Asbestos Roofing: Why You Need To Replace It As Soon As Possible
February 17, 2022
It’s strange to think that before 1990, asbestos was the go-to construction material.
It actually used to be referred to as the miracle mineral because of how it’s highly resistant to fire and heat. This was before asbestos’s health dangers came to light.
Why is asbestos dangerous?
Asbestos can break down into tiny fibers that are so small they can remain in the air for days without being seen. These fibers can be inhaled, which puts one at risk of various health conditions, some of which can be fatal.
If you have an old home that’s been built with an asbestos roof, you might be worried about asbestos exposure. Here’s what you need to know about asbestos roofing replacement.
What Is Asbestos?
Asbestos is the term used for a group of minerals that are made up of heat-resistant fibers.
It used to be found in thousands of consumer products, but then its health dangers came to the fore and this is why it started to become more regulated in the U.S.
Although asbestos was previously used in construction because of its excellent insulation properties, it is dangerous to one’s health in that it is highly toxic. When asbestos gets inhaled and ingested, its fibers become trapped in the body and they can cause inflammation and scarring over many years or even decades.
Mesothelioma, an aggressive and rare cancer, is exclusively caused by asbestos, while asbestosis, a progressive lung disease is also caused by asbestos.
Asbestos exposure has also been linked to other health conditions, such as lung cancer as well as cancers affecting the ovaries, pharynx, colorectum, and stomach.
Is Asbestos Still Used Today?
It’s not unusual to find asbestos in homes that were built before 1990, but it might surprise you to learn that it’s still used in some applications today.
Although it’s been banned in over 55 countries, such as Australia, Japan, and all countries located in the European Union, it is still used in some places around the world, such as Russia and Asia, and it’s used in small quantities in the U.S.
According to the Environmental Protection Agency, all materials that contain asbestos are only allowed to have one percent or less of asbestos. Products that could contain asbestos include the following:
Vehicle parts, such as brake pads, gaskets, and clutches.
Insulation and construction materials, such as shingles, wire insulation, ceiling texture, linoleum flooring, shingles, and more.
Talc-based products, such as certain cosmetics.
Is Asbestos Roofing Harmful?
If you know your home contains asbestos, such as in the form of roof insulation, you might be worried that you or your family members are being exposed to asbestos on a daily basis.
Cement sheets made of asbestos are one of the most common roofing materials. These sheets become brittle as they age and this causes the fibers to loosen, which makes them easier to inhale. However, this natural aging process doesn’t usually put you at a high health risk because the fibers are dispersed by the wind and washed away in rainwater runoff systems.
If you have bonded asbestos products around the house, the important thing is to leave them alone. When you move the asbestos, such as by drilling into it, this causes fibers to be released. Just check these products regularly to ensure that they’re not deteriorating or becoming damaged.
Take care never to use power tools for drilling, cutting, sanding, grinding or sawing if there’s asbestos in your roof as this can cause the release of many fibers. Similarly, avoid using high-pressure water blasters when cleaning your roof if you suspect it could contain asbestos.
So, the bottom line is that you shouldn’t touch or disrupt asbestos materials. This will reduce and prevent your exposure to it.
How To Check Asbestos For Damage
If you think that some materials in your home or roof contain asbestos, you shouldn’t touch them. However, check them regularly for signs of damage, such as water damage, abrasions, and tears. If asbestos is damaged, this makes it more likely to release fibers, which increases its risks.
The best thing to do if you suspect that the structures containing asbestos are a bit damaged is leave them alone and don’t disturb them. This will reduce the risk of fibers being released.
However, if the materials are very damaged or you will need to disturb them because you’re going to be renovating your home, then you will have to have the asbestos removed by a trained and accredited asbestos professional.
Why You Should Remove Your Asbestos Roof
You don’t always have to remove asbestos from your roof or home, especially if the asbestos has not been touched or disrupted.
But, you might feel uneasy about knowing that there’s asbestos in your home, which is understandable. There are other good reasons to remove asbestos.
From the perspective of selling your home, it’s worth bearing in mind that having asbestos in your roof could reduce your chance of finding a buyer. Potential buyers could be put off by the task and expense of replacing the roof, especially because asbestos removal needs to be done with extreme care and precaution.
These buyers could also hire an inspector to check out the property and the discovery of asbestos could give them the power to negotiate a lower price for the home.
While you don’t necessarily have to remove asbestos that’s been used in the construction of your home, it’s difficult to know if you are being exposed to asbestos fibers.
This is because they are too small to be seen, and they don’t have any smell that can warn you of their presence in your living space.
In addition, some diseases that are caused by asbestos exposure only show up decades after exposure, which could further motivate you to want to remove your asbestos roof.
How To Remove An Asbestos Roof
Before asbestos roofing can be removed, the asbestos needs to be covered or sealed to prevent its fibers from being released.
If you have the correct protective gear, you might want to go ahead and remove your asbestos roofing yourself. Here are the important steps to follow so that you stay safe.
