The Do’s and Don’ts of Removal of Asbestos-containing Flooring Materials for Homeowners
If you live in a home constructed before 1980, there is a likelihood that your home could contain asbestos in your floor backing, sheet flooring or floor tiles and other parts of the home. It is recommended that you treat these materials as presumed asbestos-containing materials (PACM) until they are confirmed otherwise through specific testing procedures by qualified contractors.
Asbestos removal must only be done as a last resort, since the removal process poses the highest risk for release of asbestos fibres. It is recommended for major remodelling/renovations that may disturb the asbestos material and expose occupants to the resultant health risks. It is also indicated where PACM flooring is extensively damaged and repair is impossible. In such cases, specially trained contractors must do it to ensure safe and proper removal.
If you suspect your home's flooring to contain PACM or asbestos-containing materials (ACM), the following guidelines must be followed until all the materials are safely covered up or removed:
- DO maintain the integrity of old flooring where possible by simply installing new flooring on top of the PACM/ACM floors without disturbing the latter in any way.
- DO ensure minimum movement and/or activity in areas that have damaged PACM/ACM flooring
- DO ensure that your family takes every precaution to prevent disturbance or damage on PACM/ACM floors in your home
- DO ensure that any major repair, remodelling and removal activity on your flooring is carried out by specific contractors trained to handle asbestos in Australia. In addition, minor repairs and sampling of such floors should be carried out by professionals
- DON'T vacuum, dust or sweep out any debris that may contain asbestos materials
- DON'T scrape, sand, sweep over, saw or drill holes into PACM/ACM flooring in your home to avoid releasing the fibres into the atmosphere
- DON'T use rough/abrasive brushes and/or pads on power strippers to remove wax from PACM/ACM flooring. In fact, power strippers must not be used on dry floors
- DON'T attempt to remove PACM/ACM by sanding or grind-levelling the materials. Where replacement is needed, simply install the new flooring material over the old. Don't chip or dry-scrap PACM/ACM flooring, or use mechanical chippers in the removal process.
- DON'T track PACM materials through other parts of the house. If unavoidable, ensure that all exposed areas are cleaned with a wet mop. If carrying the material from a large or damaged area, call in a professional to handle the removal and cleaning procedures
- DO use recommended detergent solutions to soak and soften sheet flooring materials before removal. This is applicable if the flooring adhesives are water-soluble
- DO place discarded flooring materials in heavy-duty, solid plastic disposal bags or sealed, leak-proof containers with clear labelling for disposal in authorized landfills – this information can be gleaned from your local building authorities.