Tuesday, July 6, 2010

It's like the discovery channel in here

Last night I had the most disturbing wake-up ever.  I woke up as I was smacking something on my neck... which, when I went to the light, turned out to be a millipede... or something in the same family.  I can't even put down the feeling in words... it would be something like .. bllaghhbrpp... bah.  Sounds about right.

The main issue is that our mattress is on the ground in the living room because the upstairs carpet has been ripped up and the tiles have yet to be removed (more on those later).  The other issue is that every single one of our window screens either has massive holes in it or doesn't exist.  Considering the last two day shave been 34 degrees, 43 with humidex and we have no air conditioner, not opening the windows at night has been somewhat uncomfortable... we're trying to stay as non-cranky as possible, so we drink beer and play chess.

So the tiles.  They're asbestos.  Awesome!!  There are several clues pointing to this rather important piece of information. a) they are vinyl, and were under carpet laid in the 80's, which probably puts them 50's or 60's b) they are 9x9... one of the magic numbers of asbestos vinyl tiles c) where there used to be tile and there isn't anymore is a black gunk called mastic, which also has asbestos in it.

So we've had someone come through and have gotten several quotes on the tiles, ranging from under $1000 to $2000.  How it's even possible that the range is so insane, I have no idea, but there it is.

(Angry) Side note |

In all my recent research nto asbestos I found some incredibly disturbing facts about our 'not-so harmless' country.  Did you know Canada is the West’s biggest exporter of asbestos?  That’s right – we have banned it here due to the fact that it KILLS PEOPLE, but we’re apparently completely okay with shipping it out to third world countries whose laws are much more lax. 
Even more disturbing is that "in 2004 Canada successfully spearheaded a coalition of naysayers... to block the addition of asbestos to the Rotterdam Convention, a chemical watchdog list".… and so it has yet to be placed on this list.  All this, so we can continue to export it and make money.  I could go on about this for a long time; it makes me incredibly angry that my country is doing something so hypocritical, capitalist and completely soulless.  Here is another article from Intercontinental Outcry. 

Since it wouldn't be right to introduce you to an evil you can do absolutely nothing about - here are some forums, petitions and groups you can join and sign.
Facebook group "Petition to STOP Canada from selling asbestos to India"
CFMEU Site: Petition link on bottom of page

And here is a page for you to find the name of your local MP and let them know that you are disgusted with what Canada is doing and that he or she needs to stand up for what is right.  Click on "Constituency" for the list to be organized according to that and find your area in the list.

| End of (Angry) Side note.

Now back to my slightly smaller-scale asbestos problem.
We did some research into it and one of the safest options is to just put a new floor over top of the tiles, because as long as it’s not disturbed – and in a solid state such as a unbroken tiles – the asbestos is safe.  We also learned that asbestos in tile form is probably relatively safe to begin with due to low concentrations (as opposed to vermiculite insulation).  However, seeing as there may possibly be perfectly good hardwood underneath (granted, in need of some serious rejuvination), I find it wasteful to purchase a floor just to put it on top.  Also, I would much rather have this stuff out of my house and know that it is safe.

If you are planning to remove it yourself, here are some great articles about safety precautions and other information you need to know to decide if it’s worth the risk to you.

Do-it-yourself Asbestos Abatement from mcaa.org
The Natural Handyman - great list on identifying whether what you have really is asbestos
E-how on asbestos removal

Also, double check that your municipality will accept asbestos waste from you.  In some areas it is illegal for home  owners to do an asbestos abatement on their own and so the landfill will not accept it from you.  It must be disposed of by a professional.

The good thing out of all of this (and there really is a good thing), is that the tiles are glued to plywood, as opposed to being glued straight onto the existing hardwood.  So, my hopes for salvaging the original hardwood floor still remain.

So this is what the asbestos tiles look like.  The black stuff in the top left-hand corner is the mastic. 

It may look pretty sketchy to most people, 
but what I see underneath a layer of tile and plywood is hardwood! Yay! 
(Painted red, apparently)

And here are pictures of the floor we uncovered in the master bedroom.  My favourite part is that we can see the original layout of that part of the house.  It clearly shows two rooms, the entrances and closet.  I love being able to see the history of a house like this and imagine what lives of the original occupants may have been like.

The lightest area between the brown and the blue 
is where the dividing wall would have been between the two rooms.

I guess painting hardwood floors was considered to be a good idea at one point.

The original entrance in the the room and what I suspect is the original closet wall.



  1. i think you're a little crazy for trying to refinish it..i really hope you don't find anymore spots that have been replaced with plywood... so you're doing it yourselves?

  2. I know - I'm not completely stuck on it. If it's a complete disaster under the plywood, I'm obviously going to lay a new floor. It would just be much better if I could refinish it, that's all.

    No, we're getting someone in to do it... hopefully soon, b/c we're going crazy sleeping in the living room.


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