When you become a house owner, you soon realise that regular maintenance is the way forward in order to avoid having to spend large amount of money when things eventually goes wrong. This is surely the case for your gutters and downspouts. By checking them, cleaning then and dealing with any minor repairs, you can save yourself both time and money by preventing any future leaks and the nightmare that it can bring. Whether you choose to use a professional for the job or try to tackle it yourself, in this article I will tell you a bit about patching leaks and dealing with both smaller and larger holes in your gutters and downspouts. If you choose to use a professional and want the best gutter repair Liverpool has to offer, then Gutter Guys are my contractor of choice.
Patching Cracks and Smaller Holes
Most broken seals and smaller rust holes can be patched up with a small dab of plastic cement or even ‘butyl gutter’ and lap seal. If you were to notice a leak at a joint, the best way forward is to add a coat of silicon sealant around the outside seam of the gutter in question. If you need to patch a smaller hole (smaller than ¼ of an inch), clean the area with a brush and roughen it up a wire brush or by using coarse sandpaper. Wipe away any loose grit and apply a thin layer of plastic cement or if you so prefer – ‘butyl gutter’ and lap seal. The cement should cover an area of about 6 inches in all directions of the hole.
Patching Larger Holes
If the holes are larger than ¼ of an inch, I would classify them as larger and you would have to cut out and apply a small pieces of either canvas or aluminium in order to repair them. You start in the same way as for smaller holes – by cleaning and roughen the area around the hole before applying a thick layer of plastic cement. Cut out a patch of your preferred material (canvas, aluminium or fibreglass mat) and make sure it covers at least ½ an inch in all directions around the hole. Press the patch into the cement and apply a second layer over the patch. If you come across a section of gutters that is extensively damaged, it might be easier to have it replaced rather than repairing it. You can however use a larger patch to repair the damage in the same way you would a larger hole – by cutting a patch out from your chosen material and cement it into place.
Laying a new roof does not have to be a complete disaster. Whether you are opting to lay the roof yourself, or getting a professional in – here are seven useful roofing tips that might come in handy.
Always read through the instructions from the manufacturer before starting any work. Once this is done – make sure to follow the advice. You should find instructions for most roofing materials purchased and by following the instructions from the manufacturer, you are making sure that the warranty is not void.
Always start laying the roof on the side that is mostly seen as it is easiest to get the first side laid with the most even appearance.
Gable roofs: If you are right-handed it is best to start at the left rake as it allows you to freely swing your arm when working. If you are left-handed, start from the right rake. Interlocking tiles might have to be laid from the right in order to hook them accordingly.
Hip roofs: Start at the centre by snapping vertical chalk lines at an equal distance from the corners. Once done, work from the centre and outwards in both directions.
Both the starter course and the first course can be applied from the roof but it might be advisable to work from a ladder or scaffold to avoid getting dizzy. Press your hips between the rails of the ladder whilst working.
Once you have finished the starter course and the first course, go to the starting point and lay a fan-shaped pattern of shingles rather than laying the shingles one layer at the time. After five courses move sideways and start another fan.
When it comes to nailing the roofing materials down, make sure to use the correct type, length and number of nails. They will also have to be nailed down at the correct positions.
Make sure to align shingles and tiles. If you are roofing over old materials, the new shingles should hopefully line up easily enough. For new roofs you will have to snap chalk lines in order to keep shingles or tiles aligned.
You are very fortunate if your courses meet up nice and evenly at the ridge. Unfortunately, the chances are this is not the case. Hopefully you measured the roof before laying any materials and knew to compensate if it was not a perfect rectangle. You should compensate gradually by trimming the materials by the least obvious rake or alternatively, gradually shorten the exposure on the courses as you are going nearer the ridge.
As I have mentioned before – try to always clean and check over your gutters once you are doing work to your roof. This can save you both time and money.
As with most roofing projects it might be beneficial to take care of similar types of work at the same time as you are having your roof done. This could possibly be work relating to the gutters or the attic. If you are planning to insulate your attic, doing it at the same time as you are doing work to your roof is a great idea. A lot of a house’s heat is lost through the roof and by insulating an attic or a beamed ceiling you can cut your fuel bills by up to 30 percent. The job itself is relatively easy as well.
