Q: How do I know if the tiles in my basement contain asbestos?
I have a 1940s home with a basement that was remodeled in the 1970s (estimate). A friend said there may be asbestos in the tiles. I'm not sure how to be sure if there is asbestos or how it would effect my removal of the tiles.
A: Testing only way to be sure
Having said that it's very likely there is some asbestos from that era. Probably more in the "cutback" adhesive used under the tile.
You haven't said why you want to remove them? What type of floor are you replacing the tiles with? If carpet can you just encapsulate the existing floor?
For removal the goal is to keep the area you are removing damp and try to remove the tile in 1 piece. It's the airborne asbestos that is dangerous, the asbestos is bound in the tile. If you are not breaking the tile you are not exposed to any fibers.
I usually use a 4" taping knife or/and floor scraper. If you have tiles that are giving you trouble try using a heat gun to soften them up. This is sometimes needed in the high traffic areas where they stick tighter. As I said, keep the tiles damp with a spray bottle to keep down the dust. Wear a respirator rated for asbestos, not just a dust mask
Use a HEPA vac, if possible, wet tile , remove tile and vac again. Double bag tiles for removal. Some places a homeowner can discard with regular trash, some locations want you to notify hauler that the tiles are there as part of "right to know". Check for your area
Remember the mastic is also likely to contain asbestos. If you are installing ceramic tile over the area many thinsets will not stick. Again the goal is not to raise dust, so no grinding or sanding of affected areas
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