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The Do's and Don'ts of Roofing

THE DOS & DON'TS OF ROOFING Thankfully, while there are a number of repairs a competent DIYer may need to carry out on his own house roof, unless the property is over 70 years old the chances of having to re-tile the roof are slim. Both clay and concrete tile manufacturers generally guarantee their products for 30 years, but freely admit the tiles will last double that and longer. THE LONG LIFE OF SLATE Roofing slates, although little used these days, can last even longer at 100-plus years. There is one recorded instance of the original slates still being in good serviceable condition after having been removed from a 400 years old building. Problems with slate roofs are far more likely to be caused by rotted roof batons, or rusted un-galvanised fixing nails allowing the slates to slip, than the slates themselves. Although slate may be specified in areas where properties have to maintain their original look, they are rarely used on new-builds nowadays. New roofing slates are more expensive than concrete tiles to buy, greater numbers are needed for the equivalent roof area and labour costs are higher. For those with slate roofs, good quality second-hand slates can be bought from established roofing and demolition companies. SO WHAT ARE THE DOS & DON'TS FOR DIY ROOF REPAIRS? While a dormer window or roof skylight certainly makes it easier when inspecting large areas of roof for damaged tiles, slates, flashings or concrete fillets. Climbing out of either to continue the inspection, or repair any damage is not a good idea. Althou- gh modern concrete and clay tiles are reasonably strong, one shouldn't start walking about on them. There is always the pos- sibility of nothing of the risk of you sliding down the roof with no means of stopping yourself. DO NOT CLIMB OUT tile litting under the increased ght, to say THE DORMER A good extending ladder to reach the roof, properly secured against slipping or sliding, and a roofing ladder when on the roof are the minimum requirements - a scaffold tower and roofing ladder would be a better option. Most hire shops will carry a selec- tion of safety harnesses for working above ground. Make sure you know how to properly rig them and how they operate to halt your USE THE PROPER plunge to earth. EQUIPMENT If you have an older property with major roof damage which requi- res renovation, then bite the bullet. Even if you intend to carry out the work yourself get the property professionally scaffolded. More expensive yes, but you will be able to complete the work faster and with minimum risk of accidents. FINDING THE LEAK Unless the cause of the problem is obvious, such as tiles ripped from the roof during a gale, finding the leak can often take as long as fixing it. While as they say water can't flow uphill, it can and frequently does flow down the roofing underlay of a pitched roof before finding an exit lower down. Once you have found the exit point, begin checking the tiles directly above and to each side of the leaks exit. The most common causes of leaking roofs tend to be damage to concrete fillets on the verge tiles, ridge tiles, split chimney and dormer flashings, and lead, tin or felt valleys which may have split from years of weather damage. Cracked and crumbled concrete fillets are often the cause of those annoying damp patches in the loft, or water stains on upstairs walls and ceilings. Fillets under verge tiles, those tiles or slates at the end of the roof which overhang the gable ends, or under ridge tiles, break down far quicker than the tiles themselves. Before starting the project make sure you have half-a-dozen replace- ment tiles, you'll be very lucky to clean up the existing without brea- king one or two. In both cases the verge tiles or slates; or ridge tiles, will need to be lifted, old mortar removed and dust swept clear. REPAIRING CONCRETE FILLETS When mixing the mortar be sure to add a concrete adhesive which will help the new fillet bond with the old tiles. Colourants can also be added to match the tile colour, or the brick colour when pointing verges. Dry verge systems are available which are becoming more common on newer buildings, but may look rather out of place on older properties. Roof valleys are another area of potential leaks. In many instan- ces the problem may just be accumulated debris from close trees and birds. A good sweep with a stiff bristle broom is all that's required to solve the problem. If the lead has split there are various waterproof bitumen based sealants on the market. The whole of the valley should be clea- ned and totally dry before painting the full length with the sealant. Although a cheap repair, it is what it is, and should only be considered temporary. Replacing the valley with flashing is the only way to guarantee the coming years will be free of problems. REPAIRING new lead A ROOF VALLEY Tiles (don't forget your spares) need to be removed on both sides to expose the boards beneath and allow the existing lead to be removed easily. The boards need careful inspection to remove or re-hammer any protruding nail heads before the new lead is dressed onto the boards. The new lead will require nailing to the edge of the boards before beginning to re-bed the tiles onto fresh mortar. Cheaper alternatives to lead are available such as GRP valleys, but don't try to cut cost by using roofing felt. The majority of single storey home extensions and private brick gara- ges in the UK have what are termed flat roofs, although they do actua- Ily have a small fall on them to ensure rainwater runs to the guttering. Most of these roofs are constructed with roofing felt, and the majori- ty are known as 'built-up flat roofs', using hot bitumen for their cons- truction. TALKING OF : Although twenty years is considered an average lifespan for these types of roofs, they are easily and cheaply repaired. Normally cons- ROOFING FELT tructed of three layers of hot bitumen sealed felt with chippings spread over the final layer, as with a tiled roof finding the source of the leak is often harder than repairing it. E FLAT If your flat roof is covered with chippings then looking for the leak is going to entail sweeping the chippings up to be able to inspect the felt underneath. Where you start is up to you. Under the felt is plywood, so the water can run from virtually anywhere before becoming noticeable on the ceiling. You can start from the area of the damp patch and work out, or start from the high end of the roof (farthest from the guttering) and work toward the patch. Don't stomp around on the chip- pings; your weight could push sharp edges through the felt. As you inspect the edges don't forget to look for splits in the flas- hings which fold over the roof. ROOF FUN There are plenty of sealants/waterproofers available which you apply straight from the tin using a large paint brush. Whether using one of these on its own, or to seal a repair patch over the split felt, think tem- porary; temporary being anything from a few weeks to a few months. Hot bitumen repair kits, which require competence with a blowtorch, are far superior. If you have inherited an already old flat roof which has seen better days then adding a new layer of top felt and replacing the chippings can give the roof a new lease of life. However, seeking the services of a professional flat roofer may be the best bet. He should lay the felt using liquid bitumen heated to almost boiling and spread on the roof A FLAT ROOF as his mate rolls the felt into it, effectively forcing out any air and sealing the felt. Hot bitumen will also be spread on the roof and the chippings scattered into it before it cools. REPAIRING Should you decide to use a hot repair kit make sure you have a properly filled fire extinguisher to hand should things get a little too hot. Full protective clothing should be worn, boots, overalls, thick working gloves (not Marigolds) and eye protection in case of splas- hes or fire. TWO'S Finally, whether you intend to repair a leak on your single storey flat roof, or re-bed a ridge tile at the apex of your three-bed, two storey semi, always have someone working with you. Whether steadying a ladder or passing up tools or materials, working with a mate will make the job easier and most importantly, reduce the risk of accidents. COMPANY BY AK ROOFING 07858 708114 01302 374224 AKROOFINGLTD@GMAIL.COM

The Do's and Don'ts of Roofing

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Thankfully, while there are a number of repairs a competent DIYer may need to carry out on his own house roof, unless the property is over 70 years old the chances of having to re-tile the roof are sl...

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