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How to Check Whether My Roof Needs to Be Repaired or Replaced

How to Check Whether My Roof Needs to Be Repaired or Replaced

How to Check Whether My Roof Needs to Be Repaired or Replaced


If your roof is doing its job properly, it protects you from wind, rain and other extreme weather, as well as helping to keep your home at the right temperature with as little waste of energy as possible.

The problem is that, though a well-made roof lasts, it doesn’t last forever, and when it starts getting worn or damaged, it may not be doing that job. So how will you know when it needs to be repaired or replaced?


When Should I Check My Roof?

It’s important to keep an eye on your roof. In particular, if there’s been a storm or any other type of rough weather, it’s advisable to check it for damage as soon as possible afterwards.

Apart from this, you need to check your roof a minimum of twice a year, ideally once in autumn and once in spring. This will ensure it’s in a fit state to withstand the winter and that it’s come through unscathed.


Checking from the Outside

If you have a good ladder and you’re confident using it, you can examine your roof up close, but this isn’t essential. It should be perfectly adequate to use binoculars from street level. Make sure, though, that you look from all possible angles.

If you have a pitched roof, what you’re looking for is primarily cracked or missing tiles, or for signs of moss or mould growing on them. You also need to look out for warping in the roof and check that the flashing hasn’t come away from structures that pierce through the roof.

If you have a flat roof, look out for tears in the fabric. Any of these may well be a sign that your roof needs urgent work.


Checking from the Inside

Very small holes in your roof might not be visible even from close up, but they can still cause trouble if water gets through and rots the timbers. The best way to detect these is to go into your loft area during daylight and switch off all lighting. If you see pinpricks of light coming through, you have a problem.

You can also look out for any patches of damp or mildew on ceilings. Various issues could cause this (any of which would need addressing) but it could well be water getting in through the roof.

Depending on the extent of the damage, you may simply need tiles or flashing replaced, or you may need to have the roof replaced. This is a major job, of course, but it will save you money in the long run, compared with ongoing internal and external problems the damage is likely to cause.


Get in touch with us if you want to know more about checking your roof for damage and what to do about it.


Time for Home Improvement During the Covid-19 Lockdown

Time for Home Improvement During the Covid-19 Lockdown

Time for Home Improvement During the Covid-19 Lockdown

If you’re off work during the Covid-19 lockdown, you’re probably looking for things to do by now. You’ve watched all the boxsets you’ve been meaning to, worn out Zoom and WhatsApp talking to everyone you know and taken the dog for more walks than it can handle.

So is there anything more productive to do? Well, perhaps you might look at all those jobs that need doing around the house, from the little ones to the major improvements.

Why Is Home Improvement a Great Idea Right Now?

Improving your home is never just a matter of having a project, and that’s even more true than ever now. The bottom’s fallen out of the property market during the lockdown and, while it will recover eventually, it may take a while before house prices get back to the level they were just a few months ago.

This makes home improvement especially valuable right now. Not only might improvements add to your home’s value, but they might also mean that it’s likely to sell more quickly if you do decide to move.

What Might Improve Your Home?

Home improvements can range from putting up shelves to adding an extension, covering internal fixtures and fittings and structural work on the building. What’s relevant to you, of course, will depend on your needs, your budget and the condition of your home, but a few typical examples might include:

  • Redecorating some or all of the rooms.
  • Converting or boarding your loft.
  • Landscaping your garden.
  • Repairing or replacing your guttering.
  • Adding a conservatory to the rear of your home.
  • Repairing wear and tear to your roof.

DIY or Professional?

It’s very tempting to do home improvement yourself, especially if your budget isn’t extensive, and sometimes this may be an option. However, it’s important to remember that most DIY isn’t something a beginner should dive straight into. Since the lockdown began, most A&E departments have reported a sharp increase in DIY-related injuries — some serious, including eye injuries.

While some of the jobs listed above are well within the range of an experienced and well-equipped DIYer, others (and definitely those involving structural work) should be left to professional specialists. The good news is that many construction companies, including Empire, are still open for business. Working on your roof, for example, makes it easy to do a thorough job while still maintaining full social distancing.

So, if you have time on your hands, why not make some improvements to your home? Get in touch with us to discuss anything you might need connected with your roof or guttering.

