Our roofs are the very first line of defense against the natural elements, shielding us from rain, wind, hail, and snow. However, many people may not realize that even the sun, and the UV radiation it emits, can wreak havoc on their roofs. UV radiation can cause significant damage to various roofing materials, leading to costly repairs or premature replacements. In this article, we will explore the impact of UV rays on different roofing materials and how to prevent and fix issues caused by sun exposure.
UV radiation can harm asphalt shingles by getting right down to the chemical compounds and altering them. The oxygen mixes with the hydrocarbons, which causes the coating of the shingles to break down. As the material breaks down, the oily substance covering the shingles evaporates, which leaves the shingles unprotected. They then become dry and start cracking. Heat can also play a part, as it encourages expansion, followed by contraction when it cools at night, which causes even more cracking. This is called thermal shock, and as it continues throughout the years, the very structure of the roof can degrade.
Granule loss in a roof membrane can occur due to various factors, and it can lead to significant issues if left unaddressed. Most commonly seen in asphalt shingle roofs, granules are the small, coarse, and colored particles that provide protection and weather resistance to the roofing material. Over time, exposure to the elements, weathering, foot traffic, and natural aging can cause these granules to become dislodged and accumulate in gutters and downspouts, or simply wear away.
Granule loss is a concern because these granules play a vital role in protecting the underlying roofing material from harmful ultraviolet (UV) rays and extreme weather conditions. Without the granules, the roof’s surface becomes vulnerable to rapid deterioration, increased UV exposure, and accelerated aging, leading to potential leaks, cracks, and reduced overall lifespan of the roof.
When granule loss is noticed on a roof, it is crucial to act promptly. Roof renewal or restoration is a viable solution to address this issue. This process involves hiring a qualified roofing professional to apply a protective coating and new granule layer to the affected roof surface.
UV ray exposure can also cause blistering. Blisters form when there are pockets of air or moisture trapped between layers of the roof’s membrane or between the membrane and the roof deck. As the sun heats the roof, those pockets expand and stretch the membrane. In severe cases, the membrane will crack when the pressure becomes too great. Even if the roof membrane doesn’t crack, blisters are usually a cyclical problem. That is, once they form, the membrane stretches permanently, which allows for even more air or moisture to infiltrate the membrane layers. This causes even more expansion. Each time the sun heats your roof, there is the potential for the blisters to grow a little larger.
Blistering can still occur on a well-installed roof system. If blisters do not indicate severe damage, it is generally advised to leave them undisturbed. However, it is crucial to routinely inspect observed blisters, as there are situations where repairing them becomes necessary to prevent potential complications like bursting.
To repair a blister, technicians cut away the membrane until they reach an area where the membrane still adheres to the roof tightly. They then apply new compatible membrane materials over the blistered area, making sure the new membrane extends at least six inches around the edges of the blister to ensure that your patch remains leak-proof despite the expansion and contraction caused by temperature shifts. Alternatively, on a bitumen roof, the technician may be able to cut an “X” into the blister and then peel back the loose membrane layers, fill the void underneath the membrane with bitumen and pressing the membrane back into place.
Regardless of the repair method chosen, it is crucial to have a qualified roofing technician handle the blister repair work. The repair process involves cutting into the roof membrane, which can be invasive. If this is not done correctly, it may compromise the integrity of the roof system at those areas, leading to potential openings for water to seep in and causing even more problems than it solves. Even though a blister on the roof might cause concern, it’s crucial to wait for a qualified professional following industry and manufacture standards to handle the repair, ensuring the problem is addressed properly and effectively.
Alligatoring is a sign that your roof is aging. The sun’s UV rays dry and damage the roof’s surface, and after three to five years, the coating may develop small cracks. If left untended, the problem will get worse. Ice, sunlight, and the heating and cooling shifts between day and night will all cause new cracks to appear while widening the existing cracks. Repairs for alligatoring on the roof membrane can vary depending on the severity of damages.
Roof sealants are essential to the overall lifespan of a roof. These coatings provide extra protection against damaging elements such as snow, ice, or rain. However, powerful UV radiation can compromise the integrity of your roof sealants over time. Whether it be caulking or sealant at penetrations, heat energy from the sun breaks down the chemicals in seam sealants and prevents them from doing their job effectively. Annual renewal or review of these sealants is important to ensure that no openings have formed allowing for potential water ingress.
Darker rooftops are vulnerable to a type of bleaching. This bleaching effect can affect the color of the material, either fading it out or turning it completely white. While bleaching is a cosmetic problem and not a structural problem, it can leave your roof looking unsightly. Wood shake roofing and architectural shingles are the most vulnerable to bleaching however, this occurs at varying levels on all roof systems.
Metal roofing suffers in extreme heat. Concentrated UV rays create a drastic change in the metal’s temperature – an effect known as thermal shock. This type of sun damage causes the metal to destabilize, thinning out the metal and resulting in cracks. These cracks create the perfect entryway for moisture, which can lead to moss growth, a roof leak, or the support underneath the metal roof to rot.
