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Asbestos cement roofing: shingles, corrugated, other forms: this document provides a photo guide and text that can help in identification of asbestos-containing roofing products like asphalt shingles & asbestos-cement roof shingles. We include photographs of various asbestos-containing cementious roofing products such as asbestos cement shingles and corrugated asbestos cement roofing. Also see ASBESTOS ROOFING / SIDING DUST.
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Cement-Asbestos Roof Shingles,Tiles, or Corrugated Roofing: Photo guide to asbestos containing roofing products
The mixture of asbestos fibers and portland cement to form a hard material that was was durable and fire resistant is credited to Ludwig Hatschek who, in 1900, came up with the name Eternit associated with a U.S. producer of these products.
Fiber cement roofing products, a replacement that is similar in properties but that does not use asbestos, continue in popular and widespread use in the North America and many other areas of the world today.
This article assists building buyers, owners or inspectors who need to identify asbestos materials (or probable-asbestos) in buildings by simple visual inspection. In the website sections listed below, we provide photographs and descriptive text of asbestos insulation and other asbestos-containing products to permit identification of definite, probable, or possible asbestos materials in buildings.
While an expert lab test using polarized light microscopy may be needed to identify the specific type of asbestos fiber, or to identify the presence of asbestos in air or dust samples, many asbestos-containing building products not only are obvious and easy to recognize, but since there were not other look-alike products that were not asbestos, a visual identification of this material can be virtually a certainty in many cases.
Also see AMERICAN CEMWOOD ROOFING, and see other cementious siding materials such as JamesHardie HardiePlank Siding and cementious roofing materials such as Corrugated Cement-Asbestos Roofing and ASBESTOS CEMENT SIDING. Also see Environmental Issues - Asbestos Roofing/Siding. (Also see Hardie's Fibrolite™ or Fibro where used in Australia). Also see ASBESTOS ROOFING / SIDING DUST.
Most roofing materials are considered to be non-friable, and are probably less hazardous than other friable asbestos products such as asbestos pipe insulation. However removal of asbestos-containing roofing products is regulated as we discuss below.
Asbestos cement roof shingles were in popular use in the U.S. from the 1920's (est) through the 1960's (est) and were sold in the U.S. into the 1970's and according to some sources even in the 1980's.. The mixture of asbestos fibers and portland cement to form a hard material that was was durable and fire resistant is credited to Ludwig Hatschek who, in 1900, came up with the name Eternit associated with a U.S. producer of these products.
The typical life expectancy of an cement asbestos shingle roof was given as 30 years, but we've seen these roofs that were now 50 years old in good condition. Typical roof wear or failure patterns are either failure of the shingle fasteners or broken and falling shingles.
Asbestos cement corrugated roofing has been in use over the same time period and was generally a thicker material used in low-cost applications such as on sheds, barns, and low-income housing in some areas.
Roofing materials that use fibers and aggregate other than asbestos are properly called "fiber cement" roofing products. Some manufacturers use the term "fiber-reinforced cement" for these products. All of these products use some sort of fiber along with cement. Before 1978 in the U.S. the common fiber used was asbestos.
Also see the following articles providing more detail about asbestos-cement roofing:
Wear Signs on Cement Asbestos Shingles
See Cement Asbestos Roof Shingles, information for home buyers & home inspectors for basic information for home buyers purchasing a home with cement-asbestos roof shingles..
How do we cut, install, or remove fiber cement roofing or siding products with a minimum of dust and potential asbestos fiber release? How friable are cement-asbestos roofing and siding products?
Definition of friable asbestos materials:
The asbestos in cement asbestos roofing products is not friable under normal conditions. That is, asbestos cement products are is not normally easily crushed into dust by hand.
Cleaning stains, mold algae, lichens from cement-asbestos roofs
Watch out: As we discuss at Power Washing Roofs we do not recommend power-washing asbestos-cement nor any other roofing. See Black Stain Removal & Prevention for advice on diagnosing, cleaning, and preventing stains on roofing.
Warning about making asbestos-containing cementious materials become friable
Watch out: However very old, weathered and worn asbestos cement shingles, such as on a roof or sometimes on a wall that has been painted and is peeling, or roofing or wall cement asbestos shingles that are mishandled during demolition (breaking into many small pieces, running hand or power saws to cut the material) risks creating airborne asbestos-contaminated dust which could be a health and environmental hazard.
See ASBESTOS ROOFING / SIDING DUST - separate article
A modern version of this fiber cement cutter that is hand-lever operated and does not require electricity is the Bullet Tools 920 Pro Magnum Shear I-20 Electricity Free 20 Inch Flooring and Siding Dust Free Cutter (photo at left) - this is a great tool, but a bit steep for a homeowner or do-it-yourselfer at around $900. \
A modern fiber cement shingle cutting tool used for the same purpose is the Malco® TSFC Tubo Shear fiber cement cutting tool also used to cut cement backerboard and similar products.
The Malco fiber cement and backerboard shear is powered by a separate cordless or wall-power connected electric drill.
Malco also produces the TSF2A, a heavy-duty pneumatic shear cutting tool for the same purpose.
Similar shear tools are produced by quite a few other manufacturers - see Tools to Cut Fiber Cement Shingles
Added demolition and disposal cost of cement-asbestos products
Also in some communities special measures and added costs are involved because of a requirement for air-testing during removal and possibly costs to dispose of the material in an appropriate landfill. (After all, originally this material came from the land.)
Thanks to reader Van Moore for technical editing and requesting clarification.
Asbestos-filled asphalt paint was used damp proofing on building foundations and as a roofing sealant for many decades up to 1978.
Other paints and sealants that used asbestos fibers, particularly chrysotile asbestos include textured paints, textured surfaces using joint compound, and popcorn ceiling paints and coatings. Possibly also in some fire-resistant coatings and paints.
and ASBESTOS REGULATION Update that address the handling of asbestos containing building materials, including ACM (asbestos containing materials), PACM (presumed asbestos containing materials), SACM (suspect asbestos containing materials), and ACRM (asbestos containing roofing materials).
According to NRCA, the National Roofing Contractors' Association, their studies up to February 1992 had not found a single roofing job at which the asbestos permissible exposure limits (PELs) were exceeded, and NRCA reported that in some cases no fiber release was detected.
We note that the association would have been referring only to asphalt-based roofing materials, not jobs involving the demolition of other ACRM such as cement-asbestos roof shingles (or "asbestos roof tiles" as some consumers refer to them) which might produce different statistics.
At OSHA Asbestos Roof/Siding Regulations we discuss (briefly) the regulation of demolition & removal of cement asbestos or other asbestos containing roofing and siding materials.
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Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Terry Jones said:
Yes - readers needing replacement fiber cement shingle wall siding should see Sources of Replacements for Asbestos Cement Shingles
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