There’s no doubt about it, cost savings are highest when roof assessments are done promptly in the Spring. Why? Because damage grows over time.
Winter weather causes more damage to roofs than any other season. The freezing and melting of ice, the strong winds and the weight of snow all add up to real stress on the roof, testing each part of the system.
Damage is usually not apparent at first. When Property Managers hear about a roof leak it’s the first sign of a problem. That leak could have started months prior. It also spreads to other areas of the building, creating more headaches.
If you want to prevent reactive spending and early roof replacements, roof maintenance in Spring really is your best option. In this post we will provide the five most common roof problems that we find in Spring, all due to the stress of winter weather.
Drains, technically roof penetration, serve an obviously essential purpose in the roof system.
When drains are blocked, and the free flow of water is not happening as intended, something is bound to go wrong. So much pressure from the weight of the water stresses all weaknesses until that water finds somewhere to go. Ponding water causes granule loss which weakens the membrane and leaves it unprotected from UV rays.
The hazard from heavy debris in a roof is made worse if drains are blocked because the debris soaks up the extra water. It becomes heavier and over time it becomes a breeding ground for all kinds of vegetation and a nice spot for a nest.
Vegetation threatens the roof membrane because the roots puncture it. Pests are also a big risk and will cause damage for sure.
Debris also poses liability risk because it could blow off the roof in heavy winds and if heavy enough, could cause damage.
Temperature fluctuates in winter causing water to freeze and thaw repeatedly. As it freezes it expands and pushes on eavestroughs, shingles, flashing, etc. It also causes the roof membrane to become rigid and splits or cracks can form, leading to roof leaks.
Membrane breaks also happen as a result of fallen branches and heavy debris on the roof as mentioned above. Having those membranes patched up before too much time goes by will save the rest of the building from water damage.
Ice damming, the icicles that form at the edge of the roof, happens when snow melts and refreezes. it’s actually a result of heat loss and can form in many ways. The presence of ice damming can actually indicate much larger issues that are happening inside a structure including attic mold growth.
Ice damming is a huge liability. When temperatures go above zero, icicles break off and fall. Falling icicles are obviously very dangerous and can be lethal.
Ice dams also cause exterior damage. They wreck eavestroughs by pulling and warping or even bringing them down entirely. They freeze and expand causing them to split and break. They damage shingles and soffits.
The roof protects the whole building so it’s important that it be maintained. Regular repairs prevent long-term damage that gets worse over time and damages the building’s interior. The best time to have roofs assessed is in Spring after the harsh effects of winter weather.
Is it Spring yet? If it is, call us and set up a time for an assessment. Not Spring yet? Book ahead. We’ll get you on the schedule for the perfect time. And anyway, Condo Corps appreciate ample notice. You can also fill out this form and we will get back to you with a time.
A roof leak investigation is much more detailed than a visual roof inspection. It is important to understand the difference because often a free roof inspection doesn’t examine below the first layer of the roof and doesn’t look for hidden problems. The result is two very different quotes: one showing obvious and known work and the other includes roof issues that were unknown and hidden.
Free estimates, roof assessments or visual inspections: these are all one and the same. This is usually a free-of-charge offer and a roof repair quote is included. Note that any issues found during the roof repair process will have to be quoted separately if they weren’t found during the original inspection. It is helpful to give the contractor as much information as you have about the roof and what you believe needs to be done. Maybe you know about existing roof damage or that an area of the roof needs to be replaced. The contractor will make sure this shows up on the estimate.
What you get: A quote containing work that needs to be done to maintain the roof plus anything you have specifically requested.
When there is an obvious roof leak your roofing technician will need to trace that leak to its origin. This investigation is thorough and will uncover the extent of the damage that has occurred. Often times more than one issue is found because the tech needs to find weaknesses and then confirm that it is the cause of the particular leak. As they investigate a weakness and test it, they could find other leaks and defects that haven’t shown up inside the building but are causing damage to the roof structure. As a result the quote will be much more comprehensive than a free quote would be.
