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Roof Repair in Australia

Water leaking is one of the most common roof problems in Australia. Whether your home has metal roofing, tiles, or shingles, water leaks as well as other problems can occur.  Below is a rundown of the most common problems associated with metal roofing, tile roofing and shingles roofing. Each section shows how each type of roofing holds up against weather conditions, including bushfires. Also included are step-by-step guides on how to identify and repair water leaks in various roofing systems.

Metal Roofing

Metal roofing is one of the most common types of roofing across Australia. It remains a popular choice with homeowners because it can handle weather and climate conditions of Australia quite well. It is also an affordable roofing solution.

Metal roofing is available in a variety of metals including steel, aluminium, zinc and copper. Each metal has its own weather-resistant capabilities and comes with its own set of problems which are discussed below.

Weather Resistance and Bushfire Rating

Nearly all metal roofing varieties offer excellent weather resistance. They can withstand heavy rains, winds, hailstones and other elements of the nature quite well.

Steel Roofing: Steel is the hardest of the metal varieties and mostly remains unscathed in the worst of weather conditions. Large hailstones which would otherwise puncture a roof do not affect steel roofing. Steel roofing is also fire resistant and will not catch fire. Instead, it will prevent a fire from spreading by serving as a barrier. This makes it a good roofing material for bushfire-prone areas.

Zinc and Copper Roofing: Zinc and copper are relatively softer metals. They can withstand all weather conditions as effectively as steel, if not even better. That being said, larger hailstones may leave dents in zinc or copper roofing because of their softer profile. In some cases, this is an advantage as the dent softens the impact of the hailstone and prevents any major damage to the roofing. Zinc and copper roofing is also fully fire-resistant, much like steel roofing. So they are a perfectly good choice for homeowners in bushfire-prone areas.

Aluminium Roofing: Aluminium roofing is incredibly sturdy and durable. It offers excellent strength while weighing considerably less. This makes it very well-resistant to most weather conditions, although the thinner varieties of aluminium roofing are not recommended for areas prone to heavy winds.

Common Problems with Metal Roofing

Notwithstanding the wide range of benefits they offer, metal roofing can also run into a number of problems. Some of the most common problems that typically occur with metal roofing include:

Roof Leaks

A sheet of steel, copper or zinc in itself is completely water-proof. However, when these sheets are installed on a rooftop, the craftsmen may use screws, fasteners and other materials. Installation may also create seams between two metal panels. These factors create small gaps between the sheets or panels of a metal.

Such gaps are not a problem if they are sealed properly. However, if not properly sealed, they can lead to leaks and punctures in the metal roofing. If the leaks or punctures are not timely repaired, they grow over time and cause more damage to the roofing.

Roof Blow-Offs

Strong winds, especially in the coastal regions, can pose a major risk to any type of roofing. Metal roofing typically withstands strong winds quite well, with the exception of aluminium roofing. This is because aluminium roofing often comprises of thinner sheets which, although offering good strength, are very light-weight. As a result, such aluminium roofing can easily blow off during strong winds.

That being said, even the heaviest metal roofing can sustain damage from strong winds if not installed properly. The actual wind-resistance of the roofing depends on how well is it attached to the roof structure of your house. If the flashing is attached well, metal roofing can prevent potential blow-offs.

Roof Punctures

Metal roofing offers good strength in general. But it is generally recommended not to walk on top of a metal roof unless the contractor has confirmed that it can withstand the pressure. If more than recommended weight or pressure is exerted on a metal roof, this can lead to punctures and dents. Unprofessional repair or maintenance of a metal roof can also cause punctures which can grow over time and damage more of the roof structure.

Corrosion

Corrosion is a common problem with many metals. Most metal roofing today is done with suitable coatings and paints to prevent corrosion. In the coastal regions of Australia, for instance, aluminium-coated roofing offers great protection against corrosion.

