Thinking of replacing that old roof?

Check for asbestos before you start removing that old roof.

Asbestos can be found in various types of roofing materials on both residential and commercial buildings built prior to the 1980’s.  It was a popular material in the roofing industry because of it’s durability and resistance to heat and fire.  There are many homes that still have the original asbestos roofing, but are now starting to reach the end of their life span and need replacing.  Years of summer heat are causing these roofs to show signs of wear, becoming brittle and breaking apart.

Not only do the roof tiles contain asbestos but also the asphalt tar-paper, which is the under-lay that keeps the plywood durable and dry. Over the years and extreme heat this paper will break down, stick to the plywood and peel off when removing.

Many smaller roofs used a corrugated cement panel which can be found on garages, garden sheds and smaller commercial buildings.  These panels range from 2ft to 4ft widths and can break apart during removal, sending asbestos fibers into the air.

Asbestos roof panels

Another common roofing material used was a cement tile which contained high levels of asbestos. Cement tiles with asbestos were used in the industry because of it’s durability, inexpensive production costs, and unique styles and shapes.  Manufacturers also produced these tiles with textured patterns pressed into the surface to give them a natural stone look. They do not rot or warp like wood, they are very fire resistant and can last 50 years or more.  Cement tiles are installed individually and have a tendency of breaking once the removal process has started.  They can also be an issue if someone has walked on the roof without taking care causing them to crack.  These cracked tiles would cause moisture problems or a leaky roof leading to a complete roof replacement.  Cement roof tiles are only dangerous when broken, releasing dust with asbestos fibers into the air.

Asbestos can also be found in the more common asphalt shingles especially if the home was built prior to 1980’s.  Asbestos was historically used in asphalt roofing shingles to act as reinforcement along with fireproofing and insulating material.  Play it safe and have your asphalt tile tested for asbestos protecting the workers.


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Other blog posts on Asbestos:
Stucco and plaster with asbestos
Furnace heat shield with asbestos
Asbestos attic removal
Floor tiles contain asbestos
Asbestos ceiling tile
Asbestos in your ducts