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.



What Will You Say When the Critters Move In?



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.


Deterring Pests on the Roof

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.


Clogged Drains and Gutters


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.


Schedule Roof Maintenance

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.


Roof Maintenance

Rusted Hatch Before


Painted Hatch

Hatch After


Design Roofing Maintenance

Lifted Vent Before


Vent on Roof

Vent After


Roof Maintenance Moss

Moss on Shingles Before


Shingles with moss

Moss Removed

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.

Right and Wrong: Two Roofs in a Parallel Universe

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.

Leak Investigations

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.

roof leak repair


Here a tenant spotted a leak and put down a bucket with some tarp.  We were alerted.

Leak Area on Deck

We started the leak investigation by looking at the deck directly above the leak.

removed bricks above leak

We lifted the bricks and insulation and stacked them to the side so we could inspect the membrane underneath.

Plugged drain repair leak

We discovered a plugged drain and some ponding water.

Disposed of debris causing plug

The drain was plugged with debris so we removed that and relieved the ponding water.

roof membrane hole

We discovered a small penetration in the membrane.

deterioration of roof membrane

While there we found the membrane was deteriorating.

Applied water cut off mastic

We cleaned and prepared the membrane and  applied water-cut-off mastic to temporarily seal penetrations and deteriorated membrane found on the deck.

roof membrane failure

Upon further investigation we discovered the corner membrane had failed.

Used water-cut-off mastic

We applied water-cut-off mastic to temporarily seal the failed membrane in the corner of the deck.

SBS base shee to protect

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.

Storm Season Starts

It’s here…storm season.  It usually spans from September until May or June.  The dark rainy days, wind storms and rain storms, falling trees and flying debris.  This is why it’s important to make sure that your buildings are protected by a solid, cared-for roof.  Book an assessment now.

We know maintenance is important.  We know it saves money.  Part of maintenance is getting the assessments done and now is the most important time of year to do so.

In 2015, nature knocked on our door, (or…roofs) earlier than usual.  Remember the big storm on August 29? People lost power for days.  Trees flew. Roofs were torn apart.  Floods resulted.  Our emergency line lit up and our roofers worked around the clock. Read more about last year’s storm.

The condition of the roof membrane is important.  Here are some common issues we find and fix and in doing so, save our customers money.

Roof debris

Heavy debris, including tree branches on the roof surface. This should be removed to prevent build up and damage.

december 2, 2015 30224 pm pst-resized-640

Moss retains water which leads to granule loss and deterioration of the roof system. The debris, including tree branches and the loose heavy moss It should be removed and a zinc sulphate solution should be applied to help inhibit future moss growth.

leaves in eavestrough

Clogged drain causes water build up

Debris clogging drains  and gutters prevents proper drainage and may cause leaks at these locations. The debris should be removed and the gutter drains checked to ensure that they are clear and free flowing.

Rust on roof hatch

Rust leads to holes.  Holes let in water.  Water damages.

rust on roof vent can lead to leaks

Rust forming on roof hatches and vents require re-sealing and waterproofing with RC2000 coating. This re-seals the rusted areas.

missing caulking on roof

Deteriorated caulking can be in a number of places and requires replacement to help prevent rusting and leaks. The deteriorated caulking should be removed and replaced with new caulking.

exposed fasteners will rust

Exposed nails or  fasteners require caulking to seal them to prevent rusting and leaks. Granules should be applied over the caulking to exposed fasteners on shingled roofs surfaces.

roof shingle is damaged

Damaged shingles need to be replaced in order to prevent leaks.

december 3, 2015 112445 am pst-resized-640

Dryer lint on the roof surface and vents is a fire hazard and is considered unsafe. The dryer lint needs to be removed to help mitigate the fire hazard.

These are the common things we find.  There are many other situations that can lead to roof damage and we find them when we assess the roof.


When It’s Time For a New Roof

How do you know when your roof needs to be replaced?

