Really Scared - Vinyl Asbestos Floor Tiles

parkerlJanuary 20, 2011

Ok I'm really freaked out. Here's the story. Our cat started peeing in our basement on the vinyl floor tiles about 4 years ago. No big deal since it's the basement. So I clean every day down there. I sweep up the broken tiles when I can. I also occasionally smoke even in the room with the broken tiles. Now I find out that they are asbestos. An abetement company is coming next week to remove them. they even told me not to freak out. They only contain about 3% asbestos and even if they are broken they may not have released anything at all into the air. they consider the asbestos non-friable and in that case unless I consistently am messing with them it should be fine. Any expert advice would be great. Right now I don't want to go downstairs at all much less into that room.

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You should be worried. Not from the asbestos, but because you are smoking. Cigarettes are a whole lot worse for you than the asbestos.

The asbestos is a total non-issue. It is only dangerous if you inhale large amounts over a long period of time. As long as you haven't been taking a power sander to these tiles and kicking up all sorts of dust, they really aren't a danger.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2011 at 2:04PM
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I know how scary having a cat that starts to pee out of the box can be...wait till they start going getting rid of that smell short of ditching the carpet, padding and sometimes even kilzing over the wood!

    Bookmark   January 20, 2011 at 3:53PM
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Yeah about the smoking, quit 3 days ago. So any advice on how dangerous the broken tiles are? And yes, the cat is 19 so no way to get rid of her... just deal with the old age issues of a cat.

    Bookmark   January 20, 2011 at 4:46PM
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I'd throw the pieces out and cover it with something until you are prepared to put something more permanant in/over it.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 12:01PM
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In a decade or three the EPA will answer queries about asbestos something like this: "Oh, that asbestos thing? It really is not very much of a concern. All that panic was totally overwrought." They are waiting for the architects of the excessive policy to retire and die.

If you want to remove the tiles first check on disposal policy in your locality. Where I live, you put them out with the trash. Get a scraper, an N95 respirator and some Tyvek suits. Cover or remove anything that is not hard-surfaced in the area. (I'd include the joist and stud areas if these are open. Engineer a good fan in a window and close off the other living areas with doors or taped plastic sheeting to make the area negative pressure. (Take the proper actions if you have heating appliances that need draft in the area.) Keep the tiles wetted down while you are scraping them off. Clean up with a shop-vac with a HEPA filter or with wet compound or sponges/cloths/mops.

Pat yourself on the back, take a shower and have an adult beverage.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2011 at 8:29PM
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You won't be able to afford cigarettes after the asbestos abatement co is done.

    Bookmark   January 24, 2011 at 11:40PM
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We have asbestos tile in at least 2 rooms, possibly 3. They were covered with carpet. All flooring companies will do is put a hard layer over them, whether they are broken up or not, and then just put the new floor on that. Every company I spoke to assured me that this was fine, the tiles were harmless, and having them removed would be very expensive and not worth it.

    Bookmark   January 25, 2011 at 12:17PM
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I just removed a bunch of asbestos tiles in a basement room. Tiles are considered "inert" and long as you don't SAND them. Even if they break apart, they aren't considered "friable." I did wear a mask, and then wet mopped when I was finished...but it was not big deal. Rules vary state by state...but here in NC homeowners are allowed to remove them. They can even go to the landfill.

Asbestos abatement people are going to be EXPENSIVE. Find out what your local rules are. If you are allowed to, I'd remove 'em myself.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 8:31AM
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The EPA definition of 'friable' is that the material can be crushed with your bare hands.

Even broken pieces of vinyl or asphalt asbestos tile are not that soft.

Bury it under a layer of plywood.

    Bookmark   February 2, 2011 at 4:28PM
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Why are you hiring an asbestos abatement company if they told you it is not a problem? Have you heard of any being hospialized because they came in contact with flooring contain asbestos?

In my opinion the asbestos abatement scare has gotten out of hand.

    Bookmark   February 3, 2011 at 1:45PM
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"Have you heard of any being hospialized [sic] because they came in contact with flooring contain asbestos?"

While I agree with some of what you wrote, mike_home, that statement is ignorant. There are plenty of substances that won�t immediately and obviously injure you, but can kill you or make you sick days, months or years down the road. That is precisely what makes it difficult to identify them and evaluate the risk.

    Bookmark   February 4, 2011 at 2:23PM
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Some people have been sickened by exposure to asbestos. I knew a few, including a guy who used to post on this board. An asbestos-related disease usually is a result of prolonged and repeated exposures combined with other factors which contribute to the onset of disease. However, I can understand how the hapless consumer could become easily frightened after realizing that an ACM (asbestos containing material) was disturbed in the home.