Lay plastic sheeting on the ground all around the home where your asbestos roofing will be removed.
Make sure you cover yourself with protective clothing, shoe covers, goggles, and a respirator (N100 or HE) to ensure you stay protected.
Wet the roofing with a solution of water and liquid soap in a sprayer. This will reduce the dust released by the asbestos.
With a flat pry bar, you can carefully remove the asbestos roofing. Start from the top and work your way down.
Make sure you keep the asbestos that has been removed from the roof damp.
Pack the asbestos roofing material in sealed plastic bags.
Make sure you also seal your protective clothing and gloves that you’ve worn when removing the asbestos in airtight plastic bags. These will also need to be disposed of properly.
If you don’t have experience with removing asbestos roofing, you should not try it. This is a job for professionals to do, and they should be experienced when it comes to handling asbestos in a safe manner.
Many states in the U.S. have rules that need to be followed when it comes to removing asbestos roofs.
For example, in Florida permits are required and only certified asbestos contractors can be hired to do asbestos-related work. It’s essential to check what the rules are in your state and city.
How Does Asbestos Get Disposed?
Once removed, the asbestos needs to be properly and safely disposed of. The fees for this task will vary from state to state, as the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has national standards for disposal.
You’ll require a permit to dispose of the asbestos, which can cost between $50 and $100. Disposing it can cost between $10 and $50 per cubic yard.
Since asbestos is hazardous waste, it needs to be labeled properly and disposed of in a special landfill so that water sources aren’t contaminated by it.
Who Is A Professional Asbestos Remover?
Even though you could remove asbestos roofing yourself as long as you take the correct safety precautions, this is not advisable.
The process can be tricky, dangerous, and time consuming. There are two accredited asbestos professionals who can help you take the stress out of the ordeal. These are asbestos inspectors and contractors.
Asbestos inspectors. These people inspect a home, assess the asbestos conditions in it, take asbestos samples for testing, and advise homeowners on what needs to be done to remove it. Inspectors can ensure that contractors have followed the correct procedures, such as when it comes to cleaning up the area after asbestos removal and monitoring the air to ensure that it doesn’t contain asbestos fibers.
Asbestos contractors. These repair and remove asbestos-containing materials.
While the federal law in the U.S. doesn’t require that people who repair, remove, or even just inspect asbestos materials in detached single-family homes need to be accredited and trained, some states do make this a requirement.
This is why it’s best to choose professional workers who are trained and accredited.
How Much Does It Cost To Remove Asbestos Roofs?
The national average cost of removing an asbestos roof is $1,994, but the cost can range from around $1,100 to $3,000, depending on what’s required and the size of the job.
Most of the removal costs will cater for materials that are required to protect the area from exposure during the removal process.
Factors that influence the cost of asbestos removal
The price you’ll have to pay for asbestos removal will depend on various factors. These include the following:
Tests for asbestos. Testing asbestos materials can cost between $250 and $850, and it varies so much because city and state regulations can be quite different in different locations.
Sealing the area to reduce asbestos exposure. This can be time consuming if the area is large, and it makes up about 60 to 70 percent of the overall price.
Labor costs. On average, it will take about eight hours for the asbestos-removal project to be completed. Labor costs around $75 to $200 per person per hour.
Material and equipment. These include protective equipment, sealants, and removal equipment. The costs for all of these will be around $450.
Your location. Where you live will influence the cost of the asbestos removal. Some states consider some asbestos types to be non-hazardous because they can’t be crushed, so this will make disposing of those asbestos materials much easier and more cost-effective. This is why it’s important to get the asbestos in your home tested to find out what type it is and how to proceed with removing it.
Can Asbestos Be Recycled?
It might surprise you to learn that asbestos can be recycled.
However, you can’t recycle it in the same way that you would recycle other household items, such as plastic.
When asbestos is recycled, it has to be treated at high temperatures that change its fibers into ceramic or glass fibers, which can then be safely used for other purposes.
The process of recycling asbestos is expensive and complex, though.
Do popcorn ceilings contain asbestos?
Popcorn ceilings usually contain between one and 10 percent of asbestos, which is quite alarming.
How do they remove asbestos from the lungs?
There is no method available to remove asbestos fibers from one’s lungs after they have been inhaled. Some types of asbestos are cleared by the lungs, but fibers can remain lodged in there where they will cause health problems.
If you have asbestos in your roofing materials, you might wonder if you should leave it alone or remove it.
In this guide, we’ve featured everything you need to know about how to remove and dispose of asbestos, as well as times when you should rather leave it alone for the safety of your household.
James Weldon is a professional roofing contractor with many years of experience on the job. He does not only handle large projects and provide excellent services for his company’s many clients; James Weldon also dedicates his spare time to teaching others useful tricks of the trade. Using BuildCampus as an avenue to reach many roofers and aspiring roofing contractors, James Weldon continues to provide high-quality educational posts and buying recommendations for anyone who visits the website.