Insurance claims from damage from flooding, cold and stormy conditions during the summer months have soared. 60% of current home insurance claims are related to bad weather conditions. Home owners are being warned that not only do they need to prepare their home by checking trees, gutters, drains and roofs, but they must make sure they are in a position to cover any damages by being adequately insured.
The overwhelming majority of household policies provide cover in respect of flood, however, it is necessary to check your policy to make sure this is so. Simple steps can be taken to prepare a property for the worst that the weather can bring. Built up leaves, seeds, dirt and other debris that has run down your roof and into your gutter can lead to a blockage in the system which in turn can lead to major problems. The good news is most of these blockages can be easily cleared, but it must be done often, ideally at the beginning of winter to clear leaves that have fallen during autumn and summer since high rainfall appears to be on the increase in most parts of the UK.
No matter what type of guttering you have, the troughs will need clearing. It is not a particularly difficult job, but it is essential if you wish to avoid problems further down the line such as water damage and serious outbreaks of dry rot.
Before you go to the expense of calling in a roofing contractor, see if you can analyze and repair your roof problem yourself. The best possible time to repair your roof problem – is as soon as you realize that you have one and if the weather is calm enough to climb up onto the roof. In fact, this could be further qualified by saying that the best and most economical way to a trouble-free roof, is to inspect the roof regularly, so that you see the problem developing.
A leak from one dislodged tile is a small and inexpensive matter, but if you do not inspect your roof regularly, this will go unnoticed. By the time that you DO notice it, it may be because water is dripping into your spare room! This means that this whole area of the roof structure is soaked, the ceiling will need to be replaced and hopefully the flooring will recover.
Always check your roof after a wind storm, as most roofing is not designed to withstand fierce winds. Scrutinize the tiles for cracks, splits and torn-off corners; also check for lifting. Lifting is a common cause of roof leaks, and can be easily rectified. Be aware of multiple tiles lifting, as this could be a sign that the roofing material is too old and is warping from all the weathering.
Climb into your attic/loft and ensure that any insulation that you have in your roof is not right up against the roof itself. There has to be a gap for air to circulate; also when a roof heats up and there is insulation directly behind it, this heat is thrown back into the roofing and excessive heating like this can damage and warp the roof.
Another weakness in all roofs is the flashing. Flashing is designed to provide a watertight junction between roof materials and structure, especially if the roof projects out or changes design (as with extension roofs). If you are installing a new roof, it is worthwhile to get the flashing ‘inspected’ as it is a common failure area.
Often the simple fact that the gutters, leading into down pipes from the roof, are blocked with leaves and twigs can cause a problem. Roofs must have adequate run off, especially in the areas which may have snow. Water trapped in the gutter will mean that it will back up the roof for a few inches and have time to seep into the edges of the roofing tiles. Not all homes have adequate perimeter protection on their roofs, although this is one good feature to ask for on a new roof.
Quite often homes incur roof leaks all at the same time (often after strong gales winds and torrential rain etc). This can mean that all contractors are busy and you have ‘stop up the leak’ until you can get help.
If you do get a leak, and you have placed buckets under the dripping water, be aware that the leak may be in a completely different place than it would seem. Locating the source is difficult, as water can run along horizontal timbers and appear to be leaking from a place that is sound. Getting up into the attic and actually looking for a wet spot on the roof decking will be an accurate way to tell.
If you can find the spot an emergency patch can be made applying roofing felt and using plastic cement to hold it until you can call in a contractor. You can also attempt to repair it yourself, if it is just a shingle that is damaged. You can carefully prize up the roof shingle by removing the three or four nails that are holding it in place; next, apply a generous coating of tar beneath the tear in question, and also coat the underside of the shingle with a with a coat of tar before putting it back in place. Add a spot of tar to each nail head. Most roofing companies advise against the ‘liquid’ asphalt repair products.
Roofs can also be temporarily repaired using roof membrane and sealants. Care must be taken to clean the roof surface first to ensure that the sealant will stick and keep the leak protected from rain etc. In fact, as long as the roof is clean and dry, the wonder of the 20th. Century – duct tape – can also be stuck onto the roof!
If you have a home with gutters, you probably find yourself a couple of times a year climbing ladders and unclogging them. If there are trees in close proximity to the home, you may be unclogging gutters even more frequently.
I recently saw a simple, but very effective, product that can eliminate this tedious and sometimes dangerous homeowner chore. The product is called “Gutter Cap” and is manufactured and installed by a company with the same name: See Gutter Cap.
Gutter Cap is an aluminum cover that is actually installed on top of your home’s gutter and attaches to a hidden bracket assembly located under the bottom tier of your shingles.
Gutter Cap works under two basic principles: Water tension and capillary action. As water runs down the roof of your home and slides over the dome shaped aluminum Gutter Cap, the water adheres to the surface of the cap and roles into the gutter below. The leaf and pine needle debris however, do not adhere to the surface of the Gutter Cap dome and instead simply slide off and over the Gutter Cap and gutter to the ground below.
Gutter Cap can also be installed with heated wires to eliminate Ice Damns during the winter.
Gutter Cap installation requires a professional, as the Gutter Cap is formed on site to the specifics of your particular home and gutter situation.
Gutter Cap is reasonably priced and well worth the investment, if you value your time and do not like to regularly climb ladders.