However, despite all the precautions, corrosion can happen and it can lead to permanent roof damage. Damp or moist air collecting near the ceiling may cause corrosion to the underside of metal roofing. Similarly, putting together dissimilar metals during installation can cause a chemical reaction and corrode one of the two metals.

Metal Roof Repairs

Identifying and repairing leaks

The most common problem with metal roofs is water leakage. As mentioned above, improper installation and inadequate sealing around the screws, joints or flashing can cause water to leak through a metal roof.

Such leakage can cause significant damage to the molding, insulation and other aspects of your home’s structure. For this reason, it must be resolved as soon as possible.

If you suspect roof leakage, follow these steps to identify and repair it:

  • Inspect the rooftop: This is the first step towards identifying the problem. On a bright, sunny day, visit your rooftop and take a detailed stock of the roofing. Check all the joints, screws, nails as well as the areas where previous repairs may have been done. See if any of them are leaking or loose. Also check all areas where the roofing has seams or flashing. These are typically the points where water leaks most commonly happen.
  • Inspect the attic: If possible, inspect the attic. If the water has seeped through and reached the attic, you might see stains on the attic. Typically, such stains sit directly below or near the actual point of seepage. Trace these stains to the exact location on the rooftop. If there are any screws, nails, joints or seams near this location, they are probably the culprits for the leaks.
  • Repair faulty components: If a screw or a nail has rusted beyond repair, it is very likely to cause leaks. In such a case, it is always better to remove the rusted component and get a suitable replacement.
  • Seal the leaks: Once you have identified the exact components or areas of your roof that are causing the leak, it is time to seal the leaks. You can use a variety of materials available in the market for sealing. A good choice of material is urethane roof cement, as it offers superior protection against weather conditions.
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Tiled Roofing

Tiled roofs are a common sight across Australia. They are known for their aesthetic appeal and the classic look they bring to any home.

Different varieties of tiles are used in tile roofing. These include concrete tiles, clay or terracotta tiles, and composite tiles. Following is a quick view of the weather-resistant properties of each tile.

Weather Resistance and Bushfire Rating

Clay and Concrete Tiles

Clay and concrete tiles are quite similar when it comes to their weather-resistant properties. Both can withstand rain, heavy winds and hailstones very effectively. In fact, both concrete and clay tiles carry Class 4 hail rating which means that they can withstand two-inch hailstones falling at 70 miles per hour.

Clay and concrete tiles also weigh considerably more than many other roofing materials. While this has its drawbacks, the weight is a decisive factor in their favor against heavy winds. The heavy weight enables the tiles to stay in their place during heavy winds and incur little to no damage.

Bushfire is a common hazard in many areas of Australia. Both concrete and clay tiles carry a Class A fire rating, the highest fire rating available in Australia. This means that they can effectively withstand fire without burning and offer effective protection when a building is exposed to external fire.

Composite Tiles

Composite tiles are another common variety of tiles used for domestic roofing across Australia. Composite tiles are made from composite materials. Such materials have excellent weather-resistant properties.

Many composite materials are fire-resistant and completely impermeable to water. This enables composite tile roofing to withstand bushfires and heavy rains quite effectively.

A slight downside to composite tiles is that they weigh less than their concrete or clay counterparts. This means that they may not be as stable in exceptionally high wind conditions, although most composite tiles will stay intact during winds of up to 110 miles per hour.

Slate Tiles

Slate tiles also offer good weather-resistance. Slate is incredibly hard and when installed properly, slate roofing will effectively withstand heavy rains without any water seepage. Slate also stays in good shape over a very long period and will not warp. Being a hard stone, slate offers excellent resistance to fire which makes it the perfect material for roofing in bushfire-prone areas.

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Identifying and repairing leaks

Tiled roofs are more prone to leaks that many other types of roofing materials. For this reason, it is a good practice to routinely inspect tiled roofs for any water-related damage. Routine inspection should also be done to remove any accumulated debris on a tiled roof as such debris may exert pressure and damage the tiles.

