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Leave It To The Professionals for UPVC and Roofing

Leave It To The Professionals for UPVC and Roofing

Your roof needs close attention, from clearing out the guttering to repairing holes and cracks. It may seem rather expensive, and perhaps you’re tempted to do it yourself rather than pay for professionals. After all, what could possibly go wrong?

 

The answer, unfortunately, is plenty.

 

Roofing Jobs

The work your roof needs divides into repairing particular faults to maintenance that needs to be kept up on a regular basis. Repairs include replacing or recementing tiles, removal or replacement of lead work, repointing, removal of moss and replacement of fascias and soffits. These are one-offs, but they’re likely to be required on a frequent basis over the lifetime of your roof.

Maintenance jobs, on the other hand, should be undertaken at least a couple of times a year, in addition to the aftermath of any harsh weather, such as a storm. This includes clearing dirt and leaves out of your gutters and downpipes, enabling water to drain off as it needs to, and examining the roof for signs of holes or leaks.

 

Can I DIY?

There are some advantages to carrying out maintenance yourself — provided you’re equipped for it. The obvious advantage, besides saving money, is that you can react instantly after bad weather or if you suspect a problem, rather than having to make an appointment with a professional.

What you’ll require to clean out your gutters or inspect your roof close up are a good head for heights, a high-quality ladder and a full understanding of how to use it, and a knowledge of how to work at height. Someone inexperienced working on their guttering, for instance, not only puts themselves at risk of falling, but may also injure someone below if they’ve failed to secure their tools properly.

 

Professional Jobs

While the routine maintenance may be possible for an expert DIYer, many roofing jobs are best left to the professionals. Tiling, pointing, repairing felt roofs and replacing uPVC fascias and soffits aren’t the same as putting up shelves — professionals go through considerable training before they’re qualified to do these jobs. Perhaps you’d manage it adequately, but would you really want to risk a job that may or may not be “adequate”?

In fact, even the routine maintenance might be better left to professionals, who have the experience to spot signs of damage that an amateur could easily miss.

Your roof is your main line of defence against the elements. Get in touch with us to see how we can give it the maintenance it deserves.

 

How to Figure Out What’s Making Your Roof Leak

How to Figure Out What’s Making Your Roof Leak

Roof leaks can come in many different sizes. If you have a large hole in your roof that lets water pour in, you don’t need much effort to identify it, but most leaks are far less obvious. Nevertheless, it’s important to track them down, since the longer they’re left unrepaired, the more damage they’re doing to your home.

Causes of Roof Leaks

Leaks can be caused storm damage to your roof, but often there isn’t such an obvious cause. Roofing materials don’t last for ever, and they can simply decay. Alternatively, work on your roof such as adding dormers can cause damage if it’s sloppily done, or removing fixtures such as TV aerials can leave small holes.

In general, the most vulnerable areas of your roof are the ridge, valleys, flashing and the tiles themselves. Problems can also be caused by the underlay rotting, if water manages to get underneath the tiles.

Signs of Roof Leaks

There are a number of signs to look out for that your roof may be leaking, though many of them could also have other causes. The main ones are:

  • Spots or marks on your ceiling, especially in the form of concentric rings.
  • Black stains around the chimney, which could indicate mildew or mould.
  • Paint peeling or wood rotting around skylights.
  • Roofing materials fallen into the garden or in the downpipe.
  • Visible damage to roof tiles or flashing.

Finding the Leak

If you suspect you have a leak, you still need to track it down. That’s not always easy, unless the damage to the roof is clearly visible, since the marks on your ceiling won’t necessarily be straight underneath the leak.

The best strategy is to examine your loft area. Stains there are likely to be closer to the leak, but you can find it most easily by looking for holes. To do this, go into the loft during full daylight and switch all lighting off. If you have skylights or dormers, try to cover these. If you can get the loft sufficiently dark, holes will be visible as points of light.

What to Do If You Have a Leak

The worst thing you can do with a roof leak is to ignore it. The roofing materials around the hole will degrade, and meanwhile the damp will be causing serious damage to the timber, the plaster and the whole structure of the building, what could have been a simple patch may turn into major repairs.

If you suspect you have a leak, you’re welcome to get in touch with us for an expert examination.

 

 

 

Slate, Tiles or Felt — What’s Best for my Roof?

Slate, Tiles or Felt — What’s Best for my Roof?

If you’re completely replacing your or undertaking a new build or extension, it’s important to decide what kind of roof you want. There’s a wide choice of roofing materials, but for most people the decision comes down to slate, tiles or felt. The decision’s going to be partly based on which you think looks best, but there are definite pros and cons to each.

