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Question DetailsAsked on 10/12/2016

Potential abstosis tiles in basement floor.

Hi I just purchased a house which was a flip. Apparently they gutted everything and started from scratch. The basement is finished and is covered with padding and carpet. The other day I felt a little dip in the floor. I pulled up some of the carpet and noticed that there was a section of 9x9 tiles which gave it a slight lip from the rest of the floor which was basic cement. I live in New York and the house was built in 1955. Once again it was a flipped house and everything was stripped so I am guessing that there is so type of law that abstosis must be removed to a major renovation as such. My question is that if for some reason the tile does contain abstosis is it safe if the tile is in good shape and is covered by carpet padding as well as the carpet?

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2 Answers


Pulling up a piece of tile and sending it for testing costs under $30 - kits you mail a sample in to the lab for testing available at box stores, home improvement stores, Amazon, etc. Be sure to send a sample with some glue/adhesive on the back too - commonly that means higher test cost (usually less than cost of 2 tests though), but in those days both tiles and adhesive very commonly had the dangerous type of asbestos. Be sure the test you choose tests specifically for the dangerous (chrysotile) asbestos - because even current floor tiles and many laminates and flooring adhesives have non-dangerous types of asbestos in them, so you don't want a false positive.

No, ACM (asbestos containing materials) generally do NOT have to be removed in a remodel - just encapsulated or adequately covered to prevent exposure. [Exceptions for certain institutional type facilities like schools, and some government-funded projects or government buys]. Could be they left it down because it was full-surface adhesive glued to the concrete, used asphaltic adhesive (a real hassle to remove and normallyk requires use of flammable solvents) - or was asbestos tile or adhesive or suspected to be such, which would be normal for and a default assumption for 1955 non-ceramic asbestos or vinyl sectional floor tile.

Asbestos containing building material like that (during a flip remodel) would have to be removed by a professional asbestos removal contractor - so that is probably why it was left in place. Asbestos is only deemed dangerous if breathed in for an extended period of time or after extensive physical contact, and in residential circumstances (as opposed to industrial exposures) only when it is disturbed so as to put the fibers in to the air where they can be breathed in. So - covering them with another media so foot traffic does not liberate fibers is perfectly acceptable in residences (and most other buildings), and the carpet and pad should prevent any fibers from becoming airborne jsut fine. I would have zero worries as long as no one starts scraping or sanding it in a future remodel.

If the section of tiles is small (I would wonder why only a small section was left - possibly covers a floor drain ?), you could (using proper respiratory protection and damening to prevent putting fibers in the air) scrape up the remaining tiles and dispose of them. Commonly the mastic adhesives (usually light colored) soften with wetting - asphaltic (sticky, shiny black) adhesive you can use petroleum solvents (fire hazard and stinky) or a heat gun (watch temperature so you don't set on fire and have some water handy) to soften it to use a broad strong putty knife or thin but wide prybar to pry it up after the adhesive is softened. What you want to avoid is working with it dry, or any sort of sanding or grinding that will put the fibers in the air. Use disposable coverall to avoid getting fibers into the washer/dryer where they could transfer to the air eventually - though that sort of limited exposure has not been found to be harmful. All studies show significant long-term exposure is needed to be dangerous - except for smokers where risk of lung cancer can go up by up to 50-100 fold versus what is hazardous for a non-smoker.

Answered 4 years ago by LCD



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