Author Topic: What can we do about asbestos tiles?  (Read 6468 times)

fallstoclimb

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What can we do about asbestos tiles?
« on: July 05, 2015, 02:49:29 PM »
We bought our house in 2013 and learned during the inspection that the 9x9 tiles in the unfinished portion of the basement (which is maybe like 15 x 35 feet?) were asbestos.  Since then, we accidentally broke one tile in half (we left it and covered it with plastic wrap and duct tape....probably not an approved method!), and have also noticed some new minor cracks running through some of the other tiles.  It's an older house and has also settled unevenly which probably contributed to the breaking tiles.

As of last fall we are free of non-mortgage debt and are saving ~35% a month, but are very light on cash (only $3,500, plus $7,000 earmarked for DH's remaining tuition).  We are also light on skills (...to say the least), but DH has some free time right now as he is on summer break.

What are our options regarding the asbestos tiles?  I'm not SUPER worried about the health effects but I do want to handle this responsibly (e.g. - definitely not remove it ourselves).  Is it fine to just cover the area with new flooring?  I'd rather not pay for a remediation team although I do think that may be cheaper than I initially assumed (I was thinking 10K, now looking around seems more like 3K - either way we can't quite afford that yet).

One wildcard is that the first spring and summer we lived in the house, this portion of the basement flooded several times.  We have since put down some waterproofing paint and plugged a small hole (!) that we found, and haven't had any issues since then despite heavy rains.  I don't feel confident saying our flooding problems are over, though.  We do not have a sump pump or drain (and obviously cannot install either while we still have the asbestos).

paddedhat

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Re: What can we do about asbestos tiles?
« Reply #1 on: July 05, 2015, 09:18:00 PM »
First, do some in depth, online research on the subject. This should put your mind at ease when it comes to how stable and safe asbestos floor tiles are when left undisturbed. If you're to the point that you are covering a broken tile with plastic, you really need to get a better understanding of the hazards (or better yet, lack of hazards)  involved.

Second, there is no way I would waste the time, and money to remove it. I would go over it with another layer of vinyl, either 12" tiles or sheet vinyl. Modern versions of the tile you have are known as VCT, or vinyl composite tile. They are stocked at the big box stores, and are extremely durable, and not too difficult to install. It' just a matter of spreading the proper adhesive on the existing floor and dropping the new tiles in a straight line. A lot of the typical choices look like something you would find in a grade school hallway, but who cares, it's in a basement. The other option would be more contemporary designs available as "self-stick" tile. The only drawback with these is that they don't really stick too well sometimes, so it's best to spread a thin layer of the proper adhesive on the floor, before you peel and press the new tiles. This would not only solve the problem permanently, but as a DIY project it should be at least $2000 cheaper than removal.







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« Last Edit: July 06, 2015, 08:16:26 AM by paddedhat »

Telecaster

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Re: What can we do about asbestos tiles?
« Reply #2 on: July 05, 2015, 09:55:40 PM »
Relax.  Asbestos is a health hazard if and only if you inhale the asbestos fibers. That is, the fibers have to be loose and airborne.  That is not the case with floor tiles where the fibers are tightly bound up in the floor tile itself.     There are lots of monitoring data from janitors and such who do things like polish floor tiles with power equipment and nobody has ever documented asbestos exposure from a floor tile.  Undamaged floor tiles pose zero health risk.  Full stop.  Asbestos is a health hazard.  Asbestos in floor tiles isn't.  Keep that in mind as you do your research. 

I personally would not hesitate to remove a small section of flooring (like you have) myself, even if some of the tiles crack.  I'm not recommending you do that, just saying that based on my knowledge the risks are so infinitesimal I would not be concerned.  If it was going to remove it, it would do the same things the professionals do: respiratory protection, soapy water, etc.   But I would be completely comfortable doing it myself. 

The other option of simply putting a new floor over the top, is a great one.  That's what people do most of the time with flooring anyway, and you will be perfectly safe. 

Greg

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Re: What can we do about asbestos tiles?
« Reply #3 on: July 06, 2015, 08:06:53 AM »
Assuming they are composition floor tiles about 12" square that are glued down, they're not a risk unless you sand them or crumble them up. If they remove easily when you use a large putty knife, there's no reason not to remove them yourself if you want.  Often you can get replacements but the colors often are hard to match.  If you luck out and can find a good match at your local box store, just replace the broken and cracked ones with their modern adhesive and call it good.

