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Asbestos Shingles: Remove or Maintain?

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Ron in New Jersey finds The Money Pit on WABC and you want to siding. How can we help?

    RON: Hi. Yeah, I have a 100-year-old house which is – has asbestos siding on the outside.

    TOM and LESLIE: OK.

    RON: And we’re right – we’re right on the ocean pretty much. And it seems very hardy. And I’ve even seen a new house being put up that uses similar; probably cement based but …

    TOM: Yes, that’s called hardy plank.

    RON: You know, it’s not the most appealing to look at but yet I’m wondering is it something that should be taken off and redone or (inaudible).

    LESLIE: Well, is it in good condition or is it falling apart? The siding itself, not the paint job.

    RON: The siding itself seems fine.

    TOM: You know, cement asbestos shingles are not organic so they don’t rot. They tend to grow a little mildew over time and they need to be cleaned or repainted. But they’re a terrific choice for a home that’s on the ocean that has a lot of salt exposure and things like that. So I see no reason to tell you to take those off. You can simply, you know, prime them; clean them, prime them and paint them and they will last indefinitely. You know, asbestos shingles …

    LESLIE: We have them on my house and they’re not so bad to look at. (chuckles)

    TOM: No. Cement asbestos actually used to be used, for a long time, in the 40s and 50s as a roofing shingle.

    RON: Right.

    TOM: For pitched roofs. And they never leaked. They just got kind of gray and yucky looking so people ended up pulling them off from time to time.

    LESLIE: Replacing them at that point.

    RON: Oh, OK. I see.

    TOM: And in terms of the asbestos risk, there really is none because it’s held inside of a cement …

    LESLIE: (overlapping voices) Unless you’re breaking them up and releasing the insides to the air.

    RON: I think people blow it more out of proportion than it really is. They just hear …

    TOM: Well, in this particular case the asbestos is held inside of a cement binder. So unless you break them up by removing them …

    RON: Yeah.

    TOM: … as Leslie said, then you’re not going to have an exposure risk. So I think that you should keep them and just maintain them.

    RON: OK, well thank you very much, both of you. I really appreciate the advice. Very helpful.

    TOM: You’re welcome, Ron. Thanks so much for calling us at 888-MONEY-PIT.

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