Amidst our focus on protecting our buildings from rain, wind, and snow, we often overlook the silent culprit that can wreak havoc on our roofs – the sun’s UV rays during hot weather. UV radiation causes substantial damage to various roofing materials, leading to issues such as granule loss, alligatoring, blistering, and bleaching. To prevent costly repairs and premature replacements, it is crucial to take proactive measures, such as applying new coatings, renewing sealants, and conducting regular roof maintenance. By safeguarding our roofs from the damaging effects of UV rays, we can ensure their longevity and optimal performance, ultimately protecting our homes and buildings from the elements and preserving their value for years to come.
Critters, like raccoons, squirrels, and birds, become unwanted tenants in the Spring. They look for a place to nest and then they build a home for their families. This can happen on the roof of any building – unless it’s protected. This is where Spring Roof Maintenance comes in. Not only does maintenance protect buildings from pests, it prevents clogged drains and gutters, vegetation on the roof, general roof degradation and as a result: roof leaks.
Birds are a major nuisance to roofs. Their nests cause damage and their droppings even more damage. Check this article about birds.
Last year on a routine Spring maintenance job we cleaned up bird droppings. But that wasn’t the end of that job. We noticed some rust and an opening in the soffit above.
Guess what was hiding behind the soffit? A bird nest. Luckily there weren’t any eggs in the nest and we were able to remove it. This could have been prevented.
The good news is there are ethical bird deterrents that can be set up to prevent all of this.
Debris has built up over the Fall and Winter. As water heads to drains and gutters it carries that debris with it. What happens next is obvious, the debris begins to clog the drainage and the water backs up. This clump of mud never dries and it becomes a great place for weeds to grow. If left unchecked, the weeds grow and their roots puncture the roof membrane.
Now is the time to have roofs maintenance done. Roofs are checked for weaknesses and damage as well as maintenance that should be done like renewing caulking, removing debris, covering rust, replacing damaged shingles and more.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
We vacuumed the water and repaired the defected vents that were causing the water ingress.
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.
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.
They may or may not be occupied.
These nests were found up here.
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.
That was because a bird nest caught on fire and incinerated a metre of cable.
Read more in our post about birds from last year.
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.
We have freezing cold temperatures and more snow in the forecast. It’s a good time for some winter weather tips from Design Roofing.
Snow and ice don’t move until they melt. When that happens they must drain so it is imperative that drains and gutters are clear. If you’ve noticed water overflowing from gutters in the past couple of rainy months, that’s a sure sign of a drain issue. Contact us if you need your drains checked.
Unless you’re a trained Roofer, don’t go on your roof. It’s simply too dangerous, especially in icy conditions.
Encourage tenants to notify you as soon as they can if there’s a leak. It’s best to arrive before the temperature gets too low on these short days.
All roofs have some kind of drainage system to prevent your roof from holding water and debris which can cause damage and deterioration to the roofs membrane often leading to leaks. On a sloped roof the concept is straight forward, the water runs down hill and the gutters control the direction and flow of the water to downpipes as it leaves the roof system. On flat roofs the system is not as straight forward and can often require more attention. There are different types of drainage systems including scupper, overflow and internal drains for flat roofs. Most flat roofs have an internal drainage system that is placed strategically throughout the roofs surface to allow the water to leave. These drains are connected to pipes that run through the building taking water to the ground.
This time of year with falling leaves landing on your roofs your drains are especially susceptible to getting clogged. Despite what you might read online it is very important that you don’t attempt to unclog roof drains on your own. Snaking a drain without the proper knowledge can dislodge and loosen internal pipes causing leaks and internal damage. Something as simple as removing leaves and debris from around your drains improperly can cause pipes to burst and in turn unimaginable internal damage can occur. Some things are best left to the professionals!
Whether you have a flat or sloped roof system it is important to have your drains inspected and cleaned on a regular basis. Just as flat roof drains can get clogged, drains in gutter systems and downpipes on sloped roofs can get clogged with debris as well. This can cause your gutter system to hold water which is never a good thing. When gutters hold water and gutter drains are plugged you are no longer able to control the flow and direction of water leaving your roofs system. This will often lead to gutters over flowing and depending on the severity this can cause leaks on sloped roof systems.
The best way to prevent clogged roof drains, be it flat or sloped roofs, is to have regular maintenance performed on your roofs. This will included drain cleaning and inspection to make sure that your drains and drain screens are secured and functioning properly. Now that we are into the winter season it is especially important to speak to your roofing contactor to see if you require additional semi annual drain inspection and cleaning, especially after storms with heavy wind or rain. In doing so you will help mitigate the effects of clogged drains and in turn flooded roofs which leads to damage of your roof system.
It’s starting…the rain. Our 24 hour phone line is ringing and we’re dispatching for emergency leaks. Fall is here.
When we send a crew on a leak call, they investigate the leak and make a temporary roof repair. It’s unusual that we can fix the problem when it’s raining so we do a temporary repair and schedule a time to come back and fix the problem, so it doesn’t happen again.
