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Roof repairs in the inner west of Sydney has its unique set of challenges.

“Where we working today?” my roof repair crew asks.

“Newtown.”

They all give me “that look…”

That  roof repair in the inner west of Sydney that they will be doing today will be an interesting one…

Of all places in Sydney’s inner west, Newtown, St Peters, Balmain and Erskineville must have the worst streets for tradies.

The multitudes of dead ends, one way streets and parking congestion makes getting in to do roof repairs a long drawn out process.

My roofers now know that to get a parking spot, they have a small window between when folks leave for work and when businesses open. Then they need to be continuously wary of the parking inspectors….

Getting in and out is one thing, there are other ‘roofing things’ that we need to take into consideration when roof repairs inner west Sydney are on the day’s agenda…

Getting roofing materials through the streets of the inner west…

Our roofing material suppliers usually deliver roofing materials directly to a job site.

We do not have this luxury in the inner suburbs of Sydney. Not only do big trucks find it difficult to get into the tight streets, there is not enough space to stop and crane off the materials.

There is a ‘double handling’ process where materials are offloaded onto our little utes – which then go in to the job. The utes become the delivery/storage mechanism.

But sometimes, the materials are too long for the racks of our utes….

I remember a roof repair job in Erskineville.

It was a terrace house with a flat metal roof.

The roof was beyond repair and we had to replace it with a colorbond kliplok profile roof. The roof was 10.5 metres long…

We did not want to engineer a join and split the sheets into two short lengths. So, 10.5 metre sheets were ordered.

10.5 metre sheets get delivered on semi trailers.

“Sorry”

“There is no way we can get our semi trailer down THAT street!…” mister Lysaght told us. “The closest we can get is 2 blocks away.”

So, what was the solution?

No rear lanes in the inner west of Sydney?

There are rear lanes – but not enough of them. Rear lane access makes life of a roofer a lot easier to get materials onto a roof that they are doing repair work on.

But there are many houses in Redfern, Paddington, Surry Hills. Ultimo, Glebe, Marrickville, St Peters, Annandale, Leichhardt. Balmain etc that only have front access. This means roofing materials for the roof repair job need to go through the house, or up the front roof.

The Balmain area has the steepest house blocks and many streets without rear lane access. It is a fight to get roofing materials from the truck to the job. This is when roof repairs inner west Sydney can turn into a a long day…

An inner west street and a crane?

“No way” says my crane company.

The streets are so narrow.

Roads will need to be blocked off.

Power lines everywhere….

This means that we are back to my roofers physically carrying roofing materials to the job site and passing the materials up onto the roof. And there are some steep roofs in the Inner west!

When my roofers work in the inner west suburbs or Sydney, they need to be ‘zen-like’ and learn the power of “slow and steady”. It may be “back breaking” – but think of the savings of gym membership!

Chimneys and parapets – the bane of inner west Sydney roofs

“I have a damp spot on my wall”

What has a damp spot on a wall got to do with a roof repair?

The inner west of Sydney has all these terrace houses divided by common walls which protrude above the roof line and form parapet walls (and often chimneys).

These are the things that leak. And they become a roof issue.

roof repairs on chimneys and parapets inner west Sydney
Inner west parapets and chimneys – the favourite roof leaking spots

That is why my roofers fix a lot of roof leaks around parapet walls and chimneys in the inner west. Old lead flashings along the parapets break down over time and soak water into the walls. Cracks on the parapets allow seepage into the walls.

This water seepage gets behind the paint and plaster on the walls. Ugly bubbles then appear and the paint peels.

The Inner west of Sydney is a ‘hotbed’ of renovation work. And chimneys inside the terraces are knocked down and removed to make way for more room.

But the bit above the roofline remains…and if it is not properly capped and sealed…

Locating a leak at a chimney to do a repair

Leaking chimneys are not only confined to Sydney’s Inner West. They are everywhere in Sydney…

Chimneys leaks show up as brown staining in the ceiling area that progressively gets worse. This is usually caused by a deterioration in the flashings around the chimney.

Either the overflashings that are set into the chimney wall have developed cracks (or fallen out), or the apron and soaker tray flashings are starting to crack.

Over time, lead flashings will crack. This is due to stresses caused by  heat from the sun – especially where the flashing has been stretched over an object initially.

