DIY and trade Top Tips on preventing roof leaks

protective decorative roof paint coatings from Andura

Do you have a leaky roof?

All types of roof, whether flat or sloping roofs, need to be waterproof, weatherproof, insulated, and also have a good means of draining away water from rain, such as gutters and downpipes. Here are some tips to avoid this very major issue.

Any roof, on a house or even a school or church, that has been poorly installed, has aged with time, or has had zero maintenance and care, will at some point, leak.

There is no quick fix to a leaky roof and repairs and replacement can often be very expensive, so the best advice to start this article off would be to have your roof inspected by a competent roof inspector every few years, just to be on the safe side.

OK, that’s no consolation, or answer, if your roof is leaking now, so here are some points we put together for you.

Quality roof = quality waterproofing.

The problem when a roof leaks is that often it is quite hard to tell where exactly the water is getting in. OK, sometimes it is easy, such as for example if you look in the loft area, with the light off, and you see daylight coming through, it’s pretty obvious where that leak is, but this is not always the case.

As in the title above, if your roof was installed to a high standard, by a competent roofer, you can be sure that it should in theory give you years of hassle free living in a warm and dry house.

With all roofs, the structure must allow water to drain off and away into gutters etc.

Of course a roof that does not do this, is going to leak at some point.

This applies to sloping “pitched roofs”, dormer or mansard roofs and also flat roofs, which are actually never quite flat and level, because they must have at leapitched roof with roofers workingst some angle to them, for the rain to drain away.

There is often a secondary layer of waterproofing beneath the slates or tiles and this is usually a membrane, or a sheet of thick flat plastic to you and I, and this is installed straight onto the battens, the smaller pieces of wood in-between the joists, and nailed into place, ready to accept the tiles over the top.

Of course the roof itself must also allow water to safely drain away so gutters and drainpipes are the order of the day.

These are normally made of UPVC plastic and do not require painting, although older houses can have iron or steel pipes installed.

Some homes have concrete gutters at the foot of the pitch of the roof, however time has shown that these are prone to leaking too, so they often need to be lined, either with roofing felt, or a special coating which is available in some trade stores.

The chimney stack also needs to be looked at because these are often made of blocks or bricks and left unpainted, or covered with render. Never paint again can apply a weatherproof wall coating to these areas, but only if the walls of the house are being painted by us at the same time.

Why a sloped roof is of prime importance.

The slope on the roof is of prime importance in allowing the water to flow away and must not be impeded in any way.

If the house has some form of extension into the loft, then any dormer windows that stick out from the roofline, or any roof gardens cut into the house (see image below), must also have proper drainage to ensure that water does not find a way of getting into your house and causing damp.

interesting roof garden

If you have a flat roof and it is used for other purposes such as a sun deck, roof terrace or something like that, it is very important that anything up there, must not impede the flow of rain water.

This could include items such as tables and chairs, barbecues or anything that blocks water channels and the expulsion of the rainwater.

It is of the highest importance, for safety, that if you decide to turn a boring flat roof into something special, such as a terrace, the roof then also becomes a floor, with weight, such as people or items, so you must ensure the roof can carry the weight of this, and if in doubt, contact a local surveyor for advice.

Flat roofs.

A flat roof is often much cheaper to install than a pitched roof, however they are also more prone to leaks, deterioration form the sun, and in general a flat roof coating or covering will not last anywhere near as long as a sloping roof.

The protective layer on a flat roof should be waterproof without fail, and should have enough weight to it, to stop the wind lifting it up, and often we use gravel chips for this, which also has the added feature of reflecting the rays of the sun, which in turns avoids the roofing felt being melted by the same sun.

There are also weak points on a roof like this which are normally found on joints, at the edges or where the roof abuts to the wall, often complemented by lead flashing. These are areas that need special attention and if your roof is leaking now, the first port of call would be to inspect these areas for damage or wear.

flat roofingThe joins and edges can be places where a flat roof like this would leak, because the roofing felt, especially when it ages, does not like to be bent, so the good roofer would put in infill such as some mortar, or a wedge shaped wood piece under the felt when fitting it, to help make the corner or edge much stronger.

If your roof, whether a flat one, or a sloping one, is leaking then you need to take action on this now, and call in a good roofing company to take care of this.

Replacing a flat roof is not that expensive and there are available flat roof coatings that are “cold poured” onto the deck of the roof and set to a super tough and waterproof finish. These are normally used in place of roofing felt and often come with a good warranty too.

The coatings are so tough they can also withstand foot traffic so maybe you can turn the extension at the back of your home into a posh new roof garden or terrace!



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