Removing Asbestos Vinyl Flooring
Asbestos vinyl flooring was widely used until 1972. When the dangers of asbestos became an issue, then careful vinyl flooring asbestos removal became an issue. One option is just covering asbestos flooring with the new flooring material like carpet, vinyl tiles or sheet vinyl, laminate or hardwood flooring, or even ceramic tiles and stone. Testing for asbestos in vinyl flooring can be done by professionals or by yourself to determine "is there asbestos in my vinyl flooring" or not. Asbestos in vinyl flooring isn't the end of the world, but asbestos and vinyl flooring do cause concern for your health. Use precaution if you elect to remove asbestos vinyl flooring so that its potential doesn't become your reality.
Until 1972, asbestos was used in a variety of building material such as roofing, exterior siding, window sills and linings, and vinyl flooring. Asbestos is a group of minerals known for their strength, flame/heat resistance, and indestructibility, and was considered ideal for insulation and fireproofing. However, once it was discovered that asbestos fibers can result in severe illness and disease when inhaled, the use of asbestos was banned by the EPA.
Unless clearly marked on the product's label, asbestos is impossible to identify without examining a sample under a microscope. Testing for asbestos vinyl flooring can be done by a professional asbestos contractor or by using a do-it-yourself home sampling kit. If your asbestos vinyl flooring is chipped, crumbling, or frayed, it must be removed before laying a new floor. The asbestos fibers from the damaged floor can cause health concerns when the fibers are released into the air. However, intact asbestos vinyl flooring should not be removed because the removal of an intact floor poses a greater risk than simply covering over the old flooring.
If you determine that the asbestos vinyl flooring must be removed, asbestos abatement contractors are highly recommended. Homeowners living in a single family home may also remove the asbestos but legally, family members and friends who help must do so voluntarily and without pay. Moreover, if you as a homeowner are not confident in your ability to safely remove the asbestos vinyl flooring, hire a certified asbestos abatement contractor. Asbestos removal is difficult work, and can be physically demanding and potentially dangerous.
To minimize the risk of exposure to asbestos fibers for do-it-yourself removal, safety equipment such as a respirator, coveralls, gloves, rubber boots and eye protection are required. Plus, tools such as spray bottles, liquid detergent, putty knifes, a utility knife, a stiff floor scraper, plastic sheeting, duct tape, plastic garbage bags, a mop, and disposable towels will be needed.
The goal in removing the asbestos vinyl flooring is to remove it in whole pieces without causing any dust. Before beginning, the work area must be isolated using the plastic sheet over heat registers, doorways, cupboards, etc. and the heating and air conditions system must be turned off. All furniture and other moveable objects should be removed from the room to prevent contamination and to simplify clean-up. Access to the work area should be limited to one doorway, with a slit in the plastic door covering to make the entrance as small as possible. To further prevent asbestos fibers from spreading, the floor must be kept wet using a water bottle. The water will also help loosen the tiles and make removal much easier.
Once prepped and your safety gear on, cut the vinyl flooring into manageable sections with a utility knife, and remove the pieces by pealing from the edges and using a flat scraper to lift the vinyl. Continue to wet the flooring as you scrape and pull to minimize dust. Any vinyl backing that separates from the vinyl flooring can be removed by thoroughly wetting and scrubbing the floor with a pad. As you remove the vinyl, place the pieces in sturdy plastic bags trash bags to avoid leakage and mark the bags “Danger! Asbestos-Containing Materials”. The asbestos debris can only be disposed of in a landfill that accepts asbestos-containing waste. Consider calling the land-fill before you go to ensure you understand all their requirements.
Careful clean-up is important when dealing with asbestos, and all potential asbestos dust and particulate must be removed from the work area to avoid future asbestos contamination. Wipe all surfaces, including the plastic covering, with a damp cloth. Frequently rinse the cloth and change the water so that the surfaces in the work area can get truly clean. Next, remove the plastic coverings and place in your plastic bags, along with all towels, mop heads, and coverall suit. To ensure that your skin and hair is free of asbestos, immediately take a complete shower and wash carefully.