Is My Garage Roof Asbestos?
How to Tell if Your Garage Roof is Asbestos
Asbestos was the go-to material for tradesmen throughout the 20th century. Asbestos wasn’t just cheap, it was good quality, easy-to-transport and held-up against the elements.
Even residential garage roofs were installed with asbestos panels.
Fast forward now to 2021, more than two decades since its ban, and thousands of homes are still left with asbestos garage roof panels.
If your home was built pre-1999, there is a high chance there are asbestos roof sheets in your garage.
In this guide, we cover everything you need to know about asbestos garage roofs, including:
- How to tell if your garage roof is asbestos
- What asbestos roof panels look like
- Asbestos garage roofs vs cement fibre garage roofs
- What to do if your garage roof contains asbestos
How to Tell if Your Garage Roof is Asbestos
Confirmation by a professional is always required to determine whether there is asbestos present. However, there are a few indications which could suggest your garage roof is asbestos:
- Corrugated roofing panels
- Your garage was built pre-1999
- Fragility of the panels
- Batch codes on underside of the roof
If you suspect asbestos, please get a trained professional to confirm this in person before taking further action.
1. Corrugated Roofing Panels
Asbestos garage roofs, much like cement fibre, use corrugated roofing panels for greater strength.
In fact, the differences between asbestos and cement fibre are close to zero. To the untrained eye, it is almost impossible to tell which is which.
Let’s have a look at two images that show how similar they really are:
As you can see, to the human eye, these corrugated roofing panels are almost identical.
For example, both experience the growth of lichen on top of the panels.
Lichen is a fungi that grows when concrete is exposed to sunlight. Since both asbestos and cement fibre are concrete, both will experience lichen growth after many years.
Asbestos panels may experience larger amounts, but only if they have been in place for a longer period of time.
2. Your Garage was Built Pre-1999
Was your garage built before 1999? There is a good chance your garage roof contains asbestos.
Although dangerous, throughout most of the 20th century construction workers were none the wiser. Asbestos was in fact very low cost AND easy to install. Asbestos also lasted for decades and withheld weather damage.
If you were a tradesman back in the 60s, 70s & 80s, why wouldn’t you opt for asbestos?
It wasn’t until the turn of the 90s where we discovered the long term effects and damage it caused. Unfortunately, most asbestos garage roofs still remain – and are starting to show their age.
3. Fragility of the Panels
Old asbestos roofing panels will be fragile and cement fibre even more so. If you were to handle a small piece of cement fibre, it will be brittle and crumble apart in your hands with enough force.
Asbestos on the other hand will more likely snap than crumble, much like a piece of treacle.
Though this trick can help identify asbestos, this material is harmful when its microscopic fibres are released into the air. Please do not try to break apart any panels if you suspect it is asbestos.
Leave that to the experts.
4. Batch Codes
Back in the days of asbestos it was common for manufacturers to print batch codes on the underside of the panels.
For asbestos, manufacturers printed ‘AC’ whereas cement fibre were printed as ‘CE’ or ‘C’.
Not all manufacturers printed this information though. It is also likely that the batch codes have deteriorated over time.
Is Your Garage Roof Asbestos?
Without an expert, it is impossible to tell whether your garage roof is asbestos or cement fibre.
Although there are subtle signs that suggest whether your garage roof is asbestos, it is visually impossible to be certain.
That is why experts are trained to identify and deal with asbestos properly.
As a rule of thumb, if it looks like asbestos, you should treat it as asbestos. Do not try and diagnose the presence of asbestos yourself.
What to do if Your Garage Roof Contains Asbestos
If you suspect that your garage roof is asbestos, the first thing to do is contact a licensed asbestos surveyor. Alternatively, you could look to replace the asbestos roof panels.
Trained professionals will confirm the material for you and recommend how to remove it.
In the meantime, asbestos material can still be dangerous for your long-term health. However, it should not pose an immediate threat unless the fibres are released into the air.
To keep the panels intact, make sure to take the following precautions:
The Vacuum Effect
Opening your garage door or side door too fast can cause a rapid change in air pressure inside the garage. This creates a ‘vacuum effect’ that can circulate the harmful fibres in the roof.
We advise waiting for the air to settle and taking care when opening your doors to your garage.
Avoid Using Your Garage During Bad Weather
Bad weather including winds or storms can also cause the vacuum effect.
Take Care When Moving Contents
When moving any contents within your garage, be careful not to bump the walls or the roof. This will cause vibrations in the roofing panels and release asbestos fibres into the air.
We also advise not parking your car in your garage for the same reason.
How Much Does It Cost to Remove or Replace an Asbestos Garage Roof?
The cost of an asbestos garage roof replacement will depend upon the size of the roof and the material used to replace it.
Do not try to remove the asbestos yourself and always use a licensed contractor. The contractor should be licensed under the Hazardous Waste Regulations of 2005.
At Danmarque Garages, we provide free inspections and hassle-free quotations. We can also provide a quote without coming to inspect your garage by using our mapping software.
If you are suspicious that you garage roof contains asbestos, give us a call or fill out a contact form below.