Roof Repair Warning Signs. Have you gotten your roof inspected?
It is considered a best practice to conduct a roof inspection semi-annually; whether on a home, or a commercial building.
Doing so can serve to mitigate the need for premature roof replacement. Enlisting a qualified roofing contractor is the best approach for a number of reasons.
- Liability- Dispatching a building maintenance worker whom is not trained to work at heights can represent a fall /injury hazard. A homeowner may not possess proper fall arrest equipment, or be comfortable using a ladder at heights.
- A professional roofing contractor has the experience to pinpoint and resolve potential or actual leak issues.
- Professional roofing contractors are properly insured and trained to conduct such work.
A roof inspection is typically inexpensive, or can even be a no-cost proposition, depending on the nature of the problem.
Certainly taking proactive measures tends to be less expensive than fixing a leaky roof, and or having to pay to repair any resulting damage.
The spring and late fall are the best times to schedule a routine roof inspection.
In northern climates, roofs and their associated metal flashings can expand and contract with the thermal movement of a building. This can result in cracks or fissures appearing in flat roof membranes, caulking joints splitting, roof drains or guttering becoming clogged in the fall months.
Higher winds, typically experienced in the fall and winter season, can cause shingle tabs to blow off on sloping roof assemblies.
Common failure points for various types of roofs include pipe protrusions, vents, stacks, metal flashings associated with walls, chimneys, skylights, and flat roof perimeters. In addition; internal or external drains on flat roofs are a common trouble source.
It is important to consider that during winter months, excessive snow loads can result from freeze thaw cycling. Snow becomes wet and heavier during periods of temperature fluctuation. Ice on flat roofs can freeze into the surface of the water-proofing membrane. The result being that the ice can serve to split open seams of the membrane, or the actual membrane itself. The older a flat roof system is, the more vulnerable they become to such occurrences.
Recognizing such potential problems in advance of a leak event; and enlisting measures to address possible failures, always represents the most cost effective approach over the long run. The old adage ”pay me now, or pay me more later”, can certainly apply in such instances.
Home or building roofs that have tree coverage, can be vulnerable to animals gaining access to cause damage. Moss, and algae growth is another potential issue which can serve to lessen the life-cycle of asphalt based roofing products (ie: shingles /tar and gravel BUR roofs, etc).
For most consumers, where their roof is concerned; it is out of sight and out of mind. Developing a scheduled routine of maintenance and roof inspection with a professional roofing contractor, is a prudent way of limiting expense, and the need and expense for premature roof replacement.
With today’s technology; photos or videos can be supplied to the customer by the roofing contractor, which can easily demonstrate any issues, and to show the value they are providing. Ask your roofing contractor for such documentation, as part of your maintenance requirements.
It is an accepted practice for home and building owners to seek regular maintenance routines on their cars, furnaces, or gas appliances. Where roofs are concerned, they are most often over-looked. When one considers that roofs protect what can be the largest investment for some people; routine roof inspections make sound financial sense.
Selecting a manufacturer credentialed, licensed roofing contractor, who can supply abundant references, and has a permanent place of business, and communicates well; is the building owners, or home owners best criteria for choosing the right service provider that can supply such services.
When one is actually in need of roof replacement, having an established relationship with a good roofing contractor, who is very familiar with your roofing assets; can result in preferred pricing, and scheduling.
With regard to selecting between a roof repair, versus a complete roof replacement; the property owner should weigh the following factors:
- How old is the existing roof system?
- Have roof repairs been done previously with any successful result?
- Is there any reasonable assurance or warranty supplied by the roofing contractor, that the roof repair will be effective?
- If it is a flat roof; does the roof have long periods of standing water, making it difficult to effect a proper roof repair?
- If it is a sloping, shingled roof; are large areas visible, with granule loss or curling shingles?
- Is there interior water damage that is presently occurring or has occurred in the past?
- Specifically; what is the roofing contractor proposing to do in terms of completing a roof repair?
- What are long terms plans for the house or building?
- What criteria does the insurer of the property require, to maintain their policies? For example; spending money on roof repair for a thirty year old roof, may not qualify the property owner to have coverage. The insurer may insist that the roof is replaced due to it’s age, before policies can be renewed.
- Are there any potential health or safety issues which can result for building occupants? An example would be a tenanted property where the owner has completed a roof repair, but moisture had been trapped between the roof deck, which has resulted in dry rot or mould. Roof repair may have been possible, but it created a liability situation, and health risk to the occupants. Under such circumstances; a complete tear off, and roof replacement may have been a more prudent decision.
- What can the property owner afford, and or, how can the property owner finance doing the correct job?
Types of Comprehensive Roof Repair:
Once the building owner has weighed the information supplied by the roofing contractor, and the facts surrounding the condition of the roof; next steps involve understanding, and evaluating the roof repair solutions being offered, and then having some understanding of what solutions can actually work.
Concerning steep sloped roofs, the following items note roof repairs that will provide some measure of a lasting result:
- Removing and replacing a strategic area(s) of damaged shingles, and inter-weaving the replacement shingles into the existing shingle roof. This is successful only if the adjacent surrounding shingles are not too brittle or shrunken. Under such circumstances, replacing an entire slope or section, may be the correct solution.
- Strategic roof repairs to plumber’s vents, roof vents, or damper vents. New flashing details can be installed commonly, as long as one can successfully tie back into the existing shingles.
- Metals valleys or closed shingle valleys (where two opposing roof sections join to form a channel for water flow); can be replaced. New shingles must be woven into the existing roof slopes on each side of a valley, to permit an effective tie in to the roof slopes.
- Skylights may be replaced, and their associated metal flashing kits, can be replaced. A common roof leak source.