If they are easy to remove, flooring over them might not work well.  Sticking new tiles to old loose ones would obviously not work, sheet goods often require at least the edges be glued.

fallstoclimb

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Re: What can we do about asbestos tiles?
« Reply #4 on: July 06, 2015, 09:02:24 AM »
Relax.  Asbestos is a health hazard if and only if you inhale the asbestos fibers. That is, the fibers have to be loose and airborne.  That is not the case with floor tiles where the fibers are tightly bound up in the floor tile itself.     There are lots of monitoring data from janitors and such who do things like polish floor tiles with power equipment and nobody has ever documented asbestos exposure from a floor tile.  Undamaged floor tiles pose zero health risk.  Full stop. 

Right, I do know this -- my concern is that our tiles HAVE become damaged with age/water exposure. 

I'd still rather cover them up with new flooring, if that is advisable, but I do worry about mold.  If we just create layers of flooring, and its in an area potentially susceptible to flooding, aren't we creating an environment conducive to mold?

What type of flooring would you recommend for putting over the tiles?  Do we use a sealant first?

Sibley

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Re: What can we do about asbestos tiles?
« Reply #5 on: July 07, 2015, 03:16:48 PM »
It's a problem if it gets into your lungs. Even then, it's repeated exposure of a period of time that's bad. So it might be worse to leave them, even covered.

Personally, I'd pull them up. Wear some sort of protective clothing (long sleeve shirts), a mask and goggles. Bag them up good and take them to hazardous waste disposal. Then take a hot, soapy shower to get the dust off you and wash the clothes by themselves.

However, since I'm not an expert :)  found this online, and it looks fairly authoritative to me:
http://inspectapedia.com/hazmat/Asbestos_Floor_Removal.php

math-ya

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Re: What can we do about asbestos tiles?
« Reply #6 on: July 11, 2015, 10:02:10 AM »
Asbestos is not nearly as bad as some people make it out to be. Everyone seems to forget that everyone in this country was exposed to it for a long time when it was deemed safe- they made everything out of it. The people that got sick were the ones installing it everyday or the ones working in factories with it everywhere.

Abe

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Re: What can we do about asbestos tiles?
« Reply #7 on: July 11, 2015, 11:19:36 AM »
I agree with the above, but having operated on people with mesothelioma from asbestosis, would do anything I could to avoid exposure. I agree that flooring over may not work well, especially if exposed to flooding and tiles are loose at baseline. I would recommend having someone else professionally remove them even though the exposure risk is very low. That's just my personal plan if I had to deal with it, and is almost fully based on my experience with mesothelioma patients and not based on any scientific evidence. However, depending on your local laws, if you have asbestos and didn't have it properly "abated", you may have a hard time selling to others in the future. Government scam? Good public health policy? You decide!

pagoconcheques

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Re: What can we do about asbestos tiles?
« Reply #8 on: July 11, 2015, 01:15:02 PM »
However, depending on your local laws, if you have asbestos and didn't have it properly "abated", you may have a hard time selling to others in the future.

This.  Get a couple quotes from local firms that do this, get it done, and document the work."

Chris22

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Re: What can we do about asbestos tiles?
« Reply #9 on: July 11, 2015, 09:45:14 PM »
"Some guy I know" removed some tiles that "may or may not have been asbestos" by buying the most $$$ respirator he could find and a paper suit and taping off the area with plastic.  Not recommended, but....

cshaw

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Re: What can we do about asbestos tiles?
« Reply #10 on: July 11, 2015, 11:09:50 PM »
$3K does not sound too bad for removal.  If it was my home and I knew I was going to live there until I died I might just cover it.  However, on top of the moisture issues you are concerned with, if you ever want to sell you'd likely need to remediate the tiles at that time.  As folks have pointed out, they don't pose as hazard as is; even cracked, or broken tiles are no hazard: crushing, pulverizing, etc., where you could create an airborne hazards is where it becomes a potential problem.  A lot of the mastic used to glue the tiles down back then also had asbestos in them, so removing the tiles becomes problematic, as the methods to remove the tiles and glue are the same methods that are going to create your airborne hazard.  By the time you buy the protective equipment, and materials to DIY, on top of the time investment to learn how to do it correctly, $3K is probably money well spent. 

bandito

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Re: What can we do about asbestos tiles?
« Reply #11 on: July 13, 2015, 09:13:14 PM »
I have done asbestos removal and have been certified in removal also. I do not do it any more but at the time of my training this what is I was taught. Vinyl tiles only have 8% asbestos, asbestos is only dangerous if air born therefore if it is wet it cannot be airborne and thus not be inhaled. That's my 2 cents.

