Reclaim your Roof

Put the kettle on… I know it is very early on in our relationship for me to start telling you what to do but bear with me and flick the switch… Ready. Right we have all suffered from strong winds this spring and summer ( bossy and rude!) and many roofs will have suffered to a greater or lesser extent, and this is the perfect time to check them and sort out any repairs before the late Autumn storms and winter weather really do compound any problems.

What we are looking for ranges from the minor problems that will take a morning to sort out, to ‘cancel the holidays’ major repairs. A ten- or fifteen-minute check around your home will give you a good indication of what to prepare for. Start one elevation at a time, if it helps do a sketch.

Start at the top looking for broken or missing ridge or mortar (the “glue” that holds the ridge down)

Then look for broken or missing tiles along the main roof face.

Now look at where the joins occur, either where two roof’s meet to a hip (sticks out) or a valley (goes in), hips will be tiled, valleys may be tiled or flashed. Also look around dormer windows or chimney stacks. These areas are typically flashed using lead or lead substitute to prevent water seeping through. You are looking for lifted; damaged or missing parts, or worse, signs of water (clues to water damage include a dark stain, a white powder on bricks or algae growing) along or under the joins.

Then look around the edges, you should see on a tiled roof two layers of tiles at the eaves (where the tiles meet gutters) the under layer is called undereaves tiles. This helps prevent driving rain creep under and up the tiles. Gable edges should be mortared in place again to prevent wind lifting the tiles but also to prevent rain from being driven under the tiles. Any missing or broken tiles or mortar will over time cause bigger problems to the timbers under the tiles.

Now stand back and look at the roof as a whole. Any sagging or dipping in the roof may be an indicator of bigger problems to the timbers below – but many older properties will have lived with a sagging roof for years and still be perfectly stable but get an expert structural engineer to confirm this in writing just to be sure.

If you have a natural slate or stone roof you need to take an extra look at the tiles. Slates are layers of compressed sediment and extreme temperatures will expand and contract any moisture between these layers allowing larger moisture pockets and more thermal movements. This will loosen layers, this is called shaling. This will over time cause the failure in the roof to shed water and it will leak. This can be identified by looking for bits of slate falling away but the slates are not broken. It is especially important when looking to replace slates that the replacements are sound. This is easily tested by tapping the slate with a coin, it should ring, a shaled slate will make a dull tap sound. Many yards will sell second slates this should relate to a damaged fixing point, new holes can be drilled quite easily but shaled slates are not suitable for reuse on a roof.

Kettles boiled, make your tea or coffee, take it outside and check your roof.

To help you out I have made a downloadable and editable checklist.

If you find problems call a roofer sooner rather than later, they are as busy as Father Christmas’s elves the closer we get to Christmas.

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