A naturally occurring substance, asbestos has many desirable characteristics that make it a versatile and inexpensive material for use in industry. Over the years, it has been used in a wide variety of building applications. Over time, however, asbestos has been shown to cause fatal lung and pulmonary diseases including lung cancer and mesothelioma.
Due to its fire- and heat-resistant properties, asbestos has been widely used in a variety of roofing products including roof tiles. Largely composed of cement, these tiles are only 10% to 15% composed of asbestos. Even still, the product is now banned, and homeowners often wonder if they should replace their existing asbestos roofing tiles if they own an older home.
Assessing the Risks
While it is harmful to humans, asbestos is actually a natural material. There are six different types; crocidolite, amosite, chrysotile, anthophyllite, actinolite and tremolite. They all appear in the environment as different colors, with the brown variety (amosite) being the most durable. It’s the white asbestos, however, that was most often used in construction because of its pliability which made it perfect for use in insulation and roof tiles. Unfortunately, the years have exposed asbestos as harmful to human health.
In the environment, asbestos poses no threat to humans. The problem arises when industrial processing converts the matter into small fibers that can be inhaled. Once they enter the lungs, they can lodge in the tissue lining of the abdomen and lungs, which leads to inflammation, scarring and fatal diseases such as lung cancer.
With that said, issues generally arise from asbestos insulation and not roofing tiles. In most cases, asbestos roofing tiles will pose no real health hazard in and of themselves. This is because the dangerous fibers are kept firmly in place by cement. If they begin to deteriorate or become damaged, however, there is a chance fibers could become airborne and infiltrate the lungs.
Damaged asbestos roofing tiles need to be handled and removed with care by seasoned experts using appropriate safety equipment. Since any abrasion can cause fibers to enter the air, it’s generally best to only have them removed if they are damaged or old.
If you are planning to do renovations anyway, it may make sense to take the opportunity to replace old asbestos roof tiles with modern versions that do not contain any asbestos. If, however, the tiles appear to be in good condition, it’s ok to leave them in place.
Professional removal isn’t a small task and will require a survey. Costs can vary from hundreds to thousands of dollars, depending on the condition of the tiles. Whatever the case, it is never a good idea to try to remove asbestos roofing tiles by yourself.
How to Tell if Your Roof Tiles Include Asbestos
When it comes to determining whether you have asbestos tiles in your home, you really need input from a professional. That said, there are some telltale signs that asbestos was involved in the construction of your roof tiles. These include:
- Your roof includes bitumen-based or mastic pressed metal tiles.
- The manufacturing date on your tiles was 1979 or earlier.
With the creation of asphalt roof products in the late 50s, the Environmental Protection Agency entirely discontinued asbestos. In 1989, the material became illegal in the construction industry. At that time, the EPA issued an asbestos ban while introducing a phase-out rule. Still, many homes have asbestos roof shingles. If they are in reasonably good condition and undisturbed, the tiles are usually not a major problem. That said, many people prefer to have them changed out just for peace of mind.
If you are planning a major renovation or your roof becomes damaged or starts to deteriorate, it’s a good idea to remove your asbestos roof tiles and replace them with a safer, asbestos-free roofing product. A to Z can provide an evaluation to see if your asbestos tiles are safe or problematic. If necessary, we can replace your tiles with a safer, modern roof that will protect your home and your family for decades to come.
Need a new roof or help repairing weather-related damage? A to Z is ready to help. We’ve developed a widespread reputation as one of Colorado’s premier roofing contractors by providing reliable workmanship and attentive, honest customer service. Contact our attentive team to learn more.