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Five Steps for a Well-Maintained Roof

Five Steps for a Well-Maintained Roof

Your roof keeps the rain, wind and cold out; it helps to maintain the building’s structural integrity; and, of course, it helps your home look attractive. But it can’t do any of this unless you make sure it stays in good shape.

Here are five things you can do to keep it that way.

1. Make Regular Visual Checks

Besides periodic close-up checks, you can keep your eyes open all the time. From outside, you may be able to see from below any broken tiles or flashing, or any sign of the roof is sagging.

You can also keep a look-out indoors, especially checking for any damp patches on ceilings after rain. It can also be useful to go up into the loft or attic and look for daylight through the roof, showing a hole.

2. Check Your Guttering

The guttering and downpipes can be prevented from draining the water off your roof if they’re clogged up with leaves and debris, so they should be cleared out at least twice a year. If you have the correct equipment and plenty of experience of working at height, you could do this yourself, but it’s generally better to have it done professionally.

3. Check Your Loft Space

Besides looking for holes, it’s also important to check your loft space for signs of rot, mould or mildew on the timbers or underside of the roof. This can be prevented by making sure space is well ventilated and also keeping your loft space fully insulated.

4. Keep Your Roof Clean

Whether you have a slate, tiled or felt roof, it’s easy for moss and mould to grow over it and, besides being unsightly, they can damage the materials. Look out for this in your visual checks, and get the growth cleaned off as soon as possible.

5. Close-Up Checks

While visual checks from a distance can be done frequently and casually, you also need to get up to the roof and check from close up at least once a year, and any time after a storm. What you’re looking for here, among other things, is broken tiles or torn membrane, damaged flashing, fascias and soffits, broken brickwork on the chimneys and sagging roof ridges.

An experienced DIYer can make these checks, but any repair work will need to be done by professional roofers. It may be worth your while to have the checks made professionally, too, so that any repairs can be undertaken straight away.

If you want to know more about maintaining your roof, feel free to give us a call.

How to Make the Most out of Your Roof Space

How to Make the Most out of Your Roof Space

On the whole, we use the roof of our home purely to protect us from the elements. That’s it’s primary purpose, of course, and if it’s doing the job properly that’s good enough.

On the other hand, the roof represents a large expanse we’re not making full use of. It’s easiest with a flat roof, but even a pitched roof can be used. Here are a few suggestions to help you make the most out of your roof space.

Roof Terrace

A flat stretch of the roof can be easily converted into a roof terrace. You’ll need to make sure, though, that the construction’s strong enough to take the extra weight and footfall.

This is especially useful in an urban setting where there isn’t enough room for a patio in the garden. Instead, you can relax, eat or entertain high above the hustle and bustle. All you need is some good weather.

Roof Garden

Alternatively, a flat roof can be converted into a roof garden. This can be anything from plants in pots or urns to laying a deep enough level of soil to grow shallow-rooted plants. You could also include turfed areas.

A roof garden makes an ideal bird oasis if you set up bird tables, baths and feeders. The best thing is that the birds will be safe from the neighbourhood cats.

Solar Panels

Whether you have a flat or pitched roof, you can make use of it to slash your energy bills and help protect the environment at the same time. Installing solar panels will reduce the amount of energy you have to take from the National Grid.

If you combine this with the right level of loft insulation, which is fairly inexpensive to install, you can reduce your costs and your carbon footprint in one step.

Roof Windows

If you’re making use of your loft, the cheapest and most effective way to provide lighting for it is to install roof windows. Fitting a couple of skylights will illuminate the loft far more efficiently than any artificial lighting without adding to your energy bill.

For a more ambitious loft conversion, you could go further and have dormer windows installed in your pitched roof. They’ll give your roofline an elegant, traditional look and can give you a great view from your loft or attic.

These are just a few of the many ways you can put your roof space to good use. If you want to discuss your options, feel free to give us a call.

What Is Roof Flashing and Why Do You Need It?

What Is Roof Flashing and Why Do You Need It?

