Thursday, September 9, 2010

The "Asbestos Muffins! I'm baking muffins "as best as" I can!" Scare

The ceiling and walls of the front half of the sandwich shoppe had some water damage. Nothing as bad as the back half of the sandwich shoppe, but enough to warrant demolition.

The drywall was cracked and covered in peeling paint and mildew.

Oh, and there was a giant hole in the ceiling.

Over the course of 3 or 4 nap times, I pulled down the entire nastified ceiling while wearing my trusty dust mask, goggles, sledgehammer, red dress, and flip flops. I promise to wear boots next time. Really, I do. The drywall was already hanging loosely from the rafters, so it came down easily in large chunks.

Each time I tore down some of the ceiling, I would look something like this afterwards:

That's right - I look like the Grinch right after he stole Christmas. Just look at that Grinch grin.

And those hands. Yuck! Maybe I'll also dig out my gardening gloves. As soon as Joseph's nap was almost up, I would run upstairs, shower off with 5 gallons of soap and a Brillo pad, and then run back downstairs to feed the little guy.

As I pulled down the ceiling by the far right exterior wall, I noticed that there were a lot of particles coming down with the dry wall. At first I thought it might just be accumulated dirt or rodent droppings.

But then I put a hole in the wall with the intention of ripping that down too....

And out came pouring lots of shiny gray accordion-like particles. LOTS.

Woo to the hoo. It must be blown in insulation. Even better, it must be blown in insulation from the 1940s. Why do I feel like I was just showered in asbestos?? Good thing I'm wearing a dust mask that will do nothing to keep me from inhaling asbestos fibers.

One very long Brillo pad filled shower later, I asked Stephen to check the insulation out. After some googling, we discovered that our sandwich shoppe walls were filled with vermiculite, a versatile accordion-like mineral which expands with the application of heat and is benign on its own. Unfortunately, vermiculite is often contaminated with asbestos if mined prior to the 1980s. In the 1940s, 80% of the world's supply of vermiculite came from a mine in Libby, Montana which was heavily contaminated with asbestos. Every website I checked said the same thing in bold, all-caps, red text: "DO NOT DISTURB."

I was pretty sure that showering in asbestos contaminated vermiculite counted as disturbing. In more than one way.

Enter Caroline's minor panic attack during which time she decides that nothing in her home is safe and she must pack up her baby and move into her sister-in-law's one bedroom apartment to live there for the rest of her life. Or move to Canada and befriend the caribou.

We called an asbestos abatement service and they sent a nice man out to take a sample to send away to a lab. If the sample contained less than 0.1% asbestos, we could clean it up ourselves. Any higher than that, and it was a job for the professionals. He took lots of pictures so that he could work up a quote in case we needed professional clean up. Lots of praying for less than 0.1% asbestos contamination ensued.

The nice man seemed to be amused by the fact that I frequently do demolition during naptime and sincerely wanted to know if I should defect to Canada with my baby. He reassured me that my home was fine, America was the place to be, and then recommended that I cover the doorway leading into the house with plastic (which I promptly did the second he left).

With visions of $5000 bills dancing around my head and all sandwich shoppe work on hold, I chewed on my lower lip while impatiently waiting over Labor Day weekend to hear back about the lab results. Would I have to learn to speak Caribouese in Canada?

The guy called me on Tuesday and said, "The sample was asbestos free. You are free to clean it up yourself!" WOO HOO! Plain old vermiculite! Best $35 ever spent! Please excuse me while I shout my happiness to the heavens, do a quick fist pump, and slide into a spastic celebratory jig.

So, now I've got to clean up the sandwich shoppe and rip down those walls. I've been told that vermiculite is great for aerating soil in garden beds, so instead of throwing away the vermiculite, I'm going to bag it up and store it in the cellar until I need it for my future spectacular gardens. Which I will not kill.

Side note - my mom likes to call me a plant murderer. 

And now to explain the title of this post. There's this semi-creepy youtube video about various types of muffins. I've had the "asbestos muffin" line stuck in my head ever since this whole ordeal began.


  1. Yay for being asbestos free!
    Also, I totally love that you pulled down the ceiling in a dress. LOVE!

    Aaaaaand, I have an e-mail in my draft folder about photos for you. Someday I will have enough time (and by have enough I mean stop reading blogs long enough) to actually write a message and send the darn thing.

  2. oh my gosh, i would be freaking out too (and yes - you need some gloves!!). glad it was safe!

  3. Do you even UNDERSTAND how much laughing I did during this post? Enough to make my belly hurt. I then had to read it out loud to Ryan, who also thought it was funny. The facial expressions. The hands. The conversation with the asbestos man. The considerations of moving to Canada and speaking a new language.

    We are soul sisters. That is all. ;)

  4. Oh my gosh I would have FREAKED!! I'm glad there was no asbestos and that you get to stay in the states.


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