A Guide to Asbestos Roofs

Do you have a damaged roof? Or you may be facing a problem related to roof maintenance work? Or do you wish to overclad your roof?

This article is for the weary souls who have been troubled with these same problems.

What is Asbestos?

Technically, Asbestos is an umbrella term related to a group of minerals used to incorporate six of its various types. Namely, Chrysolite, Tremolite, Actinolite, Crocidolite, Anthophyllite and Amosite, in no specific order.

The Harmful Aspects of Asbestos

The mineral was banned in numerous countries worldwide due to its toxicity and its possible impact on human health. A lot of lung-related illnesses arose with people working with the mineral.

No level of exposure is deemed hazard-free. Asbestos-associated ailments arise only years after the actual exposure.

A Few Things to Consider

Now coming back to the main question, can you or rather should you consider asbestos overcladding in Manchester? The answer would quite rightly be that it depends.

In the case that you do not want to overload your roof, you must seek professional help. Do not even consider dealing with the Asbestos by own self.

  • Since exposure to the mineral is highly hazardous, its usage is shrouded in legalities. Workers must be experts who know how to deal with the substance.
  • Businesses involved in asbestos trading must make sure to have a record and manage all their wastes carefully.
  • Well-maintained Asbestos will not harm you. However, if you are not careful with the substance, you might end up leaking hazardous Asbestos into the air.
  • Asbestos water blast will scatter fibre threads over a vast region, not just on your house but also on adjacent properties. These fibres will bind to everything and will stay there for years, if not decades, until you remove them. 
  • Asbestos particles will become airborne any time you disrupt the area. Never use high-pressure water to clean the roof of your Asbestos. 

There are some safer solutions in the market specially formulated for asbestos roofs, including surface primers, fungicides and paints. 

Using Asbestos is not worth the health risk to you, your family and your neighbours.

However, if you decide to overclad your roof with Asbestos instead of removing it, the process is more cost-effective.

Licensed vs Non-Licensed Removal of Asbestos

The requirements regarding licensed work remain unchanged. In most instances, only professional licensed contractors are allowed to remove Asbestos from the ceilings or roofs.

Under Licensed Contractors, work such as the removal or any other task might hamper the lagging of pipes.

In case you are carrying out non-licensed work, you would need to be careful about what you are doing.

Examples are drilling off the asbestos coating to install the supporting frame and packaging of asbestos-comprising substances.

Asbestos in your roof? Spot the signs

Asbestos is a natural fibrous material important in many different industries until the turn of the century. It was used for amongst others brake linings, installing drywall, shipbuilding, and in roof insulation. It was only in the 1990s that people became aware of asbestos’ dangerous carcinogenic effects, and it was banned entirely in the UK in the year 2000. Unfortunately the material had already been used for over fifty years, and we are still dealing with the after effects today.

Asbestos kills 5000 workers every year, and 20 tradesmen die each week simply from past exposure. Asbestos inhalation can cause a variety of respiratory problems, the most serious of which is lung cancer. Any structure which was built or refurbished before the year 2000 can potentially contain asbestos, so how can you find out if you have an asbestos problem in your building’s roof?

Common Uses

Asbestos is found in a variety of roofing components both indoors and outdoors. Interior ceilings were sometimes sprayed with an asbestos coating, and Asbestos Insulating Board was often used as a form of ceiling tile. On roofs themselves asbestos cement can be frequently found in the form of panels, gutters, insulation, roof shingles, siding, downpipes, or the entire roof itself. This government guide contains a useful diagram to identify where asbestos may be present on your property.

What Does It Look Like?

When mixed with other materials asbestos can be hard to detect, but in its regular form it comes in blue, brown, and white varieties. It is at its most dangerous when the small fibres are disturbed and become airborne through use of a drill or cutting equipment, so if in doubt avoid tampering with it. Airborne asbestos has no particular smell and is hard to spot, and the effects of inhaling it won’t show up for many years to come. Take a look at this useful gallery to help you identify asbestos; it could save your life.

How Can I Look For It?

You should never undertake a visual inspection yourself, and if you do stumble across something which may be asbestos do not attempt to disturb it. Any suspected asbestos fibres should only be investigated by a PASMA trained specialist. What you can do is try to track down any plans or documentation regarding your building, as these may contain vital clues as to the whereabouts of any asbestos on site.

What Happens If Asbestos Is Detected?

At NWIR we provide a full asbestos testing procedure to safely remove any samples from your site, which you can find more details of here. Our team removes potential asbestos samples using safe methods which limit the amount of asbestos particles released into the air. Any suspected asbestos is then transported in sealed containers and taken to be tested by our certified partners. Areas which have been damaged by the removal of materials are then made safe and weatherproof to prevent further disruption to your business.

Despite the dangers asbestos discovery is no cause for alarm as long as you treat it correctly and with respect. During our survey we can advise you on how to continue operating in its presence in a safe manner. Once the survey is completed we can then provide you with further advice on whether you require a full asbestos roof refurbishment or a simple small repair.

As a business owner or property manager keeping your staff, visitors and customers safe at all times whilst on site should be your number one priority. Putting in place procedures and practices that limit the number of slips, trips and falls can be effective, but what about those hazards that can’t be seen or pass completely unnoticed?

