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Asbestos Roofs


How to Repair an Asbestos Roof

Sources of Asbestos Roof Tiles


Specialized (e.g. slate) roofing contractors will repair asbestos roofs for three reasons:

1) No one else will do it;

2) They are good roofs and will last a long time if maintained;

3) Removal and replacement of the entire roof can involve the EPA, OSHA, moon suits, and costly asbestos abatement procedures.

ASBESTOS ROOFS ARE NOT AN ENVIRONMENTAL HAZARD UNLESS THEY ARE BROKEN OR CRUMBLED AND THE DUST IS INHALED. THAT IS WHY, *WHEN REMOVED*, THEY FALL UNDER HAZARDOUS MATERIALS REGULATIONS. IF LEFT IN PLACE, IRONICALLY, THEY MAKE A GOOD ROOF.

How long do asbestos roofs last? It is not unreasonable to expect 100 years from a properly maintained asbestos roof. There is more information about asbestos roofs in the Slate Roof Bible.


There are at least three types of asbestos shingles. Regular flat shingle tiles (standard lap) are shown below, as are common diamond shaped tiles, and side-lap tiles. It may be difficult to find asbestos replacement tiles that match the original roof in color, although we link to a page listing sources of asbestos tiles. You can often take tiles from an unseen portion of the roof, such as a back dormer, and use them to repair the more visible areas. Then reroof the "cannibalized" area with something that works, like other asbestos tiles, or even natural slate, maybe salvaged.

Asbestos is a brittle and fragile material. It cannot be walked on as the tiles will crack and these hairline cracks, which are hard to see, will leak. Asbestos tiles can be cut with a slate cutter, some of which, in fact, were originally manufactured to cut asbestos tiles. This tool will also punch holes in asbestos tiles - no small feat as they tend to crack otherwise. You can also put holes in asbestos tiles by using a small masonry drill bit (3/16 inch, for example). You can work on asbestos roofs by using hook ladders. A ladder hook is inexpensive and works pretty well on asbestos roofs. Slate hooks work well for fastening replacement tiles in place. On diamond shaped tiles use two hooks, one at 4 o clock and one at 8 o clock (see below). When you use slate hooks you don't have to drill the tiles or caulk anything. You can also use copper nails to nail the asbestos tiles back in place after taking the roof apart (such as when you replace flashings). The last (top) row of tiles, however, will probably have to be installed with slate hooks.


Here is an illustration showing how to use slate hooks to repair an asbestos roof (from the Slate Roof Bible, 3rd Edition).

 

A routine chimney flashing replacement job on a standard lap asbestos roof in Grove City, PA (below):

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We are located in northwestern Pennsylvania, USA.

Joseph Jenkins Inc. is located in northwestern Pennsylvania, USA.

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Slate Roof Bible,
3rd Edition

hardcover, by Joseph C. Jenkins, June 2016, 374 pages, nearly 800 illustrations. Also available as an Ebook!

Slate Roof Bible, 3rd edition


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