Property maintenance experts agree that autumn is the most important time of year for repairs and maintenance.
British winters can be harsh and unforgiving in the UK. If your roof has any undetected repairs or structural issues you are taking a huge gamble trying to get through the winter without having these issues addressed. The cold, bitter winters can turn a small problem into a big problem. Its advised to be proactive when it comes to your roof. Make sure any issues get resolved before the bad weather arrives.
Five Tips For Homeowners Before Autumn – Roof Inspection & Roof Maintenance
The following five tips should be on the top of every homeowner’s checklist this coming autumn:
1. Check Gutters are Clear and Fix any Issues.
The guttering on your home provides essential drainage from the roof. Rainwater and melted snow are guided away from your home and down the drain. By the time we are in the later part of the autumn, there is a high chance the gutters will need cleaning out. Gutters become clogged with twigs, sticks, branches, falling leaves, moss and even mud. If blocked gutters start to interfere with how the guttering system works, there is a high chance of ice dams developing during the winter. Ice dams can cause all sorts of damage, and it’s a good idea that homeowners do their best to avoid these costly issues.
- Clear debris and leaves. Gutters and downspouts can only function correctly if they are clear of leaves and debris. Blocked or dammed downspouts and gutters will only lead to gutters overflowing. Even worse the gutters may become loose. It is best to avoid gutters getting blocked in the first place. One method of preventing the above scenario is to install a gutter guard protection system. If you don’t want to spend the money on installing a gutter guard protection system, you can always get the ladders out and clean out the gutters yourself in autumn and spring.
- Check the angle of the gutter, make any adjustments to the gutter to make sure it’s sloping in the right direction. Gutters that are correctly installed by a professional will have a slight fall, so the rainwater is directed towards the downspout. Gutters that have not been installed correctly may not have the correct slope. Gutters that aren’t correctly installed tend to have rainwater pooling in the guttering and overflowing in the corners. The easiest way to check if your guttering has the correct angle is to get a hosepipe and spray the water into the gutter. Watch where the water goes. Does the water go down the downpipe or go in the opposite direction and sit in the corner? (Make sure you have cleaned your gutters first before you do this so you can see where the water is going). It’s also important to make sure that the guttering system has the correct amount of downspouts for the size of the property. Not having enough downspouts installed in the guttering system can lead to pooling in the gutters, which will overflow during heavy rain. It’s also worth mentioning that if downspouts are not installed in the correct location, it can cause water to pool in the gutters.
- Check to see if you can spot gutters pulling away from the property. If your guttering has water pooling in them for any reason, there is a chance that the weight of the water sitting in the gutter may be too heavy for the gutter fixings to handle. It is not uncommon to see guttering coming away from the property because they are carrying too much weight. The culprit is usually mud, debris or water sitting in the gutter. The weight causes the gutter brackets to snap or the screws holding the brackets to come loose. The only way to know if your guttering is in good health is to have them checked regularly. An annual roof inspection would give you an overview of the condition of your roof and your guttering system.
- Check your roof for leaks and holes. You can quickly check your gutters for any leaks or holes for yourself. All you need to do is grab a garden hose and spray water up onto the roof. The water will run down the roof tiles into the gutter. If your guttering has any gaps or holes in them, you will notice the water start to leak out the hole or start to drip from the gutter joints. These types of leaks are easy to fix. In most cases, all they will need is a new rubber seal or some silicone in the gutter joints. If silicone is used on the gutter joints, make sure it is used on the inside and the outside of the joint. Doing this will prevent water from leaking through. If you find a small hole in a part of the gutter, this is also easy to fix. You can buy roofing cement, and it can be applied using a putty knife. In some cases, if the hole in the piece of a gutter is too big, it would be easier to replace the whole length gutter.
- Check the downspouts. Check the downspouts and look for any signs of leaks or see if you can spot any signs of wear. Some downspouts are also attached to the fascia boards. Make sure they are firmly attached to the fascia board. If the downspout is not fastened well enough, there’s a chance of it coming loose and falling away from your home.
