Understanding Roof Leaks: The ABC Guide
Identify Your Roof Type
1. Start by determining the type of roof on your building, as this will impact the causes of leaks.
2. Examine the locations where leaks are appearing, such as above windows, near the chimney, or in the bathroom.
3. Different roofs, like flat, metal (corrugated iron or IBR), slate, or tiled (Mediterranean clay or standard concrete), have unique factors to consider when assessing leaks.
4. Be aware of any prior maintenance work done by unqualified or inexperienced contractors, which can complicate the situation.
5. Flat roofs fall into three main categories: concrete slabs, concrete slab patio roofs with tiles, and metal roofs (IBR or corrugated sheets).
6. Avoid installing non-clipped metal roofs on flat surfaces to prevent leaks.
7. Pay attention to potential issues with box gutters, like blockages and inadequate drainage.
8. Traditional waterproofing paint on metal roofs may fail over time due to UV exposure. The best solution is to use water-resistant boards with gas-welded rubberized sheeting.
Leaking Tiled Roofs
9. When dealing with tiled roofs, check valleys and chimney flashings for blockages caused by debris.
10. Repair valleys by removing tiles, replacing valley flashings, and adding SABS Grade “1” under-tile membrane.
11. Fix chimney flashing issues in a similar manner.
12. Cracked, broken, or leaking tiles can be a common source of leaks. Replace them based on the roof’s slope, and ensure proper under-tile sheeting for slopes below 25 degrees.
13. Damage to the under-tile membrane can result from wear and tear or work by plumbers and electricians. Quality underlay can last 30 to 40 years.
Low Pitch Tile Roofs
14. On low-pitched tile roofs, use a quality under-tile membrane and ensure proper installation with counter battens to allow water to flow freely.
15. Experienced roofing contractors are essential when diagnosing low-pitched tile roof leaks.
16. Avoid solutions like waterproofing paint on tiles, as they can lead to costly re-roofing and painted tiles cannot be reused.
Remember that diagnosing and fixing roof leaks can be complex, so consulting a qualified roofing professional is often the best course of action. Regular maintenance and prompt repairs can help extend the life of your roof and prevent property damage.