One of the biggest concerns for homeowners is the state of the roof, and there’s a good reason for that concern. The roof is literally the roof over your head! But so many worries and expenses are associated with the roof that some homeowners would rather not even think about it unless something goes very wrong.
Big mistake! It’s much better to know what the ongoing situation is with your roof, because there are ways you can deal with a minor roof repair that, if left unchecked, can mean bigger, more expensive roof repairs down the road.
Your Hardworking Roof
The roof takes harder hits than any other part of a building. Sun can take the flexibility out of the materials, temperature changes can loosen seams, and water can strip away protective coatings. This is especially true in Australia’s extreme climate. Roof inspections should take place at least twice a year to prevent nasty surprises.
Inspecting a Tile Roof
If you have a tile roof, look for cracked pointing, broken or missing tiles, ridge caps coming loose or already detached, damaged coating, and debris blocking water channels. Debris needs to be cleaned in any case, so this is a great thing you can do for the ongoing maintenance of the roof, whether it’s being repaired or not. The real trouble with debris is that it can block the proper passage of water down the roof and into the gutter system.
The blockage can cause water to pool, adding weight to the roof and, of course, making it more likely that water will get into places it shouldn’t, eventually causing a leak.
Give your roof and your bank account a break; clear debris from the roof regularly. Cracked pointing is a problem for two reasons. Water can get in, but an even more serious problem is that cracks can allow ridge caps to come loose. Once the ridge caps become loose or detached, the layer beneath, called the bedding, can be affected. Damage to the bedding will trigger a much bigger, more expensive restoration job later. The difference between minor repair and major restoration for a tile roof is the state of the ridge caps and bedding.
If the ridge caps are loose or missing, and if the bedding is loose, then you are looking at rebedding the roof; this is where the cost goes up significantly. If the ridge caps are secure, the bedding will be fine, and it will only be the pointing that needs replacing. Another problem might occur when the UV coating on the tile becomes old and worn. This will accelerate the breakdown of the granules in the tiles.
If the roof has significant granule loss, you’ll require a new roof. Finally, you need to make sure that the roof shingles were installed properly in the first place, and that the nails are still holding well. An inexperienced or otherwise substandard roofing contractor can actually install entire sections of shingle improperly because of bad alignment.
Quite simply, they can put the nails in the wrong places, which means shingles could blow off in large sections in a strong wind. Needless to say, use judgement when selecting a contractor go with an established roofing company with a good reputation. Anyone can call himself or herself a roofer, but they don’t all do equally good work.
Do your homework to find someone who will get it right the first time. Cutting corners in your budget and ending up with a bad roof won’t save you any money in the long run; in fact, it will cost you much more.
Problems in a Wooden Roof
Things to look for with a wooden, shake or shingle roof are dark, recessed spots that remain wet. These spots are likely to develop into holes. Make sure any shingles with this problem are replaced so the damage is prevented from affecting the roof below the surface.
Inspecting a Metal Roof
Issues with a metal roof are usually related to age and weathering. Clear all debris from the roof and ensure the drainage system is in working order. Next, inspect all seams, flashings, skylights, vents, and any other joints, as these are spots where water can get in and cause a leak.
As with any metal structure, rust is a big problem. Rust and corrosion spots can spread and develop into holes, so rust will need to be addressed with the right sealant. Make sure all fasters are tight, and replace any that are missing.
Do It Right: Go With a Pro
When you are dealing with a roof, cutting corners and engaging in amateur guesswork are bad ideas. Never use a sealant or other material on a roof that isn’t designed for such use, or that you don’t really know how to use. A common layman’s mistake, for example, is using silicon on a metal roof.
Not only will this not work, because water can become trapped behind it, but the professional who comes along to do the repairs properly will have to undo your work first.Always trust an important building feature like a roof to the right tradespeople.
In the end, whether you are looking at repairs or a full roof restoration will depend on a lot of factors. The roof is an interlocking system in which all parts need to function together, much like the human body. To protect your roof, do what you can to deal with smaller problems, keep your roof and gutters clear, and do regular inspections.
You’ll save money and headaches down the line with a bit of routine maintenance and well-chosen tradespeople.