes should be sealed.

If you can get it tested for a reasonable cost, I suggest you go ahead. If you can't, seal up any place that asbestos fibres may get out, or replace the stove.

Australia has one of the highest rates of asbestos disease as we had huge asbestos mines here, and asbestos was a very popular building material till the 1980s.

We have not only had miners die from exposure, their wives and children were exposed from dust on their clothes and they have died.

Vinyl floor tiles in the 1960s often had asbestos in the mix to make them wear longer. People as late as  the 1990s removed those tiles as part of home renovations, breathed in small amounts of fibres released when prying old tiles off the floor, and are now sick.


It is a lottery. Some people get exposed once, get sick and die a miserable death. Others had huge exposure, and lived a long life. My Dad was a carpenter / construction foreman and had lots of exposure. We had an asbestos roof on our house that I helped him remove and replace with corrugated steel. He had asbestos scarring to his lungs that caused him shortness of breath in later years but fortunately it never became cancerous. (He managed to die of something else before it did...) even small exposure is a real risk.

If you are going to do any more work on this stove then at least protect yourself. Wear a disposable face mask rated for asbestos. Wear disposable overalls. When you have finished, bag up the disposable gear in plastic, clean the area where you changed clothes with disposable wipes, and have a shower.


Take it seriously.


Having said that,  an instant cough is, as others said, just as likely to be a reaction to cleaning products or dust. Or fibreglass insulation, that is very irritating too.

Post# 1092525 , Reply# 5   10/9/2020 at 03:50 by SudsMaster (East of SF, West of Eden, California)        

sudsmaster's profile picture
I studied asbestos back in university in the 1970's, and I'm leaning between Gizmo and the others with regard to the potential hazards as described in the OP.

Yes, asbestos is bad news. However, as I recall, for toxicity, much depends on the length of the asbestos fibers. The biggest danger is when asbestos is turned into something solid, like fire-resistant exterior building shingles, and then sawed or otherwise machined. This can create fibers of the size that is most hazardous to breathe in. The size is important because it must fall in between the size that is cleared from the lungs by natural processes because it is too big, or cleared like regular dust because it is too small. There is a particular size that is just the right size to invade lung tissues, where it never leaves, and over time causes irritation and eventually a form of cancer. Sorry, I don't remember the exact size but I'm sure that could be looked up.

I am guessing that the asbestos fibers in a range would be on the large size and thus not particularly dangerous. The dust mentioned probably should be tested, though. I'm guessing it's just ordinary household dust, though, which has accumulated in and around the range over the years. Asbestos doesn't burn, so perhaps one could do a quick test by holding a dust or fiber sample to a flame; if it burns right up it's probably relatively harmless household dust. The trick would be holding it in the flame, I suppose.

The house I live in was built in 1941, with heating from a floor register centrally located. Typical for older homes in this area. At some point (probably 60's or 70's), it was updated to a forced air central heating system in the crawl space. About 15 years ago I addressed the insulation on the ductwork; it was obvious to me that it was asbestos (thin sheets that you dip in water and apply like plaster). I did not bother trying to remove it, as that would create more potentially hazardous fibers. Rather, I covered it all up with fiberglass/foil insulation that I simply wrapped around the ductwork in a spiral fashion, raising as little dust as possible. Oh, and the chimney for the forced air furnace is asbestos pipe; I left that alone.

In the workshop here there's actually some pieces of hardboard that is obviously made from compressed asbestos. I hung onto them but will never attempt to cut or form them, as that likely would create fiber particles of the most toxic size. They are not crumbly; otherwise I would have got rid of them long ago.

Lesson for the day is if you encounter asbestos in the home or old appliance, don't disturb it. If you must be exposed to dust created from it, wear a P100 mask/respirator. Above all, do not attempt to cut, grind, or otherwise machine it.

Post# 1092535 , Reply# 6   10/9/2020 at 05:59 by Tomturbomatic (Beltsville, MD)        

Were you not using a mask or respirator while doing this dust-producing work? At the first sign of particle-producing insulation, put on a filtering mechanism. I don't ever recall finding such a situation when working on old ranges, but I know that it was present.