If you suspect a water leak in your tiled roof, follow these steps to identify and resolve it:

  • Inspect the roof: This goes without saying. Sometimes, simply climbing to the rooftop and carefully inspecting the tiles is a clear giveaway. However, you must be careful when checking out a tiled roof – tiles are not meant to bear a lot of direct weight. So be sure to avoid applying direct weight on them as much as possible.
  • Check the flashings: In most cases, the area around the flashing is the culprit for water leakage. This is because a larger seam is usually present at such flashing areas. Inspect the flashing around the chimney, skylight or any other structures on the roof. Also check roof valleys and any other joints.
  • Work backwards: If you are seeing water stains on the attic, you can work backwards from these stains to identify the source of the leak. If you suspect that a leak is happening at a particular area of the roof but aren’t sure, try water spray. Spray an area of the roof and see if the stains on the attic grow stronger. This will give you an indication of where the roof leak is located.
  • Identify cracks: Water leakage through clay or concrete tiles may happen due to the cracks that develop over time. If you come across any cracks during your inspection, make sure to mark them. You can later go back to these cracks and remedy them as an additional precaution against leakage.
  • Remove the tiles: Now that you have a general idea of where the leak is located, it is time to confirm your suspicions. Use a pry bar to remove one or more tiles in that area. Examine the area under the tiles to see if there are any holes, punctures, erosion or any other damage that may cause the leakage.
  • Replace faulty tiles: If any tiles are significantly damaged or cracked extensively, you will need to replace them. Spread some roofing cement on the base and then put a tile replacement in the emptied space of a faulty tile. Make sure to suitably seal the area around the tiles or if there is any flashing nearby. This will effectively prevent any future water leaks.

In case you find that the roof membrane under the tiled roofing is damaged, this means that the roofing needs extensive repairs. In such a case, it is best to hire a professional contractor to do the job.

Common Problems with Tiled Roofing

Tiled roofing offers good weather resistance and is able to endure the elements quite well. However, it can be prone to certain kinds of damage which are discussed below.

Fallen Trees: Overhanging trees can be a major risk for tiled roofing. During severe storms or high winds, tree limbs can fall down on tiled roofing and cause significant damage. Such an accident can leave broken tiles which will need to be replaced as quickly as possible to prevent further deterioration of the roof structure.

Tile Blow-Offs: Exceptionally strong winds can cause tile blow-offs. This isn’t a major concern with concrete or clay tiles but this can happen with composite tiles. Composite tiles weigh considerably less than concrete or clay tiles. This ultimately means that they can blow off more easily, creating gaps in the roof structure.

Foot Traffic: Clay and concrete tiles can withstand weather conditions very well – but they damage quickly under weight. This may particularly happen during routine repair or maintenance when a wrong step on a tile can leave it broken or damaged. Such a tile will then need to be replaced.

Roof Debris: Leaves, branches, dust and other forms of debris may accumulate at a rooftop over time. If not removed on a routine basis, such debris can cause permanent damage to the tiles, causing them to wear

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Shingle on Your Roof

Shingle roofing is quite similar to tile roofing. However, unlike clay or terracotta files, shingles are typically made from less durable materials. Common materials used in the manufacture of shingles include wood, asphalt and fibreglass.

Weather Resistance and Bushfire Rating

Asphalt and Fibreglass Shingles

Asphalt shingles come constructed from asphalt or fibreglass materials. They are a common variety frequently used by homeowners across Australia for their roofing needs.

Organic asphalt shingles offer good resistance to weather conditions. They weight significantly more than fibreglass shingles. This makes them more durable to various weather conditions such as rainstorms, heavy winds and hailstones. Their additional weight also helps keep them intact during exceptionally strong winds.

In contrast, fibreglass shingles have a better weight-to-strength ratio. This means that they can withstand hailstones very effectively. However, fibreglass shingles weigh significantly less which makes them more prone to blow off in heavy winds.

Shingles have a fire rating ranging from Class A to Class C. Fibreglass shingles are better resistant to fire and have a Class A fire rating, the highest fire rating in Australia. The more organic varieties of asphalt shingles have a slightly lower asphalt rating.

