Right and Wrong: Two Roofs in a Parallel Universe

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Two Roofs, Different Outcomes

Some movies use time travel to show how one decision leads to a different outcome in a parallel universe.
Books tell tales of characters choosing one of two possible routes and describe both outcomes. Hey even in school we could read “Choose Your Own Adventure” books. The technique is classic and we’re using it here to show how one choice – act fast or wait – can cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. We’re here to talk about roofs – two roofs that were in the same situation that had very different outcomes.

Roof One

roof needs to be redone
In this case, the strata had their roof replaced seven years prior by a low-bid roofer. The material used for the roof was inexpensive and the work was done incorrectly.

roof leak
This client called us to investigate a leak in one of the units. We discovered the drywall was damp and investigated further. It didn’t take long to see what was happening.

saturated roof fibreboard
Due to incorrect vent and ducting installation, the fiberboard became saturated with water. We provided a quote to install breather vents to dry the roof without having to replace it.

The strata chose not to treat it as an emergency and it took a number of weeks for them to review the quote and make a decision. In that time the roof rotted and became unsalvageable. The difference between getting repairs done immediately and waiting four weeks will cost that strata almost $300k. And just think about that: that strata had just paid for a new roof seven years prior. This is going to hit them where it hurts.

Roof Two

water was found under the roof membrane
During a leak investigation we discovered water in the roof deck in 20 places. This was due to previous vent installations that were done incorrectly by a low-bid roofer.

water on roof vacuumed
We vacuumed the water and repaired the defected vents that were causing the water ingress.

breather vents
In this situation we were able to save the roof by installing breather vents. These vents are pulling moisture up out of the roof, drying it out, so the entire roof doesn’t have to be replaced.

It’s pretty obvious who made the right choice.  As a property manager, these choices can seem out of your control when a strata insists on putting off something that really is an emergency.

It’s also worth noting another lesson we can take from this story. In both cases, a low bid was chosen and the work done caused damage. Roof Two still had to pay around $40k for those breather vents. It’s not as expensive as having to get a roof replacement but if you add that to the original bill they paid the low-bidding roofer who incorrectly installed their roof vents, you’ll see the lowest bid is not the lowest cost.

Please share this story with your stratas and encourage them to embrace emergency decision making.

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What is White Sock Service?

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White Sock Service by Design Roofing

Professionalism is one of our key values and we put a lot of effort into making sure every aspect of our business is conducted that way.

We came up with the idea of “white sock service’ when we heard a story about a tenant who was frustrated and angry about a mess being left in their unit by a contractor.  The property manager dreaded hearing these stories.  It’s disheartening when you feel you don’t have control over something you’re responsible for.

This is the kind of thing that we want to change about the industry by raising your expectations.

Quick response times, extensive training and thorough photo reports are just a few ways we make sure you don’t have to be let down.

These white socks are a symbol of professionalism. Your tenant should never come home to a mess left by a contractor. Property Managers should be able to rely on their contractors.

Being tidy and organized is the only way we work. If you’ve seen our shiny red trucks and our pristine office you’ll know it’s true.

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Roof Drains that Look Like Potted Plants

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No one would argue that roof drains are important.  No one would argue that potted plants are pretty.  But that doesn’t mean roof drains that look like potted plants are a good thing.

weeds in roof drains
It’s been a very rainy Spring and no one would argue that either. Now those weeds are getting a full dose of hot sun. It’s the reason we’re seeing so many roof drains that look like potted plants this year and it’s real problem.

plant growing out of roof drain
Any vegetation growing in a roof drain will make it harder for water to drain, or totally block water from draining.  We all know roof drainage is key in preventing leaks.

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But vegetation causes another more serious problem and that’s because of it’s roots.  If you know how fast weeds grow and spread their roots, you know this is something you’d have to act fast on.

roots causing roof damage
Roots.

We never know how much damage the roots have done until we remove them.

Roots are tough and determined. They will do whatever they have to for water. Even if it means piercing a roof membrane.

Add that pierced membrane and the water build-up caused by the caused drain and you’ve got yourself a leak.

Here are a few more roof drains that look like potted plants.

roof drain vegetain
The Roof Fern

vegetation in roof drain
“Small but Hearty”

clogged roof drain
“The Hanging Basket”

plant clogging roof drain
“Young and Tough”

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There Are Rules About Bird Nests on Roofs

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Removing Bird Nests

If birds are a problem at any of your properties you should know that precautions must be taken if there are nests.  According to the BC Ministry of Environmental Stewardship, if a nest is occupied by a bird or its eggs, it is not allowed to be removed or destroyed.