Wind and Rain – How Can These Affect Your Roof?

Wind and Rain – How Can These Affect Your Roof?

Wind and Rain — How Can These Affect Your Roof?

The beginning of 2020 saw unprecedented storms all over the UK, causing extensive damage. Much of this was to do with flooding, but the wind and rain also damaged many roofs.

Have you checked your roof since the storms? If not, here are some of the likely ways that wind and rain might have damaged it.

The Effects of Wind on Your Roof

A structurally sound roof should be able to withstand high winds, but the reality is that most roofs have weak spots. Whether pitched or flat, the parts most likely to be vulnerable to wind are along the edges. If there’s any loose material, the wind can get under it, creating upward pressure and making the spot even more vulnerable.

On the other hand, the wind also exerts downward pressure on your roof. This too will find any weak spots and can lead to tiles cracking.

The effect of high winds on your roof isn’t restricted to direct pressure, however. Storms can result in debris being blown about, and anything from trees and phone lines to small rubble can crack tiles if they hit the roof.

The Effects of Rain on Your Roof

On the whole, rain doesn’t cause damage to the outer roofing material, but it does exploit any weakness to get inside the roof, where it can rot the roofing timbers. Even a tiny crack in a tile or your roofing felt can be enough.

Another area of potential weakness is the leadwork in any valley your roof may have. The lead bridges a gap between roof sections, so any degradation can result in rain getting through.

Wind and rain can combine to create problems with your guttering. This is because dirt and debris blown in the wind are likely to clog the gutters and downpipes, and heavy rain will then cause overflows and cracks, putting your home’s foundations under threat.

Prevention Is Better than Cure

It’s vital to check your roof after any storm and ensure that any damage is repaired before the next heavy weather hits. It’s even better, though, to make certain your roof is in good repair before the storm.

If the wind exposes the inside of the roof to heavy rain, you could be looking at major repair work to the roof structure, rather than simply replacing a few tiles or repairing felt. Your building insurance might pay for this, but some insurers refuse claims if the roof hasn’t been adequately maintained

Get in touch with us if you want to know more about either roof repairs or preventative maintenance.

Roofing Material Comparisons

Roofing Material Comparisons


The roof is perhaps the most crucial component of your home. Not only does it keep you secure and comfortable from the wind, rain and cold, but it can make or break the look of the building.

There are many choices of roofing material, though, from thatch to metal. So which will suit your roof best?

Materials for Pitched Roofs

Traditionally, roofs have generally been pitched, and this is still the most common type for individual houses. A number of different materials can work with a pitched roof:


  • Clay tiles — Perhaps the most common roof covering, baked clay tiles are relatively cheap, hardy and long-lasting (exceptionally, they can last for centuries). They come in a variety of colours and shapes and can be easily recycled.


  • Slates — Natural slates give your roof a stylish look, with various colours available, and are even longer-lasting than clay tiles. They’re also very sturdy and attract less moss. The downside is that they’re expensive, but you can get a similar look from cheaper artificial slate.


  • Concrete tiles — Concrete tiles are cheaper than clay ones and are very adaptable. However, they don’t wear so well, so you’ll be having to replace them more frequently.


  • Metal — Metal roofs have been around for centuries, but they tend to give a very modern look. Roofs made of copper, zinc or aluminium are lightweight and easy to mould to awkward shapes, but they can be expensive, both for your budget and for the environment, and very appealing to thieves.


  • Thatch — There’s little as charming as a thatched roof, and it has the advantage of being a great insulator. It’s relatively easy to fireproof, but it’s expensive and doesn’t last as long as many alternatives.

Materials for Flat Roofs

A modern house may have a flat roof, but it’s more likely that you’ll have one on an extension, annexe or conservatory. There are various alternatives:

  • Felt — Modern felt roofing is far higher quality than older systems and is cheap and lightweight. However, it’s not suitable if you’re intending to walk on your roof.


  • Single-ply membrane — Materials like PVC, TPO, TPE and PIB are lightweight and flexible and are easy to install. They’re quite expensive, though, and also don’t support footfall.


  • Asphalt — An asphalt roof is hard-wearing and suitable for footfall if you want a roof terrace, a roof garden, or even a swimming pool. However, it’s heavy and needs a strong roof structure.


