I have been living in 50 year old house for 2 years. I have partially
finished basement with vinyl floor tiles. The tiles are in very bad shape
and come out of the floor here and there. I want to completely remove them
and replace with laminate floor. Can the vinyl floor tile contain asbestos?
What usually contains asbestos and most importantly how can I test this?
What are precaution to be taken if asbestos is indeed found inside the
Tile is 9" X 9". Although the house is 50 years old I didn't know when the
basement was finished. The tiles are in very very bad shape, just walking
over the titles kicks several of them out. Eventually in one of the rooms in
the basement all tiles kicked out. I then vacuumed the floor, put PE liner,
laminate floor underpayment and then laminate floor. I don't know what to do
with other rooms in the basement that also have vinyl tiles. what the right
approach would be? I cannot not disturb the tiles as it is already disturbed
much. I wonder what exactly contains asbestos? Vinyl tile itself or
adhesive? Since tiles have already same out there are probably fibers in
basement. How to deal with them? Where can I really test title samples for
asbestos? Is there a government agency or private laboratory that performs
tests for asbestos? I am in process of complete basement renovation and I am
really worried to create a health hazard. I have absolutely no knowledge of
asbestos except it is a hazard and how to deal with it. I know pretty much
about lead paint, what contains it and how to contained it. There are
finally lead paint blood tests that I did for my children recently and that
came out negative. Are there any medical test for presence of asbestos in
I think you are worrying too much.
Yes, the 9 x 9 tile most likely contain asbestos. For years they
were known in the industry as VAT (vinyl asbestos tile). The
adhesive may or may not contain asbestos.
Asbestosis is created by breathing the asbestos fibers into the
lungs. They stay in the lungs and do not biodegrade. The only
way you can breathe the fibers into the lungs is when they are in
a friable state. They only way you can release friable fibers
from the tile is by drilling, sawing, grinding, or sanding to
allow the fibers to become airborne. The most dangerous thing you
could possibly do would be to sand or grind the floors. For years
the EPA and most states allowed contractors to remove VAT flooring
with chippers. The waste was not considered hazardous and could
be disposed of in public trash receptacles. The only requirement
or suggestion was to keep the floor wet to prevent fibers from
Each state has its own regulations. My state recently passed an
ordinance to require that a licensed abatement contractor remove
VAT in public buildings, yet allows homeowners to remove limited
square foot quantities.
You should check the requirements for your state. Your own
conscience must be your guide. I would not hesitate to wet the
floor and remove the tile. If you do not want to deal with the
cut back adhesive and it is well adhered and sound , there are
several floor products made to skim coat and isolate the adhesive
to allow the use of newer adhesives. Make sure that the product
you might use is compatible with the new adhesive you intend to
Keep the whole world singing. . . .
Thank you very much for a detailed response. I remove vinyl tiles with
almost no effort using the putty knife. Some tiles come out whole, some
break in pieces. I do not grind or drill the floor. After I remove the tiles
I vacuum the floor. I do all removal work in Dustfoe88 mask, is it safe to
work in potential asbestos environment? Unfortunately, vinyl tiles have to
be removed since it is very uneven. It does not cover uniformly entire
floor. After I put new laminate floor, what's the best way to ensure there
are no asbestos left anywhere from my vinyl floor removal process? Should I
carefully vacuum all surfaces or maybe do something else?
You should use a respirator with the replaceable circular cartriges
which are labled for what contaminents are trapped.. Keep the floor wet
through the removal. Vacuming probably will blow fibers through the
machine and in the air. Rinsing with a hose is the safest way .
1. The tile could very well contain asbestos.
2. You don't need to test. If you DO test, because of mandatory disclosure
rules, the might of the state will descend upon you and require men in space
suits to demolish your house. They will carry the parts to an EPA-approved
dump site. You will be on the hook for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
3. The biggest precaution is to never know for sure - you can be compelled
to tell whether you knew. The next biggest precaution is to never tell
anyone you have (or had) asbestos (you won't be able to sell the house or
get health insurance).
If you mean PERSONAL protection, there is no need. There has never been a
documented case of an asbestos health problem from any end-user product. The
only people to have experienced asbestos-related health problems were
asbestos miners exposed to the dust for 30+ years.
Scrape the stuff up. Put it in boxes or trash bags. Leave the bags/boxes in
a school-yard late at night* and let the hysterics have something to justify
*That's what Dilbert's boss did with his refrigerator.
Are you on drugs? Asbestos miners are not the only people with
documented health problems. Do some research. What about all the ship
yard workers or pipe covers or electricians , boilermakers or any
construction wokers from the grand old asbestos days > Oh yeah , did I
forget to mention auto mechanics exposed to brake linings or clutch
pads? What about all the people that were involved with the manfacturing
of asbestos containing products . I guess all ose undocumented cases are
the reason congress in trying to pass laws to stop the law suite s from
bankrupting all the big companies that manfactured the stuff.
Rule of thumb is: if the vinyl tiles were made prior to the mid-1980s,
assume they have asbestos, because most of them did.
Look in your yellow pages for a test lab, usually listed under
'asbestos-consulting and testing' and call them to get instructions on
how to safely remove a section of the tile to send in for testing.
Basically, you don't want to risk breaking or crumbling the tiles and
releasing the fibers in the air. So you use a 'wet method' of removal,
where you keep the floor wet and the room barricaded with plastic
sheeting to keep any potentially freed fibers from traveling into other
areas of the house. Wetting the floor for a day or two before starting
work also helps loosen the tiles so they're easier to pry up without
breaking. It is also recommended you wear a respirator and clothing
which can be laundered immediately after working on this. Just to make
things more complicated, you'll still have to arrange for safe and
proper disposal of the materials afterwards. You cannot simply put them
out in the
trash; you are legally obligated to arrange for their disposal using
properly-labeled containers that will be sent to a site that handles
asbestos waste. You can call your
trash hauler for help with that.
After reading about all the precautions and steps you've gotta do, and
the potential legal liability you face if you do it yourself and do it
understand why almost everybody recommends you hire an asbestos
abatement company to do
the removal for you.
Here are links to some good information on the subject:
Clamp/glue one of the loose tiles to a hunk of plywood, and try
to drill a hole in it with a hole-saw. If it throws sparks, and
eats the saw, it's asbestos.
Do this outside, with the wind at your back..
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