Thursday, July 26, 2012

Hazardous Material Testing - Lessons Learned

When we bought the Diamond in the Rough, everyone pointed out the 9" x 9" tiles that covered all the floors on the 2nd floor.  Everyone's conclusion - they're asbestos.  And of course that creates a major problem, since asbestos has been known to cause multiple lung diseases.

We started doing some research.  The University of Minnesota has a fantastic website, with lots of information.  And I found this Inspectapedia website - which includes a large library of asbestos tile photos.  Sure enough, I found some that looked pretty similar to what we have - Armstrong tiles from the 50's.

Now, there's good news and bad news regarding floor tiles.  In general, they're not 'friable', which means they're not likely to break up into tiny fragments that get airborne and can get into your lungs.  And we learned from the Maine Department of Environmental Protection, that we could actually remove the tiles ourselves (if we wear respirators and properly dispose of them - of course!), as long as they come up in one clean piece and don't have a felt backing that becomes friable.  But you guessed it, that's the bad news - we have the felt backing.

Soooo..... the recommendation is to leave the tiles in place and cover them up with new, solid flooring.  That way you don't disturb the asbestos and it's encased in a new layer of flooring.  But we could see in the closets that there are beautiful fir floors underneath.  It seemed such a shame to cover them up.  They would be beautiful and much more appropriate in an old house!

So when our electrician, Dan Flynn, pointed out that they didn't look like the asbestos tiles he saw in his hazardous materials training, it got us to thinking.  And we realized we needed to find out for sure.  We went online and found one of the national testing labs.  They gave clear instructions for gathering a sample of our flooring.  We sent it in (and despite having waited 6 weeks to do this, I suddenly had to have the results right away and payed the up charge for a 48 hour turnaround)  with our check for $120 and waited for the results.

What did we find out?  Dan was right!!!  There is no asbestos.  Just think, we almost covered up those beautiful floors!  Lessons learned - for something key like this, that has a real impact on the safety of the home, do the proper testing and learn what you have.  Now we're making plans to have the floors refinished.

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  1. So doing your homework paid off big time! Awesome! Can't wait to see the refinished floor.

  2. Wonderful news. You're asbestos free!

  3. Thanks for this article. So many times we're ready to believe the bad news without taking the time to get all the facts. I'll remember this post for the future.

  4. Lucky! Enjoy your beautiful refinished fir floors. I'll be they're in real nice shape with that flooring covering it up.

  5. Isn't it funny how we tend to assume the bad news will be true? I was ecstatic when we got the test results, because, you're right - the fir flooring has been really well protected all these years! Can't wait to see it refinished.


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