Removing an Asbestos Tile Roof

Written by rosa lyn
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Removing an Asbestos Tile Roof
Many older buildings have asbestos tile roofs. (Roof image by Juniperus phoenicea from

Asbestos was once widely used in building projects for decades, but it wasn't until the 1980s that scientists had any idea how dangerous the material could be. Asbestos exposure is closely linked with increased cancer risk, particularly mesothelioma and lung cancer. While this can cause alarm to a homeowner, the presence of asbestos roofing usually poses little risk. Asbestos roof tile is considered non-friable, meaning that the asbestos fibres are not loose, airborne or easily breathable. If you do need to remove asbestos roof tile, however, follow careful procedures to ensure safety.

Skill level:

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Things you need

  • Full-body protective suit
  • Face mask with HEPA filter
  • Safety glasses
  • Pull-on rubber boots
  • Gloves
  • Ladder
  • Garden hose with sprayer
  • Wire cutters
  • Pry bar with nail puller
  • Flat shovel
  • Heavy-duty garbage bags

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  1. 1

    Put on all the protective gear. Set the ladder against the house in a safe and sturdy location. Carry the gear up the ladder and create a work area on your roof.

  2. 2

    Compress the spray nozzle to wet the asbestos tile roof. Repeat this step at intervals during your project when the roof starts to dry out.

  3. 3

    Clip any wires on the asbestos roof tile with the wire cutters. Use the nail puller to remove any nails that are holding the tile in place.

  4. 4

    Pry the asbestos roof tile off the roof one at a time with the pry bar, beginning at the corner of the roof closest to your work station and working inward and upward.

  5. 5

    Place the flat shovel under the asbestos tile and gently lift to completely release the tile from the surface of the roof.

  6. 6

    Grasp the loose asbestos roof tile with your gloved hand and place it directly in the heavy-duty garbage bag.

  7. 7

    Repeat steps 5 through 7 until the asbestos tile roof is completely removed. Fill as many heavy-duty garbage bags as necessary.

  8. 8

    Dispose of the asbestos roof tiles and all protective gear properly in a facility that accepts hazardous waste.

Tips and warnings

  • In most instances, it is best to leave asbestos roof tiles in place and undisturbed. This presents a lower risk of contamination than removal.
  • Check your local regulations to determine whether you will need a permit to remove asbestos roof tiles.
  • In most states, only the owner-occupant of a residence may remove an asbestos tile roof from the premises.
  • The EPA strongly recommends that the removal of asbestos roof tiles be performed by a licensed professional.
  • Walking on the asbestos tile roof with heavy or steel-toed shoes can cause the tiles to break, potentially releasing asbestos fibres.

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