How to Maintain and Repair Your Metal Roof

With proper maintenance and timely repairs, metal roofs can last a very long time. These systems are designed to be long-lasting. Here are some maintenance and repair suggestions that will keep your roof looking like new, year after year.

Inspect and Clean Regularly:

Inspect your roof at regular intervals throughout the year. Seasonal inspections are a good idea to save your roofs from leaks if you live in an area where there are four distinct seasons. You should also inspect after storms. Hail, wind, snow and even severe rain can damage your roofing.

You should clean your roof at least once a year. You may only need to clean once a year to make sure that gutters are clear of leaves and other debris that could cause water to pool or ice dams to form. You can use soap and water to clean most metal roofing systems, but check the manufacturer’s specifications to be sure.

Ensure that Different Metals Do Not Touch:

If different kinds of metal touch and become wet, they will corrode. For example, copper pipes projecting through sheet metal will eventually rust at the point of contact. There are products on the market to prevent this kind of contact.

Repair Scratches:

Minor scratches might not seem like a big problem. But if they are not repaired, water will gather in the uneven surface and rusting will occur. To repair scratches, pour a small amount of mineral spirits on a clean cloth and use it to remove any debris from the scratches. After the area dries, take a small paintbrush and cover the scratched area with an appropriate color of metal touch-up paint. You can follow up with a clear coat to provide additional protection. Summer season is the best time to fix roof leaks problems and there are products available in the market like Liquid EPDM Rubber coatings and Elastomeric coatings.

Remove Rust:

Rusty spots should be sanded down first using a scrubbing cleanser and then light sandpaper. Do not use a wire brush. Once the rusted area is smooth, apply a metal primer. After the primer dries, use your touch up paint to improve the appearance and follow up with a clear coat if desired.

Repair Dents:

Dents may be popped out if you have access to the underside of the roof. Otherwise, you may need to call a professional. Repairing dents in metal roofing calls for the use of a stud welder. It’s not a job for the average do-it-yourselfer.

Consider a Protective Elastomeric Coating:

Elastomeric coatings can further increase the lifespan of the roofing system. Today’s Elastomeric roof coatings are available in an assortment of colors. They provide waterproofing, help to reduce sounds and can add to the beauty of your roof. You may not have to do all of these things, but the more time you spend protecting your roof form roof leaks, the longer it will last.

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Flat Roofing Materials Compared

There are three basic types of flat roofing materials, although there are variations within the three categories that allow building owners to have more choices. Whether your building is new and this will be its first roof or you are replacing older roofing material, here are the three main categories you will be able to consider. There are inherent advantages and disadvantages of each type.

Built-Up:

Built-up bituminous roofs have been the standard for many years. They are still relatively popular primarily because they are inexpensive.

Built-up bituminous roofing is created using layers of hot tar, gravel, a smooth river stone ballast and tar paper or fiberglass membranes. Other than the lower cost, the advantages include fire resistance and some people think the appearance is more attractive.

There are several disadvantages. The material is very heavy. The underlying joints of the roof may need to be strengthened in order to install this type.

The installation itself is messy and smelly. It is not a do-it-yourself job for the building owner.
Once installed, it is hard to find leaks in the material and repairing leaks can be difficult. As time goes by, the gravel can break loose and clog the gutters. This choice is not recommended for buildings that are currently occupied.

Modified Bitumen:

Modified bitumen sheeting has a mineral-based surface to convey the fire resistant benefits of built-up bituminous with less weight. The sheeting consists of a single layer that is rolled onto the roof. The sheeting may be attached using a “torch-down” system, although newer modified bitumen rolls have a peel-off backing that sticks to the existing surface. The peel-and-stick installation can be a DIY project for the building owner.

One advantage of modified bitumen has to do with the light colored minerals that are embedded in the sheets. The minerals reflect heat, which can convey energy savings in areas where summer air conditioning costs are high. This is also an affordable alternative.

The main disadvantage of the torch-down system is the risk of fire. The process is not recommended for buildings that are currently occupied. The sheets are not the most resistant to scuffs and tears. Modified bitumen is considered less durable than the next type.

EPDM:

EPDM is a type of synthetic rubber. It resembles an inner tube but has been engineered to resist damage from sunlight. EPDM sheets are available and can be anchored with fasteners, glued on or ballasted with stones. Liquid Roof is another form of EPDM rubber is also available for waterproofing or coating existing roofs to extend the lifespan of the roof.

The advantages include easy installation and high durability. Rubber is inherently accompanied by a reduced risk of leaking. If leaks do occur, they are easy to locate and repair. There may also be a sound-reduction advantage.

The only disadvantage may be heat absorption depending on the color selected. Lighter colors are recommended for warm climates but may cost more.

Some building owners feel that the cost is a disadvantage. EPDM does cost more than other roofing materials. But because it is more durable and typically lasts longer, EPDM may cost less in the long run.

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The Causes of Ice Dams and How to Prevent Them

Ice dams occur due to uneven temperatures on a sloped roof. The greater the slope of the roof, the more damage an ice dam can do. The process is usually set into action by snow, although an ice storm could also be the trigger.

What happens is that snow or ice on the higher portions of the roof melts. The melt or water flows down the slope until it reaches a point on the roof where the temperature is below freezing. Often, the point that is below freezing is an overhang where there is little or no warming from radiation, convection or conduction of heat.

When the water reaches the lower temperature, it freezes. Water from above continues to flow down the slope and remains liquid until it reaches the ice. Over time, the result is an ice dam. It is a dam in that it traps water behind it. The water can only freeze if it reaches the colder portion of the roof.

