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My Blog

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Roof Coatings, the truth.

Posted on 11 March, 2013 at 7:36 Comments comments (7)
Just when we thought it was time to pack away the winter woollies out pops Met Eireann with a weather warning, and not just an ordinarily weather warning either, an orange status warning! This can mean only one thing Sneachta! The country grinds to a halt, mass chaos in the aisles of Tesco... ok slight exaggeration, but it has given me a few hours to get a post done on here.
While pricing roof cleaning jobs I have been asked a fair bit about Roof Coatings or Roof Painting as it is also known. It is not something I was ever familiar with down the years or anything I'd ever taken any notice of but since starting my own business 18 months ago it is something I have been forced to look into in order to keep up with the competition or just to have an opinion for the asking customer.
We have been approached by a few companies about using their products or being involved in their roof coating franchise but although there does seem to be a market for it, I see it as being nothing more than a gimmick. 
While reading up on the subject I came across a site http://www.roofmoss.net on here a the author of the page Richard Jones sums it up perfectly for me, here's some of what he has to say:

Roof Coating And Sealing
More and more roof coating companies seem to be popping up these days and as usual many of them make very extravagant claims. I wanted to take this opportunity to set the record straight, once and for all, written by me, a very experienced roof tiler and contractor.

"A Roof Coating Will Extend The Life Of Your Roof"
This statement should really be taken with a pinch of salt. If a new roof costs £5000 and is expected to last 75 years+ and a roof coating costs £4000 and lasts 10 years (if you are very lucky), would you feel this is value for money?

Roof Sealants Will Improve The Thermal Effiency Of The House
This is a statement I have seen several high profile roof companies make and in my opinion is ridiculous. A thin layer of paint/coating will offer as much insulation as a coat of Marmite. I feel the reason new houses are constructed with traditional insulation products is because they work much better and are much cheaper than expensive coatingsMany high pressure salesman use this claim as part of their pitch and my advice is to fix any insulation issues with the property by purchasing more insulation - not roof coatings.

Become A Show Home - Get A 10% Discount
This is one of the oldest tricks in the book, a discount is apparently offered if the house is the first in the area to have a roof coating applied. It's best to avoid such sales tactics, it is a sign of desperation from a company that cannot reach new customers by word of mouth and is designed to rush you into a purchase.

The Ten Year Guarantee
Read the small print folks, if you cannot see specific details of what is included or excluded then it's not worth the paper it's written on.Here is an example of how one company advertises it's special 10 year guarantee:
Does the guarantee cover the product if it peels/washes off the roof?
Does the guarantee cover moss re growth on the tiles?
Has the company that offers this guarantee even been in business for 10 years?
Remember: A vague guarantee without specifics is worthless.

He goes on to expose some well known companies in the UK and gives testimonials from a number of customers who unfortunately learnt the hard way. http://www.roofmoss.net/do-roof-coatings-work.html

Ads have been popping up in my local paper of late and I've also noticed a few roofs around that look to be painted, I will keep an eye on these over the coming months and watch how long the stuff actually lasts. 
For now though the snow seems to have cleared so I'm off to do a bit, Good Luck!


 

Breaking the Mould

Posted on 10 January, 2013 at 5:14 Comments comments (0)
Breaking the Mould   

      Mould is easier to clean than the soot of old, but with the return of clean air, nature has reclaimed ground in a way not always foreseen. Problems sometimes arise when a building does not receive its full share of sun. In other places there are not enough sunny days in a year to stop deleterious growth. The issue does not affect all materials in the same way. Most roofing materials will someday need cleaning, but not all, and not at the same intervals. Choosing a roofing material with regard to its susceptibility to mould and moss encroachment is good design practice in shady locations. Below is a brief summary of material behaviours towards biological growth and reactivity to a non-aggressive biocide treatment.
  
Natural slates are not porous and display a smooth surface. As a result the material dries rapidly and is not naturally prone to roof growth with the notable exception of yellow lichen in coastal environments. The material cleanses readily upon treatment. It is a product of choice for shady locations. 

