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Should I get a roof health check?

Posted on 2015-11-16

As winter begins to set in, it’s more than likely that you’re beginning to think about winter-proofing your properties. With wind, rain, sleet, snow and hail set to hit British homes, it’s vital that your home is prepared for winter. If your property is currently empty, now is the perfect time to check your home’s properly prepared. If you have tenants, this shouldn’t stop you checking, but you should inform them that you plan to visit to check the roof as per your tenancy agreement. Here’s why you should get a roof health check, or how you could check your roof yourself.

Why carry out a roof health check

The roof of a home takes the brunt of the weather, which makes it prone to damage. By checking your roof regularly, you can spot any problems early and make sure that you never have any leaks. This means that your property and your tenants are protected no matter what the weather.

If you allow water to get into the property, it may cause significant damage. As such, checking the roof every so often is highly recommended. It’s well worth remembering that in some insurance policies, if you don’t check your roof or allow problems to worsen, your insurance may be invalid. You’re far better off safe than sorry.

You can ask a specialist to do a roof check, and it’s likely that there are a number of independent companies in your local area. However, if you know what to look for and have the proper safety equipment, you can also carry one out yourself. Here’s what to look for.

Look from the inside first

Your inside inspection should start in the loft. Check the roof for any water patches, rot or sagging in the roof. If you notice any of these then it’s wise to ring a specialist immediately.

Ventilation checks

Check all your vents thoroughly. Poor ventilation leads to condensation, which damages your roof from the inside. Remove any debris (leaves and moss) from your ventilation. Doing this allows allow air to escape ensuring proper ventilation.

Check extractor fans in bathrooms/kitchens and pipes leading away from the extractor to ensure that they are in fact allowing air to leave the room.

Moving outside: Safety first

Once you’ve checked the interior, you’ll have to inspect the roof itself. If you have a loft with a Velux window, you may be able to do this from the inside, opening the window fully and looking at the tiles. However, if you cannot see the roof from the loft, it may be necessary to climb onto the roof to check properly.

You should only do this if you have the correct equipment, including ladders, harnesses and rope. If you do not have all the required equipment, then climbing onto the roof is not recommended. You should instead contact a specialist roofer who can carry out the inspection for you.

If you do have the necessary equipment, then climb safely using:

• An extension ladder
• A safety harness
• A 700kg breaking strain rope (minimum)
• Soft-sole shoes with grip or steel toed shoes

Providing you have access to the above and are comfortable carrying out the inspection, you should look for the following:

Unblocking the gutters

If your gutters are clogged with leaves, moss or any other natural build-up then it’s important to clean them thoroughly. If they’re blocked or clogged, moisture will stay in them. If this is the case, water could either flow down the outside of your property and into the foundations or may move inside into your eaves. You can usually tell if your gutters are blocked because they will sag. This is quite often noticeable from street level.

Simply cleaning any debris out from the gutters should be effective. While doing this, check for holes or tears and that the gutter remains attached to the wall. Any holes will mean the section of gutter needs to be replaced. If it’s coming free it’ll need to be reattached. If the job is high up and dangerous, it’s best to not do it yourself and to seek professional help.

Spotting moss, ivy and climbers

Moss may look harmless but it can cause damage through moisture. It spreads quickly, too. If you spot it, we recommend removing it as early as possible. If the roof is dry, you should be able to sweep it off. If the moss is already widespread and covering your roof, contact an expert as there may be additional damage underneath.

Similarly, if you spot ivy or other climbers on your roof then it’s best to take action. Although it does add some idyllic charm to your property, ivy can damage the structure of your roof, potentially allowing water to seep into your home, or for damp to set in. Climbers can also block the natural light a home gets, so regular pruning can prevent problems.

Checking the roof tiles

Look for damaged or missing tiles. A tile becoming damaged is common, so don’t panic if you notice these. It just means it needs replacing swiftly. This can be done by removing the above tiles, removing the tile that needs replacing, attaching the new tile as well as the ones that were previously above and sealing the area. Again, if you’re unsure on how to do this effectively and safely, consult a professional.

Look to the flashing

Finally, check the flashing. These are the metal strips that seal skylights and chimneys. These are often damaged in bad weather, so check for gaps. Because they’re metal they can also rust. If you notice this then replace them. Flashing is available from all good DIY shops.

Giving your roof a health check is as simple as that. However, before you consider doing one yourself, ensure you have the correct equipment. If you don’t, consult an expert.

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