Testing for Asbestos

While I always have to chuckle to myself whenever anyone buying a 1967 house wants to know if the house has asbestos in it, or whether I do testing for asbestos, I always do my best to take their questions seriously.  I realize that in all walks of life people don’t know what they do not know, and what good does it do to poke fun at them?

The fact that any house from 1967 is going to have asbestos in it, seems to not be common knowledge.

I know for a fact that there is endless stuff I do not know.  It is “normal.”  I think we can all appreciate what a pain in the butt it is dealing with someone that knows it all.

At a recent inspection of a 1967 house, the inevitable question came up when we went into the laundry and saw the floor covered with 1967 vintage vinyl tiles.  Now typically, I don’t have any problem telling my client that the tiles from this time period are “considered to contain asbestos,” but that only testing can tell you for sure.

This is a useless exercise as near as I can tell, but from a liability standpoint it is what home inspectors will say.

In this case however I was able to categorically state:  “yes—the tiles contain asbestos,” as there was a box of the same tiles, unused and stored, in the closet in the laundry room.

asbestos tiles

No testing necessary.

By Charles Buell, Real Estate Inspections in Seattle

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  1. Another post from you about what I’m thinking about now! (Previous was the one about garage doors into the house.) I’m in a 1970 ranch that has sheet vinyl (maybe late 1980s, early 1990s) over the original vinyl in the kitchen. I had the bottom layer tested; it has asbestos and I can’t afford to have it removed.

    The top layer sheet vinyl is soft and has gouge marks and is discolored in some places; it no longer looks good. I don’t know if it was glued down all around or only at the edges. The space is about 12 feet by 30 feet, and I’m afraid that if I try to take up the top layer there could be a big adhesive mess underneath. So I’m thinking of putting down peel and stick tile on top of the two layers. It’s thin, it seems sturdier than what’s there, it’s cheap, and it’s DIY. Is there anything against this?

    • Charles Buell says

      Leaving it undisturbed is an option. Additional layers can created trip hazards at transitions, so having it installed by a qualified party is always going to be best practice.

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