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Classification of factors contributing to roof leaking focusing on clay tile roof and asbestos roof on Malaysia heritage buildings.


According to Kamal and Harun, it is believed that there are more than 37,000 historic buildings built between 1800 and 1948 throughout Malaysia which are worthy of preservation and conservation [1]. Marshall et al. mentioned that proper and timely maintenance will help to extend the life of the buildings [2]. Notwithstanding the fact that all materials will fail at some point, and require repair and replacement, early failure may occur for various reasons including poor maintenance, poor design, poor specification, poor construction, poor maintenance and inappropriate use. According to Rashid and Ahmad, the conservation of heritage or historical buildings is a method on preserving structures which are historically and culturally important to the nation [3]. Addleson suggested that when dealing with the rectification works of the heritage buildings, the architects should understand the discipline that the combined use of the materials, especially in the recent modern multi-layer construction systems with modern construction materials and imposes them in design detail solutions or creatively use the discipline as a motivation in design [4].

Talib and Sulieman stated that roof system is very important as it provides shelter for the interior spaces of the buildings [5]. For convenience, the readers can do the cross reference on all the selected Malaysia building leakage cases detail at tabling information like failure causes as well as possible best solution suggestion.


All the Malaysian cases data are based on the collection of real rectification works on selected building leakage projects as well as from author and research assistant personal observations. The reparative tasks were done by the local waterproofing specialist contractor implemented mostly at the cities located within the western part of Malaysia's Malay peninsula; cities like Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Jaya, Jasin, City of Melaka, Taiping and Penang. With qualitative reserch approach, a total of 64 real project case studies as well as from personal observation has been identified and selected, accumulated since 1994. In the process accumulating the data, a series of unstructured interviews were made with the building owners, building maintenance representatives and of course the reparative contractors. It is quite interesting to note that all the Malaysian cases are the real maintenance rectification works and has been given 10 years warranty or even up to 15 years depending on the type of material used for the said work. Thus the standard of work must be in performed within the highest quality and using the best product standard for each job.


(i) Roof leakage rectifications procedures for clay or slate roof tile and asbestos roofing:

Table 1 shows 9 defects which list indicating the rectification frameworks to overcome the defects pertaining to the clay or slate roof tiles on the said heritage buildings of the research paper study. The above table indicating on the best possible rectification works that can be done for each identified leakage problem pertaining to the concrete flat roof as well the suggested waterproofing material or product can be used for each cases. Each of the 9 defective cases has been identified with the detail rectification works to overcome the tile or even slate roof seepage together with suggested waterproofing material together with the product brand to be used which are derived from the actual rectification works done. The list below helps the maintenance crew to identify each of the possible leakage scenario on the heritage buildings and also indicating on the step by step rectification works and it can become as a guideline framework for the crew. It is the intention of this paper to list up the possible rectification works to ease-up the maintenance management team in doing the maintenance works for the heritage building. It can become as an initial guidelines to be used for the leakage work pertaining to the clay tile roof.

Table 2 schedule out 9 typical problems dealing with the water seepage normally happened in regards to the use of asbestos as a covering material of roof structure. The list also come with the best possible rectification tasks in order to solve the leakage problem together with the suggested waterproofing material or product brand can be used to rectify the defects. The analysis found out that the nine typical scenarios always occurred in regards to the water seepage in relation to the asbestos roof of the selected old structures be able to the maintenance crew to schedule their maintenance tasks in order to ensure avoid future roof leak. The rectification works below are based on the real experience in handling the seepage problem on actual tasks of the old buildings. With the conservation works to ensure the original state of the physical appearance being conserve together with the 10 years warranty to be given to the building owner; the correct steps and procedure must be done properly to avoid double cost in case the job need to redo if first attempt failed. However, due to proven health risk, do not maintain and use asbestos roof. Total replacement need to be done if required and use asbestos free roof type available on market.


