Why Spring Roof Assessments Minimize Costs

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.

The Five Most Common Roof Issues Uncovered in Spring

1. Weaknesses at Penetrations

A penetration is anything that is penetrating the roof membrane or the wall, like a vent or chimney. They are by far the most common place where we see leaks happen. If they’re not properly sealed or if there’s any weak points or damages around these penetrations, it is very likely to cause a leak.
We address this by applying a liquid membrane or we make a custom fabricated pitch pocket or gum pan.

2. Blockages at the drains

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.

3. Fallen branches and heavy debris

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.

4. Splits and Cracks in the Roof Membrane

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.

5. Ice damming

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.


Roofs Need Care

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.


Make That Appointment

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.

This is Why We See So Many Roof Leaks in Fall





So Many Roof Leaks

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.


Here are the Top 6 Reasons a Roof Leaks

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.



Decks Need Strength




Two Purposes: Roof and Deck

Roofing GTA
Decks are part of the roof because they protect the area below them.  They are designed to function as a roof with extra capacity for human traffic and all the heavy things that get piled on them.  So really, the deck provides two functions: a roof and an outdoor space for people. That is why they need so much strength.

Leak from a Deck

Earlier this year we attended a leak into a resident’s living room. There were buckets on the floor catching the drips which were coming down with increasing speed from the ceiling.  It appeared that water had accumulated above the ceiling for quite a while and caused the wood above to swell.


It took time for the ceiling to actually start ripping and peeling back.  This was not a fresh leak. We opened up the ceiling and found saturated decking above that was actively leaking onto the ceiling.

Water Entry Point

We went to the roof and found the source of the leak on the deck above.  It wasn’t easy to find.  We had to pull back a layer of pavers  and disassemble the roofing system to get to the membrane. Once there we found a small tear. The concrete underneath it was soaked.  It must have gone unnoticed for months.

Why Membrane Quality Matters

There are many types of roof membranes available to builders.  Often a single-ply membranes are used to save money. Trouble is, single-ply is not durable enough handle the furniture, barbecues, planters, pavers and people that occupy the deck. Single-ply membranes, or worse, vinyl, tear or get holes.  It only takes a small hole, which is difficult to notice without testing, to cause a terrible roof leak.

We recently investigated leaks from several units in the same building. As you can see from this photo, a dropped key was enough to puncture the “protective” membrane and allow water ingress to damage the building structure and unit contents.  Sadly that was not the only puncture on this deck.

Residents want to enjoy their deck as much as possible.  Whether entertaining, lounging in the sun or gardening: People  want to get as much use out of the deck as possible and they place heavy things on it.  Barbecues, planters and furniture that is built to withstand windy days and harsh weather: all heavy items that get lots of use.


Drainage, sloping and waterproofing are vitally important to a deck because it also functions as a roof.  As we always say:  regular roof maintenance is the best way to keep all parts of the roof in the best shape possible including the decks.

Scheduling a Roof Replacement

Don’t wait to schedule a roof replacement. Demand is high, timing is important and residents appreciate advanced notice.

Increasing Demand

Aerial view of a big construction site at a mall with skytrain and appartment buildings in the vicinity. Taken in Burnaby, Vancouver City, British Columbia, Canada.@0.5x

  • New construction in the lower mainland is strong and our crews are being kept busy building new roofs.
  • Buildings constructed in the 90’s are scheduling their roof replaced now (if they haven’t already).
  • Demand increases in the Fall due to a pre-winter panic that plagues indecisive stratas.

Summer Month are Ideal

Working Outside
In this neck of the woods, we make every sunny day count. The best time to get a replacement done is when days are long and relatively dry.

  • More hours of sunlight means more productive hours.
  • Avoiding rain days reduces schedule changes.
  • Suppliers are stocked and ready with supplies and materials.

Less Complaints

Condo CorpResident
Giving residents as much notice as possible reduces stress and complaints.

  • Residents can avoid planning activities that would be inconvenient, like having guests stay, planning a staycation, home renovations, etc.
  • Residents may plan to be away during that time.

Roof Drains that Look Like Potted Plants

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.


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

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”

There Are Rules About Bird Nests on Roofs

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.

3 Roof Tips for Winter Weather

We have freezing cold temperatures and more snow in the forecast. It’s a good time for some winter weather tips from Design Roofing.