Wood Shingles

Wood is another material commonly used in making shingles. Wood shingles are known for their beautiful aesthetic finish. However, the weather-resistant properties of wood are significantly less effective than organic asphalt or fibreglass shingles.

Cedar or redwood is typically used in the manufacture of wood shingles. These varieties of wood have good fire resistance but they are not entirely fire proof. This means that when exposed to fire long enough, they may eventually become fuel.

Wood shingles can withstand heavy winds quite well. They may not be as effective under heavy rains. Prolonged exposure to wet weather can cause wood shingles to grow damp and promote the growth of algae or mould. Termites and other insects are also a problem that may develop with exposure to unfavourable weather conditions.

Common Problems with Shingles Roofing

Roof Membrane Issues: Shingles are typically applied on top of a layer of roof membrane. The membrane ensures that the shingle roofing stays watertight, effectively preventing any leaks. In extreme cold weather, however, the membrane may shrink. This can also happen if water accumulates on the roof and freezes into ice. Once the membrane shrinks, it can cause cracks, splitting and other problems with the shingles on top.

Flashing issues: Flashing is typically used on shingles roofing where chimneys, vents, skylights or other structures are used. Flashing is a major point of potential leakage as it features a significant joint between the layer of shingles and a structure such as a chimney. If the flashing is not properly sealed used waterproof materials, it can develop water leakage over time. Especially if simple cement is used to seal the flashing, it can crack over time and allow water to seep through.

Blow Offs: Standard shingles made from organic materials, such as good-quality wood or asphalt, have a significant weight. In contrast, fibreglass or composite shingles may weigh significantly less. Since such shingles are applied on top of a membrane, they typically form a single continuous sheet. And while this sheet structure is great to resist water seepage, it can easily blow off in exceptionally hard winds. This is primarily because of the lower weight of the fibreglass or composite shingles.

Foot Traffic: Like tiles, shingles can sustain significant damage if they see a lot of foot traffic. Occasional maintenance or repair by a careful professional is alright, but if someone who is inexperienced walks across shingle roofing, the roof may become curved, warped or damaged in other ways. For this reason, it is advised to keep the foot traffic on a shingle roof to a minimum.

Roof Leakage: The damage caused by adverse weather conditions, a fallen tree limb, a misplaced foot by someone walking on the shingles, or any other factor, can cause leakage in shingles roofing. Such damage must be identified and repaired quickly or it may spread to affect a larger portion of the roofing.

Asphalt Roof Shingle Repairs

Identifying and repairing leaks

Shingles roofing with leaks is a serious problem. If left unattended, it can damage the structural components of your home and lead to significant costs in the long run.

Follow the steps below to identify and repair such leaks:

  • Examine the rooftop: In most cases, you can easily see if there is a broken or damaged portion of the roof, or a nail has come undone, or the sealant near the flashing is not doing its job very well. A rudimentary inspection will tell you where the leak is happening.
  • Examine the attic: If the rooftop isn’t making it any easier to identify the leak, examine the attic. Dark, wet stains on the attic will give you an approximate idea of where the leak is located. You can then check the site on rooftop as well as the area around it to identify the exact spot where a leak is happening.
  • Use a water spray: If you are still unsure, use the water spray method. Identify the suspect areas which you think may be causing water leakage. Then use water spray on them – the water should seep down and grow the stains on the attic. When you spray a given area and the stains grow in size, you know that particular area is the source of the leakage.
  • Determine the extent of damage: It is important to see how much damage has been caused by the water leakage. For this reason, you will need to look below the layer of shingles at the spot where water leakage is happening. See if the membrane below has sustained damage. If the membrane is damaged, you will need to hire professional repair services to get your roof back in shape. If the damage is limited to the shingles, you can handle it on your own.
  • Repair the damage: Remove the shingles in the neighbourhood of the leak. Seal the leak properly and then replace the shingles.

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