Icicles typically form below the dam as some melting occurs during the day. Seeing icicles along the edge of a roof can be a sign that an ice dam has formed.

The damage that occurs to the building is mainly from the water, although the weight of the ice can also cause damage if the overhang on which it rests is not strong enough to support the weight. The water behind the dam searches for an outlet. It starts to work its way through the roofing material and into the insulation.

Once inside the building, the water spreads through the insulation and down the interior walls. It can also spread across the ceiling causing stains and damage to dry wall or other materials.

Ice dams can be prevented in the planning stages of a newly constructed roof. Additional insulation can be used to make sure that the ceiling is airtight. Warm air travels through the ceiling and into the attic space. The warm air rises, causing the higher portions of the roof to be warmer than the lower portions.

Reducing heat loss prevents snow melt. The roof must be strong enough to support the extra weight of the snow. In areas where a large amount of snow falls on a regular basis, there are usually requirements concerning the load that a roof can bear.

Snow rakes can also be used to remove snow and prevent ice dams. Caution is required when using the snow rakes to avoid personal injury and prevent damage to the roofing materials.

There are products like elastomeric roof coatings, liquid rubber and liquid roof that are one the best products in the market to save your roof from damage.

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The Effects of Environment on your Roof

The effects of environment on your roof are responsible for how it changes in appearance as the years go by. Just as your skin ages, so does your roof. One thing that ages both your skin and your roof is the sun.

The sun can cause the temperature on the roof to be 50-75 degrees higher than the temperature of the surrounding air. The heat alone can cause some roofing materials to blister and crack. It’s the main source of roof leaks.

In addition to the heat, the sun is a source of UV radiation. UV radiation has been shown to degrade the asphalt layers that make up your shingles. A protective layer of colored granules is used to reduce this effect. Liquid EPDM Rubber coatings are the best option to coat your roof shingles. Without that kind of roof coating the shingles would degrade very quickly. The use of the granules has added years to the lifespan of modern roofs.

Sudden changes in the roof temperature also speed the shingle aging process and roof starts leaking. Thunderstorms are common occurrences on hot days in many parts of the world. The temperature on the roof rises gradually as it is heated by the sun. When the rain starts to fall on the roof, the temperature can drop as much as 60 degrees almost instantly.

The wooden decking beneath the shingles expands with the heat and then contracts suddenly with the quick cooling. This places a strain on the shingles. As with other effects of environment on your roof, the aging process is relatively slow. But you have these sudden changes in temperature many times during a year. This is one of the reasons that shingles have a limited lifespan.

Moisture from rain and snow also has a negative effect on your shingles unrelated to the temperature change. Moisture causes wooden roof decking to expand. From the perspective of the shingles, the deck is moving. The movement loosens the shingles.

The effects of environment are worsened because of pollution and acid rain. Pollution hits the roof along with raindrops. Smoke from car exhausts, factories and other sources lands on the roof. The pollution causes the color of the shingles to darken, sometimes only in spots that are noticeable from the driveway.

Acid rain degrades the asphalt in shingles. The acid eats away at all parts of your roof gradually.

None of these changes occur suddenly. It may seem sudden if you get up on a ladder to clean the gutters and suddenly notice curling, blisters, cracks or stains. There is only so much you can do to minimize the effects of environment on your roof. Some aging is inevitable.

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A Brief History of Roofing Materials

A complete history of roofing materials would start in the Stone Age. Popular modern material has not been around quite that long but even clay roof tiles have been in use for thousands of years.

Of course the manufacturing processes have changed and improved. People are no longer limited by the location of the material. That was a major factor to consider before present-day shipping methods were introduced.

Clay tiles are popular in some areas and for some architectural designs. The tiles are more expensive than other options but they are long-lasting. Shingles are a far more popular choice.

The history of modern shingles is not nearly as long as that of clay. Wood shingles or shakers were used until insurance companies started refusing to insure homes and businesses with roofs covered by them.

The first composite roof material was used in the 1840s. They are referred to as composites because they are composed of two or more substances, rather than a single material. Modern shingles are composites but the first composite roofs bore little resemblance to the ones we use today. Also there are lots of roofing materials like Liquid EPDM Coatings, liquid roof and liquid rubber coatings are available in the market for fixing roof leaks.

The substances used in the earliest composites were felt or woven fabric, pine tar and sand. Improvements were made by saturating the fabric with asphalt and substances such as sand, crushed limestone or talc. Coal tar came next in the history of roofing materials.

Coal tar is a byproduct of coal manufacturing processes. It was not until the introduction of gas lighting for city sidewalks that enough of the byproduct was generated to find an application in the roof industry.

The coal tar was mixed with fine gravel and rolls of felt were saturated with it. The rolled material was then attached to roofs. Asphalt shingles soon replaced the rolled material.

Henry M. Reynolds made a significant contribution to the history of roofing materials. He came up with the concept of shaping the earlier asphalt-coated roof fabrics into individual shingles in 1903. Reynolds was a roofer and manufacturer. The first shingles he produced were hand cut with a sharp knife.

In 1914, F.C. Overby began adding crushed granules of slate to add weight to the shingles and keep them from blowing off the roof. Roller-die cutting machines were perfected the following year making the mass-production of shingles more practical. Most of the changes that have occurred since that time have been decorative, except for the use of fiber glass to reinforce the felt fabric, which occurred in the 1970s.

That is a very brief history of roofing materials that are very helpful for repairing roof leaks. Liquid EPDM Rubber and Liquid Roof coatings are the best roofing products that will give you cost effective solution for your roofing problems. Although there are other choices, composite shingles are still the most popular for homes.

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