Health Hazards of Asbestos Shingles
The idea of removing asbestos shingles from a home is enough to keep a homeowner awake at night what with all the scary news about the health concerns of the a word these days. If your roof or siding looks severely damaged, then the time has come to replace those old shingles. But its no reason to worry.
Roofs Made After 1960
Roofs generally need to be replaced about every 20 years but the good news is that the likelihood that your roof may contain a measurable amount of asbestos is actually extremely low. You cant tell if the shingles contains asbestos simply by looking at them (testing is required to prove the presence of asbestos), but the data available regarding the low amounts of asbestos used in building materials since the 60s should help to allay your fears. According to statistics, the asbestos content of asphalt shingles and cement siding manufactured in 1963 was only 0.02 percent to begin with, and that figure dropped to an almost immeasurable 0.00016 percent in 1977.
Roofs Made Before 1960
If your roof is older than that, however, the asbestos content will likely be much larger. Roofs made with asbestos shingles in the 1920s had a life expectancy of 75 to 100 years so that beautiful vintage home youre considering buying may be topped with shingles containing 65% Chrysotile Asbestos. Again, if the roof is in good shape, leave it alone! Should you need help or professional advice regarding maintenance and repairs, there are many contractors who specialize in asbestos roofs and may even have replacement shingles.
If you suspect your homes siding contains asbestos you are still safe to work with the material just as long as the shingles are intact. The asbestos contained within is call non-friable, meaning its not harmful since it is still bound to the cement, asphalt or vinyl medium. It is only when the shingle is torn or damaged that the asbestos becomes airborne, and potentially poses a health risk if the fibers are inhaled. Your can remove the asbestos siding yourself, carefully wrap them in plastic, and dispose of them at a certified landfill.
You can make spot repairs to old siding by replacing defective asbestos shingles with new fiber-cement products on the market. Not only do they nearly copy the old asbestos products in texture, size, and shape, they are equally as durable and fireproof. If the color cant be matched, you can replace the siding, then paint over the entire structure to give new life to your old home.
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