It is that time of year and the rainy season is upon us. We always get emergency calls to fix leaky roofs during these months but it is also a time to be proactive.
Leaks could have been avoided
In a large number of cases, these leaks could have been avoided if the home or building owner had done some regular maintenance on their roof.
The truth is that a lot of homeowners and building owners don't really know that their roofs require maintenance. They think that once a new roof has gone on, that is it. Nothing to do until it wears out in 25 or 30 years. After all, the shingles or roof materials are guaranteed by the manufacturer for that long.
Unfortunately, it is not as simple as that.
Warranty can be voided without regular maintenance
The fine print of your manufacturer's warranty has a statement about the warranty becoming void if "regular maintenance" on the roof is not done.
What is "regular maintenance?" Simply, it is inspecting the roof on a regular basis and rectifying minor issues before they become major problems that destroy the integrity of your roof and its materials.
For instance, going back to all the recent calls we received, the majority of leaks were caused by gutters becoming clogged and the rainwater backing up into the soffit, and then leaking down into the house.
A late-season inspection of the roof would have caught this problem. It can still be done.
Clogged gutters need to be cleared
Clogged gutters are a major issue in Vancouver because practically every neighbourhood has large numbers of mature trees and every fall their leaves find their way into gutters.
It is the same story with a flat roof. Leaves can plug a drain, causing a water buildup which eventually causes an interior leak.
Regular maintenance includes clearing these leaves and opening up the drains and gutters.
Just to mention, there are products on the market that can be installed to prevent leaves from clogging up the gutters.
However, we don't think they are worthwhile for home or building owners. They are costly to install and can make it more difficult to clean the gutters if they happen to get clogged. It is actually cheaper, in the long run, to have an annual cleaning in the fall because the roof can also be inspected at the same time for other problems. Gutter clogs are not the only difficulty.
Other things need to be checked
When leaves are left on a roof, they can decompose and create a dirt or moss buildup which prevents rainwater from running off the roof properly. Shingles are designed to let the water run down the roof. However, such a buildup makes the water run across and underneath the shingles which creates leaks.
Further, moss growing on shingles and cedar shakes damages the roofing material and its presence would immediately invalidate any manufacturer's warranty. Regular maintenance would include clearing away these buildups and growth.
On a flat roof, the caulking around metal flashings is only designed to last a few years and needs to be redone over time. It is considered a regular maintenance item. Such maintenance can be done as part of an annual inspection.
But the biggest menace to a roof is the summer sun. The constant heating and cooling over time cause the roofing material to wear, much more than any rain or other weather. Then once the rain hits, leaks become apparent. An inspection would note this wear and action could be taken before any leak takes place.
Get an annual gutter cleaning and roof inspection
So what are we recommending here? As a building or homeowner, you should get your gutters cleaned every fall and at the same time get an inspection of your roof done.
This keeps your home safe and dry, and also keeps your roofing material warranty valid.