#1 Drainage is Critical

clogged gutter

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.

#2 Don’t Go on the Roof

Unless you’re a trained Roofer, don’t go on your roof.  It’s simply too dangerous, especially in icy conditions.

#3 Contact Us Early

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.

Roof Leaks Require Quick Response

We see complacency a lot when it comes to roof leaks.  A tenant will notice a stain on the ceiling but will choose to leave it because there’s no water pouring out.  This is costly.  The longer you leave a roof leak, the worse the damage will get.

Slow Roof Leaks

The problem with slow roof leaks is they go unnoticed. Even if they are small and quiet they can be a huge problem.  The frame rots and causes structural damage.  Mold grows and spreads; Even insulation can become moldy and need to be replaced.
stains on the ceiling from a leak
Take this story for example.  We were called in for an emergency roof leak at a multi-residential complex.

While we were investigating we found a second leak that hadn’t been discovered yet.

It had gone unnoticed because there were no ceiling stains yet.  This customer was lucky; Most slow leaks cause severe and irremediable damage.

low nail on roof leads to slow leak
We found several low and exposed nails in the roof membrane.  They were letting in small amounts of water and needed to be sealed to stop the leak temporarily.  (As a side note, this type of roof leak will reoccur, it’s a sign the roof needs to be replaced)

Signs There’s a Roof Leak

The most obvious sign there’s a roof leak is water ingress.
It could be a roof leak
Staining is another sure sign.  By the time staining shows up damage is being done.  Don’t wait for water to start dripping.  Call us ASAP.

Musty Odours

Musty smell is mold

If you smell mold – there’s mold.  Water must be present for mold to grow.  Don’t leave it.  Call.

When you see a sign or get a report from a tenant don’t wait another second.  Call us and stop it in it’s tracks.


Choose a Professional Roofing Company

Roofs are an important investment and it’s worth taking the time to make sure the company you select to protect your building is professional and reputable.  No one wants to invest in their building and find out later that investment is not protected.  No building manager wants to hire a contractor and have their tenants calling and complaining about them.  No tenant wants to have to deal with poor workmanship leading to on-going repairs.  Finding a professional roofing company will make all that difference.When selecting a roofing company, look for these important signs that you’re dealing with a professional:

1. The company presents themselves in a trustworthy and professional way.  This is important for two reasons:

a) A company that takes excellent care of their equipment has a culture that focuses on quality and precision.

b)The positive image gives tenants a sense of security that the contractors in their building are from a reputable company.

Do they have a professional website? Do the workers wear uniforms and drive an identifiable truck? Roofing Truck

2. They are bonded and insured. Building owners can be held liable if:

a) Contractors do not pay their suppliers

b) Accidents occur and the company doesn’t have updated WCB

You can ask for copies of certificates from insurance and worker’s compensation companies.

3. They are well-established and they will be there in the future when you need them. How long have they been in business?  How long at their current address?  Do they have references?  Do you know of other buildings they do work on? You can ask for references.

Building with logo professional roofing
4. Employees are trained and security-checked. Are the workers Red Seal Certified? Have they had background checks done? This is important if they are entering tenants’ homes or workplaces.

Roofers are trained


5. They are accredited.  There are organizations in every province with which roofing companies can be members.  Usually there are certifications offered by these organizations.  In BC you want to check if they are a member of RCABC (Roofing Contractors Association of BC) and if they have a certificate of recognition (COR) from BCCSA (BC Construction Safety Alliance).

6. They provide detailed proposals with photos and post-project summaries with photos. When tenants and strata / board members ask what’s been done, you want to have proof.  Make sure the company you hire gives you reports with photos before work is done, during, and after it’s completed. Having these reports are essential for upholding warranties.

Project Documented with photos


The Importance of Drain Cleaning and Maintenance

The Importance of Drain Cleaning and Maintenance

Drainage on flat and sloped roofs

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.

a roof system that is holding water

Flooded Roof System

Why should you have your drains cleaned?

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!

a clean drain

Debris Removed From A Drain

clogged drain

Debris Blocking A Drain

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.

debris in gutters

Debris Clogging A Gutter System

How should you prevent roof damage caused by clogged drains?

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.

water ingress at plywood decking

Internal Damage On Plywood

water ingress at leak location

Internal Damage