  • Liquid rubber — Extremely tough and long-lasting, this protects your roof and provides excellent insulation. It can be laid over existing roofing materials and will bear the weight of regular use. It isn’t easy to install properly, though, so you’ll need to ensure that you use a contractor who specialises in it.


Which is the Best Roofing Material?

As you can probably see, there’s no single answer to that question. The decision depends on a number of factors, such as the type of roof you have, your aesthetic tastes, how you intend to use your roof and what your budget runs to.

If you’re still not sure, you’re very welcome to get in touch with us to discuss your options.


Environmentally Friendly Roofing Options

Environmentally Friendly Roofing Options

Environmentally Friendly Roofing Options

Most of us today are waking up to the need of being more environmentally friendly, whether that involves cutting down the waste we throw away or reducing our carbon footprint. This includes ensuring our homes are as eco-friendly as possible — especially the roof.

So what do you need to think about to make your roof as environmentally friendly as possible?

Recycling Roofing Material

One of the most important aspect of an eco-friendly roof is the issue of recycling. Can your roof be made from recycled materials, or can they be recycled once their use is at an end?

If you have a tile or slate roof, for example, these can be broken down and reconstituted when their lifespan has come to an end. This means you can get materials that have already been recycled, as well as knowing they can be recycled again when you’ve finished with them.

However, there are other recyclable roofing materials available — plastic, wood fibre and especially rubber. Liquid rubber is a highly effective roofing material, especially for flat roofs, which can both be made of recycled rubber and recycled after it has to be replaced.

The lifespan of Your Roof

It’s great if your roofing material can be recycled when it has to be replaced, but it’s even better if this isn’t going to be for many years. That’s where tiles and slates score heavily. These materials should last a long time before needing to be replaced — in the case of slate, at least a century.

Liquid rubber roofs, on the other hand, don’t last as long, but a well-constructed roof should be effective for at least twenty years, and perhaps longer. Combined with being easily recyclable (not to mention cheaper), this makes it an effective eco-friendly option.

Insulate Your Roof Efficiently

The likelihood is that one of the biggest elements in your carbon footprint is the energy you waste by heat that’s lost from your home. And, since this is also costing you money, it’s a no-brainer to stop it.

Your roof can be one of the biggest culprits. You can insulate it whatever roofing material you’ve used, but some materials make it easier than others. Perhaps the best of all is to have a green roof — besides looking great, it provides highly effective insulation.

You can go even further, though, in making your roof eco-friendly by installing solar panels, so the heat you use has no carbon cost. Combine this with a long-life, recyclable and well-insulated roof, and you can slash your carbon footprint — and save on bills.

Feel free to get in touch with us to find out more about environmentally friendly roofing options.


How a Sound Roof Can Save You Money and Help Save the Planet

How a Sound Roof Can Save You Money and Help Save the Planet

How a Sound Roof Can Save You Money — and Help Save the Planet

Most of us are worried about our energy bills. With so many energy companies competing for our business, we love to shop around, and there are numerous comparison sites to help us with that.

There’s a simpler way of saving money, though — reduce the amount of energy you need to use. Not only will this be good for your bank balance, it’ll also reduce your carbon footprint. And your roof is the key.

How Heat Escapes from Your Home

The heat you generate in your home, whether it comes from radiators or an open fire, is meant to heat up the rooms in the house. Unfortunately, the reality is that in most houses a large proportion of it escapes and is wasted.

There are many culprits for heat loss, including doors and windows, but the biggest can be your roof. This is, of course, because warm air rises. If it’s held in by the roof, it creates a circulation of warm air in the building. However, you can be sure the heat will find any way available to escape through the roof.

Preventing Heat Loss Through Your Roof

Some of the heat loss through the roof can be prevented by effective insulation, but that doesn’t solve the whole problem. Any roof gets a battering from the elements and can develop cracks or holes. Besides being routes for damp to get in, these also allow the heat out.

This makes it vital to check your roof on a regular basis for any damage. You should also look out for moss, which can damage the roof, and check chimneys and other structures piercing the roof to ensure their sealing is still intact.

Saving Money and the Planet

It’s been estimated that around 25% of the heat generated in an average house escapes. So, if you calculate how much of your energy bill is accounted for by your heating system, you can assume that you’re throwing away a quarter of that sum.

