What to do if you have a ‘Lemon’ roof.

Is a leaking roof a lemon?
You could have a ‘Lemon’ of a roof…

Pair a lemon with a car and you get something unpleasant. As a roofer, lemon roofs are just as foul and I just see too many of these shocking roofs being installed for unsuspecting homeowners.
Most days, I shake my head when I climb on a roof in Sydney. The faults on the roof are so blatantly obvious that it makes my job of finding where the roof leak is coming from so un-challenging.
Just as chefs should eat their own culinary creations, I think roofers should live under the roofs that they put up when Sydney gets those long bouts of stormy days.
When I stuff up and I don’t know about it – I keep thinking that I am a genius. The times that I have had to take responsibility for my errors have been the greatest learning opportunities.
I just wish that all roofers are forced get to go back to fix the roof leaks that they have been responsible for…

Some roofs are easy and some are just plan challenging.

It is hard to go wrong on a factory roof in the outer western suburbs of Sydney. Long straight sheets. Regular rectangular shapes. Easy crane access. Easy parking. Simple edge flashings.
Switch to an Inner west roof in the Erskineville and Newtown areas, and the degree of difficulty ramps up. Add in skylights, flat skinny roofs, chimneys, parapets and parking inspectors…. And mistakes plus shortcuts will eventually lead to roof leaks and premature roof lifespan.
For a better perspective on Inner west roofs, I have a special post on that subject.
We hardly get to fix any factory roofs. But we get to fix a lot of residential roof leaks closer in to the city. It is the small roofs that have the highest failure rates.

Be careful with flat metal roofs

“Keep away from corrugated roofs.”
This is my best advice for anyone contemplating the modern look of a low pitched roof. The corrugated roof profile is not designed to be laid ‘flat’. 5 degrees is usually the manufacturer’s recommended minimum slope for corrugated roofs.
Personally, I think 8 degrees should be a better limit to set. I have seen way too many leaking corrugated roofs.
Then people like cutting large holes on flat roofs and installing skylights.
There are two things to think carefully about with these skylights.

5 degrees is usually the manufacturer’s recommended minimum slope for corrugated roofs.  See what happens if you don’t follow this pitch recommendation on a separate post.
Personally, I think 8 degrees should be a better limit to set. I have seen way too many leaking corrugated roofs.
Then people like cutting large holes on flat roofs and installing skylights.
There are two things to think carefully about with these skylights.

  1. Choose the right skylight. Not all skylights can be installed on flat roofs.
  2. Design the flashings correctly. ALWAYS design and install a tray flashing .  See my leaking skylight page for tray flashing details.

Even small holes for vent pipes and exhausts can benefit from a tray flashing – especially if the hole is cut where two roof sheets lap together.
What is the best roof sheet profile? 
I still prefer the ‘Kliplok’ profile for all flat roofs. The higher and stiffer ribs combined with ‘no screws’ cuts down on a lot of potential leakage paths.

Can Lemon roofs be repaired?

I have a friend who is quite patriotic and he used to support the local Holdens. He bought a Calais (remember the premium Holden Commodore?).
After the sixth warranty repair in the first 6 months, he gave up on Holden. He sold the car and bought a Mazda. He keeps saying to this day that If Holden had just accepted the problems with the lemon car and gave him another one that worked – he would have stuck with the local manufacturer.
It is pretty much the same with a roof if there are some major design/installation problems. You can keep repairing the faults but these tend to be short term fixes.
Usually it is better to just ‘bite the bullet’ and rip the offending roof off and replace it with a proper one. It does not matter if the roof is just 6 months old.
There will always be exceptions. A good roofer will be able to assess the merits of a roof repair vs a roof replacement and make you a recommendation.

The future for roofs in Sydney?

More apartments are going up than houses. A lot of home owners will have strata managers looking at any roof problems. Small building envelopes and height restrictions means that architects are designing low pitched roofs (and making it look good).
Both situations means that it will become more difficult to repair or replace problem roofs.
Prevention is always better than cure (unless you want to live through disasters to really experience the lessons that can only be learnt this way). So, hopefully with the spread of better information

The best tool for turning down kliplok profile roof sheets

We know the importance of turning down the ends of kliplok roof sheets.

And like everything in life, the right tools makes the job easier and produces a better finish.

Sadly, the standard tool that we buy to turn down the ends of kliplok sheets is a disappointment and produces a sub standard result. It is even dangerous because it slips prematurely.

And for a while, we have resorted to using the trimdek tool to do turndowns on kliplok sheets.

Even though the trimdek tool is designed for a narrower pan and we had to perform two lapping actions to complete a turn down.

Then my guys discovered a neat little trick.

If you reverse the trimdek tool and use the turnup end of the tool to perform the turn down – it produces a perfect result.

We can now throw the standard kliplok turndown tool away and just carry the more versatile trimdek tool in our tool boxes.

Just a note that the trimdek also has an integrated  corrugated sheeting turnup jaw