The repair options are either to replace all the apron and soaker flashings with new lead or with the new ‘lead free’ flashings like “Wakaflex” – or to simply clean up the cracks and repair with roofing silicone.

Whilst the new flashing option is the proper ‘belt and braces’ solution, I sometimes find that a semi – permanent fix with the silicone will provide many years of service.

Which is the more appropriate option depends on the age of the roof and the owner’s situation.

The video below shows how to locate a leak at a chimney on an old terracotta tile roof:  

   

The challenges of inner west roofs forces innovation

80 % of the roof repairs we do in the inner west are just like the rest of Sydney. Leaking skylights, rusty roofs, flashings and guttering plus a bit of bad workmanship by other roofers….

The other 20% makes us stop and think.

Because the logistics of the congested inner west forces new problems upon us. We need to re-engineer things to make our lives easier and still produce a result that performs well.

… So what happened at the roof sheeting at the Erskineville roof job?

The delivery driver craned off the bundle of roof sheets onto the footpath… two blocks from the job site.

“Sorry guys… this the best I can do”

Two roofers can carry a 10.5m kliplok roof sheet over a short distance. But it takes 3 guys to struggle two street blocks with it.

It must have been a sight!

One roof sheet, 3 guys….weaving between the road and footpath. Then rinse and repeat 7 times.

We were so thankful that it was a narrow roof and only needed 7 sheets.

lap joint on roof inner west Sydney img-fluid
Maybe we should have done this!

For a bunch of reasons, we did not do this Erskineville roof replacement job with an engineered lap joint. But we have made our lives a lot easier on many other occasions in Sydney’s inner west with kliplok lap joints like that pictured above.

The challenges of inner west roofs forces innovation number 2

I get roofing repair enquiries from Newtown fairly often. Situated in Sydney’s inner western suburbs, Newtown is a densely packed inner city suburb with lots of old terrace houses and narrow one way streets.

It can be a difficult Sydney suburb to attempt roof repairs because of the complex access requirements and the ‘makeshift’ nature of the old roofs and guttering systems.

There is a high percentage of old metal roofs in Newtown – so we frequently repair or change their roofs over to new colorbond roofs. We would replace their rusty gutters at the same time with colorbond gutters and downpipes if necessary.

In this story, we were asked to replace a rusty gutter and fix a roof leak on the edge of a fairly new colorbond roof in the middle of Newtown. We found quite a unique problem that was causing the water to leak at the back of the gutter at the edge of the colorbond roof. There was a PVC downpipe buried under the new colorbond roof and the downpipe was leaking at the joint!

I have come across open gutters running under roofs – so a closed PVC downpipe is a far better alternative. But I dislike any gutter or downpipe system that runs through a roof cavity because of the dangers of overflows and leakage at joints. It is far better to keep all storm water run-off outside the roof cavity. You have to keep the rain outside – not bring it into the house.

Unique roofing problems demand innovative roof repair solutions.

In this case, we removed the internal downpipe and replaced it with an open gutter on top of the existing colorbond roof. This allowed the water collected in the gutter of the inner ‘closed in’ colorbond roof to be directed over the top of the rear most roof – instead of dangerously running through a downpipe buried in the roof cavity. The new open gutter was slotted through the colorbond roof successfully and now the client has no more leaks…

If you have a house in Newtown, you most likely do not have this rare problem – but I am sure there are some areas on your roof that will require some innovative roof repair solutions…

 

Here is the video on what we did. Enjoy.

Challenging leak repair at a vent pipe on a kliplok colorbond roof in Inner West Campsie

There is this colorbond kliplok roof in the Inner Western Sydney suburb of Campsie that presented a real challenge to us….

When we investigate roof leaks, we go through a process of elimination.

On this particular roof, there was the obvious PVC vent pipe which was located above the leak.

Then there may have been a problem at the upstream end of the roof sheeting because either the flashing was leaking, the turn-up was inadequate, or there is debris causing overflowing…

So, we cleaned the old sealant off the dektite flashing around the PVC vent pipe and re-sealed it. When it rained again, the leak was still there!

Then we went back again to pull apart the upstream flashings. The upturns were not quite right (and we found that the blanket insulation was damp) – so we fixed these and cleared away the debris that had built up under the flashing. We waited again and the next report was that the roof leak was still there!

Capillary action lets water do amazing things. It is the only thing that can make water flow uphill!