Manmade slates offer some of the advantages of natural slates, but not always to the same degree.
    
Fired clayof good quality is not porous. The surface dries rapidly and sheds the bio film satisfactorily when treated. The roof surface is however more textured than slates offering intersects where growth can take a foothold. 
Old clay tile roofs are fragile and are best treated from the eaves.   

Concrete tilesare not indicated in the vicinity of tall trees. The high porosity combined with a rough surface provides a natural host surface. Removing mated moss from concrete tiles is labour intensive. The material cleanses well, but more slowly than other materials. The alkalinity of the surface seems to benefit black blanket moulds. In recent years smooth and less absorbent concrete tiles have arrived on the market. They are a better choice for higher humidity regions.
   
Metals:  
Zincis not a natural host to live contaminants. It is however susceptible to organic acid releases from rotting leaves, moss and lichen and should be avoided on lower draining slopes and box gutters. 

Leadis also not a natural substrate for life. It is vulnerable to mild organic acids but paradoxically resistant to harsher mineral ones. Mossy tiled roofs draining into lead gutters will eventually jeopardise its integrity. 

Copperhas biocide properties. Water running over copper will acquire some of its cathodic properties by contact and hampering further downstream growth. The protection may not be sufficient to maintain the tiles in pristine condition along the whole rafter length. On canal tiles the protection is limited to the trough, where it is still the most needed. 

Aluminiumis not particularly affected by acid releases. Water running over it will become anodic and display the reverse effect to that observed on copper. The illustration of this is seen in the splash area of TV aerials.   

Flat roof feltsof bituminous kinds are not unduly prone to moss, but ponding, cluttered designs and raised walkways will host them. PVC felts become very slippery, but as is usual with algae, the treatment is rapid.   

Organic materialsare best used in full light where they can dry rapidly. Durable presence of moulds and algae will eventually jeopardise their integrity as roof covering. As the lining of wood shingles washes away, the grey cellulose needles are exposed and offer a slightly abrasive surface hosting algae. The treatment will reinstate the silver grey appearance for some time. Thatch, if badly affected will need combing beforehand.   
 For the existing stock, periodical maintenance is the solution. The general wisdom is to opt for the milder cleaning processes before considering harsher ones. Blanket moss has to be removed by hand, bagged and disposed of in all cases. The tiles can then be treated by the appropriate biocide. After the treatment, the dead bio-film will begin to loosen under diurnal and seasonal cycles, until the roof has regained the true original colour of its material. The rate of cleansing will vary greatly with the type of material, and the exposure to wind and driving rain. Not all chemicals are appropriate, and a few only authorised by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE). All formaldehydes, caustic soda or bleach based chemical are proscribed. 
The application method and knowledge is as important as the biocide itself. Jet cleaning is seldom appropriate to roof cleaning. The pressure removes surface aggregates, creating a moisture retaining surface favourable to the return of the contaminants. Tile impregnation and coatings are ways of mitigating the damage done by jetting, but at a cost sometimes higher than simply replacing the tiles by new ones. In conclusion, the return of clean air means new parameters for the choice of roofing materials by the Architectural Technology professional, and the specification of a nonaggressive maintenance procedure for existing roofs. This is easily searched for on the Internet. A comprehensive approach to roof cleaning and the provision of specification support is a sign of an experienced specifier.   

The author is Managing Director of TVSPLtd, which specialises in a roof cleaning process known as the Mossgo Roof System, supplier to HD Roofing Services Ireland.

Natural slate, repair and maintenance.

Posted on 9 December, 2012 at 8:18 Comments comments (7)
Hi there!
Its been a while since my last post here, mainly down to the fact we have been very busy over the last few months. A complaint I hope to use more often!!
Anyway, I'd like to thanks those who have took time to read my posts over the last year, and those who have left comments, both positive and negative. Like everyone I learn from the opinions of others.

