Common Roof Problems – Health Check Essentials | House Inspections Melbourne
Given the extremities of the Australian climate, the most well-built roof will undoubtably start to deteriorate at one point or another. A roof that has not been regularly inspected and maintained may require significant repair in the not-so-distant future. Therefore, it’s always best to get your roof checked during your house inspection so that you’re on the lookout for common roof problems. Often roof damage is not immediately apparent and will require a specialist’s eyes to spot early signs. Roof inspections are vital procedures for maintaining the quality and longevity of your roof. With that being said, if you’ve never had one before, you might be wondering what is involved with this type of inspection and why they are so important.
Common roof problems are not always obvious – let’s face it, you don’t usually get up on your roof to check it, if at all. Besides, your roof may be hard to access, or you may not be sure where to look. Problems, if not addressed early, can become expensive. Remember that a roof is at its best, at the time of installation. From then on, it’s subject to physical elements and age.
There are many common trouble spots. By identifying these areas and dealing with them quickly, you can avoid more serious problems of cracking, rotting and leaks that can penetrate the house and cost you big money. If you’re concerned about a particular part of your house such as the roof, we can assist you with our special purpose defect inspections!
Some of the most common roof problems we come across regularly include:
Moisture and Roof Leaks
The most difficult weather element to control is water. Rain can result in moisture forming under the layers of your roof, which can lead to leaks and mould. For this reason, a metal/lead flashing is placed over junctions between roofing materials and the building construction. This deflects water away and form a barrier against water seeping into the house. Flashings also seal the areas where vents, pipes, supports or cables penetrate the roofing materials. If the flashing is not well sealed or is poorly attached, then leaks can occur. Seams can open up and tiles can blow off. A fault in the flashing is one of the most common roof problems.
Water that ponds or settles on your roof is a sign that there is a problem somewhere and it should be investigated. Likely culprits could be an air conditioning unit overflowing, the roof frame shrinking and creating a hollow. Or it may even be where people could have walked on the roof and dented the metal ribs.
Roof Fixings becoming loose and/or dislodging
Temperature changes can cause normal movement in metal roofing. Movement, however, can also result in roof fixings becoming loose or dislodging. If fixings require maintenance or repair, this work should be carried out by a licensed plumber. On tiled roofs, mortar along hip and ridge tile edges can become loose and cracked. Your best bet is to make sure they are checked regularly. Where there are loose ridge/hip tiles, these should be re-bedded and re-pointed, and cracked tiles should be completely replaced to avoid moisture getting into your home.
Roof tiles, particularly terracotta tiles, are prone to moss growth. This can make them very slippery, so you should avoid walking on them in damp conditions. The lichen can also cause the tiles to become more porous, though this does not generally damage the tiles. Some people find the mossy look more in keeping with the character of older houses, while others prefer a cleaner look.
Deterioration of Roof Membrane
Some tiled roofs and all metal roofing have a shiny membrane laid directly underneath called ‘sarking’ or ‘sisalation’. This membrane acts as an insulation and helps to deflect condensation down into the gutters. Over time, the membrane can deteriorate and become porous, cracked or ripped, which can lead to bigger problems.
Leaking and rusty gutters
All gutters need to be cleared of dirt and rubbish. Debris, such as leaf litter and silt, can get trapped in the gutters. This can create acidic moisture leading to rust and water overflow.
Box gutters are formed where two or more sections of the roof meet. If the gutters are not deep enough to carry a heavy load of water, they can easily overflow and cause water leaks to ceilings inside the house. Trees that are close to the house should also be trimmed back away from the roof as much as possible. Not only do overhanging tree limbs create a build-up of leaves, but the limbs themselves can also cause problems if they break.
Faulty installation and poor workmanship
Unfortunately, faulty installation of the roofing material and poor workmanship can cause problems with your roof at some point. While these issues can be difficult to see visually, they can lead to future problems, such as premature aging or failure of the roof system. A professional independent building inspector can tell you if your roof has been installed correctly.
Lack of maintenance
Common roof problems can be addressed with routine inspections and proper maintenance. Be aware of the kinds of issues that can arise and seek the assistance of specialists if you need a qualified assessment. Remember that a roof is one of the most expensive parts of a home and minor problems can become serious damage if they are not corrected early.
To keep your home safe, it is crucial that you prevent sparks and burning material from gaining access. Most homes ignite when sparks or burning embers blow under roof tiles and start burning roofing timbers. While metal roofing offers more protection, it must be firmly secured and sealed. Your best protection is to ensure all gaps in the external roof area along the ridge cap gutter line and fascia board are well sealed. With corrugated iron roofs, make sure there is sealing in the flute spaces at the fascia board. This can be done either with fibreglass insulation or scribed flat metal. Tiled roofs need an appropriate fire-rated insulation (sarking) immediately below the tiles. Also make sure that you clear any leaves and combustible debris from gutters, roofs and downpipes regularly, and fit quality metal leaf guards. This may help fire from taking hold or spreading.