It’s important to understand that temporary roof repairs are just bandaid solutions and there’s no way to guarantee how long they will last. Always follow through with a proper repair.
Here’s a situation that we sometimes see happen because the temporary repair was left as is and never properly fixed.
So we put another temporary repair on it.
If this customer had let us back to fix that temporary repair, they would have saved themselves from having to deal with another leak, the damages from that leak and us coming back to put in another temporary repair.
This is what happened when a drain that had a temporary repair wasn’t replaced in time.
We located the problem drain and found a temporary repair that wasn’t dealt with. It needed a new drain.
We couldn’t properly install a new drain while it was raining so we put in a temporary repair. Since the real drain was never installed, another leak happened.
Of course it was raining when the second leak happened so we put in another temporary repair. We still need to install a new drain.
Temporary roof repairs are just temporary and need to be followed through with a proper repair. Keep an eye on the weather. We need a dry day to do a proper fix because the materials we use need to dry and set. That won’t happen on a rainy day. We keep a close eye on the weather every day of the year so we know what days we can do permanent repairs, and which days we will be reacting to leaks.
The length of time that a temporary roof repair will hold depends on many many factors, most of them are out of everyone’s control. There’s just no way to guarantee how many days or weeks it will last. That’s why it’s important to get it fixed ASAP.
Sometimes we forget that decks are part of the roofing system. It’s important they get the extra special care that decks need. To be clear, decks and balconies have different definitions. A deck is a surface you can walk on, that is exposed to the outdoors and is over an enclosed space below. A balcony has a similar definition, but does not cover an enclosed space.
As decks are part of the roofing systems, all roofing components are part of it: gutters, drains, guardrails etc. Other considerations like extra weight on a deck, must also be taken into consideration.
The main component of every roofing system is the membrane. However on decks, the membrane is typically covered with a walking surface like tile, pavers, wood, concrete, etc.
There’s more foot traffic on a deck than a typical roof; Why have a deck if you’re not going to use it. People place planters, bikes, furniture, barbeques, and other heavy things on the deck for their use. A deck needs to be able to handle all this weight, and protect what’s under it at the same time.
Planters are heavy and when they’re filled with soil they can weigh hundreds of pounds! Soil weighs around 100 pounds / cubic foot, more or less depending on moisture content. Add to that the weight of the planter itself and you’ve got the weight of at least two adults right there.
Deck floors are usually covered with wood, tile or pavers, which are square slabs of concrete. These weigh in at 70 lbs each. This gives a deck with 50 pavers a load of 3500 pounds!
Add to that the barbeque, the furniture and the people and you’ve got a lot of weight on the deck.
When we do repairs on decks we are extra careful about how we go about it. Fire safety is a big priority on decks and we often use alternatives to torching, because it’s so close to a work or living space.
There are alternatives to torching on a base and cap sheet. One method is to use a liquid waterproofing membrane. There are many types of liquid membranes that can be used. Here’s an example of how we use one type of liquid membrane, aquabloc, to repair a deck.
Different types of liquid membrane can be used for different types of decks.
In this example, we covered deteriorated concrete with a primer and a coat of alsan 525 liquid membrane. We spread the primer and first layer of alsan 525, allowed it to dry for a day. We returned the next day and put down a second layer , this time primer and alsan 535, complete with an aggregate coating for surface grip ability.
We let the deck dry for a day.
Once dry, we apply a second layer of primer and a coat of Alsan 535.
If vinyl is used as a membrane, it is typically done on a balcony, not a deck. this is because it is not as strong as a two-ply system. Vinyl is a poor quality membrane that easily tears, letting water in underneath which leads to mold and rot.
Decks are part of the roofing system and are exposed all the elements, like snow and rain. However, because of their structure, they can hold water like a tub, which is why drainage is so important.
Sometimes the drain is hiding, but it should be there.
Here’s an example of a deck with several holes that lead to a drain. Pretty clever.
If you get a leak due to ponding water that’s been on a flat roof for a few months, don’t blame the ponding water – blame the roof.
A quality roof completely seals out water. As long as it’s maintained, it will stay sealed and won’t leak.
When a roof is built, it’s designed to prevent water from ponding. Even flat roofs have a slight slope to them. The guideline is ¼” per foot, minimum. The roof should be sloped in a way that guides water towards the drains. As long as the drains are clear, the water won’t pond.
So why would this happen?
Over time buildings settle. This causes the pitch to change, so the water isn’t all getting to the drain. When this happens, we build a “cricket” and roof it in, to slope the water to the drain. Even though a building might not have the best quality roof, we can still help maintain it by preventing water from ponding.
Here’s the cricket.
We roof it in with a 2-ply SBS membrane and then cover it with a UV protective coating.
Preventing clogged drains comes with regular roof maintenance.
This is a clogged drain.
This is a drain that has been clogged for too long and is causing a lot of ponding water.
As long as someone is checking those drains every six months, the drains should not have water building up around them.
It is inevitable that there will be ponding water on flat roof. This is why we always recommend a quality roof that can handle some ponding water, so damage is not done between maintenance visits.