Post# 1092571 , Reply# 7   10/9/2020 at 10:48 by dermacie (my forever home (Glenshaw, PA))        

dermacie's profile picture
Asbestos exposure is only a concern if you are breathing it in for a long period of time. It may not have been asbestos anyway. My basement floor is asbestos tile and I have lived in this house for many years.

Post# 1092573 , Reply# 8   10/9/2020 at 11:39 by SudsMaster (East of SF, West of Eden, California)        

sudsmaster's profile picture
Again, asbestos tile and shingles are not a problem as long as they are not cut, sawed, or otherwise broken up to release fibers and dust.

That said, I'm not aware of any studies that say you have to breathe in a lot for it to be problem. Theoretically it could take only one asbestos fiber of the worst length to start a cancer later on.

Post# 1092581 , Reply# 9   10/9/2020 at 13:12 by robbinsandmyers (Hamden CT)        
Asbestos is bad news.....

robbinsandmyers's profile picture
Here in CT I've seen countless older homes with asbestos shingles simply get covered with siding because it was far too expensive to hire a crew to remove them, plus pay the huge environmental fees to dispose of it. They just covered it and hid it to make the future sale of the house smooth.

Post# 1092592 , Reply# 10   10/9/2020 at 14:13 by SudsMaster (East of SF, West of Eden, California)        

sudsmaster's profile picture
I guess at one time asbestos shingles made sense, for they are probably fire-proof. But it's of little import, since most roofing isn't fire-proof. I haven't seen a lot of homes out here with asbestos shingles, although I believe one of the houses I shared in college had them. That was back in the early 70's, and the homeowner probably could have removed them then without as much expense as it would incur today. That landlord might be dead and gone by now, so it may be somebody else's problem.

Fortunately my current home, which I own, has mostly stucco siding, with the exception of horizontal wood siding up front. Since I bought in the late 90's, I'm sure I would have been told if there was asbestos on the exterior. It is on the heating system ductwork, though.

I'm not sure how much it would cost to dispose of today. We have a county hazardous waste program for homeowners, where there is typically no charge for truckloads. Who knows. You'd think that the government would want people to get rid of this stuff safely and make it as reasonable as possible to dispose of it.

Post# 1092622 , Reply# 11   10/9/2020 at 19:21 by reactor (Tennessee)        
and more on asbestos

reactor's profile picture
As most have previously mentioned, the EPA generally does not require remediation or removal of many products utilizing asbestos as long as the asbestos remains in situ, or as others have said, undisturbed.

Asbestos is only dangerous if breathed into the lungs. Here in Oak Ridge, TN we have thousands of homes built by the Government during WWII using cemestos. Cemestos was a mixture of concrete and asbestos. Houses were built with exterior walls that were prefabricated of panels made from this material. The EPA has allowed these houses to stand citing that there is no potential danger unless the panels are disturbed, e.g., cut, drilled, etc. In which case it has to be done under EPA standards.

Even if your oven insulation is 100 percent asbestos, which I doubt, it poses no danger if you leave the material undisturbed, in situ.

If I were you, I would just take metalized duct tape (Lowes, Home Depot and even WalMart carry it) and place it over those openings on the back of the range. Then you can occasionally wipe the back off with no worries of disturbing anything.

Post# 1092627 , Reply# 12   10/9/2020 at 20:30 by combo52 (Beltsville,Md)        
Asbestos in Home construction

combo52's profile picture

Hi Rich, Your stucco and any plaster or even dry-wall would very likely have asbestos in them if they are older than around 1980.


The 2nd story of my 1955 home has asbestos-cement siding, and when we doubled the size of the home in 1987 we used cement siding that looks the same as the original ACS.


Various cement siding products are coming back as well as roofing products because of fire resistance, durability, and great looks.