In line with the Control of Asbestos Regulation set up by the UK Government in 2012, asbestos, which is often referred to as a ‘silent killer’, is one such hazard that all property managers and business owners have a duty to manage. A natural fibrous material famed for its fire and corrosion resistant properties, asbestos has been widely used in commercial and industrial roofing systems across the UK up until its ban in the year 2000.

Do Asbestos Roofing Systems Still Exist?

Although asbestos was a roofing material of the past, we are still living with its effects today. This is especially true when we realise that around 5,000 people in the UK every year die from cancer or respiratory diseases that can be linked back to long-term exposure of asbestos materials.

Even in 2016, there are still a large number of commercial and industrial roofing systems that feature an asbestos covering, so if you’re unaware of the material that your roof is constructed from then don’t hesitate to get in touch with a professional roofing contractor who’ll be able to advise you further.

Not only is it important to understand what material your roof is constructed from, but it’s equally as significant to be able to spot the signs when problems do eventually occur. Due to their age, asbestos roofing systems built over the last century may now start to deteriorate resulting in loose, potentially hazardous materials being introduced to your working environment, as well as significant problems with your roof’s structure and performance.

As a result, asbestos roofing systems can become extremely fragile overnight, to which safe access costs, welfare and limiting the risks of further damage all play a pivotal role into deciding whether or not small, controllable issues can be repaired. With several decades of experience in safely treating asbestos roofing systems we’re fully aware of the fact that each case is different, but the general consensus is that repairing such issues is not thought to be seen as the most worthwhile short term investment.

Asbestos Roof Overcladding

Guaranteeing the health, safety and wellbeing of everyone who comes into contact with your working environment is always our main concern. So, for those asbestos roofing systems which are in a particularly bad condition due to the high level of exposed fibres, for example, we may suggest that asbestos removal is the preferred method of eradicating any long-term problems.

However, asbestos removal in today’s economic climate can be quite costly to undertake, which is partly due to the high level of care and consideration required throughout its disposal.

If the asbestos roofing system is intact and no significant damage has been reported then overcladding the roof may be the most functional and cost effective solution. In addition to the elimination of issues related to asbestos, overcladding an asbestos roof can have other advantages too:

  • Overcladding with a new steel, non-fragile roof covering is often provided with a 25 year guarantee.
  • Reduce your heating costs with a new roof covering that is insulated to comply with the current warm roof regulations.
  • Inner and outer rooflights will reduce your energy costs and provide your building with more natural daylight
  • New state-of-the-art gutter lining systems can be installed to compliment your overclad roofing system.

The roof overclad process involves a spacer bar system being drilled and attached through the existing roof covering, thus helping to create a void between the existing asbestos cement roof covering and the new steel roof system. We then use quilt installation to enclose this space to ensure that current warm roof regulations can be achieved.

Each over-cladding roofing system is designed, constructed and installed depending on the specific requirements of your current asbestos roof covering. If required, we can even supply and install seamless gutter linings, roof light panels and any required termination flashings.

Why would you need asbestos removal?

Commercial asbestos removal has become necessary over the last few years due to the extent that the material has been used within UK construction.

Asbestos was only fully banned in the UK construction industry in 1999 and so up until then was widely used in various construction projects – including roofs.

We offer an asbestos roof overcladding service that reduces the costly disposal of the existing asbestos roof sheeting that must be sent to licensed landfill.

However, if your roof is beyond repair and needs to be completely replaced then you may need to have the asbestos removed rather than having overcladding.

If you have a particularly old roof that has started to degrade it can become an issue as hazardous materials can enter the environment causing potential harm to anyone nearby. So you would need to call upon a specialist such as NWIR, to take a look at your roof and assess the situation.

What does asbestos removal involve?

We were approached to look at a small office premises where the building had an aged asbestos roof covering. Problems were occurring because the existing roof covering was allowing water ingress into the tenanted building below.

After doing a thorough site survey it was determined that the 1200 square metre roof was beyond economic repair and it was necessary to improve the thermal efficiency of the building.

Keeping the site live, our roofing specialists stripped off all of the existing asbestos roof covering and safely disposed of it. As part of our complete service, we ensure all asbestos containing material is removed from the site.

We then installed a new twin skin insulated roof covering. 

This was all completed with minimum disruption to the surrounding environment and the client was “very impressed” with the entire project.

How much does asbestos removal cost?

The cost of asbestos removal would be very much dependent on the size of your roof, the amount of asbestos you have and the method we’d need to use to get your roof working safely and properly.

Asbestos Removal

Asbestos removal is not something that you should carry out without taking proper precautions. If you suspect the presence of asbestos in any of your building structures, then you should seek help from professional asbestos removers. Due to its hazardous nature, trained asbestos removers will always follow certain safe and control working practices. 

Of course, some asbestos removal will not need the help of experts. But the downside is it requires a lab test to determine the types and severity of the asbestos. Hence, the best solution is to hire a licensed contractor.

Asbestos Overcladding

Another way of handling asbestos is by over-cladding, which is a cost-effective refurbishment process. Apart from the cost of hiring a professional asbestos remover, you need to pay for the disposal of asbestos-containing materials in a licensed landfill. For these reasons, asbestos overcladding becomes a cost-effective approach.

However, asbestos over-cladding is not straightforward for non-professionals. Hence, the best step will be to seeking a professional roofer or licensed contractor.

At NWIR, our team of fully trained and highly professional roofing contractors are experienced in surveying, repairing and overcladding a wide variety of asbestos roof coverings. For more information, get in touch with our head office today.