Amount of Insulation Needed
Different houses can have different amounts of insulation so what you need to do first, is to check how much insulation your house already has. Once you have done this, contact your utility company and find out what the recommended R-value is in your area for either attic or ceiling insulation. The R-value depends on the climate you live in and it indicates what degree of resistance a specific insulation material has when it comes to heat flow. This means that the higher the R-value is for a product, the better is its resistance.
Different Types of Insulation
When it comes to roof insulation, there are different types to choose between. The most commonly used ones are made of fibreglass or rock wool and they come as rigid insulation boards or batts. The rigid insulation boards are lightweight and come in different thicknesses. You can choose between boards of compressed fibreglass, polystyrene or urethane. If you have an unfinished attic, the panels should be installed between the attic floor joists. If you have exposed beam ceilings on the other hand, you can choose to install them between the ceiling rafters or on top of the actual roof deck. Just remember to do this before the shingles are laid though. If insulation boards are installed on top of the roof deck, I would advise you to put down another layer of wood decking on top of it. This is so you will have a more stable base to nail the shingles to. However, many roofing manufacturers would tell you to install the insulation underneath the roof deck instead. When it comes to unfinished attics, it is best to use batts and these are generally made of fibreglass or rock wool. They are fitted between the rafters or between floor joists and the batts are very ‘blanket- like’ and easy to use. Both types come in different thicknesses and widths.
When it comes to re-roofing and making a roof watertight, it is important to remember that all the ‘items’ sitting on the roof, will have to be watertight as well and this is where flashings are used. In this article I will tell you a bit more of two types of flashings; the skylight flashing and the vertical wall flashing.
When you are having a skylight installed, you will be happy to learn that skylights unites are basically self-flashing. However, the wood box of the skylight, where it rests, does have to be flashed. This wood box is also known as the curb and it is generally about 6 inches high. When it comes to flashing the curb, the instructions are similar to that of chimney flashing with the difference that the heights of the cut-outs are lower than those for the chimney. Also, when it comes to the curb, you do not have to install any counter flashing.
Vertical Wall Flashing
The way forward when it comes to flash a vertical wall meeting a sloped roof, is to install an L-shaped piece of metal with crimped edges. This is only needed if you are planning to cover it with siding. If that is not on the table, you can use a mineral-surface roll roofing or even sheet metal. The best way to install the L-shaped metal is to position all the strips and secure them with galvanised roofing nails. I would use 1 ½ inches nails, 1 foot apart and about 1 inch from the outside edge. The L-shaped steps are installed in the same way that the metal steps are installed in chimney flashing.
If you are choosing to use either roll roofing or sheet metal, fold a strip into the intersection of the roof and wall. The strip should be about 12 inches wide. Go from the eave to the ridge and make sure to trowel a lot of plastic cement underneath the strip before nailing it down on both sides. Here I would use 1 ½ inches galvanised roofing nails again, 6 inches apart and about 1 inch from the edges. Once you have installed the strip, apply a thick line of plastic cement where the strip and the vertical wall meet. I find it easiest to use a caulking gun for this job to keep it neat and tidy. When it is time to lay the shingles down, add another layer of plastic cement over the strip.
In this day and age when prices seem to rise more often than they drop, any day that you can save some money is a good day in my book. You might have heard the saying ‘Look after the pennies and the pounds will look after themselves’. Well, in this article I will tell you a bit about a potentially cost-saving invention when it comes to water consumption. I have also had some queries regarding the ‘head’ and I will attempt to answer this as well.
Water charges have traditionally been based on the ‘rateable value of a property’ rather than being based on charges that relate to actual water consumption. However, many water companies nowadays will offer their customers the choice of having a water meter installed. This means that rather than paying water rates that are based on the rateable value of your property; you will only pay for the actual water you use. If you would like further information about this, you should contact your water provider. Most of these companies will have information leaflets about this and they should provide you with a rough guide about whether you would benefit from having a water meter installed. The leaflet should also tell you whether it is possible to fit one in your property.
