Roof maintenance is a broad term that encompasses the many different processes required for the general upkeep of a roof over its normal functional life cycle. Most of us understand that our automobile has general requirements for regular maintenance that has to be performed. In fact, if these requirements are not met, the manufacturer will not honor the warranty attached to the vehicle. The same can be said for your roof.
One might say that this is not apples to apples, because the stresses on a vehicle are far greater with the movement and heat created constantly. This would be true. But, it is important to consider that your roof does endure movement constantly, and take it from a roofer, roofs are some of the hottest places around, due to the direct exposure to the sun and heat absorbent materials used. Thermal cycling is a natural process of a hot environment changing to a cold one at night. Canada has some of the most extreme temperature fluctuations in the world. When our roofing materials get hot, they expand and become soft, and when they get cold, they shrink and get brittle. The cumulative effect over the years can cause stresses and cracks in the products, which are fastened together and expand at different rates.
Also, water is constantly assaulting the products and washing away essential oils and protective coatings little by little. Caulking around pipes breaks down from UV exposure, scratched metal rusts, exposed nails become holes, gable ends sag, and protective granules wash away.
If the responsible roofer can identify problem areas in a generally sound roof before they cause damage to the balance of the roof, a day’s work can potentially save -or at least delay- thousands of dollars in replacement costs. However, an accurate life-cycle cost analysis should be performed for any large roof repair scope to determine whether the cost per year of repairing will at least match that of re-roofing.
In addition to this sound reasoning for having your roof inspected every year, every roof in BC has a finite amount of routine maintenance and cleaning that needs to be completed. It is true that some cost savings can be realized by hiring independent gutter cleaners, independent roof cleaners, independent roof inspectors, and an independent roofer if needed. However, the two former options are typically not Red Seal Certified, as we are, and have been known to unwittingly cause damage or take valuable years off the life of the roof. For your roof maintenance and inspections, you should hire a qualified and reputable roofer who will catch mistakes and defects and will take care in preserving your roof for years to come.
One of the primary and commonly overlooked methods of defending against moisture buildup in cold spaces is adequate ventilation. It’s estimated that more than 60% of British Columbia’s roofs are under-ventilated. This causes numerous issues in a climate like Vancouver. Primarily, when an attic isn’t kept at a constant temperature, it will collect moisture in the air when it becomes warm, which will create small drops of water on the back of the plywood or shingles. For a demonstration of this process, one can look at the water droplets collecting on a cold glass of water in a warm room. In addition to moisture protection, ventilation will help maintain more constant and controllable temperatures within the roof system and the home. This adds valuable years to the life of the roof since temperature fluctuation is one of the most formidable of the natural enemies to roofs.
Ventilation of the attic space or any cold cavity (such as the space between the insulation and plywood in a vaulted ceiling) allows the air to not only stay at a constant temperature but also to circulate moisture out through natural air currents. The BC Building code recommends roofs have a ventilation ratio of 1 square foot of free ventilation area per 150 square feet of insulated attic space, measured horizontally (floor joists, not trusses). Although awareness is growing in the industry for the necessity of this ventilation, the ratio and equipment are quite often being applied incorrectly. When applying the ratio, is imperative to note that the amount of free ventilation space, as designated by the ratio is to be split evenly between intake and exhaust.
So where is the intake, and where is the exhaust? Well, most vents are of passive mechanics, and we know the flow of heat generally follows an upward direction, as does wind when met with an obstacle protruding from the ground. Therefore, it should make sense that a properly vented soffit provides the intake requirements, and the remaining 0.75 square feet of free ventilation space (per 150) should be dispersed evenly throughout the roof sheathing. Although the logic seems clear, it’s simply amazing how often we come across fumbled attempts to meet the requirements.
As we move west toward the shores, the salty ocean air becomes a growing concern for some of the metals typically used in roof construction. Traditional galvanizing coatings used for steel nails, flashings, and roofing panels will no longer provide the protection necessary to ensure a sound roof. Where an electroplated nail would suffice previously, we must switch to stainless steel, or at the bare minimum hot-dipped galvanized nail. Also, metal roofing products whose beautiful paints also serve to protect the sensitive metals beneath them must receive upgraded coatings if their finishes are to be preserved.
Once we have ensured that the ventilation and corrosion requirements have been addressed, we can now turn our attention to the roof system. We will address a few of the main benefits of the roof systems we are most familiar with below, but encourage you to continue your research on your own if you feel ours to be insufficient. There is indeed a wealth of great information online to choose from, and we are the first to admit that we may not always have the answer that you are looking for.