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Checking your roof for wind damage.

Go Local - january2012

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Seasonal winds cause damage to many structures. Pitched roofs commonly suffer and though some damage is obvious (often through tiles falling off the roof), other issues may well not become apparent until prolonged or very heavy rainfall returns (commonly in April). It is therefore an opportune time to check your roof for potential leaks. Here are a few tips to make sure your roof covering is sound and ready to fight the next battle against the elements.

 

Safety first!

 

Before any budding DIY enthusiasts go running for a ladder, it is important not to take any risks. It is well worthwhile contacting a reputable local builder to inspect your roof for you and certainly not worth ending a happy retirement early for the sake of saving a few euros. Remember getting onto the roof is often easier than getting back off it and some roof coverings such as the older reed matting and even the rafters to old town houses or fincas might not be strong enough to support your weight. Gusty winds are also a risk, so don’t take any chances. Call a builder and get them to agree a price for a visual check before they visit.

A few lucky owners might have very good pitched roof access e.g. from an upper flat roof terrace. Obviously there is still a fall risk and extra care should be taken with very old roofs. Under no circumstances should corrugated panels be walked upon!

IF you have an easily accessed sound roof area that you are determined to inspect yourself, be careful not to break more tiles than already need replacing. To walk on curved clay tiles you should wear trainer type shoes and step across the upper half of two tiles at a time. This trick in itself can be enough to cause a loss of balance, so call that builder!

Damage prone areas:-

 

Any area of the roof can be damaged including pitches that are on the opposite side of the offending wind due to negative pressure which can lift tiles. It is far more likely however for wind facing pitches, eaves, verge and end of ridge areas to suffer damage.

 

Mortar loss -You may well be able to detect a problem by simply inspecting the perimeter of you house, looking out for any tile or mortar pieces. Areas such as the first eaves tiles, verge and ridge tiles are normally bedded and pointed in mortar and any loss of the same is best remade. Replacement mortar should include ‘Sika Latex’ additive in the mix water so as to increase adherence and water resistance, reduce the risk of future cracking. Areas prone to capillary action such as ridges can also use ‘Sika 1’ water proof additive in the mix water. Now is a good time for such repairs, as the heat of the summer sun will cause newly laid  mortar to crack. If tiles simply need bedding into place without pointing it’s possible to use a low expansion polyurethane foam such as ‘Sika Boom -T’ but the substrate must be brushed free of dust before application. Remember the mortar is there for a reason, while most roofs will have the main roof area upper tiled loose laid, some may include mortar pointing to all tiles. This may well indicate that the area is prone to both wind damage and capillary related damp ingress, so if any mortar has been lost, it is best remade.

Slipped tiles- Sun bleaching and lichen to the normally exposed lower part of the tiles and white staining or different colour to the normally lapped part of the tile should reveal any slipped tile areas. Affected tiles should be inspected for cracks and replaced accordingly or simply nudged back up to regain their normal head lap.

Broken or cracked tiles- I commonly see cracked tiles sealed with filler or painted with red roof paint. Such repairs are rarely adequate in the long term due to thermal and UV exposure. I have even seen whole tiles mortar bedded over the top of cracked tiles (a very strange choice of repair given that the tile can simply be swapped). It is much better to source a supplier of your tile type and be able to supply your builder with replacements. Take a sample tile to a decent sized builder’s merchants and they should be able to provide you with a match (get a few extra to keep for the future). Clay versions will eventually bleach in the sun (if a little too red), but if your roof is overlooked easily and you want it to match, simply ask the builder to swap some original tiles from an area that’s hidden from view. It’s also worth replacing and inverted underlying tiles if cracked. This will involve rebedding and again the added latex mortar or low expansion ‘Sika Boom - T’ PU foam should be used.

In addition to the wind, there is one other common demon when it comes to pitched roofs – the satellite dish fitter!. If you have standard clay tiles, it’s almost impossible to fit a dish on the roof without some tile damage. If the fitter doesn’t have any tiles on the van, it’s unlikely that they will replace any breakages.

Chimney flashing- Lead flashings are seldom used in Spain and the bitumen backed aluminium often used around chimneys is more prone to wind lift. Older , mortar fillet flashings might also have been damaged as adjacent tiles are levered by the wind. Such areas should be remade e.g. with the torch bonded bitumen backed foil or a mortar mix containing both the ‘Sika latex’ and ‘Sika1 products’. Get the builder to check and chimney head cowlings just to make sure they are secure. Any significant cracks to chimneys themselves (especially if leaning) may require further investigation just in case there is a risk of collapse. For isolated temporary flashing repair use ‘Sika Multi Seal’ or ‘Sealcolor’ which is available in a tile colour.

Wall upstands. If you have any exposed roof area wall upstands it may be well worth getting the builder to paint these with two coats of ‘Sikafill’ roof paint or a 100% acrylic paint such as ‘Jotashield Tex Ultra’. These areas are often neglected even during general repaint jobs, especially if hidden from view. Failure in the paint finish to up stands and mortar flashings can cause damp ingress. Severe ingress problems at wall/tile junctions may well require a chased in asphalt membrane to be made, over which a false mortar bedded tile can be added. Where you want an original mortar finish, use invisible ‘Sika guard 700s’ (only apply when the substrate is very dry).

Getting an honest deal from your builder- ‘Little old ladies’ and roofs make for a vulnerable combination that unscrupulous builders love to ‘assist’. Fortunately there are some honest builders in Spain, but even the good ones might need a little advice re-the mortar mix additives. (Pass this article to them if they are English or ask a Spanish builder to ‘utilizar Sika latex y Sika1 aditivos en el mortero, mesclado con el agua’).

 

Evidence- To be sure that you know what is needed and what has been done, ask the builder to take some pictures of the defects on your digital camera (you can even use a disposable film camera if need be), then ask them to photograph the repair. An honest builder won’t have a problem with doing this. If you are told that ‘the whole roof needs replacing’ it is worth seeking independent professional advice (which I will be happy to provide subject to a site visit fee) before paying out any large amounts of money.

If you are claiming for damages against your insurance you should also take photos and give the insurers the opportunity to have their assessor inspect the damages prior to making good.

 

NB:- Information for advice purposes only. Proper legal and safety procedures should be followed for all property purchases and building works.

If you have a building structure related question you can e-mail Mark for free initial advice :–   This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it "> This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it  A free 15 page buyer’s guide is also available on request.

Information provided by Mark Paddon BSc Hons Building Surveying. MCIOB. CAAT. Structural Surveys, purchase and defects advice in the Castellon/Valencia/Alicante region. www.surveysspain.com 

 

T: 962807247  M: 653733066

Copyright- Mark Paddon 2012

mark-paddon


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