How to Remove Asbestos from a Roof

Asbestos roofing material can be extremely dangerous to remove.
Asbestos roofing material can be extremely dangerous to remove. (Image: Roof image by Mohd Haka Khambali from

Asbestos is an extremely dangerous material used by builders during most of the 1900s. Asbestos was a mineral used because its fibers are both heat resistant and durable. Though it is an excellent building material, asbestos causes cancer when its fibers are inhaled. Although asbestos was banned from any further use in any type of construction in 1987, many buildings still contain the hazardous material. Some roofing materials contain asbestos, and removing these types of roofs can be extremely dangerous. Large-scale asbestos removal should only be done by trained professional contractors. The federal government mandates a training program for asbestos-removal professionals, and some state and local governments even implement their own certification courses. Check all state and federal laws before you remove any asbestos from your home. Make sure your contractor is accredited in asbestos removal, especially if required by law. The following steps for asbestos removal should be followed only by a professional. Take every precaution before trying to remove any types of asbestos even if you are a contractor and always make sure you wear protective clothing, especially a respirator.

Things You'll Need

  • Respirator with HEPA filter
  • Safety glasses or goggles
  • Disposable coveralls
  • Rubber gloves
  • Laceless rubber boots
  • Hood or hat
  • Harden hose
  • Garden sprayer
  • Pry bar
  • Pliers
  • Shovel
  • Heavy duty plastic disposal bags

Preparation and Removing the Roofing Material

Put on proper safety equipment that includes: Tyvek coveralls (try to get a set that has a hood to cover your head and neck), respirator with dual HEPA filters, safety glasses or goggles, pull-on rubber boots (with no laces), boot coveralls and rubber gloves. Make sure none of your skin is exposed. Check the HEPA filter to make sure it fits properly, so you do not inhale any asbestos fibers.

Turn off the power to any electrical wires that are near the roof areas where you will be working. Shut the power off at the circuit breaker box. Spray the area with a garden hose and completely saturate the roofing material. This will prevent the asbestos fibers from becoming airborne and drifting away.

Climb a ladder and begin work in one corner of the roof. Place the end of the pry bar beneath a corner of the roofing material, tile or shingles. Pull up to raise the section, then jam the pry bar further underneath it. Lift the shingle or tile up, making sure not to break it. You want to remove all of the roof sections in whole pieces. If you break the material, the asbestos fibers will be released into the air.

Place the roofing material in a heavy-duty disposal bag. Try to bag the material as you go, so the asbestos is not exposed to the air once you have stripped it from the rooftop. Make sure not to let the roof dry out. Spray the roof with water if you think it is drying. Fill a garden sprayer with water and keep it up on the roof with you in case you need to quickly water down the roof. Pull out any nails holding the roofing together and place them in a disposal bag. The nails can have asbestos material stuck to them, so you need to remove them as well.

Check the roof for any stray shingles or nails once you are finished. Double bag the asbestos before you place it inside your car for disposal. Remove your protective clothing and throw all of it in a disposal bag. You don't want to keep any of it because of the fibers and dust that may be sticking to it. Take the asbestos bags to a certified asbestos disposal center, do not throw the material away at the town dump.

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