A house’s roof is one the most important structures on the home. It protects everything inside the house – from the furniture, appliances, electrics, fittings, fixtures and paint, to the occupants.
But how much do you really know about this structure, how it’s made, installed and maintained?
Albert van Wyk, one of only 40 registered roof inspectors in the country, has kindly allowed HomeTimes to republish portions of his book, The Proud Home Owner.
Here, he discusses the common leaks in various roof types, as well as what to look out for.
All clay and cement roof tiles are very durable and can last for more than 25 years without major maintenance. This does not mean that a tiled roof cannot leak.
The valleys (where two roofs meet) are the weak spots on the roof and in many instances they are constructed incorrectly. Study the detail of a valley design which I have included and bring it to the attention of the roofing carpenter. Do not compromise.
Most of the time leaks are due to poor workmanship, for example:
Wrong type of valley gutter (flashing) is used.
The tiles are not installed in accordance with the specifications of the tile manufacturer.
The tiles are not cut correctly in either an open or closed valley pattern. The tiles are chipped with a hammer and therefore an unacceptable result is achieved.
Tiles get damaged and cracked when men do not know how to walk on tiles or tiles are moved out of position during roof activities.
Do not step on the middle of the tiles but step where the tiles overlap and where the brandering is underneath.
Low-pitched sheeted roofs
During cold nights, condensation can develop underneath the metal sheets of a low-pitch roof, especially when there is not enough ventilation. This will drip onto the ceiling and form wet patches which can be mistaken for a roof leak. This condensation will also form white rust on the bottom of the sheets.
Pitched sheeted roofs
There are many good products on the market under different trade names. These sheets are manufactured with a mixture of different metals like steel and aluminium and pre-painted in the factory. They carry a long guarantee, provided it was fitted by experienced tradesmen. All the products are good but make sure that yours is installed by a specialist and inspect it for scratches after completion. The workers must wear shoes with soft soles when erecting the sheets
Poor workmanship and bad design are the main reasons for leaks on these roofs.
Do not make any illegal connections or allow them to be made by others. It is dangerous and a fire risk. The insurance company might decide not to consider your claim after a fire was caused by illegal connections. Install blank plug covers to unused plugs to prevent small children from putting their fingers into them.
Get acquainted with the rules of your local authority regarding their safety requirements. You are the responsible person for the safety of everybody on your full-title property. The body corporate is responsible in the case of a sectional title development.
Roof leaks will cause stained marks on the ceilings. Check the roof regularly in order to identify a leak early. Be sensitive to any dripping sounds, especially during a storm.
An annual visual inspection by an experienced contractor is necessary. He will be able to identify possible future leaks.
Insurance companies are reluctant to consider any roof claim if it was not well maintained. The cost of a roof and leak claim is usually high.
Use binoculars if it is not possible to get on top of a pitched roof in order to do an inspection.
Look out for cracked tiles as well as tiles on the edges which could have been moved by the wind. After a few years the grout between the ridge tiles will crack and should then be redone.
For more, visit The Proud Home Owner and order your copy of Albert’s book today