Chris22

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Re: What can we do about asbestos tiles?
« Reply #12 on: July 14, 2015, 08:38:49 AM »
$3K does not sound too bad for removal.  If it was my home and I knew I was going to live there until I died I might just cover it.  However, on top of the moisture issues you are concerned with, if you ever want to sell you'd likely need to remediate the tiles at that time.  As folks have pointed out, they don't pose as hazard as is; even cracked, or broken tiles are no hazard: crushing, pulverizing, etc., where you could create an airborne hazards is where it becomes a potential problem.  A lot of the mastic used to glue the tiles down back then also had asbestos in them, so removing the tiles becomes problematic, as the methods to remove the tiles and glue are the same methods that are going to create your airborne hazard.  By the time you buy the protective equipment, and materials to DIY, on top of the time investment to learn how to do it correctly, $3K is probably money well spent.

"This guy I know" spent $60 on a respirator, $20 on 2 paper suits, and $5 on a big roll of plastic. Opened windows and used a big fan.

Bob W

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Re: What can we do about asbestos tiles?
« Reply #13 on: July 14, 2015, 09:12:47 AM »
$3K does not sound too bad for removal.  If it was my home and I knew I was going to live there until I died I might just cover it.  However, on top of the moisture issues you are concerned with, if you ever want to sell you'd likely need to remediate the tiles at that time.  As folks have pointed out, they don't pose as hazard as is; even cracked, or broken tiles are no hazard: crushing, pulverizing, etc., where you could create an airborne hazards is where it becomes a potential problem.  A lot of the mastic used to glue the tiles down back then also had asbestos in them, so removing the tiles becomes problematic, as the methods to remove the tiles and glue are the same methods that are going to create your airborne hazard.  By the time you buy the protective equipment, and materials to DIY, on top of the time investment to learn how to do it correctly, $3K is probably money well spent.

"This guy I know" spent $60 on a respirator, $20 on 2 paper suits, and $5 on a big roll of plastic. Opened windows and used a big fan.

Yep -- that would be my thought. 

cshaw

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Re: What can we do about asbestos tiles?
« Reply #14 on: July 18, 2015, 10:12:37 AM »


"This guy I know" spent $60 on a respirator, $20 on 2 paper suits, and $5 on a big roll of plastic. Opened windows and used a big fan.
[/quote]

I know guys like this too.  We talk about them in our weekly environmental and safety meetings. 

meadow lark

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Re: What can we do about asbestos tiles?
« Reply #15 on: August 05, 2015, 08:59:59 AM »
One issue with removing them yourself - you may be left with a lot of adhesive stuck to the floor. Which may contain asbestos.  Which does not come up in easy, neat squares.  Don't ask me how I know this...

Chris22

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Re: What can we do about asbestos tiles?
« Reply #16 on: August 05, 2015, 01:02:10 PM »


"This guy I know" spent $60 on a respirator, $20 on 2 paper suits, and $5 on a big roll of plastic. Opened windows and used a big fan.

I know guys like this too.  We talk about them in our weekly environmental and safety meetings.
[/quote]

I was watching a house flipper show, they found asbestos, and the mitigation team wore the exact same respirator that I, err, that guy I know, wore to do the job.

Seeking the Brass Ring

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Re: What can we do about asbestos tiles?
« Reply #17 on: August 06, 2015, 07:09:06 AM »
I'd leave the tiles in place and put down a dimpled underlayment sheet under new particleboard.  That way if you do get some water under the new floor it won't get to the new floor.  Of course this will only work if we talking about 1/4" or less of water.  If it's a lot of water then you need to install a sump.

Almost all water issues come from landscaping issues.  Make sure the gutters on the house are in good shape and done correctly.  Then look all around the foundation and make sure the slope goes away from the house for about 10 feet all the way around.  It's usually way cheaper to fix the drainage issues than to try to waterproof the foundation from the inside.