When we were doing the addition in 1987 there were not any other cost effective that I liked, flammable vinyl and easily dented aluminum were not acceptable to me, so the house is 1/2 brick and block and the upper parts are cement siding.


To be harmed by asbestos you need a lot of exposure one particle is about as likely to cause lung cancer as one cigarette is, LOL


John L.

Post# 1092637 , Reply# 13   10/9/2020 at 21:22 by CircleW (NE Cincinnati OH area)        

A house down the street from me had asbestos shingles on the roof until about 15 years ago. A company came and removed them, with workers wearing respirators and Tyvek suits. I'm sure it was expensive.

I had the plaster in my 1952 house tested for asbestos before any of it was torn out. It didn't have any in either the USG Rocklath, scratch coat, or finish plaster. Floor covering in the kitchen did, and the same company that did the mold remediation removed it.

Post# 1092648 , Reply# 14   10/10/2020 at 00:38 by robbinsandmyers (Hamden CT)        

robbinsandmyers's profile picture
Lots of old houses around here still have asbestos shingles, as well as the one I grew up in that were installed in 1963 that have since been covered in vinyl. Never seen asbestos roofing though. But I have seen ancient asphalt shingle siding from the 30's-40's made to look like brick or block on houses fully involved with fire and once that stuff caught fire it was like pouring gas on that house.

Post# 1092656 , Reply# 15   10/10/2020 at 03:12 by thomasortega (El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora de Los Angeles de Porciúncula)        

Asbestos roofing, water reservoir and even roasting trays are used in Brazil until today. (actually the most popular roof material). A new law was passed in late 2017 it was forbidden to MANUFACTURE anything containing asbestos. Many companies like Eternyt (one of the most popular brands in Brazil) cranked up the production and rented huge warehouses to store a monster inventory before the new codes started. The codes started (jan 1st 2019), they stopped manufacturing but they had stock for at least other decade.

Even federal and state governments ordered massive numbers of 2mm asbestos roofing (the cheapest) because that's the material they used to build popular houses and to give to people (civil defense) shall an emergency like a hailstorm happened.

Needless to say, over 95% of constructions in Brazil until TODAY have asbestos roofing because the material is absurdly cheap.

Recently there was a tornado at my hometown (Iguassu) and my father's house had the whole roof destroyed. Literally 50% of the roof flew away and fell in a neighbor parking lot half block away from the house, the other part was totally damaged by hail and a monster tree that fell on the house. My father is alive just because of the concrete walls.

Guess what material is the new roof. 8mm asbestos sheets.

The second layer of the law, when will be forbidden to SELL anything containing asbestos will start only in jan 1st 2029.

Asbestos is dangerous, that is a fact. But it's not like a deadly virus that if you come close to it you will instantly develop a horrible disease and die in 5 minutes. If it was like that, the whole population in Brazil would have been dizimated because it's nearly impossible to find a Brazilian that was never exposed to it.

I had in my kitchen a small roofing sheet made by Eternyt and Brasilit and usually given as a souvenir when you buy roofing sheets that until today can be found in almost every kitchen in Brazil because of a very popular dish "Fish on the roof" as a direct translation. Originally made on ceramic roofing but modern times changed it to asbestos roofing. Those trays can also be bought in any store and it's as "normal" as it's normal to find a blender in an American kitchen. Actually i didn't have ONE, but maybe 5 or 6... they're also great for cookies, oven french fries, pizza, whatever.

Yep.... food is baked or roasted in the oven or the barbecue grill using a tray made of asbestos, then the same tray MADE OF ASBESTOS goes to the table. I've eaten "Asbestos cookies and asbestos fries" my whole life. and if the trays are too dirty or burnt, SAND PAPER AND ELBOW GREASE! more than 10 times I used a Dremel to sand baked on food on asbestos trays right on my kitchen sink. Millions of Brazilians do that until today (each time less because now people are being educated about asbestos)

Even worse.... Once I got a personal organizer (One of those promotional gifts) from Brasilit (The other super famous company)... The two covers were actually very thin asbestos sheets, imitating a roofing "wavy" pattern.