Slate Roofing

Slate is the strongest of the common roofing materials, and a properly constructed slate roof will last far longer than any other type. It can also give your roof a touch of class.

The downside is that slate is the most expensive roofing material, as well as the most time consuming to fit, since each slate has to be individually nailed or clipped. A slate roof needs a pitch of 30 degrees, and the slates should be fitted to battens over an underlay.

If you’re willing to accept the cost and extra time, a slate roof is an excellent choice. At the same time, there are options for reducing the expense, though at some cost of quality, by using imported slate by aggregate imitation slate.

 

Tiled Roofing

A tiled roof is standard throughout most of the UK. There have traditionally been regional variations in colour and design, but today most varieties of tile are available anywhere.

Tiles are a good deal cheaper than slate and, though not quite as long lasting, can be very durable. A tiled roof is also easier to repair than a slate one, with individual tiles relatively simple to take out and replace.

There are various types of tile available, including clay and concrete, and the choice of which kind to use will depend partly on the pitch and strength of the roof.

 

Felt Roofing

Although it can be used on pitched roofs, felt is the best material for flat roofs. A flat roof can be used for a main structure, extension or out-building, and enables the roof to be put to practical use, such as garden or terrace. On the downside, it’s more vulnerable to pooling water, and extra provision has to be made for drainage.

Felt doesn’t last as long as slate or tiles. On the other hand, it’s considerably cheaper, and if it’s well laid, with three layers, it can be more durable than most people assume.

Help with Roofing

Whichever you go for, it’s as well to get professional advice before making a final decision. You’re very welcome to get in touch with us for a chat about your roof.

 

10 Cool Ideas to Make Use of Your Roof

10 Cool Ideas to Make Use of Your Roof

Most of us don’t really use our roofs. We value their protection, of course, even if we don’t always remember it till something goes wrong, but we tend just to waste that expanse on top of the house. Here are a few ways you might make use of it.

 

1. Roof Terrace

If you have a flat roof (or extremely good balance) you can do a number of things with it. One is to make a terrace to use as an elevated patio, where you can sit out, entertain or even have meals on fine days.

 

2. Roof Garden

Whether you have plants in pots and urns, or even unroll some turf, you can turn your roof into a haven of colours and fragrance. And the great thing is the slugs and snails can’t reach it.

 

3. Bird Oasis

If you set up bird feeders, tables and baths, the birds will flock to your roof. The best thing is they’ll be safe from neighbourhood cats — though perhaps not from your own.

 

4. Pergola

Perhaps one of the more outlandish ideas, but you could build a pergola on a flat roof, though it’s important to make sure the roof will take the weight.

 

5. Swimming Pool

Perhaps even more extravagant than a pergola, given the British climate, but a rooftop swimming pool could be great for fine summer days. Just make sure your roof isn’t overlooked.

 

6. Solar Panels

Fitting solar panels to your roof will mean you’re not taking as much electricity from the national grid. This has the dual benefits of saving money and reducing your carbon footprint.

 

7. Loft Insulation

And, speaking of reducing your energy consumption, effective loft insulation makes a huge difference. It isn’t expensive to install, and you can make the cost back within two years.

 

8. Loft Conversion

While we’re on the subject of lofts, that space under your roof is valuable too. If you need an extra bedroom, playroom or even a space for your model railway, a loft conversion is a cost-effective alternative to moving.

 

9. Skylights

If you do decide to use your loft for more than storing things you’ll never need, installing skylights in the roof can make it a far more pleasant place to spend time.

 

10. Dormer Windows

For a rather more traditional way of bringing light into an attic or converted loft, a dormer window or two will give your home an elegant feel. They also have the advantage that you can look out of them.

10 Signs It’s Time for a Gutter Replacement

10 Signs It’s Time for a Gutter Replacement

If the roof is your home’s main protector against the weather, the guttering is a crucial part of that defence, ensuring that all water is safely conveyed away. Any damage to the gutters or downpipes needs to be repaired at once, but eventually repair won’t be enough and the guttering will have to be replaced.

 

Signs to Look For

In most of the following cases, isolated damage can be repaired, but if the problem recurs frequently, it’s probably time to look at gutter replacement.

