I have a floor repair to make in a 1950's home that had the large in floor central heater installed that has long been removed. The owner wants the grate removed and flooring toothed back in, matching the existing wood. All fine no problem. I asked to look in the basement to see how the framing is in the existing floor, they are old school 2X10's, plenty strong to add additional framing to support the recycled new-to-the-home floor over the 3 ft by 3 ft span of the old grate.

Here is where the trouble lie, there are remnants of asbestos still attached to the metal ductwork that is lining the opening. It is not a lot, I could probably put all of it in a sandwich bag, and still only fill it half way. The owner was down there with me, I pointed it out to him and mentioned as soon as asbestos abatement enters a situation, it commands big bucks from the companies that provide the service. I told him I do not want to it touch anyways, and I could do all the work from above, on the first floor. He was ok with that. This should be easy enough, I will only need 2X6s to frame the opening, and the asbestos is only below the joists 10" down on the outside face of the metal, where I am on the inside, adding framing.

So the question is, is this something I need to excuse myself from entirely? I know this could become a discussion on ethics, I don't want that, neither does Stack Exchange. With all the legal BS that has gone around the asbestos situation, I would hope there is something black and white out there that would answer this question. I feel I have covered my end of it, pointing it out to the homeowner, and I don't have a problem working above it either. I want to know if anybody has gotten tangled up in something like this, if there is anything else I should be wary of other than personal safety equipment etc. I am not worried about the asbestos itself, it's the legalities. Maybe the owner signs a waiver??

  • If someone left visible asbestos close to where you'll be working, what are the chances that someone left traces of asbestos right where you'll be sawing, drilling, sanding...? – DJohnM Jul 4 '14 at 1:46
  • None everything is in the basement, It is the typical old fashioned insulation wrap that was placed on the ductwork after it was installed. The duct it is on extends 2-3" below the floor joists in the basement, and that is the only part the asbestos is on. Only here and there at that. – Jack Jul 4 '14 at 1:52
  • I will most likely wet anything that may dust up, but it shouldn't. Wetting down the surfaces is what the abatement guys do to control dust. It would be totally precautionary on my part if I think anything may happen. Again, I will be working above the concern. I may just wrap duct tape around it to trap it, and then the concern will be gone and I still will not be touching it. – Jack Jul 4 '14 at 1:59

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