Understanding Asbestos

If you are working on an older property, it is likely to have an element of asbestos if it hasn’t already been removed. You or the homeowner may wish to leave it, or decide to remove it. Whatever you decide to do with it, it is always important not to disturb it, and leave handling any asbestos product to a licenced professional.

This blog aims to explore asbestos, What it is, when it can become a risk and how to remove it.

What is asbestos and why is it so dangerous?

From the 19th century, asbestos was concerned to be a wonder product, being used in everything from building materials to children’s toys. This was because it possessed many desirable properties such as being heat and fire resistant, it is stronger than steel, cannot biodegrade, cannot dissolve in water or evaporate.

There are different types of asbestos which can be distinguished by their colour. Brown asbestos, known as “amosite” is the strongest of these and most hazardous to health, with white asbestos known as “chrysotile” being the one most used in building materials, in particular roofing sheets and insulation.

Although chrysotile asbestos is still hazardous to health, it is only dangerous if it is inhaled. Often asbestos inhalation can go undetected as it has no smell or symptoms, with the damage only becoming apparent late in life. The affects of excess exposure to asbestos can include lung cancer, mesothelioma, as well as asbestosis.

What should I do if I suspect a property has asbestos?

If you suspect a property has asbestos in the roof, do not panic. Asbestos only becomes a risk if it is disturbed, broken, and becomes airborne. If you believe there is asbestos in a roof, and feel that it needs to be removed and replaced, make sure you get an approved licensed professional to remove the asbestos safely and dispose of it correctly.

How is asbestos removed?

Prior to removing asbestos, a professional would need to conduct a survey to assess where the asbestos is. Once the asbestos has been established, the professional would need to conducts a Risk Assessment and build a Management Plan in accordance with the guidelines of the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) for working with ACMs. If the asbestos is deemed as dangerous, a contractor licensed by the HSE would be required to remove the asbestos.

Depending on the nature of the premises the licensed contractor must then notify of the work at least 14 days prior to removal. This will be either the HSE or the Environment Agency of the Local Authority.

The licensed Contractor is then responsible for ensuring that they are wearing appropriate PPE to protect themselves from asbestos exposure, the area in which the asbestos is being removed is sealed to prevent exposure to others, and the asbestos is correctly bagged to ensure it is sealed and safe in asbestos waste sacks. The asbestos should be correctly labelled and safely deposited of at a specialist licensed asbestos disposal site.

Once removed, the area the asbestos was removed from should be thoroughly cleaned through, removing all asbestos to any surfaces. Once the clean is complete, it should be inspected by an independent UKAS accredited laboratory who will assess and carry out an air test to determine if the safety provisions can be removed and work continue once they are satisfied the area is asbestos-free.

How can we help?

Causes for flat roof pooling and when it can become a problem

During our recent downpours, you may have had concerned clients calling about their flat roof collecting pools or puddles of water, worried about the damage it may be causing.

Its a very common concern, particularly after an excessive amount of rain, but not all cases may require a repair and could be very easily explained without the requiring a closer look.

Here we aim to explore what causing water to pool on a flat roof, when it can become a problem and when it can actually be beneficial.

Why does water puddle on a flat roof?

It is common for puddles to appear on a flat roof as unlike a pitched roof, a flat roof struggles to drain rain water as it doesn’t have the benefit of a pitched slope, which can often cause water to sit until it is eventually evaporated away when the weather dries up.

Small puddles are often nothing to worry about, however large pools of water could cause damage if left untreated.

What causes a pool of water to appear on a flat roof is a process called “ponding”. Ponding occurs when excess waters that is left on a rooftop after a downpour is unable to drain away and remains for 24-48 hours.

What can cause ponding?
  • Insufficient drainage – A flat roof can pond if there is insufficient drainage, such as a blocked outlet or downpipe.
  • Weight damage to the flat roof –  A flat roof is not designed to withstand a large amount of weight. If a heavy object is left on a flat roof, or if someone was to regularly walk on a flat roof (i.e. to use as a balcony) not designed for this purpose, the roof can begin to concave inward, trapping water and causing the roof to pond.
  • A roof fixture – New roof fixtures placed into a flat roof such as a lantern or skylight can create gaps causing water to get trapped on a flat roof.
  • Moss and waste – Moss and other waste such as dead leaves can hold water causing the rood to pond. It is always important to remove waste and any excess moss. Read our blog on removing moss from roof top tiles and slates.
  • A change in materials –  Originally a flat roof would be lay with a material called limestone grit which gave a gravel appearance on the top of the flat roof. As water would pool, the pool would lay invisible as the water would sit inside the gravel and remain undetected. Since then this material is no longer used and more modern materials such as EPDM rubber and GRP are becoming more popular. These modern coverings tend to be smooth faced meaning pooling water that would previously be hidden by grit becomes much more obvious.
  • Structural fatigue and settlement – Over time, roof joists and timber can settle and fatigue. As this happens, the substrate sinks, creating a concave in the roof covering for water to collect and pool. As time goes on, the pooling and settlement go hand in hand and becomes a never ending cycle which often results in full roof replacement.
What is the risk of puddles on a roof?

There is no actual risk of puddles on a roof top, these are very normal, however an extreme amount of water causing ponding on a roof top could be a risk.

Extreme ponding will only ever get worse until its too late. Ongoing ponding will eventually damage the structure of a flat roof, eventually causing it to leak, by which point any repair would be too late, and a complete re-roof is required.

When can puddles on a flat roof be beneficial?

Excess water on a flat roof can be risky, however it can be beneficial to have a little extra water as a form of protection against extreme heat in the summer months. This is because certain materials such as bitumen based felts used on a flat roof can crack when exposed to direct sunlight, damaging the roof. In these cases, it is actually better to have some excess water on the roof top to help keep the roof cool on hot days.

HOW CAN WE HELP?

If you have a client in need of a flat roof repair after ongoing ponding that is causing a leak, we can help! Here at Kidderminster Roofing Supplies ltd, we can provide a free no obligation quotation for roofing materials and tools you need. Contact us today to see how we can help you!

Tel: 01562 748270

Email: sales@kidderminsterroofing.com

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