MANY HOMEOWNERS only think about their roofs when there is damage that needs a roofing contractor’s professional attention.
As part of your customer service, your clients will thank you for providing some timely advice on regular maintenance and seasonal precautions to help them head off those avoidable issues.
As well as providing customers with maintenance advice, some roofing businesses offer a regular roof maintenance package at an annual cost. This not only provides a regular income to your business, it also gives your customers peace of mind that a professional is preventing problems arising or is on hand to tackle them if they are unavoidable.
Below is some advice for householders on the types of roof checks and maintenance they can carry out safely in between your professional visits.
Winter Health Check
The recent cold snap caused numerous roofing problems, leaving many householders fearing they had a leaky roof.
Roofers report numerous calls with dozens of call outs in the weeks after the cold snap. On visiting they found condensation running down the rafters or on the inside of the underlay.
The sudden drop in temperature, coupled with ice and snow sitting on the roof for days on end meant the temperature in the roof space dropped.
With the central heating ramped up, when the warm air from below rises through the ceiling condensation is produced. And this condensation was often mistaken for a leak in the roof.
Condensation not only causes water ingress and damage, but can also wet any insulation making it ineffective. If left untreated, condensation can cause rot, mould and structural decay.
So the first piece of advice for homeowners is to get up into the loft if they can do so safely.
They should take a look at the roof space’s ventilation. Sometimes loft insulation has been laid too close to the eaves ventilation and simply needs pushing back. The insulation should be pushed away from the eaves to allow the air to flow up the rafters to the ridge.
Likewise, check the ridge ventilation is in place. There should be at least a 50mm ventilation gap at the ridge between the underlay to allow for airflow.
Another solution is to introduce some extra ventilation by installing ventilation tiles. However, this is a job for a professional roofer.
Check the Loft
While in the loft, there are several things homeowners should look out for apart from condensation.
Householders should look at the rafters (timbers), for signs of damp or mould.
The underlay (the material sitting beneath the tiles) should not have any holes and should overlap at the joints.
The loft boards should be dry and cover any insulation.
Insulation should be at least 270mm thick.
These loft inspections can show up problems early and alert householders to the need for a professional roofer. A professional roofer can advise on the root causes of any problems.
The winter months bring a greater share of windy, wet weather which can loosen, crack, or blow away tiles. While a dislodged tile that’s blown on to the ground is obvious, a cracked or slightly loose tile might not be from the ground.
It’s worth occupants standing back from the building and examining the roof from the ground with binoculars. They might be able to spot the cause of the problem and let their roofer know.
Gutters and downpipes are an important part of the roof design. They channel the rainwater coming off the roof away from the building.
Roofs can collect as much as 1.2 litres of rainwater per minute per metre squared. For an average UK roof area of 55 m2, that’s 66 litres every minute. That adds up to almost 4,000 litres of rainwater per hour!
A good look at gutters and downpipes (again, with the binoculars preferably) during rain will show up any problems.
Check gutter and downpipe joints for leaks.
Also check if the gutters are overflowing – it might indicate a blockage from leaves or other debris.
Leaves and debris should be removed from roof valleys and gutters at least once a year, but both autumn and spring is ideal.
Moss and lichens also need to be removed as they can wash down and block gutters affecting the drainage of rainwater.
This plant growth can also build up between tiles, trapping moisture against the tile and causing it to lift up.
Moss often grows on roofs which are north facing or have trees overhanging them. A professional roofer can apply moss growth inhibitors that will slow down growth for 2-4 years. This type of maintenance treatment is much cheaper than dealing with the long-term damage it causes.
As energy prices have risen, more homeowners are choosing solar in a bid to generate their own electricity.
Usually guaranteed for 20-25 years, solar panels should be largely issue-free. However, like for the roof itself, maintenance is cheaper than replacement.
Homeowners should check the output levels from their rooftop solar panels. If there are any sudden drops or even gradual declines, it’s worth contacting a roofing professional to check them.
Rooftop solar problems can include everything from simple dirt, dust and debris building up, to failing inverters or solar cell damage which need replacing.
A Repair In Time
If a winter roof check reveals problems householders should act to solve the problem as soon as possible. Leaks, mould and blockages will only cause more damage if they are ignored.
Warning to Householders
It is essential that homeowners do not attempt to get up on the roof themselves. Roofs are dangerous and a fall from even a single storey can be deadly or life changing. Leave it to a professional roofer.
Choose a Reputable Roofer
It’s vital that householders choose a reputable roofer to carry out any roof repairs. Roofing Today has excellent advice on How to Choose a Roofing Contractor which is read by hundreds of homeowners each month.
An established, professional roofer with good reviews may not always be the cheapest. However, cheap roofing work can mean damage isn’t properly repaired. It might lead to a repeat round of work, and another set of costs. So it’s worth paying a bit more for good roofing work.