Nests are Usually Hidden

Birds are experts at hiding their nests on roofs.

 

Birds cannot be occupying a nest when it is removed

They may or may not be occupied.

Nests hidden in the roof

These nests were found up here.

More than a Nuisance

They cause fires, flooding and carbon monoxide poisoning.  When they nest in gutters create a dam, letting water pool, leading to leaks and damage. Nests are highly flammable and if they’re situated near electrical wires or machinery they can easily spread a fire. Vents and chimneys can be blocked by nests leading to carbon monoxide build up.

Remember the Skytrain Fire that shutdown the Expo Line?

That was because a bird nest caught on fire and incinerated a metre of cable.

Nests Can Be Prevented

We offer services to protect your roofs from birds nesting.

Bird Solutions:

  • Bird Spike Installation
  • Anti-Bird Flashing
  • Bird Netting
  • Bird Shock Electric Track
  • Bird Spiders
  • Protective Membrane Installation (to strengthen areas damaged by birds)

Read more in our post about birds from last year.

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Top 6 Reasons a Roof Leaks

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Roofs will leak for several reasons.  The most common reasons are improper drainage, damaged flashing, granule loss (the top protective layer), damage to the roof membrane, and ventilation issues.

The wear-and-tear caused by weather in every season will affect every roof on every building and the only thing you can do to lessen it is preventative maintenance.  Keep the roof strong because it’s your first line of defense; It covers the whole building. Fall storms with flying debris, snow and ice in winter, heavy rains in spring, hot sun and strong UV rays in summer – all of these are forces you cannot control and they all damage your roof.

Here are the 6 most common roof leak causes that you can control:

1. Improper Drainage

backed up gutter
Gutter Back-Ups

This is an obvious one because it is easy to see the signs of gutter problems.  Is it draining?  Is it on tight or coming loose?  There are a number of things that could be blocking gutter drainage such as ice, leaves, growing weeds, dirt, etc.  Gutters should be checked at least twice a year. The pressure of the built up water will cause a leak at the weakest area around it.

leads to water build up on roof
Clogged Drains

Drains get clogged easily because the water flowing to them brings debris.  The drain screen you see here keeps the water flowing despite the leaves.   However, in time, the build up of debris will clog the drain.  Regular maintenance is the only answer.

2. Damaged Flashing

Damaged flashing

Flashing is used to protect areas of the roof where major parts join, like the roof edge, large vents, chimnies, HVAC units, etc. It diverts water away from the areas where water is most likely to get in.  There are a variety of materials used to make the flashing from metal to liquid membranes.  This example shows damaged metal flashing.

3. Granule Loss and Damaged Shingles

Direct UV rays damage the roof membrane; Granules are used to protect it.  Shingles are coated with granules.  Flat roofs typically have a layer of granules though sometimes stones and other materials are used and the same rule applies. Weather causes degranulation.  It’s important to monitor that protective layer and ensure shingles are in good condition.

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If there’s moisture there could be moss issues. Moss retains water in the roof system leading to granule loss and deterioration of the roof system. It can be removed and treated but over time it will start growing back.

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Broken shingles need to be replaced to keep the roof membrane covered and protected.  Water will seep under the shingle and rot the wood and lead to a leak.

degranulation

You can see how the membrane is directly exposed in this example.

roof membrane weakens
This is a worn down membrane on a flat roof that hasn’t been properly protected.

4. Deterioration of Roof Membrane

There are many types of roof membranes and all of them experience some kind of wear. If you are getting a roof replacement, avoid cheap roof membranes that claim to cost less.  In the long run, that cheap roof membrane material will cost you more.

roof membrane has holes
Seams can open, membranes can be punctured, they can blister and crack and over time deteriorate.

5. Vents and other Roof Penetrations

There are several types of vents: doghouse, whirlybird, flat, chimney, plumbing, etc.  Other penetrations are skylights, hatches, HVAC units, and more.

Roof vents need to be sealed
All of these need to be thoroughly sealed.  Sealants wear down over time and that leads to water ingress.  They can also rust which leads to holes, another big cause of leaks.  All penetrations need to be looked at regularly to prevent leaks.  In this example there is actually no caulking at this doghouse penetration.

6. Poor Ventilation

Condensation is how a roof can break down from the inside.  The roofing system needs to breath so air can circulate and stay dry.  If the ventilation system is not adequate or gets plugged up it will lead to condensation which will lead to mold growth and rot and water will find it’s way in and make the situation worse.  When that gives way you not only have a leak to deal with but mold and the health issues and high costs of replacing damaged structures.

mold grows if soffits don't work

attic condensation

The attic and soffit vents are important parts of ventilation and need to be maintained.

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