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More often than not there is always something that can be done to prolong the
lifespan of your roof, whether that's a few slate repairs, new leadwork to a
chimney, a flat roof repair or even replacing a leaking gutter union.
With a Slate roof we can always tell when your roof is getting to the final stages of it's life though, and this will be evidenced by previous attempts at securing your Slates back in place using lead tags.
But the one tell tale sign that you are fighting a losing battle and throwing good money after bad at the problem will be the sagging of your horizontal slate lines. With a new or good slate roof, the bottoms of your slates should be in a nice straight line as you look down the roof from one side to the far end. When these lines start to deviate and show sagging and Slate slippage it is down to the steel nails holding your Slates in place having eroded and failed. This problem doesn't get any better and is it false economy to keep throwing your money at it?
With Flat roofs, and especially pure flat roofs, the issues are always down to
sitting water on the roof, water being one of the most corrosive elements on the
planet. We have found that once water starts to creep beneath a felt lap it has the
strange ability, over time, to unstick the bitchumen that was previously hot melted
to either the underboarding or the felt layer beneath.
Catching this early enough is difficult, as the first you will know about it will be when you start to see staining on your ceiling. We have been to survey flat roofs due to a leak and the whole flat roof boarding is soft to walk on and sagging between the roof joists due to months or even years of water ingress through the flat roof system, but only evident to the homeowner when it reaches saturation point and shows inside.
Sitting/melting snow is another strange phenomena we have encountered more than a few times over the years. A previously sound flat roof starts to show small to medium signs of water ingress as the sitting snow on the roof starts to thaw and melt, then nothing when it rains, even torrentially. It's something that I have only seen personally on a felt roof with it's overlapped system, and does not seem to be a problem on any no lap systems like a GRP system.
Leadwork is the bridge between your roof and any brickwork your property has. For
example, chimneys and parapet walls. Without it your roof will not be watertight and
with old tired lead the same can said to be true. With capillary action shrinking
and expanding the lead on a constant basis, mortar holding the lead in place
failing, and the thinning of your lead product with age, any stains starting to
appear on your ceilings around the chimney breast wall will 90% be down to your
The 10% remaining is residual staining from a different problem altogether, and that will show more on your chimney breast walls. This is from your chimney top. Open pots, cracked flaunching and no working fires to help dry them out will dampen your chimney breast walls and sometimes slightly spread onto your ceilings. It's hard sometimes for homeowners to distinguish the 2 seperate issues, but a tip is that a lead problem wont dampen the chimney breast wall in your bedroom, so if water marking shows on your ceiling just touch your chimney breast and see if that feels damp too.
Another lead problem we encounter can be settlement. Look at a row of terrace propertys and you will see what I mean. you can always tell where the neighbouring property or dividing line is. Over time your roof spars will drop a little to a settled point due to the weight, but the brickwork never moves. This is the same at the chimney sides. We have been to many propertys where the lead soakers that sit beneath the slates, usually 3", then go up the chimney brickwork 3", and are then covered by the flashing lead have dropped when the settlement has occurred. When this happens the flashing coverage is minimal and on some occasions the brickwork is visible between the soaker top and the flashing bottom, allowing water ingress into attic space that will then start to show on your ceiling.
Gutter maintenance is an essential part of your home and even a leaking gutter union
can cause damp on your external walls that can soak through to the inside walls and
show on your plaster. This can then even affect your floor joists, making them damp
and weakening their solidity. All this from something as seemingly insignificant as
a leaking gutter.
Damp walls in your home, either front or back is usually a cavity issuue, and can be caused by either your slating/tiling above the cavity having failed, a guttering/downpipe issue, and on some occasions the failed or incorrect sealing of your UPVC windows. Changing your guttering from the old wooden gutters to the new UPVC gutters is a big factor in wall dampness that we have encountered over the years.
The brick corbels at the top of a property that the old wooden gutters used to sit on becomes exposed when replaced with the newer UPVC guttering and its smaller profile. sometimes the gap between the bottom of the gutter and these corbels can be a few inches and leaves your cavity totally exposed to rainwater ingress. Always make sure when changing a gutter in this particular way to seal off this void, either with leadwork, a preformed tray, or a the very least a sloping mortar bed. It will save you a lot of hassle in the long term.
Full and blocked guttering/downpipes can also cause the same issues, with water back filling into your cavity and causing your internal walls to become damp. We have been to quite a few propertys where something as simple as a blocked downpipe as caused so much damage internally. After a heavy downpour the gutters have filled and overspilled the front and rear of the guttering. When it overspills the back it goes into the cavity and will pour down, hitting anything in its way like window reveals.
We have attached a video below sent to us by a customer. When we attended their property, the gutters were fully clear, all the debris having been washed to the outlet point, blocking the downpipe and causing rainwater to overpour the front and back of their guttering.
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