Be careful out there and use common sense.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 9:37AM
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Let me tie together two issues raised and add my complaint.
I bought an apartment (co-op) built in the 1970's several months ago. The entire place is vinyl tile (yeah, lovely,) which I think I can assume from the dating of the place, vinyl-asbetos tile.
I researched as much as I can but cannot pin down the content from visual on-line comparisons, the amount of asbestos apparently varied from very little to HUGE.

The place was well/heavily waxed and repainted when I moved in and I smelled nothing. Moths went by.

Only, recently I am getting annoyed with the smell of cigarette smoke. I have a good nose and have not smoked in 30 years. I have tired everything including keeping the apartment pressurized with fresh air. Bloor and ceiling are concrete and there seem to be no gaps ANYWHERE at the floor line. Plumbing entries are all sealed.

I smell it worst at my desk and where my desk chair rolls the wax has worn out and the floor feels porous/pebbly/sandy. I wash it frequently but have not put down a new layer of wax yet.

Question: Is it conceivable that years of cigarette smoke have seeped into the vinyl-asbestos tiles and are liberated from the wax free areas getting SQUOOSHED by the weight of a rolling desk chair?

I think I can presume that any asbestos particles would be odorless (however fearful.)

I really should cover this ugly tile but I HATE wall to wall carpets and hardwood is so expensive and that synthetic wood is not a lot better than the tile.

If one removes 700 square feet of Vinyl-asbestos tile (down to concrete) is the cost prohibitive?

Does cigarette smoke sneak its way though latex paint after 6 months months odorless burial?

    Bookmark   October 20, 2011 at 10:25AM
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For air infiltration...check the floor/wall juncture.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2011 at 8:21AM
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"Some people have been sickened by exposure to asbestos."

The tiles do not release asbestos unless you sand them or grind them to a powder.

    Bookmark   October 21, 2011 at 10:26AM
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I have a room in my basement that I've been warned might have asbestos tiles. I've been reading the various posts about not disturbing, but instead just covering. I'd like to do this, however being a basement room I was hoping to install a floating cork floor. I understand that's possible, but my issue is some of the tiles are missing and I'm afraid those areas will cause the floating floor to sag. Any recommendations?

    Bookmark   July 24, 2013 at 10:37AM
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Fill in the missing sections.

    Bookmark   July 25, 2013 at 12:35AM
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I'm dealing with the same situation in the house I just bought (built 1962). We took up the existing floating Armstrong laminate kitchen floor because I want something completely washable (Mannington Sobella sheet fiberglas) and underneath the laminate there is that old black-streaks-on-white 9x9 Armstrong Excelon tile. My research shows that the asbestos content in those vintage vinyl/asbestos tiles can be anything from minimal to "yikes!!". Kind of a moot point because they all need to be treated the same way.

We can't just cover them up because due to prior leaks from the kitchen plumbing, the subfloor beneath the tiles is starting to rot. So no choice but to remove... very carefully, wetting down/no cutting/no breakage. Just wet down, allow them to lift up from the dampness, then carefully remove. Then any problem subfloors can be replaced.

It's a bit tricky in spots because some idiot prior owner SCREWED some of the tiles down to the subfloor, so there is powdering around all of those. Probably the same idiot owner who screwed down 70% of all of the oak flooring to their subfloors (to stop squeaks), split most of them in the process, and then covered it all with carpeting for 10 years waiting for the next unlucky buyer to uncover it. Guess who that was, LOL

    Bookmark   July 31, 2013 at 5:48PM
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The information provided here is instructional only and you should still do some research on your own... under no means does this hold me liable in the case that anyone attempts to remove asbestos on their own. Here are some pages with the resources people need in this asbestos situation. They just don't know what they are looking for on the net to get info. I let my abatement cert lapse but it's only a matter of sitting through the 40 hour class to get recertification. Another useful site is this gives you an idea of professional removal cost may run and what is to be expected.
There is a lot that goes into an asbestos removal and it depends on a lot of factors on how intensive it can get. Floor tile is usually not that big of a deal... if you want the tiles to pop up with out a lot of work you can let nature help by trapping moisture with thick 3mill plastic taped to floor for an extended time. You can even mist the floor with a mild bleach solution to stop mold growth but speed up the process. Anytime you deal with asbestos you should at least be wearing a fit tested half face respirator more often a full face respirator with P100 hepa filters they are plastic and purplish in color. By fit test approved I mean consult your doctor have a speromiter test done and fit test to see if you are healthy enough to wear this it takes extra work to breath with this on. There is a lot more information that you will need than I can put on here so if you want more info message me.

Here is a link that might be useful: asbestos tile identification

    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 3:39PM
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