We often have customers ask similar questions on the best practices for keeping things prepared and what to do in emergencies, so we thought it’d be a useful blog post for people to refer to if they have a question.
Q: I have noticed a small leak in my roof – what should I do?
A: If you are able to access the loft safely, try and find out where the water is coming in from. Remove any personal items to protect them and place a bucket beneath any obvious holes to catch water.
Sometimes the cause may not be obvious and might be due to a problem on the exterior of the roof. We would advise against trying to get on to the outer roof in case its integrity has been affected, putting you in danger of falling through. Our roofers have the tools and equipment needed to access the areas safely and carry out any necessary short-term repairs to prevent further leaking. We will give the roof a thorough inspection and provide you with a free quotation for the recommended works.
Q: How should I look after my roof?
A: You should inspect the roof twice a year, in March and November, and ideally soon after a spell of rain or snow. That way, you can check whether the water is draining away properly. Before you attempt any inspection, you must ensure that access is safe.
Disclaimer: Stepping on to a roof is always risky and you are solely responsible for that decision. If you are unsure of the condition of the deck you should not step on to the roof. If you do decide to step on to the roof, a sheet of OSB3 board or plywood can help to distribute your weight evenly.
Q: How does rain run off a flat roof?
A: Basically, flat roofs aren’t usually absolutely flat. They are generally built with a slight incline so that rainwater can drain away into the gutters.
Q: How can I waterproof my flat roof?
A: There are several methods commonly used to waterproof a flat roof:
Pour and roll: hot bitumen is poured in front of the felt as it is being unrolled. This acts as the adhesive and seals the laps (where the felt sheets overlap).
Torching-on: in this method, specially designed felt is heated with a gas torch and no separate bonding bitumen is needed. This is best suited to repair work, small areas, or where access to the roof is difficult. The contractor must take precautions against fire. Torching is not suitable over or adjacent to flammable materials.
Self-adhesive: the undersides of these membranes include a high-tack adhesive and release paper. Once positioned, the release paper is peeled off, and the membrane stuck down to the substrate. They are not suitable for laying over uneven surfaces or in cold conditions. They require rolling or a soft broom can be applied over the whole area to help stick them down fully.
Liquid Roofing and GRP Roofing: this is a cold applied system so you don’t need hot bitumen or gas torches. By brushing or spraying liquid within a number of layers, waterproofing is built up as the coatings cure. Often a mesh or fabric is used as part of the build-up to add strength and flexibility.
Q: What’s the difference between Pour and roll and Torching-on?
A: Pour and roll is the traditional method of laying bitumen membranes. It uses hot bitumen from a boiler poured onto the layer below as an adhesive for the membrane which is then rolled on to it.
Products designed for torching-on have special bitumen on the lower surface of the membrane, which is heat-activated and melted using a large and powerful gas torch. The membrane is then rolled on to the softened bitumen. Note: It isn’t a good idea to apply a torch flame to any flammable surface (e.g. plywood, timber edgings, below the edge of a pitched tiled roof, etc.). The torch flame can reach 1000 degrees Celsius. Please be aware that the contractor’s insurance will not cover fires caused in this way – and neither will your own home insurance.
Q: Should I be having my roof insulated
A: Thermal insulation reduces heat loss through the roof, and saves energy during the winter. It also keeps your house cooler and more comfortable in the summer. This is now a requirement of Building Regulations (Part L:2006). If you are putting up a new building or a new extension or you are repairing or replacing more than 25% of an existing flat roof area, then YES – you do need to upgrade by including a layer of thermal insulation.
Q: What do I need to consider when I’m replacing my roof?
A: The type of building and the pitch of the roof will dictate what options you have. If you are replacing a flat roof you will need to decide on the type of covering you want, such as traditional torch-on felt or fibreglass (GRP).
A pitched roof will require some type of tile or slate and, for most people, this will depend on cost or what gives the best aesthetic result. Our roofing experts will guide you through all of the options available to you during your survey and can provide quotes for different systems.
Q: Will I need planning permission?
A: In most cases, where you are replacing a roof like for like, no planning permission will be needed but you may need to notify building control.
There may be some regional specifications depending on location and the heritage of the building. MPC can help guide you through the process so you have all the appropriate paperwork in place before we start.
Q: What is the difference between slates and tiles?
A: Slate is a naturally occurring material which is cut and prepared for use as a tile. Slate tiles are available in a wide variety of textures but are mostly grey in colour.
Tiles are a man-made alternative to slates and are usually made from fired clay or concrete. They are more versatile than natural slate and can be designed for more hard-wearing purposes.
Q: I think I have bats – what can I do?
A: Seeing droppings or hearing ‘chattering’ can indicate you may have some winged visitors in your roof. Bats are seasonal and will not stay in one place all year round so they will leave of their own accord eventually. Bats are unlikely to damage your property and they do not pose a high risk to people. However, they are a protected species so it is important you do not do anything to disturb them. There are a number of organisations that will provide free advice and information regarding bats (e.g. http://www.bats.org.uk/pages/living_with_bats.html)
Q: My quote uses terminology I don’t understand
A: See our Jargon Buster blog post.