Cement or asbestos/cement roof shingles

Esteemed colleagues,

A realtor has advised me she has an upcoming inspection that involves either a cement shingle or an asbestos-cement shingle roof. I don’t have much information and have not seen the property, but the house is a brick rancher built in the 1960s. It has an unfinisthed attic crawl space with no apparent water damage, according to the realtor. It is an estate sale, and no one is sure exactly what kind of roof is on the house.

Much of the sale seems to hinge on the condition of the roof (it is now covered with snow and ice here in Pennsylvania). As a home inspector, I am reluctant to walk on such a roof even in good weather conditions.

Does anyone have experience with such a roof? I don’t. Is there a way to distinguish cement shingles from asbestos-cement shingles, without calling in a roofing contractor?

If it should prove to be an asbestos-cement roof and have to be replaced, what kind of environmental isses are involved?

I am a new home inspector in PA. This is my first post, and I appreciate your help.

Dean Conrad

Dean here is some good information.


Oh, and a good first post.

Beat me to it.:smiley:
I wouldn’t walk on it regardless. There’s a good chance you’ll do damage to the roof if you do.


Thank you for the information. I have been soaking up much of the knowledge of our fellow members. I hope to be a regular and helpful contributor.

Dean Conrad

Glad to help. Like Bobby said, don’t walk on them. They’re very brittle and damage easy.

We’re down near 0 degrees tonight in PA and don’t see a warming trend soon. I’m not setting a foot outside, let alone on a roof!

This real estate deal has to close in 15 days. My realator friend is talking about escrowing money for possible roof repair. I’m concerned about my liabilities, as a home inspector, if I give the roof a clean bill of health and asbestos turns up in the shingles and a major clean-up is involved. I plan to call PA DEP on Monday to see what the guidelines are.

Dean Conrad

To cover your butt, in your report say the Roofing material may contain asbestos. The only way to confirm this is to have a lab test a sample of the suspect material.