If you are an existing customer and choose to have one installed, the meter installation is free. This has been the case since the 1st of April 2000. It works by customers paying an annual standing charge for every cubic metre of water used. You are most likely to benefit from having a water meter installed if you are a small family living in a large house and if the house has a high rateable value. In new properties or properties with either swimming pools or automatic garden watering systems, water meters are compulsory.
I have had a few people asking me about what ‘head’ means in relation to water and water flow and I will try to explain this as best as I can. Basically, the flow of water that comes from fittings such as taps, relates to the water pressure in the pipe that leads to it. This water pressure is measured as the ‘head’. The ‘head’ is the vertical distance from whatever fitting you are measuring, to the level of water in the cistern. Some water pressure is obviously lost as the water travels through pipes, fittings and around corners and it is therefore the norm to measure the ‘head’ to the bottom of the water cistern for a correct result.
Once you have finished installing the metal valleys to your roof, whether this is over existing shingles or on a new or stripped roof deck, it is time to finish the valleys. This can be done in one out of three ways. These three ways are called open finish, closed-cut finish and the woven finish. Before I tell you a bit more about these finishes, let me give you a quick break down on how to install the metal valleys.
Using a 15 pound roofing felt, lay a 36 inches wide panel along the length of the valleys
Nail down the metal valleys using 1 ¼ inches galvanised nails at 12 inches intervals (this should be done on both sides and about 1 inch from the outer edges)
Spray paint the metal to protect it and to make it blend with the roofing materials purchased (make sure the paint is rust-resistant)
It is now time to finish the valleys!
So, as mentioned before, there are three different ways in which you can finish your valleys and what type of roof you have will play a part in this. If you happen to have an asphalt roof, you can choose whatever finish you prefer but if your roof is wood or tile, only two out of the three ways is suitable and these two are the open or close finish. I will now tell you a bit more about the open finish.
If you are choosing the open valley finish, whatever shingles you are using, asphalt, tile or wood, should be trimmed along the outer edges of any flashing. The best way to do this is to snap two chalk lines on either side of the valley centre. Start the chalk lines at the ridge and at about 3 inches from the valley centre, making sure to mark both sides of it. As you draw them towards the eave, make the lines slant slightly away from the centre of the valley. This is to allow for debris and water to move more easily towards the gutter. The slant should be about 1/8 inch per foot so this means that if the valley is 10 feet long, it should start at 3 inches from the top of the valley centre and it should end at just over 4 inches from the valley centre at the eave. It is best to trim shingles and tiles at the chalk line and the best way to do this is by using a utility knife for asphalt shingles, a circular saw for tiles and a hand saw or even a so called ‘roofer’s hatchet’ for wood.
Gutters and downspouts are a very important part of a house as without them, the water could collect on the roof and cause damp and water damage. It is the job of gutters to carry away the water from the house, channelling it to the downspouts and further into the ground. It is therefore very important that they are installed correctly and regularly maintained. When it comes to purchasing new systems, there are different materials to choose between. The most common ones are aluminium, galvanised steel and vinyl.
The benefit of working with aluminium gutters and downspouts are that they are very lightweight and therefore easy to move around and work with. They are more resistant to the weather than their steel counterparts but unfortunately more prone to dents and damage. You can purchase aluminium gutters and downspouts in two different finishes: painted or unfinished. The factory applied enamels are obviously the more durable one. You can choose between standard and heavy-gauge metal.
Just like aluminium gutters and downspouts, the galvanised version comes in an unfinished or painted finish and just like them, the factory applied enamel version is the more durable one. If you go for an unfinished version and leave it unpainted, bear in mind that it will deteriorate more quickly. They come in a standard and a heavy-gauge steel version, the latter one being the more expensive one. Galvanised steel gutters and downspouts are very strong but this also means they are quite heavy and therefore a bit more difficult to work with.
A bit surprisingly perhaps, is that vinyl gutters and downspouts are more expensive than both the aluminium and galvanised steel version. The reason for this is that vinyl is very durable and it will need minimum amount of maintenance. Unlike the other two, vinyl does not need painting and it does not rust or rot either. The only maintenance needed it a regular cleaning. Unfortunately they only come in two colours at the moment: white or grey. The other negative is that they can expand and contract quite significantly by the joints due to a change in temperature. This can however be avoided if you install expansion joints between the two lengths.
