Finding roof leaks is not an exact science. In fact it can be downright frustrating to find a roofing leak for home owners and roofers alike. So it’s a nice treat to find the “smoking gun” of proof on your first suspect choice. It’s even nicer when you make the call from from the ground. Such was the case in Burnaby BC today. Concrete tile roof leaking over the bedroom in the NW corner of the residential home. We get to the site and the only possibility in that corner of the house is a plastic roof vent. Now experience has taught me these are a habitual leaker too…. but I want to make us look good so I don’t really talk about my age. So I make the call and prove it to the home owner 10 minutes later with the warped flange of the vent in my hand and a photo in my camera. I wish I could have gotten as good of marks in Science 101.
Well today’s rain all over the Lower Mainland tested roofers work. I recently sealed my concrete coping stones with a clear coat of my favorite product from Kryton. I was very impressed with the result. It was like a new coat of Carnuba wax on a show room car. The water just beaded on it even though there was a gradual slope to the surface. This sealer can also be used on other surfaces such as unpainted brick chimneys, concrete cinder blocks or concrete roof tiles from Columbia or Monier. I think the rain is going to stick around for a while so I have booked three appointments already to go find some roof leaks in Vancouver and North Burnaby tomorrow. More to come on those!
Let’s talk about skylights. I love them and feel they add so much to a room or space. There are two major manufacturers of skylights that are distributed in the Lower Mainland area. The two companies are Columbia Skylights and Velux. Don’t be confused by the name “Columbia” as Columbia Skylights is not related to the concrete tile manufacturer called Columbia Concrete Roof Tiles. Skylights can be broken down into two categories. Acrylic domed is the less expensive style compared to that of a sealed glass unit. When comparing these two model styles, it’s a case of you get what you pay for. To summarize MY position, I will only install sealed glass units and the skylights.
I recommend are made by Velux. Acrylic domed skylights are prone to condensation. They are not a tightly sealed unit and therefore have no thermal break. I’ve seen these skylights condensate in less than a year from original installation. That is not desirable. In addition they act as a virtual magnifying glass in the summer. What I mean is that the room below the skylight is going to be very warm when the sun beats down on the unit. Sealed glass units will only condensate when the air-tight seal has expired. That tells you it is time to replace it. Typically this seal will last 10-15 years, or more, past initial installation. Also sealed glass units are reflective so the room below will not be as warm as that of those with acrylic domed units.
Now let’s talk about leaks. The Columbia manufacturer has maintained a design that incorporates three separate pieces. The three pieces are the plastic saddle that sits on the curb, the glass or domed window and the frame which ties everything together. Too many times I have disassembled a Columbia skylight to find the plastic saddle cracked and allowing water to enter the house. Velux has recently evolved their design detail to incorporate the whole skylight assembly into a single piece unit. Velux’s design is superior in other ways also. There is a rubber baffle gasket around the perimeter of the skylight which when compressed allows a much more airtight seal onto the top of the curb. A Velux skylight can also be tightly snugged up to the upslope span of the curb which eliminates the possibility of snow build up entering the room below or a bouncing rain getting in under the frame causing a leak.
If you’re considering upgrading your skylights, call my cell 604-561-8798 for a free assessment and consultation.
Vancouver tile roofingToday’s concrete tile roofs, cement tile roofs and clay tile roofs are rarely installed according to current known and best practices in the Lower Mainland Area. What I mean by that is ideally one should install a tile roof system over top of a sheeted and waterproofed layer of plywood. This is rarely done due to the costs associated with this degree of waterproofing. We commonly see an underlayment sheet, draped over trusses with 1×4 cross straps nailed over top of that. These cross straps are hopefully spaced accordingly to allow for a 3” head-lap between rows. A good salesman calls this underlayment draping a waterproofing, but that is giving it far too much credit. If it is a waterproofing why is there all these nail holes in it and why are the vent protrusions not sealed to the vent pipe? In some cases it is an organic cardboard which will deteriorate and rot over time and in other cases it is just a thin sheet of polyethylene (clear plastic) which only lasts a couple years until it dries up and disintegrates. Simply put – the underlayment is merely a stop draft addition and should not be given much credit as a membrane.
If I was to build a house and wanted to put on a Monier or Columbia tile roof system, here is what I would do. Sheet the rafters, making a deck surface of ½” plywood and H-clips. Install a peel and stick waterproofing system. There are many acceptable products to choose from by every manufacturer known. Ensure that, at this layer, I am 100% watertight at all transitions, protrusions and terminations. Now, install 2×2 runners up the existing rafters followed by gridding your roof using 1×4’s and allowing for the required 3” head-lap suggested by manufacturers. Your tiles can now be installed.
The finishing details would be as follows – I want to use a 26 gauge drip edge flashing at all rake and gutter edges. All tiles in contact with a hip shall be cut accordingly and fastened to the 1×4 strapping or the hip rafter so as to not fall out of place, or slide down, as is too commonly witnessed in the Vancouver area. I want lead cover patches on all my multi-tile intersections. I want containment lips bent on all my galvanized vent flanges. I want gooseneck vents used to ventilate my attic space. I want lead stacks for my plumbing vent pipes. I want to use 26 gauge metals on my valley flashings. And finally I want to use a pan flashing network around my skylights and grind out the underside of the tiles so they don’t compress the containment lip over time.
If you’ve got a concrete, clay or cement tile roof and want an assessment to learn what needs to be done to reduce the probability of leakage, contact Crucial Roof Services at your soonest convenience.