In this article, we will cover a variety of points surrounding asbestos and how it can be handled, removed and replaced on a garage roof safely.
What is Asbestos?
Asbestos is a naturally occurring fibre used widely in the construction industry up until the late 1990s before it was banned due to its detrimental effects on our health.
These fibres are mixed with cement to form a hard material with excellent insulation properties, great for use in building materials.
This cement was used to manufacture roofing panels/roofing products and was a very popular garage roof material in the 1960s-1970s before the asbestos ban was introduced.
There are three types of asbestos fibers that were predominantly used in the UK. These are:
Blue (crocidolite), the most harmful of asbestos fibers
White (chrysotile), the least harmful of the 3 minerals and is the most common form
Are Asbestos Roofs Dangerous?
If an asbestos cement roof is deteriorating or is damaged, microscopic asbestos fibres can become airborne and potentially inhalable to humans.
This is known as asbestos exposure, and if this occurs, a huge danger to health is posed.
The microscopic fibres can cause serious safety risks if inhaled and can lead to life-threatening medical problems such as lung cancer.
Human exposure to asbestos fibres is known as asbestos contamination, and so there are strict guidelines when it comes to the safe disposal of materials containing asbestos.
However, as asbestos roof sheets contain only a small number of white asbestos fibres - the risk to human health is reduced, making the white asbestos cement-based sheets used in roofing the only low-risk asbestos product that can be handled by a householder.
Identifying A Garage Roof that may contain Asbestos Cement
When it comes to identifying an asbestos cement roof, there are two main things to think about.
The first thing to do when identifying an asbestos garage roof is to take into consideration the date your garage was built. If it was erected post-2000, you are in the clear - as asbestos materials were banned in the UK after this year and so there will not be any asbestos present.
If, however, the roof of your garage roof was constructed before this date, it could potentially contain asbestos; especially if the date of installation was pre-1980s
In his case, the second thing to take into account is the surface of your garage roof. Is the roof dimpled or cratered on the exterior surface? Is it a corrugated roof?
If the answer to these two questions is yes - then it could be made from asbestos.
This is due to the way the asbestos fibres were weaved throughout the cement during production, causing a unique texture to form on the sheets - which were commonly formed into corrugated sheets.
Can I Cover an Asbestos Cement Roof?
In some cases, asbestos roofs are unable to be completely removed for various welfare reasons. This is usually a decision concluded by a professional after conducting an asbestos safety survey.
If this is the case for your garage roof, there are ways of covering them safely.
Options for Covering:
Covering, or encapsulating an asbestos roof involves the application of a highly protective and impermeable sealant that is sprayed over the roof to seal it, and prevent the release of dangerous fibres in the future.
This should only ever be conducted by a professional.
The roof is then protected further by cladding it with a new, non-asbestos-based roofing material such as steel.
Steel roofing sheets are a safe way of re-roofing your garage, covering and protecting the sealed asbestos cement roof and preventing any further damage to it.
When Does an Asbestos Roof Need Replacing?
An asbestos roof will need replacing when the sheets are damaged or broken which can happen easily due to the age of most asbestos roofs.
If your roof is in good condition, it is still worth considering future issues that may arise.
Also consider if you plan to sell your home shortly, having an asbestos roof may discourage potential buyers.
To get the best value for your home, a new roof may be the best option.
Can I Remove the Garage Asbestos Roof and other Asbestos Cement Products myself?
Yes, if you are looking to remove your asbestos cement roof yourself, you can, as it is considered a lower risk when compared to other asbestos products due to its low saturation levels (10%) of dangerous fibres.
However, it is highly recommended that a professional does this for you as they have greater experience working with asbestos roofing materials.
If you do opt to remove asbestos roofing yourself, it is important to remember the following:
- Cover any exposed skin with safety clothing and disposable overalls.
- Research and seek advice from professionals beforehand.
- Dispose of any clothing safely once complete, wash and thoroughly disinfect any equipment used in an open, outside space.
- Work alone and keep people away from the area to prevent anyone from being exposed.
How to Dispose of Asbestos without being exposed to Asbestos Fibres
When disposing of asbestos roofing sheets, you will need to take incredible care and extra safety precautions to ensure you are at relatively low risk of being exposed to any fibres.
There are specific sites containing designated skips where asbestos cement or asbestos-containing materials will need to be taken to.
The asbestos sheets will need to be wrapped in strong plastic and any debris or other roofing materials it may have been used alongside, be placed in sealed heavy-duty plastic bags.
If not properly wrapped, you will be at a greater risk of exposure.
Best Roofing Materials for Replacing Asbestos Garage Roofs?
Cladco Box Profile Sheets are perfect for garage roof applications. They are manufactured using high-quality coated steel sheets and are available in a variety of contemporary and traditional profiles and coatings.
To replicate the high-insulation properties of asbestos, they can also be purchased as insulated roof panels for added insulation and protection.
Pre-2000 asbestos roofs were generally made from corrugated sheeting and so if you are looking to keep the aesthetic when re-roofing your garage, Cladco 13/1000 Corrugated Profiles make the ideal choice for protection, strength and style.
What is the Cost of Replacing an Asbestos Roof?
The cost of replacing (not taking into consideration the cost of removing or sealing an existing asbestos garage roof) an asbestos roof would depend on the size of the garage you are looking to re-adorn.
Let's say the average garage has a single slope and measures 4m x 7m, and you're using Cladco 34/1000 Box Profile PVC coated sheets, with barge flashings...
These materials would come to a total cost of £575, excluding installation fees and removal of any previous roofing material.
Visit our Roofing Sheet Guide for further help, guidance and to see all colours available