- Leaks near chimneys are most typically solved by replacing the metal flashing details which surround the base of the chimney. Metal work is formed, and lock-seamed together to surround the perimeter of the chimney at the roof line. Where shingle courses butt to the sides of a chimney; L- shaped pieces of metal, called step-flashings; are interwoven between the shingle courses and are placed tightly to the side walls of the chimney. Such flashings work to shed water down the roof, and prevent water from running down the sides of a chimney, or wall as the case may be.
- Damaged roof boards or sheeting requiring replacement is another common roof repair item. This is often required as a result of rot due to dampness /water ingress, carpenter ants /termites, tree damage, animal intrusion, etc. It is possible to cut out damaged sections between supporting rafters, and then roof in those sections, once the new wood decking has been replaced.
- Emergency roof repairs on sloping roofs, can involve such items as installation of tarpaulins with wood battens for securing, over entire, or partial slopes. Further actions can include replacing individual shingles which have blown off during high wind events.
On Flat Roofs; common strategic roof repairs include the following items:
- Temporary cement repairs on tar and gravel roofs. When the roof is wet; spreading Portland cement onto the roof surface will help to fill splits or small holes in the membrane. This repair is very temporary in nature; but can hold back leaks until more permanent repairs can be metered.
- Strategic roof repairs on flat roofs usually relate to leaks which are occurring at drains, pipe stacks, skylight curbs, etc. Such repairs involve either scraping back loose gravel, or cleaning an exposed waterproofing membrane back to a condition, or surface where new materials will be able to be adhered. The need to cut out and remove wet roof insulation in the repair area, is typically required. Once wet insulation is removed; deficient decking can be repaired, a vapour retarder restored, new thermal insulation replaced, and a fire resistant insulation secured over top. Perimeter repair areas can be scraped to expose asphalt, or membranes cleaned, (depending on the type of water-proofing membrane). Once such preparation work is completed, an application of the like-kind water-proofing system can be applied. Typically this applies to roofs which are tar & gravel (BUR), or modified bitumen.
- Larger scope roof repairs involve similar procedures, but encompass large roof sections. Such work can be termed progressive roof replacement. This allows the building owner to essentially replace sections of the flat roof over time, until all work is completed. When engaging in this approach; the need for proper tie-ins to existing roofing sections becomes imperative.
- On water-proofing membranes for flat roofs, which are termed “single ply” assemblies; roof repairs typically involve the installation of patches using a like-kind roofing material. These types of repairs involve cleaning the existing membrane surface by power washing, or chemical cleaners. Then patches may be applied using specific adhesives, and, or hot-air welding (known as thermo-fusing) the membranes together. Examples of single ply flat roofs include EPDM, TPO, and PVC.
- Other common roof repairs to flats include the replacement of metal flashings which are designed to protect exposed membrane surfaces at interior wall perimeters, exterior parapet walls and coping details, and surrounding the curbs for appliances such as HVAC equipment, skylights, and roof penetrations.
- Repairs to roof drains are usually necessary for the event of the drain backing up at associated pipe connections, or where membrane failure occurs at these vulnerable locations.
Another approach for building owners that have flat roof assets; is to enlist the services of a certified roofing consultant, or engineer that has specific experience on the subject of flat roofs.
Particularly for building owners that own multiple properties; having the consultant conduct surveys of the various roofs; provides a concise evaluation and plan for the systematic repair or replacement of various roofs, on a priority basis.
This does require an investment, but provides an unbiased view of the activity required. Such specialists are also able to supply audits of the work being performed to provide assurance that work has been completed in a satisfactory manner.
Using a certified consultant also provides the building owner with specifications, and recourse as a result.
In other words; the specifier of the roof repair, or replacement agenda, is assuming some responsibility that the scope of work described, will provide an effective result. This of course is also influenced by the quality of work that is executed by the roofing contractor.
This “team approach” provides a responsibility chain. As most building owners are unfamiliar with detailed requirements of completing roof repairs or replacements; the engineer or consultant provides valuable insight into the quality of materials or suppliers to be used, and places in writing a detailed scope of work, and conditions for which an experienced roofing contractor may deliver the proposed solution.
Final inspection, and approval of the work completed, is usually the final step, completed by the engineer or roof consultant.
Professional roofing contractors often prefer to do jobs involving engineers and or roof consultants, because it signals that the building owner is committed to a proper solution, and that thought in the execution of the project is being considered.
For the building owner; receiving bids on “apples to apples” work, results in fair pricing for the job required. Due diligence must be exercised to insure that all bidders are Like-kind in terms of financial stability, referral status, and competence in executing such work.
Budgeting for Roof Repairs or Roof Replacement:
For residential steep slope work; one guideline suggests that roof replacement usually costs between 1-2% of the value of the property.
Variables can include necessary structural repairs, or requirements to upgrade insulation or ventilation values. Also, certain higher end, specialty roofs such as slate, or cedar, can add to such cost estimates.
Access and permit costs can also come into play for such cost calculations.
In the context of residential housing; roof repairs and roof maintenance, requires that the homeowner should set aside $300-$500 per year. Keeping up with such a fund, can lessen the shock when confronted with eventually having to replace the home’s roof assembly.
Where commercial or industrial roofs are concerned; setting aside $2,000-$5,000, per roof minimum per year, is a prudent step. This will generally account for routine roof repair, or roof maintenance items.
Setting aside a similar amount for future roof replacement on commercial building assets, will go a long way to mitigating such expense when the time comes. Investing such money over ten to twenty years can help compound the budget available, for when the inevitable occurs.
For more information on this subject, contact AVENUE ROAD ROOFING® for residential or commercial property in Toronto and surrounding area, see our Roof Inspection page. Call the knowledgeable professionals today at 416-785-5129 or contact us to request a no-obligation consultation.