Saturday, August 20, 2011

Asbestos Abatement. Or, Why Our House Smells So Bad Right Now

 The internet is a place of many opinions, and it is the opinion of some DIY folks and some contractors that asbestos tile can be left if its not cracking or flaking away.  Or that it can be covered.  We rolled the idea around for awhile but ended up choosing abatement.  This process is now complete, and though it cost us dearly, I feel this was a good thing for us to have done in our situation.  

From the beginning our basement has been the icky/scarey kind of basement.  But it had potential, and we saw that it really wanted to change.  And we will help it to change, as finances allow, into a place we feel we can go down to without having to put shoes on first.  Up until now, this has not been the case.   

We always recognized that our basement has got character.  And asbestos. 

A marlin basement tile
 So many basements built around the same time as this house have asbestos.  I'd say many of the houses in our price range had some asbestos somewhere.  Do you leave it?  Do you remove it?  Do you cover it?  Many people are in the cover-it-up-and-forget-about-it camp.  Probably due to the prohibitively high cost of asbestos abatement.  To be clear, I didn't want to pay for this either.  After all, it wasn't cracking.  Put some carpets down!  No big deal!  Fun orange and green tile! 

Hunting dog basement tile
Character, right?  We liked the quirky kitsch.  Not only the (admittedly hideous) tile floor, there was also the weird dog mural.

Dogs at the bar
Behind the possibly functional wet bar in the basement there is some sort of pasted-up mural of dogs at a bar.  I first saw this and mentally facepalmed.  Of course, now I kind of love this thing.  It's weird as heck, sure, but there are dogs at the bar.  Combined with the orange and green floor, the overall effect made D just fall in love with the house's ... is "charm" the right word?  Yeah, I'm not sure about the word "appeal" either.  Because the truth is, we never wanted to go down there in stocking feet, and even though the exercise bike is down there, I never wanted to ride it.  I mean, come on, there's asbestos down there. 

This part of the floor looks old and shabby, but fine.
Our friends didn't want to hang out at the fun, dog-mural bar, because, you guessed it, there's asbestos down there.  Our tile was intact in some places, cracked in others, and gone in other places.  The tile had long since given up along the walls, and in the corners of the basement.  And the black, carcinogenic mastic was just sitting there on the exposed surface.  The same surface the cats were walking on. Cringe. 

by one wall
by the laundry area and what used to be a bathroom
random peel-up and breakage
 Like I said, I'm not fond of footing this kind of bill.  But this is our home, and if nothing else I can make sure it is a safe place for our family and friends.  We weighed other options, covering it up with rugs or carpeting or cement, but none of them was a very good option for our situation. 

This process took two days, three contractors.  After the first day it was all just sealed up.  With the giant condom balloon coming out of the window.  This was from the air vacuum they had set up down there.  The tiles had all been removed, and all of the special tiles, the marlin, the hunting dog, the incredibly cheesy anchor, none of those had survived the process.  They had just fallen to pieces.  

After the second day, the mastic had been removed.  They used some sort of low VOC solvent to clean the crap off of the floor.  My god, this house smells terrible.  After awhile its like I forget to sense it.  My nose just ceases its distress transmissions.  And then every time I leave the house, to go to work or even for just a few moments to water the plants, I walk in and the smells hits me all over again.  It's really, really powerful.

I was going to post photos of what it looks like now, but I had to work today, on a Saturday, and the day has just gotten away from me.  So even though there are photos of the asbestos-free (and don't forget utterly rank) basement, I'll not post them this evening.  Call it a tease. 

Also D has been in the yard the past few days, and made some new discoveries.  It also looks quite different!  See you next time! 


Willard Catalan said...

Upon completion, assure that the contractor cleans the area well with wet mops, wet rags, sponges, or HEPA (high efficiency particulate air) vacuum cleaners. A regular vacuum cleaner must never be used. Wetting helps reduce the chance of spreading asbestos fibers in the air.

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marcin asbesotos said...

Asbestos Removal might not pose much risk. Asbestos poses hazards to maintenance personnel who have to drill holes in walls for installation of cables or pipes.

Marcus Wheeler said...

Over the course of the past century, millions of people have unknowingly been exposed to asbestos, a class of fibrous minerals known to cause a variety of cancers. Often referred to as "asbestos cancer," mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer caused almost exclusively by asbestos exposure.

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marcin asbestos said...

Asbestos removal is important because it can help save a person from possible exposure to its toxic
fibers.asbestos abatement chicago

Asbestos Duct Removal said...

This is a great blog, usually I don't post comments on blogs but I would like to say that this post really forced me to do so!

Anonymous said...

I had a similar basement floor and just had it removed this week. We were also left with a similar leftover smell. So, now that the asbestos has been removed, is there something I can clean my floor with to remove the smell?

Jessie Vera said...

The house I grew up in was very similar to this floor. I remember the floor in the kitchen having big cracks in it with black stuff around it. Now that I think about it, it could have been asbestos. I wonder if the owners who bought the house ever had asbestos abatement done or not.

Jessie |

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Anonymous said...

Had asbestos floor tiles removed 2 weeks ago by abatement company. Paid 5,000. Living room and master bedroom. The smell was unbearable. Took a day off from work to hand scrub concrete with dish washing detergent. Next day tide laundry detergent liquid as suggested by abatement company. Next, tried blue Dawn dish washing liquid. Then Tide in powder form. We put a degreaser formula on concrete, let it sit overnight and hand scrubbed it off the next day. Bought a powerful wet vac to suck up soap. We ran fans 24/7 blowing air out the doors. We finally taped plastic sheets to try to contain the smell to the 2 rooms. It has been a nightmare. Floor moldings were destroyed and removed. Black gunk seeped into space below sheet rock. Abatement company has not returned my call. Don't know if we need to remove sheet rock. Am tired, knees and hands sore. Rooms still smell. Don't know when they will be livable again. Have spent a fortune already. Beyond discouraged.

Anonymous said...

Are having the exact same problem. Did you figure out a solution? It feels like our house isn't livable anymore.

Anonymous said...

Not sure if this is of any use but I have seen recommendations for bean-e-doo for removing the black mastic. It is made from soybeans and I think the product is now called blue bear mastic remover (both on amazon). Not as easy as the YouTube video for bean e doo makes it look apparently but it does work well the reviews say. Read the reviews for bean e doo on amazon to get an idea (works well in the end but seems to need a thicker coat, and can need more coats, and can smell and needs the oil absorber and wash afterwards), and watch the YouTube videos. I haven’t used it myself though.

jaxtub 999 said...

At work we are in the middle of having asbestos abatement done as we continue to work. The smell is unbearable! I personally had to see a doctor today for a sinus infection and get a referral for an eye doctor. Does anybody know if the fumes are toxic?
I visited a site in NJ that said the fumes can make you sick. Said it can really irritate your eyes, throat, sinus causing nausea, vomiting and possible nervous system issues?

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