I recently came across an article written by an american guy called Jeffrey S. Levine, all about natural slate roofing and just wanted to share a short extract with you that highlights some important tips when it comes to repairing and maintaining this type of roofing. I like how he mentions the use of mastic or glues as a no, no when it comes to making repairs, something many roofers or repair men use as a quick fix or easy way of making a quick quid...


Repairing Slate Roofs:

Broken, cracked, and missing slates should be repaired promptly by an experienced slater in order to prevent water damage to interior finishes, accelerated deterioration of the roof and roof sheathing, and possible structural degradation to framing members.The damaged slate is first removed by cutting or pulling out its nails with a ripper. If steel cut nails, rather than copper nails, were used in laying the roof, adjacent slates may be inadvertently damaged or displaced in the ripping process, and these, too, will have to be repaired. If the slate does not slide out by itself, the pointed end of the ,slate hammer can be punched into the slate and the slate dragged out. A new slate, or salvaged slate, which should match the size, shape, texture, and weathered color of the old slate, is then slid into place and held in position by one nail inserted through the vertical joint between the slates in the course above and approximately one inch below the tail of the slate two courses above. 
copper bib protecting newly created nail hole 
After removing the deteriorated slate and sliding the new slate into place, it is secured with a copper nail. A copper bib (shown here) is formed to protect the newly created nail hole. Finally, a slate hammer is used to push the bib in place over the nail head. Photo: Jeffrey S. Levine.To prevent water penetration through the newly created nail hole, a piece of copper with a friction fit, measuring roughly 3" (7.5 cm) in width and 8" (20 cm) in length, is slid lengthwise under the joint between the two slates located directly above the new slate and over the nail. Alternate methods for securing the replacement slate include the use of metal hooks, clips, and straps that are bent over the tail end of the slate. The application of roofing mastic or sealants to damaged slates should not be considered a viable repair alternative because these materials, though effective at first, will eventually harden and crack, thereby allowing water to enter.
Mastic also makes future repairs more difficult to execute, is unsightly, and, when applied to metal flashings, accelerates their corrosion.When two or more broken slates lie adjacent to each other in the same course, or when replacing leaky valley flashings, it is best to form pyramids (i.e., to remove a diminishing number of slates from higher courses) to keep the number of bibs required to a minimum. When reinstalling the slates, only the top slate in each pyramid will need a bib. Slates along the sides of the pyramid will receive two nails, one above the other, along the upper part of its exposed edge.