Want something even more scary?
In Brazil it's forbidden to have your house pipes directly connected to the public water pipes. There must ALWAYS be a water reservoir (minimum 1000 liters per code, but most people put 5k or 10k liters just in case someday the service is interrupted). A floating valve stops filling the reservoir with water from the public pipes when they're full and allows more water in when the level lowers a couple of inches, just like a giant toilet flush. Those reservoirs are usually placed in the attic, but often some people build exclusive towers for them a bit higher than the roof only to have a greater water pressure in the showers. GUESS WHAT MATERIAL THOSE RESERVOIRS ARE MADE OF. wink wink.

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Post# 1092662 , Reply# 16   10/10/2020 at 04:33 by mrboilwash (Munich,Germany)        
Stupid question

mrboilwash's profile picture
Isn`t asbestos "disturbed" in a heating appliance just from heating up and cooling down?
I mean steel touching asbestos expands when heated up and loose fibers might get airborne just from the heat alone.
As much as I love vintage appliances I wouldn`t take the risk.

Post# 1092663 , Reply# 17   10/10/2020 at 04:38 by askolover (South of Nash Vegas, TN)        

askolover's profile picture

My house has asbestos shingles on it being built in 1956.  My dad was a builder...he told me to leave it alone since it will last forever...and just not to disturb it.  I will eventually add vinyl siding or brick-look siding to prevent having to paint regularly.

Post# 1092671 , Reply# 18   10/10/2020 at 06:10 by thomasortega (El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora de Los Angeles de Porciúncula)        

"Isn`t asbestos "disturbed" in a heating appliance just from heating up and cooling down?"

Answer: Nope.

Dirtub = Cut, sand, move it, brush it, vacuum it, shake it, drill it.

Just heating up and cooling down is not enough to be consider "disturb it".

Let's say you're taking an oven apart... you will slowly and carefully roll the asbestos blanket and place it in a plastic bag, seal the bag and dispose accordingly (of course using full individual protection equipment). But anyway, even "disturbing" it it's not an absurd disturb and exposure chance is very low, near zero.
Same thing and you grab scissors and start cutting the asbestos blanket, THEN you are really disturbing it and the chance of a massive exposure is nearly 100%.

If you're removing an asbestos roofing, for example, just grab it and lowering it to the ground will have probably ZERO chances of exposure, even if you're not using anything more than carpenter's gloves.

Now if you grab a hammer and start breaking it into smaller pieces to fit in a dumpster, for example, then there's an EXTREME risk of a very high exposure.

Post# 1092706 , Reply# 19   10/10/2020 at 11:21 by Anolis (Florida)        

Thank you for all of your replies.

As much as it breaks my heart, I don’t think I’m willing to risk my health for an oven. The insulation appears to be somewhat broken down, as that same metallic dust has settled into the bottom storage drawer just below the insulation.

Post# 1092738 , Reply# 20   10/10/2020 at 15:04 by thomasortega (El Pueblo de Nuestra Señora de Los Angeles de Porciúncula)        

This group is full of very helpful people.

I'm sure somebody here will be clad to save you from such horrible exposure by taking the whole stove off your hands.

If you were closer, I'd be the first in line.

Post# 1094808 , Reply# 21   10/27/2020 at 13:25 by Anolis (Florida)        

Good news!
Test results came back negative for asbestos. It seems Frigidaire stopped using asbestos in their insulation after the war. (Turned out to be mostly fiberglass.)

Post# 1094836 , Reply# 22   10/27/2020 at 16:34 by perc-o-prince (Southboro, Mass)        
There must ALWAYS be a water reservoir

Wondering.... If you go on holiday do you need to drain that reservoir and allow it to refill when you return to get rid of standing water ick and cooties? This is the main reason I didn't want a plumbed coffee system nor steam oven.


Anolis- Glad to see the update! My original reason for posting was going to say that if you feel better having it tested and/or mitigating the exposure and/or getting rid of the unit, mental health comes first!


Enjoy it in good health!!!



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