Until the 1980’s, asbestos containing bitumen was often used as an adhesive for flooring in both domestic and commercial settings. Its popularity was due to its water resistance, fireproof properties and being largely inexpensive.
However, nowadays we know how damaging asbestos is to our health. Not only that, but when looking to lay a new floor on top of old bitumen, it can negatively react with the new material.
Although the level of asbestos in bitumen is minimal, it is always advised to employ a specialist contractor to conduct an asbestos survey and organise the removal safely and in accordance to legislation.
Bitumen removal can often cause a headache for contractors if they’re using the wrong type of machine. It is unlikely you’ll be able to sand it off, solvents will probably cause more issues than they solve, and it doesn’t have to be a labour intensive project. So, this is where we come in.
The machines we advise for bitumen removal will often be down to the power you have available on site. If you have access to three phase power, then an aggressive single head grinder, with the correct diamond blade, will centralise the power and weight of the machine and will make light work of the removal. However, if you only have access to single phase, or mains power, we usually advise our customers towards a two stage process of scabbling and then grinding.
The way bitumen is laid can mean that its composition and thickness is slightly different from one area to the next. With this in mind, if you’re restricted to 110v power, you will lack the power and weight from the machine, even with a single head grinder. If this is the case, we would suggest scabbling the area first to remove the bulk of the material, and then use a grinder to remove any last remaining patches and leave the area smooth.
How long will my project take to complete?
Although this question is mainly down to the size of the area, ensuring you have the correct diamond blade will speed the process up. A general rule is that the more segments your blade has, the less drag it creates when grinding. This is especially important when grinding bitumen, as by nature it can become sticky.
How long will the diamonds last?
I sound like a broken record when trying to answer this question! Unfortunately, there is no way around the fact that every floor is slightly different, in regards to thickness and abrasiveness. However, if you feel as though your diamonds are wearing out too quickly, we always suggest for our customers to measure the diamonds, grind roughly a 10m2 area and then measure your diamonds again. Once you have this information, give us a call and we will be able to shed some light on the situation.
How can I limit dust?
Your options for dust control when working with bitumen are limited, which in turn makes the choice easier! If you’re working with 110v, you will need a CFM S3B Dust Extractor. If you’re working with 415v, you will need an Ermator T4000 Dust Extractor. The choice is limited to these options as you need a dust extractor which is compatible with Longopac debris bags. These ensure the material is instantly contained, and ready to be appropriately disposed of.
Why should I hire from Concept?
Although you could be forgiven in thinking otherwise, I don’t actually write these articles for my own enjoyment. I write them to help our customers. I use them as a reference point when speaking to new customers. And I write them to share our knowledge, and prove that we aren’t just another hire company.
However, if you still have questions regarding bitumen removal, or any other area of surface preparation, please get in touch!
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Concept Flooring Technology Ltd
Unit 1 Summerleys Business Centre
Tel: 01494 485952
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