You can replace any asbestos material in your home but the real question here is whether or not the existing roof is dangerous and if the removal cost is justified.
What you really want to know is if your asbestos roof is dangerous and whether or not you should replace it.
You have company in your questions, as unfortunately many people buying homes think they’re getting an amazing old beauty with a slate roof when in fact what they bought is an old house with asbestos roofing tiles made to look like slate.
As with any potential asbestos material, the first step is always to test any suspect material to confirm that you actually have asbestos in your home.
Visual inspections aren’t enough, as only lab testing can absolutely confirm if you’re dealing with asbestos or not.
The Health Risks of Asbestos Tile Roofs
Asbestos was added to roofing materials such as shingles and tiles to make them durable and fire-resistant, although it wasn’t used to the same extent as it was in other products like siding or flooring.
Ignoring the safety concerns, asbestos roofing tiles are incredibly durable with some showing virtually no wear after even close to 100 years of being exposed to the elements. Unlike siding they’re not often cut or disturbed during other renovation projects and aren’t exposed to normal wear and tear.
As long as asbestos isn’t disturbed it is perfectly safe, so those old tiles on the roof pose absolutely no risk as long as they’re left in place.
Removing Roofing Tiles
As is the case with other types of asbestos tile, removing roofing tiles may ironically create a greater health risk than leaving them in place.
The inevitable breaking involved with removing them can release dangerous fibers into the air, although the risks are mitigated due to the fact that the material is outside the home and on the roof.
The sheer amount of the tiles to be removed makes it a difficult task for the homeowner to tackle — not to mention disposal fees — and any contractor involved in removal or abatement work must be properly licensed and have specialized equipment, leading to a very costly job.
Keep or Replace an Asbestos Tile Roof?
Peace of mind is hard to put a price tag on so some homeowners chose to have their old asbestos roof removed and new shingles installed in its place.
From a safety standpoint, the health risks of old asbestos roofs are virtually non-existent, so the decision to replace the roof shouldn’t be based on fear of health consequences.
Manufacturers make replacement tiles that contain no asbestos but match the look and style of the older shingles, so many homeowners choose to keep the old roof and instead replace individual pieces over time if necessary with newer material.