2. Trim Tree Branches that are Hanging Over Your Roof
If your home has trees with long branches growing over your roof, it would be wise to have these branches cut down. Having these long overhanging branches above your roof will only encourage leaves to fall on your roof and block the gutters. The accumulation of debris such as twigs, leaves, and branches all find their way into your home’s guttering system. This causes further problems such as ice dams which we mentioned earlier on in this article.
Removing overhanging branches above your roof has many benefits for your home. The most obvious one is it reduces the amount of debris finding its way into your gutters and blocking them up. The second and more important benefit for your home is it eliminates the chances of a large branch coming through your roof. Heavy snowfall combined with high winds during the winter can cause large branches to break. If it landed on your roof, it would cause some serious problems.
3. Do a Roof Inspection & Carryout Roof Repairs
During the autumn, you should scan your roof and look for any obvious signs of damage. Look for any noticeable issues such as loose slates or tiles, or missing mortar (usually sitting in the gutter or on the floor below). If you do spot any problems with the roof, it would be wise to have these issues addressed before the winter. If you are afraid of heights (which many people are), you can stay safe on the ground and use a pair of binoculars to scan the roof.
- Check for cracked, broken, chipped or missing roof tiles or slates. Loose or damaged slates are a roof is a common problem. Roof tiles and slates take a battering by all the elements the British winter has to offer. Hailstone, high winds, and branches landing on the roof are all examples of what a roof has to endure. In a lot of cases, the only thing that is required is a lead strap to put a slate back in place or to replace a broken roof tile.
- Check to see if you can see any cracks or blisters around the edges the roof.
- Check the flashing around the chimneystack and valleys. Try and see if you can notice any damage, holes or corrosion which may need repairing or replaced.
- Look at the chimney and see if you can notice any damaged bricks, missing mortar or damaged flashing. Have a look to see if you can spot any cracks or signs of wear on the caps and joints. Look in areas of the roof such as where the chimney meets the roof. Look for any sealants that may have been used in the past for a roof repair. Check to see if it’s coming away from the roof leaving a gap for rainwater to find its way in. If you spot any signs of old or loose sealants which have been used on the roof in the past, it should be replaced right away.
- Have a look at the condition of the valleys, outer edges or angles where the roof meets the walls.
If you noticed any issues when you were carrying out your roofing inspection, don’t put them off until spring. It is much better to have them fixed now before the heavy rain and snow in the winter. If you leave the issues unresolved, you are taking a risk. These relatively small problems can get a lot worse over time and cost a lot more money to have them repaired.
Important note: don’t leave a leaking roof unaddressed. Repair or replace missing or broken tiles as soon as possible. If you cannot do it yourself, hire a roofer who can do for you. And remember to stay safe while working on a roof and make sure you don’t cause any further damage to the roof.
4. Make Sure You Have a Look in the Attic
Some issues with the roof are not so easy to spot. Some problems with the roof are a lot easier to detect from the inside than the outside. Make your way to the attic and have a look for any signs of leaks. Inspect the walls and ceilings in the attic and look for signs of water damage. You should be on the lookout for discoloured blemishes, stains, mildew or mold. Any signs of any of these issues would indicate the water is leaking in through the roof somewhere or high levels of humidity.
Adequate ventilation combined with attic insulation are the steps you need to take to fix these issues. If you noticed mold anywhere else in your home, a leaking roof could be the cause of it. Once mold finds its way into your home, it’s hard to eradicate.
5. Make a list
Keep a notepad with you and document every single issue you find on the outside and inside of your roof. Having all the problems written down will make it quick and easy for you to get quotes from roofing contractors if you don’t want to address these problems yourself.
If you are not sure how to carry out roof repairs safely, it would be a good idea to contact a local roofing contractor who can carry out the repairs for you. If you hire a professional roofing contractor to carry out any roof repairs for you look at it as an investment. Investing the money into having roof repairs done professionally will avoid further problems in the future which will only save you money.