  1. Cracks in the guttering — If cracks are appearing in your gutters and pipes as fast as you can repair them, it’s a sign they’re past their use-by date. Rust spots can be an early sign on metal pipes, though this isn’t an issue if you’ve used UPVC.
  2. Gutters pulling away from the roof — If this is happening on a regular basis, the fascias may be rotting. This could mean you need both guttering and fascias
  3. Breaks in the seams — Gutters are made in segments that fit together, but if the seams are constantly pulling apart it’s time for a replacement.
  4. Sagging gutters — You can see from the ground if your gutters aren’t level, and this could result in the water not running off. It could also suggest that the gutter wasn’t designed for the amount of water it’s dealing with.
  5. Nails or screws on the ground — If you keep finding nails or screws that seem to have come from the guttering, this means it isn’t securely fixed.
  6. Water marks on the wall — Marks on the walls caused by water running down them suggests the water isn’t being routed down the pipes. This is easiest to make out in dry weather.
  7. Peeling paint — External paint will eventually peel with age, but if it’s happening extensively it could also be a sign of water leaking from the gutters.
  8. Rotting woodwork — Woodwork such as the surrounds for doors and windows will rot if it’s wet too much of the time. This again may well be caused by leaking guttering.
  9. Water pooling on the ground — Rain falls evenly, but if you get pools straight below the walls, it could be caused by faulty gutters.
  10. Damp or mildew in the foundations or basement — Again, this may be caused by leaking guttering, and can have serious implication for the building’s integrity.

Take Action

Any damage to your gutters or downpipes needs to be repaired or replaced as soon as possible. Contact us to discuss your needs.

Seasonal Roof Maintenance Tips

Seasonal Roof Maintenance Tips

A house isn’t much good if the roof doesn’t keep out the weather, so it’s vital to make sure your roof remains in good condition throughout the year. Each season has its challenges, but this time of year, with winter coming, is the most crucial. Here are a few thoughts about roofing maintenance.

What Can the Weather Do to Your Roof?

The most obvious weather attacks on your roof are severe storms, like last winter’s Desmond, which can blow tiles or slates off, leaving gaps where the rain can get in. Sometimes, though, even normal rain or hail can pick away at the roofing materials, or result in the growth of damaging moss.

Ice is another risk in the winter. Because water expands when it freezes, any water that seeps into the tiniest of cracks will gradually force the gap wider each time it turns to ice. And the bigger the swing between daytime and night-time temperatures, the more stress your roof will be under.

What Steps Can You Take?

  • Check your roof at least twice a year, and after any extreme weather. Ideally it should be done close up (remembering to take all precautions if you use a ladder) but, if you can get a good view from ground-level, a good pair of binoculars can reveal any damage.
  • Pay attention to both roof tiles and any flashing or mortar for signs of damage, as well as checking your fascias and soffits.
  • If you have moss growing on your roof, it will eventually damage the materials. It needs to be removed before you find yourself needing the roof replaced.
  • Check indoors for any sign of leaks, including damp on the walls or ceiling of the top floor. Also, check with the light off for any holes allowing daylight through.
  • Clear out your guttering regularly. This is especially important at the moment, when it will almost certainly have been clogged up with fallen leaves, but this needs to be done at least two or three times a year.

Professional or DIY

Unless you’re a trained roofer, though, it’s unwise to tackle replacement of tiles or repair of cracks yourself. These are expert jobs, and amateur attempts can do more harm than good.

If you need repairs, or would feel safer putting regular maintenance in the hands of professionals, contact us to discuss your needs.

 

It’s All About Soffits

It’s All About Soffits

It’s All About Soffits — What Are They and What Do They Do?

There are two important requirements for anything on the outside of your house: it has to be strong and secure, and it should look good. Getting your soffits right is essential for both.

What Are Soffits?

In a general sense, the word soffit can refer to the underside of any architectural element, from an arch to a chimney. For most practical purposes, though, it means the board that goes underneath the fascia, completing the building’s roofline or eaves.

The fascia and soffit, though different components, effectively make up a single system, protecting any gaps between the walls and roof and supporting the guttering. The fascia is a vertical board coming down from the roof overhang, while the soffit connects it to the siding and is usually screwed or nailed to the rafters.

Materials for Soffits

Soffits can be made of various substances, including:

  • Timber — Wooden structures usually add to the look of a building’s exterior, but even well-treated timber will eventually start to rot and decay, weakening the roofline both structurally and in weatherproofing.
  • Aluminium — Aluminium is a strong, resilient material that will stand up to both stress and weather. Its main drawback is that, unless you want a modernist look, metal soffits seem out of place on your house.
  • UPVC — UPVC is an extraordinarily flexible material. It has the strength of aluminium, but it can be painted to look like timber, giving your roofline the classiness of wood without the drawbacks.

Ventilation

It’s essential to have adequate ventilation through to the rafters in the eaves. This allows the timber to breathe, reducing the risk of dampness and rot.

Ventilation can be through either the fascia or the soffit. Both have their advocates, but the general consensus tends to prefer using soffits for ventilation. The better quality soffit boards come with the option of ventilation technology built in, to allow air to circulate without exposing the roof space to hostile weather.