A roof and its associated flashings, gutters, and downspouts function as a system to shed water. Material choices should be made with this in mind. For example, use a single type of metal for all flashings and the rainwater conductor system to avoid galvanic action. Choose materials with life spans comparable to that of the slate, such as nonferrous nails. Use heavier gauge flashings or sacrificial flashings in areas that are difficult to access or subject to concentrated water flows. 
Flashings are the weakest point in any roof. Given the permanence of slate, it is poor economy to use anything but the most durable of metals and the best workmanship for installing flashings. Copper is one of the best flashing materials, and along with terne, is most often associated with historic slate roofs. Copper is extremely durable, easily worked and soldered, and requires little maintenance. Sixteen ounce copper sheet is the minimum weight recommended for flashings. Lighter weights will not endure the erosive action of dust and grit carried over the roof by rain water. Heavier weight, 20 oz. (565 grams) or 24 oz. (680 grams), copper should be used in gutters, valleys, and areas with limited accessibility. Lead coated copper has properties similar to copper and is even more durable due to its additional lead coating. Lead coated copper is often used in restoration work.Terne is a less desirable flashing material since it must be painted periodically. Terne coated stainless steel (TCS) is a modernday substitute for terne. Although more difficult to work than terne, TCS will not corrode if left unpainted; a great advantage, especially in areas that are difficult to access.Once a metal is chosen, it is important to use it throughout for all flashings, gutters, downspouts, and metal roofs. Mixing of dissimilar metals can lead to rapid corrosion of the more electronegative metal by galvanic action. Where flashings turn up a vertical surface, they should be covered with a cap flashing. Slates which overlap metal flashings should be nailed in such a manner as to avoid puncturing the metal. This may be accomplished by punching a second hole about 2" (5cm) above the existing hole on the side of the slate not overlapping the metal flashing. It is important that holes be punched from the back side of the slate. In this way, a shallow countersink is created on the face of the slate in which the head of the nail may sit.The use of artificial, mineral fiber slate is not recommended for restoration work since its rigid appearance is that of a manmade material and not one of nature. Artificial slates may also have a tendency to fade over time. And, although artificial slate costs less than natural slate, the total initial cost of an artificial slate roof is only marginally less than a natural slate roof. This is because all the other costs associated with replacing a slate roof, such as the cost of labor, flashings, and tearingoff the old roof, are equal in both cases. Over the long term, natural slate tends to be a better investment because several artificial slate roofs will have to be installed during the life span of one natural slate roof. 
application of roofing felt 
Roofing felt is being installed over the decking; a rubberized membrane is used selctively at the eaves and under some flashing. Photo: NPS files.Clear roof expanses can be covered by an experienced slater and one helper at the rate of about two to three squares per day. More complex roofs and the presence of chimneys, dormers, and valleys can bring this rate down to below one square per day. One square per day is a good average rate to use in figuring how long a job will take to complete. This takes into account the installation of flashings and gutters and the setup and breakdown of scaffolding. Tear-off of the existing roof will require additional time.
 
Repair/Replacement Guideline

The following guideline is provided to assist in the repair/replace decision making process:
1. Consider the age and condition of the roof versus its expected serviceable life given the type of slate employed.
2. Calculate the number of damaged and missing slates. Is the number less than about 20%? Is the roof generally in good condition? If so, the roof should be evaluated for repair rather than replacement. Also, keep in mind that the older a roof becomes, the more maintenance it will likely require.
3. Determine if there are active leaks and what their source may be. Do not assume the slates are leaking. Gutters, valleys and flashings are more likely candidates. "False leaks" can be caused by moisture condensation in the attic due to improper ventilation.
4. Check the roof rafters and sheathing for moisture stains. Poke an awl into the wood to determine if it is rotted. Remember that very old, delaminating slates will hold moisture and cause adjacent wood members to deteriorate even if there are no apparent leaks.
5. Are many slates sliding out of position? If so, it may be that ferrous metal fasteners were used and that these are corroding, while the slates are still in good condition. Salvage the slates and relay them on the roof. If the slates have worn around the nails holes, it may be necessary to punch new holes before relaying them.
6. Consider the condition of the roof's flashings. Because slate is so durable, metal flashings often wear out before the slate does. Examine the flashings carefully. Even the smallest pinhole can permit large quantities of water to enter the building. Is the deterioration of the slate uniform? Often this is not the case. It may be that only one slope needs replacement and the other slopes can be repaired. In this way, the cost of replacement can be spread over many years.
7. Press down hard on the slates with your hand. Sound slates will be unaffected by the pressure. Deteriorated slates will feel brittle and will crack. Tap on slates that have fallen out or been removed. A full, deep sound indicates a slate in good condition, while a dull thud suggests a slate in poor condition.
8. Are new slates readily available? Even if replacement is determined to be necessary, the existing roof may have to be repaired to allow time for documentation and the ordering of appropriate replacement slates.