Every type of roof system has a different life expectancy which gives you a general idea of how long your roof should last for and when it should be replace. The life expectancy of a new roof is impacted by a few different key facts, the first factor being the quality of the installation. The higher the quality of the installation the greater the chance that your roof system will reach its full life expectancy. This means that every type of new roof system should be installed to the product manufacture specification as well as to the specification of your designated roofing association such as the RCABC.

The second factor is the weather, which has a huge impact of the life expectancy and break down of your roof system. All roof systems require some form of UV protection from the sun which you can find in the form of a ballast on an inverted roof, or granules on shingles or a flat 2 ply SBS roof system. On the opposite end of the spectrum the water that lands on your roof system also greatly affects its life expectancy be it rain, or snow. In conjunction, the UV rays and water work against each other to accelerate the deterioration of your roof system. The UV rays cause the roof system to become brittle and loose its elasticity. This combined with the wet and cold will affect the roofs membrane and it ability to expand and contract as required causing cracks, split seams and other membrane defects. This is especially prevalent in flat roof membrane systems. This deterioration often leads to leaks.

The third factor and best way to combat these affects is to have regular roof repairs and maintenance performed on your roof to help maintain it life expectancy by repairing any defects before damage may occur. If you do not have regular maintenance performed on your roof it will not reach half of its life expectancy. Having regular repairs and maintenance performed on your roof will keep the overall repair cost down while helping to ensure that the roof system reaches it maximum potential, saving you money in the long run. Allowing damage or defects to occur without repair can cause major interior repairs and compromise the structure of the building.

Roof Leak Damage

Internal Damage

New Roof VS Repairs?

When determining if you should continue to repair your roof or if it should be replace it is important to consider all factors. The cost of repair, the cost of the roof replacement and the life expectancy of the existing system. Although a roof replacement may seem to be more expensive compared to costs of repairing the critical damage it may in fact be more cost effective and beneficial over time. You must determine if the cost of repairs to the roof and interior of your building will out weigh the cost of the roof replacement. There is a point where a new roof is more cost effective in the future as long as it was a quality installation and that maintenance is performed on a regular basis.

If your roof is leaking or you have to do large membrane repairs on a regular basis it is time to consider a re-roof. If you are unsure of what to look for your qualified roofing contractor is the best place to start. They will be able to tell you what the remaining life expectancy of your roof is and if you should continue to repair your roof or if you are better off having it replaced.

New Roof

Roof Replacement

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

A Temporary Roof Repair Only Buys Time

Fall is Here

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.

Temporary Roof Repairs are Only Temporary

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.

failure of a temporary repair

So we put another temporary repair on it.

bandaid over bandaid

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.

Get the Drain Replaced

This is what happened when a drain that had a temporary repair wasn’t replaced in time.

New Drain not installed. Leak ensued.

We located the problem drain and found a temporary repair that wasn’t dealt with.  It needed a new drain.

A new drain after a temporary repair on a drain would have been good.

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.

This drain needs to be replaced.

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.

Watch the Weather Forecast

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.

Get it Fixed ASAP

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.


Decks Need Extra Special Care

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.

Weight on the deck

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.

Plantars on a deck



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.

People put a lot of weight on a deck.


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.

Special Care with Repairs

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.

Flamable items in living spaces mean it's best not to torch them.


Liquid Membrane Repairs

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.

Gravel and mesh removed

Repair area cleaned

Applied aqua bloc

aqua bloc over mesh

june 15, 2015 122330 pm edt-resized-500


flam applied over aqua bloc

june 15, 2015 122920 pm edt-resized-500

laid mesh

gravel redistributed

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.

Applied primer

may 13, 2015 45450 pm edt-resized-500

wet paint do not enter


We let the deck dry for a day.

apply alsan 535


Once dry, we apply a second layer of primer and a coat of Alsan 535.

The Thing About Vinyl

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.

 Drainage Cannot Be Forgotten on a Deck

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.

drain in the deck

Sometimes the drain is hiding, but it should be there.

drain under pavers


Here’s an example of a deck with several holes that lead to a drain.  Pretty clever.


extra drain holes