Flashing can be vital for many places in the structure of your house, from the door to the foundations. Most of all, though, it’s the roof that needs this kind of protection from water damage.

So what is roof flashing? And why exactly is it so essential?

What Is Roof Flashing?

Flashing is a strip of waterproof material, often but not always metal, that covers a joint in a building’s structure where water could seep through the crack. The correct material is crucial. Mortar or concrete, for example, may cover the gap, but they can be eroded away over time and end up useless.

Many places on the roof will need flashing — anywhere there’s a joint or where masonry comes through the roof. Chimney stacks and dormer windows are among the most traditional places, but flashing can also be needed in roof valleys or around skylights, vents or solar panels.

What Is Roof Flashing Made Of?

Most often, roof flashing is made of strips of metal. Lead is traditional and has many advantages — it can last up to 500 years and it’s easy to recycle when it does reach the end of its life.

Doubts have been raised, though, about its toxic properties. Although this can be reduced by coating the lead in waterproof paint, other metals such as aluminium, copper or zinc are sometimes used instead.

Non-metallic flashing is also becoming increasingly popular. This can be made of rubber, uPVC or even roofing felt. The choice isn’t always just personal preference, though, since some materials are unsuitable for particular environments. For instance, if your home is near the coast, the salt in the air may corrode some metals, so copper, aluminium or non-metallic materials would be recommended.

Why Do You Need Roof Flashing?

The purpose of roof flashing is to stop water getting through the weak points in the structure of your roof and doing damage inside. This was recognised long before metal sheeting was available, let alone materials like uPVC, and various strategies were used to protect the roof.  These included angling the shingles away from the joint or creating steps on the chimney to guide the water away.

Roof flashing not only protects the interior structure of your roof against problems like rot, mildew and mould, it can also enhance the appearance — as long as it’s fitted expertly by a professional who knows the right solution for your roof. Feel free to give us a call if you want to discuss your roof flashing needs.

Three Reasons Why Roof Ventilation Is Important

Three Reasons Why Roof Ventilation Is Important

Roof Ventialtion

 

At first sight, ventilating the roof space might seem counter-intuitive. After all, we put a lot of effort into keeping the heat in and making our homes more energy efficient. Why would we deliberately let outside air in?

In fact, it’s precisely because modern homes tend to be so energy efficient that good roof ventilation has become so crucial. There are various reasons for this.

 

Condensation

The biggest damager of a poorly ventilated roof space is condensation. The warm, damp air in the loft rises to the highest point it can reach, but if there’s no colder air coming in to replace it, it can’t escape. This means it stays around for long enough for moisture to condense over all the surfaces.

 

This produces rot in the woodwork, including the joists and fixtures, which can result in structural damage. It can also degrade your insulation, making it work less effectively, as well as creating mould on wallpaper, plaster and paintwork throughout the house.

 

If you have vents to allow cooler air into the lower part of the loft, this replaces the warm air, letting it escape. The moisture it carries isn’t around long enough to affect the woodwork or any other internal surfaces.

Air Quality

 

The importance of air quality in workplaces has been understood for a while, but the issue is just as important in your home. Stagnant air, especially if it’s damp, is perfect for a variety of harmful bacteria to breed.

 

It’s even worse if condensation has led to mould developing, since mould spores in a building’s atmosphere can be extremely hazardous to health. Typical symptoms of poor air quality include tiredness, lethargy, headaches, dry or itchy skin and eye irritation. This can be avoided by ensuring that the air is circulating efficiently.

Ice Damage to Your Roof

 

It may seem strange that warm air could contribute to ice damaging your roof, but this can happen when it snows. The reason is that the air warms up the roof, melting the snow. However, when the run-off reaches the eaves, the warmth has gone, and it refreezes into ice.

 

Although snow can damage your roof, ice is far worse. It warps the roofing materials, insinuates itself into the tiny cracks and widens them, leaving access for water. Good ventilation makes the roof a more even temperature, so you’ll only have the less-damaging snow-cover to deal with.

 

If you’re not sure whether your roof space is adequately ventilated, why not give us a call and we can have a look.

