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In over your head

As the age old mantra goes, prevention is better than cure especially during the rainy season when you find out that your roof is leaking says Ray Holloway, Owner of False Bay Services, roofing and waterproofing specialist operating in the Western Cape’s Southern suburbs area.

Holloway explains that while waterproofing is a specialised operation that should be left to a professional contractor, there are a few things that homeowners can do to check whether they have a leaking roof in need of repair.

“The first step is to check the ceiling for any damage or water stains, this will signify that water is getting into the ceiling, however this won’t necessarily indicate exactly where the roof is leaking. The reason for this is because the water may be entering the roof at one point and running to another before is starts soaking into the ceiling,” Holloway adds, “Homeowners should go up onto the roof and look for ‘shiners’, which are nails that have been exposed to the elements too long and have rusted leaving a hole. In the case of a tiled roof; inspect to see whether any tiles are missing, have moved or been broken and need to be replaced.”

He says that once all broken tiles have been replaced, a garden hose can be used to run water over the roof to see where water may be leaking through. It is best to have a spotter inside the ceiling space with a flashlight to spot leaks and mark the problem areas. The water should be easy to spot as it will reflect in the light.

According to Holloway other areas that should be inspected are the gutters and downspouts. Check to make sure that all drains are functioning correctly and that gutters are not full of debris. Excess debris in the gutters will cause water to back up over the top of the fascia, down the inside of the wall and into your home. “In fact,” says Holloway, “Piles of debris anywhere can cause problems with water flow, which may lead to water back up under the roofing. This is a common occurrence behind features such as chimneys for example. It is important to keep the roof clear from all debris where possible.”  

He notes that if the home has a chimney, it is important to check the mortar and parapet walls, it doesn’t happen often but in some instances damaged chimney mortar can cause leaks.

If a leak is found and the source is a simple solution, it may be easy for the homeowner to do it themselves. “However,” says Holloway, “If the cause is more complex, it will be necessary to consult a roofing professional to check the roof. This will help to ensure that no more damage takes place. Either way, it is vital to act quickly and get the leak repaired as soon as possible.”

Holloway advises that even if no leaks are found, it is good practise to regularly inspect the roof from time to time to make sure that it is in good repair and functioning as it should. “It is a good idea to have the roof inspected especially after a heavy rain or harsh weather conditions as is  so often experienced in the Cape,” Holloway concludes


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