What you get: A quote containing work that needs to be done to repair parts of the roof that are failing.
The service you choose depends on the situation. The no-charge roof assessment is part of an on-going roof maintenance program. Usually the review is done yearly and the purpose is to give you an idea of how much work needs to be done to keep the roof in good shape. The technician uses a checklist and looks for specific wear and tear like rusting and failed sealant. If you have been keeping the roof maintained and have the information about work that has been done previously and there haven’t been any damage or leaks, this is an appropriate option.
When there has been damage or if ingress is occurring a formal investigation needs to be done to determine all the steps that will be required to fix it. It’s also important to have as much documentation as possible when there is a roof leak for insurance purposes and for the on-going health of the building. A leak investigation report comes with photos of each step of the investigation and the subsequent repairs.
Inverted roofs are a special case because the roof membrane is underneath the insulation. Since the membrane is a waterproofing layer, defects won’t be found without an investigation. You cannot tell by visual inspection if there is a problem with that membrane. Inverted roofs are popular in the GTA and are also referred to as protected roofs. If you are managing a building with an inverted roof beware of contractors who tell you that a free visual inspection is going to produce a realistic quote.
Here is a typical process for a leak investigation. You will notice that a visual inspection would not turn up the defects that are found here.
During the first few rainy days of Fall we get a lot of calls from our customers about roof leaks because it hasn’t rained in a while.
Those roofs have been quietly protecting buildings and not getting enough rain to actually expose any damage. It’s like pent-up demand. Damage goes unnoticed in summer if no one checks the roof. This is why so many roofs are vulnerable to damage in those first rain dumps in the Fall.
Early Fall is a great time to have roofs assessed because vulnerabilities that exist won’t be able to stand up to the harsh weather ahead. Roofs can be brittle after a hot summer due to UV ray damage to the roof membrane. Keeping the roof strong is your first line of defense.
1. Improper Drainage
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.
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
Flashing is used to protect areas of the roof where major parts join, like the roof edge, large vents, chimneys, 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, the same rule applies. Weather causes degranulation. It’s important to monitor that protective layer and ensure shingles are in good condition.
Broken shingles need to be replaced to keep the roof membrane covered and protected. Water will seep under the shingle and rot the wood. You can see how the membrane is directly exposed in this example.
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. 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.
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 its 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. The attic and soffit vents are important parts of ventilation and need to be maintained.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
The Roof Fern
“Small but Hearty”
“The Hanging Basket”
“Young and Tough”
When a tenant spots an obvious leak you have an emergency on your hands. That roof leak could be something that built up over time and has finally come through, or it could be something sudden that had a clear cause. Whatever the situation is, you know you need a technician in as soon as possible to do a roof leak investigation.
So what really happens when a technician shows up?
We perform an investigation by finding the leak and taking steps to trace it back to the source. It depends on where it is, sometimes we have to look into attics or rafters, around windows and soffits. Lights, skylights and vents are also places our technicians look for water ingress.
Here a tenant spotted a leak and put down a bucket with some tarp. We were alerted.
We started the leak investigation by looking at the deck directly above the leak.
We lifted the bricks and insulation and stacked them to the side so we could inspect the membrane underneath.
We discovered a plugged drain and some ponding water.
The drain was plugged with debris so we removed that and relieved the ponding water.
We discovered a small penetration in the membrane.
While there we found the membrane was deteriorating.
We cleaned and prepared the membrane and applied water-cut-off mastic to temporarily seal penetrations and deteriorated membrane found on the deck.
Upon further investigation we discovered the corner membrane had failed.
We applied water-cut-off mastic to temporarily seal the failed membrane in the corner of the deck.
We installed an SBS base sheet as an additional protective layer.
In this leak investigation there were a few reasons for the leak. There was a small hole in the roof membrane and the drain was plugged. The plugged drain caused water to pool, which found it’s way to that hole. The other issues we discovered while there would have led to more leaks. These temporary repairs need to be followed up with permanent repairs.