Whatever material you decide to go for, remember to keep your gutters and downspouts in a good condition and have them cleaned on a regular basis. You can try to do this yourself if you have everything needed for it – or you can contact a professional to do the job.
There are many different parts of a roof and flashings are what protects the roof at all its vulnerable points. These points can be found along the eaves, in the valleys and at the edges of the roof chimneys, roof vents and skylights. It is basically there to protect the roof from water leaks at the joints and to protect the sheathing underneath. Flashings are normally made out of galvanised and rust-resistant sheet metal. When you are doing work on your roof, you might not have to change the flashings as long they are in a good condition. Check it over and reseal any flashing joints, if need be, with a bit of plastic cement. Remember to use protective gloves if you are working with metal as any sharp edges can cause bad cuts which might lead to your project being delayed.
New Valley Flashings
It is important that the flashings in the valleys are particularly sturdy as they transport more water to the gutters than any other parts of the roof planes. Despite most valley flashings being made of galvanised steel, you can use mineral surface rolls for the valleys on asphalt roofs. There are different finishes such as open and woven valleys. The first are where shingles, or tiles for that matter, are cut in order to expose the valley. The latter one is where asphalt shingles overlap and covers the valley. If you have checked over the existing flashing and come to the conclusion that it will have to be replaced, this is how you install it.
Installing New Valley Flashings
If you are roofing over a new or a completely stripped deck, it is advisable to use galvanised metal of 28-gauge for sloping roofs. This is regardless of whatever roofing material you are planning to use. You do not have to make your own valleys, unless you want to, as you can buy them from most roofing suppliers. Just make sure that they match the slope of your roof. If you purchase them, you will notice that they often come with a splash guard at the centre. The outer edges will have to be crimped in order to direct any water to the centre. The metal should reach about 8 – 11 inches up along each side of the valley. It you are planning to roof over asphalt shingles, a roll roofing of 36 inches wide can be used. Just make sure to match it to the new shingles – this is most important at the valleys.
When it comes to tile roofs, the actual roofing deck has three parts. The first part is the solid sheathing, the second part is the underlayment and the third is the furring strips that are often used if the tiles are concrete. Furring strips help some tiles with anchor lugs to stay in place and depending on the slope of the roof, they can be nailed to the strips. This is also the case if you live in an area with strong winds. Tiles with no anchor lugs, are nailed directly to the roof and on top of the felts but they can also be fastened, using a wire. This is not as common though. I would always recommend checking what the building code for your area states as this can differ depending on where you live and what weather you are likely to be exposed to.
Sometimes tile roofs will need furring strips and these needs to be installed at even intervals. The intervals need to be equal to the actual expose of the tile. This basically means to measure it between the upper edges of any successive strip. If you are using flat tiles, a furring strip has to be nailed flush with the eave. If you are using curved tiles, the so called ‘birdstop’ flashing should be nailed at the eave. Lay a sample tile along the eave by each rake. The recommended overhang is normally about 1 and ¼ inches if your roof has gutters and 2-3 inches if your roof has no gutters. Remember to make a mark where the tile lugs will grip the upper furring strip edge at the rakes and snap a chalk line in between. The next sections of furring strips should be 4 foot long and be installed with their upper edges against the chalk line you just made and then nail them to the roof where they cross at the rafter. Allow about half an inch of spacing between abutting strips so that any rain water can run off. A furring strip should be installed at the roof ridge with the upper edge about one inch from the edge. Measure the length between the upper edges of both furring strips and divide it by recommended tile exposure. I would do this a couple of times just to make sure the measurements are correct. Where the roof divide into whole multiples of the exposure, mark the exposures along each rake. Always start at the top edge nearest the eave, snapping horizontal chalk lines between the rakes. Now you are ready to install the furring strips with their upper edges against the chalk lines. If your roof does not divide into whole multiples of the exposure, you will have to decrease the exposure slightly for all the courses. Remember to never ever increase the exposure – always decrease. Good luck!