When Is the Best Time of Year to Replace my Roof?

When Is the Best Time of Year to Replace my Roof?

If your roof was installed well, it should last a long time — but not indefinitely. A roof’s lifespan will depend partly on the materials (longest for slate, shortest for felt) and partly on how much battering it takes from the weather, but eventually it’ll need to be replaced.

Sometimes, the timing is forced on you. If your roof has been seriously damaged, it’s no good waiting for the best time of year to replace it. You need it done right away to avoid being exposed to the cold, wind and rain.

If you’re able to plan your roof replacement, though, when is the ideal time?

Autumn

Autumn is the busy season for all roofers, and it’s easy to see why. The weather’s turning cold, wet and windy, making us think about being protected against it. We realise our roof needs replacing before winter sets in. Or maybe summer conditions have disguised the problem, and it’s only now clear the roof isn’t doing its job.

Unfortunately, this is when everyone wants their roof repaired or replaced. Roofers are at full stretch, and you could be facing a long wait before they can fit you in. Or even worse — the roofers who do have spare time could be unreliable, perhaps charging a high fee for an inadequate job.

Winter

Roofers who are in demand may still be finishing off their autumn workload in winter, or they’ll be out dealing with emergency calls to repair serious damage. Although winter isn’t quite as busy as autumn, there’ll be problems finding a roofer who can fit you in.

And that’s if the job can be done at all. A tiled roof can be replaced in cold weather, although the job may have to be put off if conditions are too hazardous, but shingles are difficult to work with. This is because frozen materials can become brittle and crack.

Spring and Summer

By far the best time of year to have planned work done on your roof, including roof replacement, is the spring or summer. Not only are conditions most likely to be good, but for most roofers, it will be a slack time. Though reputable roofers won’t overcharge in their busy times, you may well get a special offer during spring or summer.

To take advantage of this, you’ll have to be able to pre-plan the work, and that means having your roof inspected on a regular basis. Feel free to get in touch with us to discuss your needs.

 

Why Is It So Hard to Find a Good Roofing Contractor?

Why Is It So Hard to Find a Good Roofing Contractor?

As with any trade, not all roofing contractors are equal. Some are expert and conscientious, and will offer an excellent service. Some are well-meaning, but lack the experience to meet all the challenges fully. And some, of course, are out-and-out cowboys. But how can you sort the good from the bad?

Reputations Are Earned

The chances are a top-class, reliable roofing firm will have a substantial history of great work, or else an experienced roofer may have just started their own business. Whether as a firm or an individual, make sure you check the experience of the roofing contractor you hire.

The best recommendations come personally from someone you trust, but you can also judge a contractor’s reputation by membership of trade schemes like Trusted Traders or Checkatrade.com. These schemes only list companies whose standards they’re satisfied are high.

There are many different types of roof, from flat to pitched, and numerous materials. Roofing contractors often specialise, so it’s vital to make sure the contractor you choose has a solid record of the type of work you need doing.

Estimates and Guarantees

You can tell a good deal about a roofing contractor’s quality by the estimates they offer, and more by asking the right questions. Are they offering a quote or an estimate? It’s not always possible to give an exact quote for a roofing job, since extra damage may emerge once the work has begun. A reputable contractor will clarify where you stand with any figure they give you.

Make sure you get any quote or estimate in writing, and that payment will be fully receipted. If a contractor deals “cash in hand, nothing written down”, you’re highly unlikely to get even adequate results. You also won’t have any come-back if there are problems with the work later.

Speaking of which, any contractor that doesn’t offer a written guarantee of at least ten years, and preferably fifteen as we do, should be avoided. Also, establish in advance exactly what the payment schedule will be. You may need to pay a deposit, for instance, but you should on no account settle the full amount before the work is finished to your satisfaction.

Don’t be afraid to ask the contractor for detailed plans, including what materials they’re proposing to use. Remember that the cheapest quote isn’t always the best — make sure they’re not cutting corners.

Feel free to get in touch with us to discuss your roofing needs. And other companies, too — like any quality contractor, we’ve no reason to worry about that.

