What To Do If You See Risk of Asbestos

Let me preface this post with: Do as we say, friends. NOT AS WE DO.

Rip, rip, tear, toss.
Refinishing Hardwood Floor - What To Do If You See Risk of Asbestos
Saying farewell to the shaggy pink carpet in our fixer-upper was easy to do.

But when we hit the laundry room's section of white carpet, we found this buried underneath:
What To Do If You See Risk of Asbestos
Being the inquisitive and naive do-it-yourselfers we are, we went to town prying and chiseling up broken pieces of this vinyl tile.

Then our hands and knees were sliding across a layer of thick, black tar paper.

But we soon found ourselves staring at another layer of original hardwoods:
What To Do If You See Risk of Asbestos
It was a dirty job, but someone had to do it. So without any protective gear or masks, we did.

We spent an ENTIRE DAY removing tile and attempting to chip away tar paper to salvage the original floors. 

At 9:30 p.m., we called it a day.

We locked up the house and drove back to home to clean up.  

"Sure hope that tile didn't have asbestos," my hubby casually mentioned as he drove down the dark interstate.

The headlights of oncoming traffic shined on my panicked face like a spotlight.

OF COURSE my lungs immediately felt an impact from inhaling potentially dangerous carcinogens ALL DAY LONG. Someone might as well have admitted me to the ER.

We got home and tossed and turned all night, contemplating our stupidity and making plans to bulldoze our house before we even moved in.

If you think you see a risk of asbestos in your home, here's what you need to do:

1. Don't panic
Asbestos was commonly used in home building materials in the 1940s - 1970s. Prolonged exposure is what most folks should be concerned about. If you're like us and spent an entire day working with materials potentially containing asbestos, there's nothing you can do right now except the following:

  • Get material tested ASAP so it's disposed of properly if it does contain asbestos.
  • Order an air quality test inside your home should you find you've disturbed material containing asbestos.

2. Contact a local lab for testing
We called Iowa Environmental Services and arranged to drop off samples of the floor tiles and tar paper. Their phone number: (515) 279-8042

Obviously, it's better to get materials tested before you bust out the floor, but if you're like us (eh, hem...), it's still a good idea to get it tested afterward for peace of mind.

3. Let the pros handle it
When asbestos is disturbed, tiny particles and fibers become airborne and can easily be inhaled which can lead to lung damage and cancer. If your house contains asbestos, it's best to the let the pros handle it either by removing and sealing, or simply covering it up.

Related content:
7 Stunning Before & After Photos of Our Home
No, We're Not Crazy. Welcome To Our Fixer-Upper
How to Beautifully Update Your Kitchen for Less Than $100

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