Maintenance:

Given the relatively high initial cost of installing a new slate roof, it pays to inspect its overall condition annually and after several storms. For safety reasons, it is recommended that building owners and maintenance personnel carry out roof surveys from the ground using binoculars or from a cherry picker. Cracked, broken, misaligned, and missing slates and the degree to which delamination has occurred should be noted, along with failed flashings (pin holes, open seams, loose and misaligned elements, etc.) and broken or clogged downspouts. A roof plan or sketch and a camera can aid in recording problems and discussing them with contractors. In the attic, wood rafters and sheathing should be checked for water stains and rot. Critical areas are typically near the roof plate and at the intersection of roof planes, such as at valleys and hips. Regular maintenance should include cleaning gutters at least twice during the fall and once in early spring, and replacing damaged slates promptly. Every five to seven years inspections should be conducted by professionals experienced in working with slate and steep slopes. Good record keeping, in the form of a log book and the systematic filing of all bills and samples, can help in piecing together a roof's repair history and is an important part of maintenance.As part of regular maintenance, an attempt should be made to keep foot traffic off the roof. If maintenance personnel, chimney sweeps, painters, or others must walk on the roof, it is recommended that ladders be hooked over the ridge and that the workmen walk on the ladders to better distribute their weight. If slates are to be walked on, it is best to wear soft soled shoes and to step on the lowermiddle of the exposed portion of the slate unit.

Conclusion

Slate roofs are a critical design feature of many historic buildings that cannot be duplicated using substitute materials. Slate roofs can, and should be, maintained and repaired to effectively extend their serviceable lives. When replacement is necessary, details contributing to the appearance of the roof should be retained. High quality slate is still available from reputable quarries and, while a significant investment, can be a cost effective solution over the long term.

Importance of roof maintenace

Posted on 27 August, 2012 at 9:39 Comments comments (16)
Roof maintenance is very important to promote a long lasting roof. An effective roof is critical to the overall protection, insulation, security, and fiscal investment of a home. Neglect to this vital part of a property can result in significant damage and costly repairs or needed replacement. The type of roofing material utilized has influence over the best maintenance strategies to promote optimum roof condition. Regular inspection, cleaning, and other tactics will help keep the roof operational as long as possible. 
Inspecting the roof periodically is one of the first steps for proper roof maintenance. Inspections are particularly important in late autumn and early spring. Visual inspections should analyse for loose, missing, or broken slates, cracked tiles, and frayed edges. If applicable, flashings around roof openings such as skylights, chimneys, and vents should be given special attention. 
Proper cleaning of the roof is some of the most regular preventive care activities that should take place. The accumulation of dirt, leaves, and debris should be periodically removed to minimise deterioration of the roof. The accumulation of snow is especially problematic for certain types of roofs in the winter and this should be attended too before it overburdens the structural integrity of the roof. 
Gutters should be regularly cleaned and have debris removed from them, this can help prevent water build up and blockages that can lead to bursting gutters and possible flooding. Trees that are in close proximity to the house should have branches trimmed that may pose a threat to the roof in high winds, this tactic will also help prevent leaves, dirt and tree sap from further clogging up the roof. The actual branches can damage the roof if allowed to.  
Moss, lichen and algae on a roof disturbs the flow of rainwater across the roof surface. Growth thrives where the supply of moisture is best and establishes itself where the slates overlap especially along the lower edge, the tail end, of the slate.During heavy rain, the lap cavities will overflow inside the building. Most roofs have a notional second line of defence in the form of a bituminous felt, but it does not always perform perfectly and is not designed for long term protection.The battens and fixings, situated above the felt undergo accelerated decay. Moss release small amounts of organic acids that are corrosive to metal, particularly the lead and zinc used in soakers and flashings.
roof-tiles-diagram. Diagram showing effect of dirty slate when wet.











As I've touched on before in earlier posts, roof cleaning should be done using specially developed soft washing techniques and without the use of any type of pressure washer. Using insured and experienced roofing contractors who know what they are doing is strongly advised.
Proper maintenance of your roof can save you thousands in the long run, all materials have an expected lifespan but this lifespan is greatly reduced due to a lack of maintenance.

We offer services that help cover all areas of roof maintenance from snow guards to low pressure roof cleaning. We also provide inspections to identify any weaknesses and these are given in detailed reports with pictures and are completely free to most homeowners!
Give us a call for more info or advice. 




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