Having an initial guidelines or initial frameworks dedicated to specific roofing or covering material for the heritage or old buildings for this case are a good thing to benefit building maintenance team. The paper focusing on the suggested best possible rectification works for the asbestos roof and for the clay or slate tile roofing. The rectification works must be done in proper steps and to use the correct method and choosing the right material in order not to repeat the same process hence become not economical in term of business aspect of the waterproofing company. Normally the rectification works come along with at least 10 years warranty period thus all the step and procedure must be right to avoid repeating reparative works. It is important to ensure that all the rectification works done maintaining the physical appearance of the historical building; the look as what it should have been before been maintain. Thus, the choice of the right waterproofing system together with the correct material is very important and has been considered when the tasks has been undertaken.

While the finding determined that even though asbestos roof surprisingly the most numbers of the old building undertaken in this research, flat concrete roof as well as the metal roof are the two types of roof that mostly being as roof covering structure of the analysis. As a conclusion, by determining and identifying the factors always leading to the clay tile roof and asbestos decking's water leakage, the predicted defects can be obtained and some money can be saved by having periodical maintenance check-up. After all, it is the objective of the research at least to put some savings on the maintenance aspect hence be able the Government to spend more money on other useful matter.


The author would like to thank Universiti Sains Malaysia (through RUI grant account no: 1001/PPBGN/816247) which enable the research to goes on smoothly.


[1] Kamal, K.S. and S.N. Harun, 2002. 'Proceedings: International Symposium Building Research and sustainability of Built Environment in the Tropics', Jakarta, Indonesia.

[2] Marshall, D., D. Worthing, R. Heath and N. Dann, 2014. 'Understanding Housing Defects', Routledge, London & New York.

[3] Rashid, R.A. and A.G. Ahmad, 2008. 'The implementation of maintenance works for historical buildings --a review on the current scenario' ICBEDC, Universiti Sains Malaysia.

[4] Addleson, L., 1992. 'Building Failures: A Guide to Diagnosis, Remedy and Prevention', Butterworth-Heinemann, Oxford.

[5] Talib, R., M.Z. Sulieman, 2011. "Choosing the right Waterproofing system: Case study of the EPF building, Malaysia.", Proceeding for 5th Int. Conf. on Built Env. in Dev. Countries (ICBEDC 2011). Vistana, Penang.

Roslan Talib, A Ghafar Ahmad and Mohd Zailan Sulieman

School of Housing, Building and Planning, Universiti Sains Malaysia


Article history:

Received 12 October 2014

Received in revised form 26 December 2014

Accepted 1 January 2015

Available online 17 February 2015

Corresponding Author: Roslan Talib, School of Housing, Building and Planning, Universiti Sains Malaysia E-mail:,
Table 1: List of rectification frameworks to overcome the
defects pertaining to the clay or slate roof tiles.

Clay/slate roof tile      Product sample

Cracked clay roof        Monier clay roof
tile                     type or similar.

Flashing between         Sealant silicone
wall and roof failed     brand BOSTIK or

Roof ridge and hip       Monier clay roof
moves allow gaps          tile. Sealant
                          silicone brand
                            BOSTIK or

Timber roof truss           Setia Wood
deteriorate             products/UAC steel

Moss accumulate        Use Wagner moisture
deter water flow           & damp meter
                       detector or similar.

Strong wind allow      Plant tropical leave
tiles move              less Christmas or
                          pine tree type

Human intervention     Use Wagner moisture
                           & damp meter
                       detector or similar.

Roof tile gap due to       GeoProfound
earthquake, building   Engineering provide
piling effect or           micro piles
soil movement.              services.

RWDP size not           Bina Plastic uPVC
sufficient             products or similar.
                        Ensure with SIRIM

Rectification             Rectification

Ensure to replace       Cracked may result
with closer original      from premature
resemblance. If           tile/shingles.
repairable, apply         Ensure quality
sealant epoxy along        selection of
cracked line.               shingles.

Expired sealant to         Ensure metal
replace with new        flashing properly
one. Ensure metal        glued with epoxy
flashing overlay in     sealant seal into
2 layers.                   the wall.

Possible to lay         Defects require to
sealant epoxy             make good i.e.
between joints to      rearrange manually.
avoid leakage.           Also due to poor
                        laying of tiles at
                           first place.

