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Asbestos Tile Under Loose Carpet

I recently bought a house in April.  There is a very large back room (man cave) that is at ground level that currently has carpet in it.  The carpet is not attached to the floor in any way.  Recently I pulled back a section of it to reveal some 9x9 tile.  I am worried this tile may have asbestos in it and there are obvious missing tiles that you can feel while walking on the carpet.  I really want to lay some engineered floor in this room, but I dont have the budget for asbestos abatement (if it indeed contains asbestos).  My questions are:

Can I lay engineered floor directly over the carpet? Its very thin carpet.
Can I lay engineered floor over the tile if I remove the carpet?  Even if there are missing tiles?  Is there any risk of asbestos in the air if I pull up the carpet?

I understand that the best thing to do for asbestos tile is to try to encapsulate it.  Just wondering what my options are other than this really terrible carpet.

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Posted 2016-10-29T03:17:13+0000  by Skeletor11 Skeletor11
Understand that I'm not an expert on asbestos, nor do I play one on TV but the overwhelming majority of people who developed asbestos related diseases were people who worked with or were exposed to asbestos on a daily basis for years.  To some degree it's like smoking, a few packs or even cartons of cigarettes aren't likely to cause cancer.  Just sitting there, asbestos isn't dangerous.  It is only when the particles become airborne that there's an issue.  Loose tiles aren't so much a concern as are broken tiles.

You also have another decision to make. 
Do you have any idea when this tile was installed or when the house was built?  There are pictures online of popular tiles patterns, does it look like those?  If you test the tile and the mastic that holds it in place and find asbestos, legally you need to disclose that fact when you go to sell the home, so it might be better to assume the tile has asbestos and go from there. 

In any case, you need to installed engineered flooring over a flat, hard surface, so the old carpet would have to go.  What you could do is carefully remove the old carpet and inspect the old tiles.  Any ones that are loose could be removed and the gap filled with a leveling compound.  You'll want to do some reading on the best way to remove the old tiles but generally it involves isolating the area you're working in and keeping things wet to prevent the asbestos particles from becoming airborne.

Good luck!

Posted 2016-10-29T09:47:56+0000  by Adam444

Hey Skeletor11,

Thanks for your question and welcome to the community.

Asbestos tiles, even if they are loose and any mastic underneath has dried, still can have particles that can become airborne.

As I'm sure you've read, the fibers when inhaled will go into your respiratory system, and can get permanently trapped there.

With that said, you can install engineered flooring over the tiles as long as the surface itself is level and secured to the slab. The carpet will have to come up, no questions about that. Failure to do so will lead your new floors to fail and most likely void any warranty you'd have with them. 

While you did say an abatement company is out of your budget, at least consulting one shouldn't be. 

It's not worth your health or anyone else who lives in the house with you just to have a new floor without taking those precautions. 

Do some research in your area, and Home Depot does sell asbestos test kits....but since these are 9" x 9" tiles, you're essentially guaranteed these are indeed asbestos.

Encapsulation is the best method in your situation, but the tiles that are loose need to be removed. I'm not saying do the job yourself, but if you will at minimum need proper breathing and vision protection, as well as coveralls to avoid spreading the particles once you've isolated the room via plastic and making sure the ventilation is not going in or out of that room.

Play it safe, and again, please consult an abatement company in your area for more tips and tricks to help you not only remove the tiles safely, but to dispose of them properly too.

Let us know if you have any further questions.


Posted 2016-10-29T15:43:16+0000  by Joseph_HD_ATL
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