Advice needed on chipping tile in basement

Hi, I just bought a house (built 1948) a few months ago. The basement has the old style tiles (9 inch square). I don't know what's under the existing tiles. When I bought the house there were a few chips, but upon more use of the basement, I found more and more tiles are getting hairline cracks, and more are outright cracking and/or chipping. This is all from normal activity, such as walking on it. I stored a bunch of boxes in the basement, and when I removed the boxes to put the contents away, I found the tiles underneath much worse than they were beforehand. Right now the little money I have saved is going to have to go into a new furnace (it has the old gravity "octopus"). I though of perhaps sticking some vinyl sheeting or linoleum over much of the basement, especially the more used areas. Is it possible just to stick some kind of compound in to fill the chipped areas, and then put vinyl over the tiles? Is there any kind of "sealer" that I can "paint" over all the tiles as a tough coating instead of or in conjunction with using vinyl sheets? It doesn't have to look like "house beautiful", just something that's functional. Even if it kind of looks like crap, it will probably look a lot better than it does now. Thanks much.
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Basements usually mean moisture to some extent. As vinyl tile does get brittle with age and temperature. I would remove the tile before attempting any new installation. It is really not that hard. An flat shovel, not an snow shovel. Will start the process. Just do an area then quit. You will have all winter to deal with it as you have spent your cash on a new heating system. An propane torch can help some of the stubborn areas. Use the torch to heat the tile, not burn it.
Preparing the sub surface properly will go a long way to the lasting installation your planning.
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I am in no way an expert, but after reading many posts about removing old vinyl floor tiles I have read that old 9" floor tiles will most likely contain asbestos.
That being said, anything you put on top of the tiles will most likely not last if you have to stick it down to the tiles. The tiles underneath will continue to pop.

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