Tips on Roof Maintenance and Care

Your roof is your homes first line of defense from natural hazards such as heavy rains, strong winds, fire, hail, and extreme weather changes (both heat and freezing). You roof is also possibly the most vulnerable part of your home. Every day, your roof is exposed to the weather and elements that may contribute to slow deterioration or decay over time; increasing the risk of damage to the roof itself and the contents below it.

The International Building Code (IBC), which sets safety standards for buildings, requires that roofs “serve to protect the building.” Having a roof that “protects the building” starts with design, materials selection, and installation at the time a home is built or re-modelled—events that occur infrequently and may be outside the scope of most businesses’ ongoing activity.

But it also includes a regular program of inspection, maintenance, and repair—activities that should be part of your operational planning in order to prolong the useful life of your roof and make sure it does its job in protecting you from weather damage.

This article focuses on how to identify and address common trouble spots in order to stop problems before they start and fix them before it’s too late.

Signs of roof problems

If it’s been a while since you’ve had your Perth roof inspected, your first priority should be to identify and fix any major problems.

Signs of serious problems may be apparent by inspecting the insides of your home. For example, water staining on your ceilings may indicate a water leak, which can be caused by a crack or hole somewhere in the roof. You have to understand that even the smallest of leaks can end up becoming big trouble for you, especially if you have delicate contents or a home office. Similarly, if the building has unexplained mould or odours inside, this may indicate a roof leak resulting in water penetration.

While internal water damage or mould may signal trouble above, it’s also important to visually inspect the roof itself to look for problems that are likely to worsen over time.

Depending on the slope of the roof and the ease of access, inspections sometimes can be done by the building owner, but in many cases, it makes sense to hire a contractor to make sure the job is done safely and correctly. Even if you are hiring a professional, reviewing the problems identified in this article may help you to understand the significance of what he or she has identified and the need for action.

What to look out for

Prolonged standing water or ponding on the roof can lead to premature aging and deterioration of the cover, which will lead to leaks. Leaks that go undetected can slowly rust steel roof decks, rot wood decks, and turn light weight insulating concrete and gypsum decks into a thick paste like substance. Additionally, excessive standing water can lead to significant additional weight, which can weaken the roof deck.

Bubbles may indicate trapped moisture within the roof cover, which can lead to leaks, reduce the life span of the cover, speed up premature aging of the deck, and reduce the roof cover system’s effectiveness against uplift forces associated with a windstorm. Another cause of bubbles is the release of gasses from insulation board that gets trapped below the cover.

Roof flashing is the strips of metal or other impervious material installed around the perimeter of the roof edge where the roof cover meets the wall. It is also installed around objects that protrude from the roof in order to deflect water away from seams and joints.

However, a gap in the flashing or roof cover perimeter greatly increases the potential for roof cover failure during a high wind event and water intrusion or mould.

Tears in the roof cover, or worn or cracking seams, can allow water to enter below the cover.

Areas to further inspect

If there is a lightning protection system, you should check to see if it is loose or detached as shown below. This can lead to a tear or puncture in the roof covering, especially during strong winds. A lightning protection system that has disconnected metal cables or aerials is no longer capable of providing the intended protection for the building’s occupants.

If there are skylights anywhere, then they should definitely be checked they are properly secured. Skylights that are not well sealed and secured around the frame’s edge can leak, which may cause the skylights to become dislodged and allow for wind driven rain and debris to enter the building, especially during a high wind event.

Also, over time the plastic domed panels can become brittle and very susceptible to cracks.

Roof care and maintenance

The best way to avoid roof-related problems and strengthen weather resistance is through regular care and preventive maintenance. Proper maintenance also prolongs the life of a roof and in many instances will allow for “repair” instead of “replacement” when a problem is identified.

The frequency of inspections for routine maintenance depends on several factors, including the age of the roof, recent weather events and conditions identified during previous inspections. That said, scheduling inspections every six months (during spring and autumn is best) is an effective way to make sure they are not side-tracked by the press of other important business.

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