Deteriorate truss       Option to replace
need to be replaced     timber truss with
manually. If use         maintenance free
timber, ensure use          metal one.
termite free type.

Ensure roof design       Moss need to be
min.12.5 degree low          removed
pitch.                    periodically.

Prefer design           Typical problem is
orientation with         wind uplift. To
maximum wind              arrange tiles
resistant.                  manually.

Monitor human             Installing new
movement on roof        structures on roof
location. Regular         top must be in
maintenance                 waterproof
inspection required.        condition.

Must use micro           Ensure building
piling/less vibrate    having mechanically
type of piling for     vibrate proof design
building next to       feature. Monitor on
site.                   soil movement near

Replace new            RWDP and roof joint
sufficient size RWDP   piece must be sealed
with new one. Prefer    properly to ensure
to use uPVC type.           leak free.

Table 2: List of 9 typical problems dealing with the
water seepage for asbestos roof.

* Asbestos roof   Product sample   Rectification    Rectification

Strong wind       Plant tropical    To rearrange      Plant more
create gap          leaf-less          tiles           trees to
between roof       Christmas or      manually.         protect
sheet             pine tree type   Prefer design    building from
                     nursery        orientation      strong wind.
                                    with maximum     Be selective
                                        wind           on tree
                                     resistant.        species.

Crack roof           Sealant        If sheet at      Cracked may
sheet             silicone brand     repairable       cause from
                    BOSTIK or      condition, use     defective
                   equivalent.     sealant epoxy     sheet/lines.
                                    along crack        Quality
                                       line.         selection or

Roof flashing        Sealant          Expired       Long term: To
to wall not       silicone brand   sealant to be       install
function            BOSTIK or      replaced with      expansion
                   equivalent.        new one.        joint with
                                    Ensure metal      sealant at
                                      flashing          metal
                                   properly glued   flashing/wall
                                     with epoxy         joint.
                                    sealant into
                                     the wall.

Timber roof         Setia Wood       Option to        Ensure use
truss              products/UAC    replace timber      treated
deteriorate        steel truss       truss with     (termite free)
                                    maintenance       timber for
                                     free metal      roof truss.
                                        one.        Inject termite
                                                     inside site

Roof sheet have    GeoProfound     Must use micro    To make good
gap due to         Engineering      piling/less      insufficient
building          provides micro    vibrate type      depth and
movement i.e.     pile services.   of piling for       width of
earthquake,                        building next     foundation.
piling, soil                          to site.          Ensure
movement                                               building
                                                    vibrate proof

Metal nail/       Lysaght metal     Replace old         Double
screw/sealant     screw/Sealant     sealant with     protection:
not function      silicone brand   new one ASAP.     put sealant
                    BOSTIK(c) or        Replace        epoxy on top
                   equivalent.     missing screw    of screw/nail.
                                    or nail with
                                      new one.
                                     must be in

Human               Use Wagner          Any         Monitor human
intervention        moisture &      installation     movement on
                    damp meter         of new       roof location.
                   detector or      structure on     Workers must
                     similar.       roof must be       be fully
                                   leak free with    supervised.

RWDP size not      Bina Plastic     Replace new     RWDP and roof
sufficient        uPVC products      sufficient      joint piece
                   or similar.     size RWDP with   must be sealed
                   Ensure with        new one.       properly to
                   SIRIM label.    Prefer to use     ensure leak
                                     uPVC type.         free.

Moss accumulate     Use Wagner      Ensure roof      Moss need to
deter water         moisture &      design min.       be removed
flow                damp meter      10.0 or 12.5    periodically.
                   detector or       degree low
                     similar.          pitch.

* due to health
risk, do not
maintain and
use asbestos
roof. Total
replacement if
required. Use
asbestos free
roof type.
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Article Details
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Author:Talib, Roslan; Ahmad, A.Ghafar; Sulieman, Zailan
Publication:Advances in Environmental Biology
Article Type:Report
Geographic Code:9MALA
Date:Apr 1, 2015
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