Maintain a roof

High winds, torrential downpours, take any opportunity to fix up or repair any leaks that may have occurred, or problems experienced, while the weather is dry.
Loose or broken tiles, slipped ridge caps, blocked gutters, failed waterproofing – all are factors for potential damage to the structure of a home and need to be attended to as quickly as possible to prevent extensive damage and costly repairs.




Loose or broken tiles

An annual inspection of your roof ensures that you always stay on top of any likely problems.
Loose tiles or ridge caps, if not identified from outside, can usually be picked up by a close inspection in the attic or ceiling space. The same applies to broken tiles.

Many larger hardware stores stock a selection of roof tiles, but if you have any difficulty sourcing a similar style, try to find out who the original manufacturer was and get in touch with them for assistance.




Repair loose tile or ridge cap
Fixing loose tiles is a matter of gently sliding the tile back into position. For ridge caps, use a creamy mixture of 4 parts river sand to 1 part cement to adhere the loose cap in place. Trowel on a thick, sausage-shaped layer approximately 2 centimetres thick and press the cap down into position.

Replace a broken tile
To replace a broken tile, slide up the row of tiles that overlap the one to be replaced and slip in a wedge or block of wood to hold the tiles up while you work.
Tilt the broken tile until it unlocks from the adjoining tile and you can easily remove. Some tiles are nailed or wired to the support battens and these will need to be levered off or cut free.
Slide the new tile into position and manoeuvre until it clicks back into place with the adjoining tile.
Remove the block or wedge to lower the raised tiles.




Blocked gutters or downpipes
When gutters and downpipes become blocked with debris, most commonly with fallen foliage from large overhanging trees, rainfall and water have nowhere to go and gutters will overflow.
Being situated close to the exterior walls of a property, this could spell disaster if water gains access to mortar and brickwork.

During the rainy season when walls do not have time to dry, possible problems include penetrating damp resulting in mould, mildew peeling paint and unpleasant odours.
While inspecting the gutter system, make sure that all fastenings are secure and have not rusted and need to be replaced.
With some regions having already experienced the rainy season, and other regions soon to enter their rainy season, now is the best time to make an inspection of gutters and downpipes and clean out any debris.

Failed waterproofing

On a flat roof with a waterproofing membrane, or IBR sheet roof, leaks can occur when the membrane fails or where fittings rust over time allowing water to gain ingress. The first indications of this are normally damp or wet walls, or stains on the ceiling.
For small areas there are a variety of commercially available products that you can buy to remedy the situation.


- DIY roof repairs
These normally consist of a special waterproofing paint and a membrane that is applied in conjunction with the paint. This type of repair works well when applied according to the manufacturer’s specified instructions and recommended guidelines.


- Professional repairs
Larger repairs are best left to the professionals, as the process involves the use of a bitumen product that is heated as it is applied to the roof surface.

Ladder safety
If you plan to do any repairs yourself, make sure that you have all the tools, materials and supplies at hand and that a ladder, should you need one, is safely secured on a flat, level surface. The general rule of thumb is to angle the base of a ladder at a distance of 30 centimetres away from the wall for every 1 metre of height and the top of a ladder should rest on a secure surface.



  • Where possible, tie the top of a ladder to a roof beam.
  • Wear rubber-soled shoes for maximum grip, and gloves. A tool belt, shoulder bag or backpack is handy for carrying what you need, without hampering you when going up or down the ladder, or working on the roof.
  • Use only the centre section of each step or rung, and avoid leaning to the left or right whilst climbing.
  • At all times, keep children well away from ladders.


  • A roof rack support is ideal when used to support a ladder onto a flat room, or where walls need to be protected.
  • Use nuts and bolts to secure the support to the ladder frame.

Janice Anderssen



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