Archive for July, 2014|Monthly archive page

Asbestos Tile Floor Concerns / Tips For Getting Paintbrushes Back in Shape

In Uncategorized on July 15, 2014 at 12:39 pm


Your column in the Eccentric newspaper has always been so helpful to me, which has led me to write to you about a question that I have. I have lived in my home for 57 years and my basement floor is tiled with 12-inch asbestos tiles. They have held up quite well except for some that were water damaged in my laundry room. I hope to put my home on the market soon, but I am concerned about the floor. A realtor told me that this type of floor would become an issue because it poses a health problem and must be replaced, Is this true?

My family and I have never experienced a health problem related to this type flooring since we’ve lived here. Who can I call to have it inspected and obtain a certificate stating that this type of flooring will not be a health problem for future residents?

I would appreciate any advice or references you can provide.


While I believe just about all older 9”x9” floor tiles contain asbestos, that being said, certainly your 12-inch tiles may indeed contain asbestos, which is a known carcinogenic. That being said, it is not a hazard unless they are disturbed. Disturbing them can be caused by improper removal of the floor tiles. They are best if left adhered to the floor. Asbestos is hazardous in a friable condition or when being removed improperly because asbestos dust gets into the air and is inhaled.

I am a home inspector and have been for almost 40 years and see these tiles on older houses all the time. It should not be a red flag to a purchaser if put in proper perspective. Any good, qualified home inspector will or should advise their client that any and probably all houses built around that era will have some asbestos along with lead paint and should not be a deal killer.

As for a certificate that no future health issues will arise, no one will provide that, since there is no safe level of asbestos exposure. Only an abatement company that does the removal will provide a certificate.

Regardless, in addition to being a licensed builder as well as a licensed mechanical contractor, I am also a licensed asbestos contractor/supervisor. The proper way to remove asbestos tiles is to keep them wet. While wet, pry and scrape them up with a long handled pry bar or scraper. Keeping them wet prevents asbestos dust from getting into the air and becoming a health issue. Once removed, double bag them in large plastic garbage bags and dispose of them.

My recommendation to you is to not remove the tiles. If any of them are loose, re-adhere the loose ones. Broken and small pieces in the laundry area are a result of long-term exposure to moisture and usually found around the floor drain. Don’t worry about them unless you have an issue with the floor drain backing up. If that is the case, have a plumber clean out the drain.

Hope you find this helpful.


Do you have any tips on how I can get my paintbrushes back in shape for a paint project I will be starting soon?


If the bristles on the paint brush you used last time are all bent out of shape and making the bristles on your neck stand out, well here’s a tip from the Old House Journal.

If you are using nylon brushes (the type designed for latex painting) there’s an easy solution. Put the brushes under flowing hot water from the tap. This will soften the bristles and return them to their original shape. If you want to paint right away, then put the bristles under cold water for a moment, to set them back to their correct shape.

The same procedure will also work, to a degree, with bristle brushes used for oil-based paint. But the brushes can’t be used right away because the moisture that the bristles absorb will interfere with the oil-base properties of the paint.

Well I hope this tip helps you “brush up” your painting project.

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Gurgle Noises From Garbage Disposal / Yes or No to Use Tar/Felt Paper Before Re-shingling / Replacing Only a Few Bathtub Tiles

In Uncategorized on July 10, 2014 at 12:48 pm


My problem is whenever I flush my toilet a loud gurgle is heard coming from the garbage disposal opening in my kitchen sink. Can you advise me on what the problem could be?


My first thought was it’s a vent stack problem. Since I am not generally known as a “thinker” I’ll stick with that answer. Your kitchen sink and bathroom share a common stack.

I’ve seen vent stacks obstructed causing odors and gurgling for any number of reasons. I’ve seen leaves, roofing shingles, balls and even twigs blocking vents. In the winter you could even have condensation accumulating and freezing the vent stack closed.

You can usually go up on the roof with a flashlight and look down the vent stack. A lot of times you’ll see the obstruction within the first foot or so. I’ve used tongs, wire hangers and grabbers to pull out the obstruction. Other times I’ve used a garden hose with full pressure to wash the obstruction down and through the system.

I’ve also heard of snaking out the vent stack on a one-story ranch from within the house, but with a colonial, you’ll have to snake it from the roof down.


I plan to re-roof my hip roofed garage this fall. I will be tearing off all the shingles. A coworker said that I do not have to tar/felt paper the surface before re-shingling the roof. Is tar-paper a necessary step and what purpose does it serve?


What is called tar, felt or roofing paper is usually required by most city codes. It is to protect the wood sheathing during construction as well as be a temporary last line of defense if shingles blow off.

If you’re doing the work yourself, you may get away without putting it on your garage roof, but it really should always be under shingles on a house unless the local building inspector says it is not required.

Remember, the local building inspector does have the final say, unless he’s at home with his wife.


I’ve got a couple of ceramic tiles around my bathtub that came loose. Can they be re-attached to the wall or will I need to re-do all the tiles?


You have to ask yourself a few questions: Are any other tiles loose? Knock or tap on the surrounding tiles with your knuckle. If they’re loose they’ll sound different than tiles that are securely adhered to the walls.

If you only have a few tiles to re-attach hold on and I’ll explain how. If you have dozens and dozens that are loose you may want to find out why. Are they loose from a leak, poor workmanship, or bad grout? Obviously, you’ll need to correct any leak first.

Next, probe the wall where the tiles are missing. Is it solid and in good condition? If not, you may need to pull off more tiles and cut away sections to replace a bad substrate. Depending on severity you may have to replace one or even all the three walls around the tub. Some poor tile jobs only had drywall behind the tile and generally by now you’ll find mold growing in the drywall as the tiles loosen. Have the mold tested to determine if it’s hazardous. If it is, it should be cut away and removed by a licensed contractor familiar with mold cleaning and hazardous materials.

Now as promised, supposedly you only have a few or several loose tiles. All you’ll need is a product from Tile Guard™ called “Tile Grout Repair Kit™. It has a grout saw and adhesive grout.

Using the grout saw remove any old, loose or damaged grout. The saw has a carbide tipped course edge that fits in between ceramic tiles. It works by dragging the blade across the grout.

The Tile Grout from Tile Guard™ is a no mixing, ready to use repair product that not only adheres tiles to walls but repairs and replaces grout.

The tile grout repair kit has a suggested retail price of $6.95 and is available at home improvement stores such as Lowes.

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