Ensuring that your roof is in good repair will go some way towards saving this lost money — but that’s not all. Many of us today are keenly aware of the need to reduce energy consumption and the production of greenhouse gasses for the sake of the environment, and making your roof more efficient will help with that, too.

Repairing your roof can seem a large outlay, but you’re likely to get that sum back (and more) in reduced energy bills. Why not get in touch with us to find out more?


Taking Care of Your Roof in Winter

Taking Care of Your Roof in Winter

Taking Care of Your Roof in Winter


Winter isn’t a comfortable time for your roof. It’s an unusual winter if we don’t have regular storms, and there’s likely to be frost, ice and maybe snow at various stages of the season. All these can damage your roof, so it’s vital to check regularly for any warning signs and get them repaired.


Cleaning Out Your Guttering


If you haven’t already cleaned your guttering in preparation for winter, it needs to be done as soon as possible. Gutters and downpipes can get clogged up at any time, but autumn is particularly bad, with falling leaves blowing about in the wind.


This can create a major problem if the water that’s meant to run off is held in the guttering or on the roof, especially if it then freezes. Not only can this damage the guttering, it may also create cracks in the roof that will allow moisture to get in and damage the roof timbers.


Check Your Roof Regularly


Winter is the time your roof is most likely to get damaged, so it’s essential to check it regularly. If you’re confident on ladders, you could climb up and observe at close quarters, or alternatively you could look through binoculars from ground level. The main things to watch out for are:


  • Cracked, curled or missing tiles.
  • Moss growing on the roof.
  • Peeling or damage to the flashing on your chimney.
  • Cracking or peeling to the sealant of vents or skylights.


You can also check from inside, where water damage can show up on the ceilings as dark spots or blistering paint. Also look for holes in your roof by going into the loft during the day with no lighting on, where they’ll show up as pricks of light.


Can Roofing Be Done in the Winter?


It’s both unnecessary and unadvisable to put off roofing work till it gets warmer. Certainly, if you’ve identified any of the problems above, it’s best to get them fixed as soon as possible.


When it comes to scheduled work, such as replacing a worn-out roof, there are pros and cons to having it done in winter. On the one hand, having the roof open to the elements may not be ideal in cold weather. On the other, you’re likely to get better prices in winter.


Simple jobs like cleaning the guttering can be done yourself, as long as you have experience in working at heights, but actual repairs should always be left to professionals. If you need advice about your roof in winter, or at any time, you’re very welcome to give us a call.


Why You Shouldn’t Put Off Fixing Holes in Your Roof

Why You Shouldn’t Put Off Fixing Holes in Your Roof

Your home wouldn’t be much of a home without the roof. You’d not only be exposed to the rain, wind and snow, but it would also be impossible to maintain a suitable temperature. Your roof has to be kept in good repair, so it can do its job properly. And that includes repairing any holes promptly.

What Causes Holes in Your Roof?

There are a number of factors that could cause small holes to develop in your roof, including:

  • an empty nail hole
  • broken seals around chimneys, skylights or other penetrations
  • rusting metal or rotting wood
  • a tree branch colliding with the roof in high winds
  • removal of a satellite dish leaving empty screw holes

Alternatively, holes can be created simply by the ongoing wear and tear of the elements, especially from repeated freezing and thawing.

How Can You Detect Holes in Your Roof?

It’s important to inspect your roof regularly for holes, especially when the weather has been cold or stormy. It isn’t practical for everyone to climb up onto the roof, though, and this should only be attempted if you really know what you’re doing.

Fortunately, there are other ways of detecting that there may be a hole. These include:

  • water dripping inside
  • damp patches on your walls or ceilings
  • pinpricks of light coming through the roof

You can keep an eye open for the first two at any time, but it’s useful to check periodically for light coming through. For this, go up into the loft or attic during daytime and switch off all lighting. You should then be able to see any light coming through.

What Could Happen if You Don’t Repair Your Roof?

It’s easy to assume that small holes are small problems and you can put off repairing them, but this is very unwise. The smallest hole will allow moisture to seep through, which can cause severe problems.

For one thing, if the moisture gets into the timbers of the roof frame, it can cause them to rot. Thus, what would have been a minor repair job could turn into something much more serious. In addition, damp can lead to mould and mildew growing, and these could be a health hazard, especially if anyone in the house suffers from asthma or has a compromised immune system.