 

 

 

 

Preparing Your Roof for Winter

Preparing Your Roof for Winter

 

 

 

 

Because we spend less time outside in the winter, we tend not to pay as much attention to the roof as in summer. But winter is exactly when it’s most important that the roof is doing its job of protecting us to its full capacity.

Here are a few crucial things to look out for…

Check Your Roofline

Your fascias, soffits, bargeboards and the rest aren’t just there to make your roofline look good. They support the tiling, as well as sealing gaps that water could get into and cause damp in the rafters. Rooflines made of uPVC are less likely to have problems than timber ones, but they’re not indestructible.

Before winter really sets in, it’s a good idea to walk around your house, ideally with a good pair of binoculars, and check your roofline visually for any sign of rot or damage

Check Your Roof

If you’re checking your roofline with binoculars, you can also do a circuit at a greater distance and examine the tiles themselves. Alternatively, you could climb up to look, if you have a long ladder and a head for heights — but, to be safe, make sure you do this in good conditions. If you have cracked or missing tiles, or signs of moss or mould growing, your roof may soon start leaking.

Alternatively, you could check from inside. Go into your loft during the day and switch all lighting off. If you see any pinpricks of light coming through, you may have a problem.

Check Your Guttering

Your gutters and downpipes are the elements of your roof most likely to cause problems in winter. They can become clogged up with leaves, dirt, birds’ nests and other debris, and if these aren’t cleared, the rainwater they should be channelling off will pool on the roof and start finding ways through.

Besides clearing out your gutters and downpipes, it’s also vital to check that they aren’t leaking or coming away from the wall. A straightforward visual inspection will normally be enough to make sure they’re properly attached, while the best way to check for leaks (unfortunately) is to go out in heavy rain. If there are any leaks, you’ll be able to see the rainwater coming through.

Visual inspection and clearing the gutters are things you may be able to do yourself. If you’re not confident with heights, though, or if you find anything wrong, then it’s time to call in the professionals. Give us a call if you have any problems with your roof.

Preventative Maintenance For Roofing

Preventative Maintenance For Roofing

Whether you have a domestic or commercial property, it’s essential that your roof remains reliable in keeping out cold, rain and wind. Unfortunately, this is all too often approached reactively — you get problems fixed as emergencies when they occur. It’s not only cheaper and less disruptive to be proactive about your roof, it’s also a good deal less hassle.

 

What Is Preventative Maintenance?

Problems with your roof can hit you suddenly, meaning an expensive emergency call-out to fix a leak or worse, but the signs will have been visible for some time to a professional eye. Regular professional inspections enable your contractor to identify problems long before they become critical and plan maintenance with you.

A visual inspection of your roof by an expert eye will be able to pick out damaged tiles or torn felt, dangerous moss and mould growth, pooling water and damage or blockage in your drainage system. Some jobs, like cleaning out your guttering, can be done at the same time as the inspection, while non-emergency issues can be scheduled for repair.

What Are the Advantages of Preventative Maintenance?

It may seem that paying for regular inspection and maintenance is merely a waste of money. Perhaps finances are tight, and you don’t want the disruption of work being done on your roof when it may not be essential. Isn’t it better to leave maintenance for your roof till it’s really needed?

Not at all. In fact, it’s unlikely there’ll be nothing required since the chances are that your guttering will need to be cleaned out at the very least. In any case, though, there are many advantages for regular preventative maintenance:

  • If faults are spotted early, repairing them is often a minor job, whereas if they’re left till they become serious, you may be looking at major repairs.
  • Because faults will normally be identified before they become urgent, you can plan the repairs ahead. This not only means that you can schedule the work for a time when it will cause minimal disruption, but also that you can budget for it.
  • Careful, planned maintenance will not only make your roof look better in the short term, but also ensure that it lasts for its full natural life before needing to be replaced.
  • Peace of mind — you can forget about your roof, knowing it’s being looked after by professionals.

If you need planned preventative maintenance by professionals for the roof of your building, feel free to contact our local roofers to discuss your needs.

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.