So, in the design of metal roofing, great pains are made to combat the results of capillary action where the roof sheets overlap one another. The edge of the roof sheets are designed to prevent capillary action from drawing water over the lapped rib PLUS there is a catchment lip added on in some profiles to catch any water that manages to get over.

Kilplok roofing sheets rely mainly on grooves to prevent water climbing over the lapped rib.

Alarm bells sound when my guys see a vent pipe (or any roof penetration) cut into the area where two roofing sheets lap. This means that the catchment lip has been compromised and a leak could be happening…

Yet in this instance, the PVC vent pipe penetration hole was cut neatly beside the overlapped rib – so no potential problem there….

Finally, drastic action was needed. The roof sheeting had to come off!

It is quite easy for a screw fixed roof to take a roof sheet off . But a kliplok roof is a different matter. There are no screws. Extreme care has to be taken not to damage the roof sheeting because the concealed clips holds the roof on tightly. Usually, it is impossible to remove without causing some damage.

…Anyway, we managed to lift the lapping sheet up a bit to investigate what was happening.

What we found was that capillary action was up to her old tricks again. It was allowing water to seep along the lap – which allowed it to travel past (by going under) the dektite vent flashing seal!

It was another gem to put into our database of “why roofs leak”.

Check out the video below to see what happened…

Tricky roof repairs on inner west kliplok roof

We were called out to a terrace house in Sydney’s inner west to trace and repair a leak on a fairly new colorbond flat kliplok roof recently.

The story is fairly common. “Builder put up renovation with a new colorbond roof. Roof leak discovered a while after hand over. Only leaks during rains when it is windy. Builder tried to fix leak with no success….”

Sydney Roofers can hide many mistakes on a roof – but critical mistakes involving serviceability do not stay hidden for long. It can leak on a perfectly ‘good looking’ roof. Just because the mistakes are hidden under flashings does not mean that they are not found out..

Water leaks at a wall that the roof sheeting abuts onto, are usually either due to the flashings leaking, or something ‘funny’ hidden under the roof flashing.

In this case, the colorbond kiplok roof was quite well put together – but it had an annoying leak at the top corner – that had baffled many past roofers who were called in to do a roof repair.

After checking out the flashing and not finding any problems, it was time to do some ‘surgery” work on the flashings.

…and guess what we found underneath?

Check out the video to find out:

Premature rusting of zincalume box gutter in Sydney Inner West

Sydney’s inner west have tighter building areas and inner west roofs tend to have an extreme mixture of elements that can cause quite unique roof leakage problems that require major roofing repairs. The mix of new and old materials introduces incompatibility and galvanic corrosion is common.

While box gutters are mainly used in the domain of commercial roofs, they are sometimes used on residential roofs. And because roofs in Sydney’s inner west demand a bit of innovation where there are space restrictions and architectural flair, box gutters are sometimes used. It is also an area in Sydney where the nice looking Velux skylights are often installed.

While a well designed box gutter will perform quite well, sometimes they are not put together correctly. And sometimes even if the installation is carried out correctly, someone does something afterwards that is somewhat troublesome. Like placing lead flashing on a zincalume box gutter.

Like this electrolysis problem with lead flashings from Velux skylights that I saw on a roof in Sydney’s inner west that will require a box gutter replacement way before it should be required…

The flashings used by the Velux skylight manufacturers are lead based. The Velux skylights are often installed on zincalume and colorbond metal roofs. Colorbond tends to have a much higher resistance to the ‘galvanic’ corrosion between the dissimilar metals. Zincalume on the other hand will corrode quite rapidly when damp conditions exist for long periods between the two metals.

So, it is very common on zincalume metal roofs to find rust problems when there is a Velux skylight involved. … Hope you enjoy the video below:

The lure of the inner west

Once upon a time, gypsies roamed the inner west. With the change in demographics, they now target the defenceless homeowners in the outer west.

If you don’t know what gypsies are, check out my blog article about a gypsy attack on a poor inner west home owner.

With a name “The Roofing Professionals Westside” – you would think that we must operate in the inner west.

And we do.

We like the inner west. And we fix a lot of leaking roofs there.

Because it is quite central to where we live and we like the challenges that the inner city suburbs pulls on us.

Roof repairs in the inner west of Sydney is unlike anything else. That is why we keep coming back when we get asked….

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