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To avoid emergency work, start at the top.

After the past winter's wind, rain and snow storms, a closer look should be taken of the roof area. This may prevent the need for emergency work which often can be costly.

1. Roofside of Parapet Walls: Openings in the brickwork will be obvious. Take comparisons of the joints at the parapet compared with the lower floors, in order to determine the extent of erosion. Pay special attention to the east side wall which usually shows the greatest damage.

2. Flashings: On some of the older buildings the flashings were made of copper. (Because of the value of copper, for many years these flashings have been a collector's item for thieves). After the copper had been ripped away from the roof, the base flashings were usually just covered over with tar and sealed. Then, after the flashings dried out, they most often separated from the masonry, thereby leaving openings for heavy leakage. If there were no cap and base flashings removed from your property (because they were not copper in the first place) check for splitting or dry-rotting.

3. Roof Surface: The easiest of all areas for a visual check is the roof deck itself. You can observe any large blisters, rotted surfaces, low or high spots and you can feel soft spots and water blisters underfoot.

4. Sky lights: Skylights should be checked to see if any glass is damaged, and the condition of the metal framework should be checked for rotting.

5. Stairways, Elevators, Bulkheads, Incinerators, Main Chimneys: Any brickwork problem would be obvious, but note that since these are the highest elevations of the building, the bulkheads and chimneys tend to be subjected to the worst weather beating. The top few feet of the chimney, in many cases, may be loose, along with the chimney caps. Unless these problems are checked promptly, they can lead to much more extensive work.

Be certain to check the condition of the roof over the bulkheads. This is sometimes missed and not re-covered when the roof repairs are made.

6. Roof Penetrations: The waste pipe and roof vents will show obvious openings if there are any.

7. Roof Drains and Gutters: Depending upon the size of the building, and how it was constructed, the water drainage system varies from sewer connected drains on the roof to thru-wall scuppers and/or leaders and gutters. Some of these thru-wall areas, (because of the sagging of the roofs) may have become higher than the roof surface itself, permitting large puddles to form on these roofs.

Whether the conditions are wet or dry, the tell-tale signs will be there, such as large amounts of residue. Where gutters were used, you have to look for sagging or rotted areas.

The leader pipes that run along the outside of the building can be seen from the ground level. If these leaders are leaking, the joints and brick in the surrounding areas will look washed out.

Even if the leaden look good, if they drain into the sewer they can clog up. A simple test at ground level, if accessible, is just to tap on the lowest section of the leader. If it sounds hollow, obviously it is clear. If it has a solid sound, it may be filled with debris or water. This is a signal to check further into the sewer system.

8. Coping Stones: You should look for various things, depending upon the size of the coping stones. On all copings, the cross and bed joints should be sealed; the bed joints with cement and the cross joints with cement and an expandable type of caulking, in order to prevent water penetration as the joints expand and contract with the weather.

On clay stones, the joints are the major problem and pre-cast copings should be looked at more carefully. As pre-cast copings weather with age, they become more porous. An obvious sign of this would be mildew SPOLS (green moss).
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Copyright 1993, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Title Annotation:roof repair
Author:Kinney, Erik
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:May 19, 1993
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