Home Contractor's CornerAn Inspector Calls Into the valley: ‘out of sight, out mind’ is not an option…

Into the valley: ‘out of sight, out mind’ is not an option…

by Matt Downs

This month the Inspector looks at maintenance concerns regarding valleys.

Despite horror stories about rogues taking old people for a ride over unnecessary or extortionately over-priced repairs, most roofs will need tending at some point and thus there is a ‘repeat business’ opportunity; especially for the original installer. Although not especially difficult to do, your customer will not have the equipment, experience or skillset to do this safely – unlike you.

Never out of sight or mind

In that context, “out of sight, out of mind” is never a phrase that should be used in connection with a roof. The roof is a living, breathing system and while we happily go about our business in the buildings below, the roofing materials above are having to cope with everything that nature can throw at them.

First, they are constantly bombarded by UV radiation putting the materials through their paces. Then there is rain, wind and, somewhat obviously, wind-driven rain doing its best to penetrate the covering and find its way into the property beneath. Changes to temperature in the form of freeze and thaw constantly expand and contract the roof covering, trying to find that weak spot in the materials that can be exploited into a full roof failure. And finally, in the images above and below, we see moss growing on top of the tile surface which can block essential water drainage channels on the roof.

Essential maintenance

For this and other reasons, maintenance of your customer’s roof is essential. Gutters, valleys and other water channels on the roof are designed to carry what can be at time large volumes of water and when they fail the results can be catastrophic for the building below.

Clearing gutters on a regular basis is an essential part of the maintenance of any building. This is especially the case if the roof is prone to moss growth or during the autumn where leaf debris can quickly build up and create blockages.

Valleys and box gutters, for example, can be hard to access but as you can see from the images they cannot be ignored. A build-up of material such as this will cause the rainwater to back up and pour onto the roof space either side of the valley. Also, do not forgot your customer’s dormers if they have them: where the dormer roof intersects with the main roof space, it will create a small valley and these water channels are often forgotten.

Extra care

When undertaking maintenance, beyond normal concerns about working at height, extra care must be taken on the roof itself – especially with older, fissile tiles. Where you do find failures, expect more: a decent rule of thumb is 10:1 – for every four missing, there’s bound to be 40 about to go. Also, be mindful about the soundness of the structure.


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