It’s important to get holes in your roof repaired as soon as possible, but also as expertly as possible, since a botched job can make things much worse. If you need help with your roof, you’re very welcome to give us a call.

How Gale-Force Winds Affect Your Home

How Gale-Force Winds Affect Your Home

We normally associate gales and storms with the winter. This year, though, has been a reminder that storms can hit us even at the height of summer — and that means we need to be prepared year-round to protect our homes.

The Dangers of Storms

One of the primary roles of your house’s structure is to protect you from the weather, such as high winds, heavy rain or cold. The walls, foundations, doors and windows play their part in this, but the brunt of the assault is borne by the roof, since it’s more exposed than the rest.

A storm can pose a number of dangers to your roof. High winds or heavy rain can damage individual slates or tiles, leaving them likely to let in water. Your gutters and downpipes can also be damaged by the wind, or else get clogged by debris being blown into them.

Checking Your Roof

If your home has been battered by a storm, it’s important to check the roof for potential damage as soon as possible. It may be possible to examine the tiles or slates from the ground, using binoculars. If the angle makes it difficult to see, you could climb a ladder to roof level for a closer look — but don’t go onto the roof unless you’re an experienced roofer.

You can also check for damage from inside. Go into your loft or attic during the day, with all lights switched off. If you see any points of light in the roof, this suggests you have gaps where water can get in and damage the timbers.

Checking Your Gutters

Your guttering should be checked on a regular basis, especially in autumn and spring, but high winds can give it a battering. The gutters or pipes may have sprung a leak, or else debris could have been blown into them and clogged them up. Either might result in water seeping down the walls, risking damage to both walls and foundations.

Ideally, its best to check the guttering close up, but other signs can suggest a problem. If you see water marks streaking the walls, or water pooling on the ground, it could well suggest a leak immediately above.

Fixing the Problems

If you’re an expert DIYer with experience of working at height, then you may be able to unclog your gutters or fix a small leak. Repairing roofing material, however, is always best left to professionals. If you suspect recent storms may have damaged your roof or gutters, you’re very welcome to get in touch with us.

The History of Roofing Construction

The History of Roofing Construction

When you come down to it, all a house really needs are walls, a roof and an opening to go in and out. Even the floor can be simply the bare earth. A roof fulfils many functions. It keeps out undesirable weather, from rain, wind and cold to excessive heat. But more than that, it makes us feel safe in our own homes.

Early Roofs

The earliest known roof was a mammoth skin stretched over a shelter built around 40,000 years ago. Various types of animal skin were used in prehistory, though sometimes leaves, turf or wood were preferred.

Clay tiles were first used in China at least 5,000 years ago, and in Europe by the Greeks and Romans. It was the Romans who introduced them to Britain, along with much of the rest of the continent.

The shape of roofs has always depended largely on the climate. Rounded or pitched roofs have always been necessary for drainage when rainfall is common, which is why flat roofs were rare in Britain until recent times. However, in drier countries, such as many Mediterranean lands, flat roofs are much more common.

The Development of Roofing

Although buildings in Roman Britain were commonly tiled, with either clay tiles or slates, the Anglo-Saxons tended to prefer thatch. It’s a beautiful material (who doesn’t love seeing a thatched cottage in a village?) but it tended to catch fire. Because of this, it began to be replaced by clay tiles during the medieval period.

Tiled roofs gradually became standard throughout much of Europe, with slate and even wooden tiles used as well as clay. Other materials, such as sheet metal, have been rare until recently. Copper and zinc were occasionally used throughout the world on special buildings, with even gold roofs occasionally rumoured, but they’ve only become common in the past century.

Roofing Today

With the development of asphalt roofing in the 20th century, flat roofs have become more common in Britain, especially as buildings began to stretch upwards. Various strategies to solve the drainage problem now make this a viable option, even in the British climate.

Nevertheless, pitched roofs of clay or slate tiles remain the overwhelming favourite in Britain, as well as throughout much of Europe and North America, with asphalt and metal as alternatives.

Roofing has come a long way since the days of mammoth skin, but its function is still the same — to keep us safe and comfortable in our homes. You’re very welcome to get in touch with us if you need more safety or comfort.