Kerb Appeal

Even more than the fascia, soffit boards are very visible elements of your home’s exterior. This means that, while making them strong and secure is the primary consideration, you also want them to look good.

It’s especially important, of course, for your house to have kerb appeal if you’re selling it, but even if you’re planning to live there long term, you want an attractive building. UPVC is the best material for combining strength and looks.

If you think your soffits may not be doing their job, contact us to discuss the possibilities.

 

 

Roof Repair vs Roof Replacement — Which Do I Need?

Roof Repair vs Roof Replacement — Which Do I Need?

Roof Repair vs Roof Replacement

Most of us take little notice of the roof above our head — until something goes wrong with it, and it no longer keeps out the rain, wind and cold. Then we realise how crucial it is.

Checking for Faults

If you don’t want to be faced with an emergency, it’s important to check your roof for faults on a regular basis. From the outside, you can get a good view from street level, especially if you use binoculars. In addition, since it’s also important to clean out your guttering on a regular basis, you can make a close-up inspection at the same time.

Indoors, you should regularly check the ceiling of your top floor or attic for water marks. Also, turn the lights off to see if any light is coming through the roof.

These checks will tell you whether you need work done — but should it be repair or replacement?

Signs Repair Is Needed

  • Water damage — If you have water marks on the ceiling immediately below the roof, it may be a sign the roof is letting in the rain.
  • Light coming through the roof — If you can see light coming through, it probably means there are holes in the roof.
  • Loose or broken tiles — These are no longer secure and need to be replaced.
  • Moss growing on tiles — This can force tiles apart, causing water leakage.
  • Missing or falling mortar — Mortar is usually used for bedding junctions on your roof, and crumbling mortar will weaken the roof.
  • Damaged lead work — Missing or damaged lead can allow water through the roof.

When Replacement Is the Answer

  • Multiple tiles broken or missing — This could be symptomatic of a more serious problem, such as rusted nails or broken battens.
  • Sagging ridge — The ridge should be a straight line along the highest point of the roof. If it sags, there may be structural damage, which needs to be addressed straight away, usually by replacement of the roof.
  • Widespread moss — If moss if caught early, the affected area can be repaired, but widespread moss has probably already caused too much damage.
  • Aging roof — No roofing material lasts indefinitely, not even slate. If your tiles are getting towards the end of their life, it may be more cost-effective to replace the roof, rather than face regular repair bills.
  • You’re selling your house — If the roof needs substantial repairs on a house you’re planning to sell, a new roof could substantially increase the property’s value.

If you’re unsure whether your roof needs repair or replacement, contact us, and we’ll be delighted to offer advice.

 

How to Choose a Roofing Contractor

How to Choose a Roofing Contractor

The roof is arguably the most important part of your house. It’s not an accident that we talk about “the roof over my head”, rather than referring to the walls or floor. So, when you need to have your roof repaired or replaced, it’s vital to make sure it’s done to the highest standards. And that means choosing the best roofing contractor.

How to Find a Roofing Contractor

Avoid any company that approaches you with a hard sell. Reputable contractors don’t cruise around the area in order to spot roof damage they can offer to repair.

The ideal is to find a company recommended by a friend or relative, but failing that you can make a list of local roofing contractors from online listings. Then is the time to start checking their credentials.

Things to Ask a Roofing Contractor

• Are you a registered and licenced company with a physical location?
• How long have you been in business? A new company may be fine, but a long-established one inspires confidence.
• Are you recommended by trade organisations such as Checkatrade or Trustatrader?
• Can I see a portfolio of your previous work? Unless the company is brand new, any refusal or reluctance is suspicious.
• What kind of materials do you work with? There are many roofing materials, so make sure they have good experience with the one you need.
• What are your normal working hours? You want a company whose practices fit in with your needs.
• Do you give a guarantee? If not, give them a wide berth.

Also, check both testimonials and independent online reviews.

Getting Quotes

It’s best to get three quotes from contractors who’ve inspected the roof. This not only enables you to select the best quote, but also compare the various assessments of what needs to be done. If there’s a big discrepancy, one may either be exaggerating the amount of work, or else be intending to skimp.

Price is obviously going to be an important factor, but the cheapest quote isn’t inevitably the best. Find out exactly what you’re getting for your money, including the estimated time, whether they undertake to leave the site clean and tidy, and the proposed payment method. This should be a secure method — any contractor who works on a cash-only basis should be viewed with suspicion.

And make sure you get the quotes in written form, even if the initial feedback is verbal.

If you’re looking for a quote to have a roof repaired or replaced, feel free to get in touch with Empire.