Out of sight, out of mind is often the silent mantra for homeowners when it comes to prioritising roof maintenance. It’s not until a roof is storm damaged or we experience a ceiling leak that we come to appreciate the role our roof plays in protecting our home, our family and ourselves.
In Ireland, problems with your roof can be costly and identifying potential problems is one way to avoid a roofing expense before they occur.
However, there are a few things about roof maintenance and repair that homeowners don’t often know, forget or miss. Onlinetradesmen member and roofing expert Warren Beattie from Alpha Roofing shares with us 5 things to know about keeping our roof in tip-top condition.
1. Attic Insulation
As we enter into the colder months, good attic insulation is an important factor for roof maintenance, especially if another ‘Beast from the East’ extreme cold snap happens this winter.
“If your roof isn’t properly insulated, melting snow and ice can build up and refreeze preventing water draining from gutters. The process of ice building-up and melting without sufficient drainage can cause damage to tiles, gutters and the structure of the roof itself,” says Warren. “Insulation helps protect against damage by keeping heat in your home instead of escaping from your roof”
If you do experience heavy snowfall this winter, be sure to pay attention to any signs that may lead to a roof collapse.
“The weight of a heavy snowstorm can be a real problem on the structural integrity of a roof. If you do happen to experience a severe snowstorm– be sure to check that your house doesn't start showing signs of a sagging ceiling, cracks in masonry or doors becoming difficult to open or close. These can be signs of defects in the framing, structure or roof support and you should contact a roofing company immediately,” advises Warren.
2. Roof Ventilation
Roof ventilation is important to avoid condensation build-up, increasing the likelihood of mildew and mould both in your attic and other areas of the home.
Without regular attic inspections, most homeowners won’t notice a problem until mould or damp starts creeping into living areas.
Warren advises homeowners to check the attic annually for any issues and act promptly. “If you are seeing wood with dark black staining, or the attic feels excessively hot or you are experiencing wet insulation in the attic, then a lack of ventilation in the roof could be the source of the problem.”
“In many cases, the soffit vents become blocked with insulation which causes the ventilation system to fail. Or it might be that the roof has insufficient ventilation installed,” says Warren.
When all is working well, outside air will pass through the soffit vents and cycle through to the vents at the top, creating a well-ventilated attic. If this system is not working then air can stagnate, increasing humidity and condensation.
“If you don’t see any attic vents in the roof or you have noticed signs of poor attic ventilation then call a professional roofing contractor for advice.”
3. Roof Moss
Excessive roof moss and algae never looks great, but did you know that moss build-up could damage the structural integrity of any type of roof?
“Moss holds water, so it’s very important that homeowners don’t allow moss to take hold and build-up,” advises Warren. “If moss isn’t left to establish itself, then in many cases it can just be swept away."
“However, if you have a home where moss needs to be killed off, then there are products now available that contain potassium salts of fatty acids, which is a much less toxic and environmentally friendly solution than products that contain substances like zinc sulphate.”
When removing moss, you only need to apply the solution to where the moss is growing and Warren strongly recommends to never use high-powered pressure cleaners, which can dislodge or damage tiles and increase the risk of roof leaks.
Cleaning a roof with moss can be a daunting task, so contact a roof cleaning specialist or roofing professional for professional assistance.
4. Roofs Don’t Last Forever
Warren recommends annual roof inspections as part of your roof maintenance regime.
“Maintaining your roof not only requires cleaning gutters and removing debris but also checking for dislodged tiles, ensuring sky-lights aren’t leaking and inspecting metal flashing or leading”.
“A new roof might be on the cards if your roof is older then 25 years, and you are constantly discovering new leaks, interior water stains and damp”, says Warren.
“Often a new roof can save you more than the cost of replacement. A new roof will also improve your energy rating, reduce your energy bills, increase property value and will be more secure. If you are regularly seeking roof repairs then re-roofing will be cheaper in the long-run.”
5. Beware of Storm Chasers
After a big storm, it's not uncommon for ‘cowboy’ builders and tradesmen knocking on homeowner’s doors offering a complimentary roof inspection followed by a hard sell and forceful tactics on roofing work required to fix storm damage.
“If you are seeking a quote for roof repair or maintenance and experience a hard sell, stand your ground and be very clear that you are only seeking a quote. Tell them under no circumstance do you want them to start any work and mention you have other tradesmen arriving shortly to also provide you a price. This should keep them at bay,” advises Warren.
“Always allow yourself time to find the right roofing specialist to get the best service for your money. Furthermore, a qualified tradesman will always be able to provide evidence of Public Liability Insurance and references. Do not hesitate to ask for this before starting the job.”
Before hiring and for peace-of-mind, ask to call or visit homes where evidence of work has been previously completed. Ask how long the job will take, date of completion and terms of payment. Always make sure you are satisfied with the work before final payment is made. This sample contract is a guide to help you define and agree on the scope of the project, costs and payment.
Alpha Roofing is a nationwide roofing service, specialising in all roofing work including slating, tiling, flat roof specialist, lead, copper, aluminium works and all repair work. They are leading fitters of Velux windows as well as offering fascia, soffit and gutter work. Warren Beattie and team provide customers with an exceptionally high standard of quality work as evidenced by their Onlinetradesmen ratings.