If you've got an older home, you may have a shingle roof that's got asbestos in it.  Should you be concerned?

That's not a simple question to answer.  

First of all, if you're worried about the danger, know that asbestos poses no danger when it is simply sitting undisturbed.  Where it creates health problems is when the dust or fine fibers are released into the air and inhaled.   But under normal circumstances, the asbestos content alone isn't hazardous and you and your family are not in danger.  When those shingles were manufactured, the process encapsulated the asbestos, protecting it from being disbursed into the air.  Left alone, those shingles aren't hazardous unless they are cut into in some way, such as if they were to be sawed or drilled into.

Asbestos shingle roofs were popular because they were fire retardant and long lasting.  The life expectancy was somewhere between 30-50 years.  But there are homes that have asbestos shingle roofs on them that are 60 years old or more and still in good shape.  However, other roofs are deteriorating.  The photo at right is a close-up of a section of old asbestos roofing that is falling apart. If you're not sure if your shingles contain asbestos or not, consider the age of your roof.  If it was installed after the mid 1980s, it probably doesn't have asbestos shingles on it because they stopped manufacturing them at that point.

One of the drawbacks of asbestos shingles is that they are extremely brittle and crack easily.  Extra care needs to be taken when repairs are made so that no additional cracking results.  Walking on the roof for maintenance isn't recommended for this reason.

What Should I Do If I Have Asbestos Shingles?

If you do have an asbestos roof and it needs repair or replacement, you must use a roofing contractor who is Minnesota and EPA certified as a Lead-Safe contractor.  There are EPA requirements for removal, containment, and disposal that must be adhered to, and not all roofing companies have taken the necessary training to get certified.  (Quarve Contracting is a Lead-Safe certified remodeling contractor.) There are other things to keep in mind if you have an asbestos roof and why you might want to consider having it removed and replaced:
  • Many homeowner's insurance companies will no longer issue a policy on a home with asbestos roofing
  • If you're going to list your home for sale, you must disclose the presence of asbestos.  Simply the word 'asbestos' is enough to scare many buyers away.  That reason alone may be enough to justify having it removed and replaced (simply roofing over it won't be sufficient; you would still have to disclose its presence)
If you think you may have an asbestos roof and you're concerned about its condition and whether or not it's time to have your roof replaced, contact us today for a free inspection and estimate. We can install a steel roof that will last even longer than those asbestos shingles were designed to, and unlike an asbestos roof, a metal roof is eco-friendly. Quarve Contracting, Inc. is a licensed roofing contractor, and we specialize in steel and other metal roofing in the Minneapolis and St. Paul areas.