Keeping your home’s roof cool during the summer months can help you save lots of money and electricity, but when you’re dealing with an asbestos roof, things can get a little bit complicated. You must treat asbestos roofing with much more care than other popular roofing materials such as asphalt shingles, tile, or metal.
Disturbing asbestos can cause fibers to become airborne, so you must handle asbestos roofing with extreme care. Inhaling asbestos can cause serious health risks, and you should avoid exposure at all costs. Add a membrane layer, a roof coating, or increase attic ventilation to cool an asbestos roof.
Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral with excellent insulation and durability properties, making it a popular home insulator and material in many homes built between 1900 and 1980. However, if you move or disturb material containing asbestos, it releases harmful fibers into the air that have been found to cause various cancers.
Modern homes do not use asbestos as an insulator anymore, but old constructions often still have asbestos in roofs, walls, ceilings, paint, and other home areas. There are many things to think about if you have an asbestos roof, and you must carefully consider your actions when trying to do any work in the area.
Best Ways to Keep an Asbestos Roof Cool
Taking steps to cool your roof can help save money and energy, but you have to be careful when dealing with an asbestos roof. Most asbestos cement sheets and shingles have a protective outer coating that keeps the asbestos contained, but the fibers can become airborne if you disturb the material or break the seal.
If your asbestos roof has sustained damage, reaches the end of its 30-50 year lifespan, or is not in good shape, you must replace it immediately. However, if your asbestos roof is in excellent condition, it’s generally acceptable to put off replacing your roof until the material reaches the end of its lifespan.
When taking steps to keep your asbestos roof cool, ideally, you should not attempt to touch the roofing material if at all possible. Below are some of the best and safest ways to keep an asbestos roof cool during the summer months.
- Shade the Roof From the Sun
Sunlight hitting your home’s roof is the main contributor to its high temperature during the daytime. Asbestos cement roofing stores heat for a long time, so reducing the amount of solar radiation that hits your home can drastically lower the temperature of your roof and help save energy.
You can shade your home from the sun using various methods, including transplanting trees, tall fencing, foliage-covered trellises, canopies, pergolas, etc. Generally, this works best for single-story homes because they aren’t as tall.
- Increase Attic Ventilation
Another way to help cool your home’s roof without disturbing the asbestos roofing material is to increase attic ventilation. Ensuring adequate airflow in your attic can help prevent hot air from becoming trapped and heating both the home’s interior and roof.
There are two main attic vent types: intake and exhaust vents. Intake vents include soffit and gable vents and bring fresh air into the attic space. Exhaust vents give the air a way to escape the attic and include ridge, off ridge, and box vents. Not only do attics with proper ventilation help regulate interior temperature well, but moisture levels are also more manageable with proper airflow.
- Adequately Insulate the Attic
Proper attic insulation does not necessarily help to cool your home’s roof, but it can significantly lower the impact the roof’s temperature has on the interior temperature. Having a strong insulation barrier on the floor of your attic space regulates your home’s temperature when it’s hot and when it’s cold outdoors.
Generally, you want to install adequate attic insulation with the highest R-value your budget allows. There are many roof insulation options at various price points, including cellulose, loose-fill fiberglass, fiberglass batt, and spray foam insulation.
- Apply a Roof Coating
Moving on to some roof cooling solutions that involve interacting with your asbestos roof a little more, applying a roof coating is a suitable option in many cases. Adding a coating on top of your asbestos roof can help to contain airborne asbestos fibers and provide another layer of protection against solar radiation.
Before applying a roof coating on an asbestos roof, performing the necessary prep work is important. Make sure the surface is in good condition, clean, and safe. Many homeowners use bitumen paint when choosing a suitable coating for the job, but various other options are available.
- Install Solar Panels
Placing a layer of material on top of your home’s roof can significantly help to reduce its solar radiation exposure and, therefore, heat. While it can be pretty costly, installing solar panels on your roof has multiple benefits beyond reducing the amount of heat reaching your roof by 38%.
Solar panels capture sunlight and convert it into power that you can use to run electrical appliances in your home. They help your home become more energy-efficient, reduce your reliance on grid power, and have a more positive impact on the environment.
- Replace the Entire Roof
One of the most effective and most expensive options is to replace your asbestos roof entirely. When removing asbestos, it’s essential to hire professionals who know how to wet asbestos cement to avoid airborne fibers and adequately dispose of the removed material. Asbestos is hazardous if you breathe it in, so it’s well worth spending the extra money to handle it safely and correctly.
Once all the asbestos roofing material is taken care of, replace your roof with a more energy-efficient material to help reduce your roof’s temperature. Traditional asphalt shingles are inexpensive, but other roofing options like metal have nearly double the solar radiation reflectivity and emissivity.
Taking steps to lower your roof’s temperature is not easy, and with a roof containing asbestos, you must be extremely careful when attempting any improvements. Asbestos has been linked to severe health complications and cancer, so it’s much better to hire a professional to take care of things than do it yourself and expose yourself to unnecessary risk.
For more information, visit the The Mesothelioma Center’s Guide to Asbestos in the Home here.