Everything you need to know about Roof Maintenance and Leaks

Vancouver is geographically located in an area where there is a substantial amount of rain during the winter season and throughout the year; Therefore it is very important to maintain your roof properly in order to prevent roof leaks and costly repairs. The first thing to do is a visual roof inspection and to look for imperfections or inconsistencies of the roof layout, we recommend inspecting the roof twice a year; in fall and spring.

What are the different imperfections to look for during the inspection?

The most popular and common residential roof system in Vancouver is asphalt shingles. One of the common defects with this type of roof is the loss of granules; one of the most important components of the shingle roof system. Granules protect the membrane from the UV elements which may deteriorate without having sufficient coverage. As the roof ages, some of these granules come loose from the asphalt layer, which reduces the life expectancy of the roof.  Without intact granules, the roof may eventually leak and the membrane could fail.

How to prevent granular loss? 

  • Stay off of your roof: Reduce foot traffic on your roof as much as possible during the maintenance moss removal or other roof maintenance tasks.

  • Hold off on the Pressure Washing: Some homeowners prefer to pressure wash their roofs for faster results, though we do not recommend this strategy, because it could damage the roof.

  • Refresh often: Refresh all of your roof sealant areas, such as a chimney, roof hardware, vents, and all exposed nails and related locations.

What if there is a storm?

No matter where you live, you never know what Mother Nature has in store for you. Its very important to make sure you’re inspecting your roof after any intense weather. If your roof is exposed to extreme winds or a storm, we recommend inspecting the roof to make sure the shingles or flashing is intact and in place, check for tree branches or any other damages. Not many people think to inspect their roof after a storm unless they have a visible indoor leak, but what happens often, is that below the roof membrane the sheeting or roof trusses could be damaged and have a very small, unnoticeable leak. The leak isn’t visible on the ceiling but the damage is there. What happens is that the water dries in the insulation before it goes through to the ceiling and could go unnoticed for a long period of time. A visual roof inspection is a must, after strong winds and storms.

Where do leaks normally occur and why?

Needs Resealing

Roofs rarely leak on the open field area, rather around penetrations like roof vents, exhaust pipes, chimneys, skylights, bathroom fans, and all roof related accessories. It is always good to check those areas to make sure they are properly sealed. 

Perimeter flashing will have to be inspected as well and re-sealed with proper roof sealant. Make sure to check especially around the chimney as this is a common area that needs resealing. Keep in mind, roof sealant normally lasts between two to four years so make sure to have it inspected often. Tip: Old sealant must be removed in order to apply new sealant.

Age/Temperature Change

Sometimes the membrane splits due to roof age or expansion and contraction of the roof system during a temperature change; This can cause roof leaks without the homeowner knowing about it. Usually, it happens on low slope roof systems as tar and gravel or (SBS) torch on the roof system.

Water Leaders are Clogged

On low slope / flat roof systems If the drains’ water leaders are clogged the water could eventually back up. When this happens, the water will find a way to penetrate the roof system on the higher elevation and potentially cause a roof leak or structural damage due to extreme weight. In order to prevent this, the drains must be cleaned of debris, leaves, moss, or other materials.

Inconsistent Air Flow

Proper roof ventilation is crucial for the roof system on residential shingle roofs. The airflow must be consistent through the attic and must have proper intake from the soffit and out to the ridge vents or standard roof vents. Insufficient roof ventilation can cause moisture to get trapped in the attic and may cause premature roof failure and leaks. To prevent roof damage a proper clearance and airflow needs to be at the soffit locations. Baffles could be installed as well to make sure you have a sufficient amount of roof vents per square foot area. 

What is ice and water protection?

 Ice and water protection is a superior self-adhering, waterproof membrane developed to protect the vulnerable areas on the roof from ice and water damage. It is usually installed to fit behind the interior wall at the perimeter of the roof area. It is also installed under the metal valleys, around skylights, chimneys, and roof penetrations. After the installation, synthetic underlay is used for the remaining roof area.

Depending on the manufacturer’s specifications, you may need to install ice and water protection from the same brand as the roof shingles manufacturer.  On the lower slope, on a roof less than 3/12 pitch, you may need to install 2 layers of ice and water protection over the entire roof area. Good quality ice and water protection have self-sealing characteristics where the roof nails penetrate the ice and water membrane. 

Written by:

Max Kniter
Owner, Mr. Max Roofing Ltd.