How Can I Tell If My Garage Roof Is Asbestos?

There are many benefits to owning an older property. These include a more unique, traditional aesthetic, highly distinct from the all-too-familiar appearance of modern new builds. However, there are a number of problems that can arise, including the presence of asbestos in your home. One of the most common places to find asbestos is in the garage roof. This is as asbestos cement was a very popular garage roofing material in the 1960s and 1970s. Today, we understand the health risks posed by asbestos, which is why homeowners want to get it out of their homes. But how do you know if your garage roof contains asbestos, and how do you go about removing it?

What Is Asbestos?

Asbestos is perhaps the most infamous building material around. Used extensively throughout the 20th Century, asbestos was widely used in everything from insulation to pipework or roof tiles. A raw material used by humans for millennia, it was only discovered in the last century that asbestos was hazardous to human health, which eventually led to it being banned in many countries across the world. However, despite immense efforts, as asbestos was so widely used, there are still homes across Britain that may contain the dangerous material in areas such as their garage roof.

How Dangerous Is Asbestos?

Asbestos has the potential to be fatal, causing a variety of illnesses including forms of cancer. However, there are a few things you need to bear in mind. First of all, just about everyone in the UK has been exposed to asbestos in one form or another. Thankfully however, the effect of this exposure will be minimal for most, especially now that the substance is so rare.

You should also remember that there are several kinds of asbestos to be aware of. The six most common forms used in building materials were chrysotile, anthophyllite, actinolite, tremolite, crocidolite and amosite. Of these six, around three were frequently used in roofing products: crocidolite (blue asbestos), the amosite (brown asbestos) and chrysotile (white asbestos).

Furthermore, the danger posed by each type of asbestos varies. The most dangerous of those named above is crocidolite, which was one of the first to be banned. The least harmful is chrysolite, which was thankfully the kind most often used in roofing materials. While it is considerably less harmful than some of its contemporaries, it’s nonetheless a good idea to get rid of any asbestos in your home.

How Can I Tell If My Garage Roof Is Asbestos?

There are two ways you can tell if your garage roof contains asbestos. Neither of these is 100% reliable, as that would require the material to be scientifically analysed, but these methods are a good starting point. If you do suspect after checking that your garage roof contains asbestos, we’d recommend you contact a professional as soon as possible.

Date

As previously mentioned, asbestos was fully banned in the UK construction industry in 1999. This means that if your garage roof was installed after that date, you should be in the clear. However, if your garage roof was installed or constructed before then, it could potentially contain asbestos. Long before it was banned however, asbestos had begun to be phased out of use by manufacturers as early as the 1980s.

Surface

Another thing you can do is check the surface of your garage roofing material. Those containing asbestos, such as flat or corrugated cement sheets, may feature small dimples or slight craters on their surface. This is due to the way in which asbestos was woven throughout the material. Originally a side effect that demonstrated the material’s excellent fire resistance and longevity, it is now a useful way to detect asbestos.

What Can I Do About Asbestos in My Garage Roof?

Asbestos can be removed in a couple of ways, but we’d strongly recommend hiring an expert to do the job for you. Handling asbestos can be incredibly risky, and if it is damaged during the process this will release the dangerous particles into the air. This is especially true the older your garage roof is, as the material is likely to be far more prone to breaking after years of natural wear and tear.

If you do choose to remove asbestos yourself, please do remember to do the following:

  • Do your research: take a thorough look into how best to remove asbestos safely, and get advice from experienced professionals
  • Handle with absolute care: Take your time, the materials must absolutely NOT be broken, dropped, or otherwise damaged in any way throughout their removal. If you don’t think you can be 100% successful, hire a professional.
  • Cover any exposed skin: Wear a hat, gloves, hood, disposable overalls, dust mask, and goggles when working with asbestos. Absolutely no part of your skin, eyes, nose, or mouth should be exposed.
  • Dispose of equipment afterwards: When you’re finished, dispose of any clothes or equipment you can, and wash or disinfect everything else thoroughly in an open area afterwards, along with yourself.
  • Use as few tools as possible: Don’t use power tools such as saws or drills, and only use tools when absolutely necessary. If you don’t think you can remove your asbestos garage roof safely and efficiently without doing this, it’s time to call in an expert.
  • Keep everyone well away: Nobody, whether they’re family, friends, neighbours, or pets, should be anywhere near your workspace while you’re handling asbestos.
  • Create walkways: Use sheets or walking pads to cover your garden and pathways to ensure no asbestos contaminates your property. When you’re done, dispose of or clean and disinfect the sheets afterwards.

Conclusion

Unfortunately, there is no sure-fire way to determine whether or not your garage roof contains asbestos. It is a highly problematic substance that causes a headache for homeowners up and down the country. Don’t panic if you do suspect or find out that your garage roof was made with asbestos however, as it does not pose too much danger if left undisturbed.

With anything related to asbestos, the best thing to do is call in a professional to help. While this is not always the cheapest way to resolve the issue, this will give you greater peace of mind and ensure that the removal of any asbestos roofing materials is done as quickly and safely as possible.