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How to Get Your Roof Ready for Bushfire Season

How to Get Your Roof Ready for Bushfire Season

In Australia we are no strangers to bushfires. In cities and regional towns alike, they’re an ever-present threat as we are surrounded by the beautiful bushland of our many national parks and the tinder-dry grass of fields and pastures. Our climate is one of our biggest international drawcards, attracting tourists from around the world who are keen to soak up the sun on our stunning, world-class beaches, and to see our unique flora and fauna. Unfortunately, our climate is also one of the biggest threats to the safety of our families and homes, being prone to regular bushfires and grass fires.

When is bushfire season in Sydney?

While bushfires can occur at almost any time in Australia, there is an acknowledged “bushfire season”. Because of the size of our continent and the vast range of climate zones (believe it or not, there are eight climate zones in Australia), bushfire season varies from region to region. In the northern regions the danger period is winter, while southern regions are more at risk during the dry summer months.

Fire Seasons

Here in Sydney, the greatest bushfire danger period occurs following a dry winter and spring. According to the Bureau of Meteorology, Sydney homes are more at risk from spring to mid-summer. Particularly dangerous conditions are produced by deep low-pressure systems near Tasmania that force strong, hot and dry westerly winds into vulnerable coastal regions.

The return of more moist conditions, often brought about by the development of tropical cyclones off the coast Queensland, typically signals the end of “bushfire season”. However, our climate being what it is, with ever-changing weather patterns and significant periods of drought, the risks of bushfire never disappear completely.

 

How do homes get damaged during a bushfire?

While authorities can try to control the threat by employing backburning and other coordinated fire prevention strategies, there are actions that homeowners can take to minimise the damage to their properties.

Damage caused to homes by bushfire can occur in one of three ways:

  • Ember attack
  • Direct contact with flame
  • Radiant heat.

Research has shown that most bushfire damage to buildings is caused by embers or sparks being blown through unprotected openings. However, if flames ignite vegetation or flammable materials close to the home, there is greater risk of flames making direct contact with the home.

6 ways to prepare your roof before bushfire season

One of the most effective bushfire protection strategies that homeowners can use to reduce the potential risks posed to the safety of their home and families, is to ensure their home’s roof is well-prepared. We’ve put together a list of things you can do to ensure your roof is ready for bushfire season.

Ensure trees are properly trimmed back

1. Ensure trees are properly trimmed back

It is recommended you keep at least a 2m gap between your roof and any trees or tree branches to reduce the danger from radiant heat and sparks. Ensure all trees on your property, particularly those close to your home, are properly trimmed and don’t allow any branches to hang over your roof. Remove lower branches on large, established trees, to provide a vertical fire break and reduce the risk of grass fires reaching into the treetop leaf canopy.

Clean leaf litter and other debris from your roof and guttering

2. Clean leaf litter and other debris from your roof and guttering

It is recommended you pay particular attention to removing leaves and debris from your roof valleys, gutters, and downpipes. This task can be made much easier by installing gutter mesh to your gutters, however it is recommended that any such materials have a flammability index of no more than 5.

Routinely check your roof and ensure it is well-maintained

3. Routinely check your roof and ensure it is well-maintained

It is recommended you routinely check your roof and perform roof maintenance where necessary. Take particular care to ensure that gaps in your roof are blocked, to help prevent sparks and embers from entering your roof space. This involves checking that:

  • flashing is intact.
  • sarking has a flammability index of no more than 5.
  • pointing on tile roofs is in good repair.
  • roof tiles are intact, properly bedded and secure.
  • metal roof cladding is secure and undamaged.

Ensure any openings or gaps in your roof meet requirements or guidelines for fire safety

4. Ensure any openings or gaps in your roof meet requirements or guidelines for fire safety

Gaps underneath the corrugations in metal sheeting should be sealed or protected by sarking, mesh, use of a profiled metal sheet, a neoprene seal or compressed mineral wool. Tiled roof should be fully sarked. It is recommended that any openings or gaps in the roof, through which embers may enter the roof space, are protected and have been constructed in accordance with fire safety recommendations or requirements. This includes:

  • Roof vents and ventilators
  • Skylights
  • eaves and fascia

Roof vents and ventilators

Typically, these should be constructed of non-combustible materials with openings protected by corrosion-resistant steel or bronze mesh with a maximum aperture size of 1.8mm, and penetrations through the roof to accommodate vent pipes and ventilators should be sealed with a fire-retardant sealant or non-combustible collar.

Skylights

These should be sealed with a non-combustible sleeve or lining. Ventilated skylights should have openings protected by corrosion-resistant steel or bronze mesh with a maximum aperture size of 1.8mm.

Eaves and fascia

Gaps between rafters should be sealed with a non-combustible material at the line of the wall, or the junction between the roof and walls should be sealed by a fascia and eaves lining.

Ensure roof insulation is fire-resistant

5. Ensure roof insulation is fire-resistant

If you live in a particularly fire-prone area it is highly recommended that any roof insulation you install should be fire resistant, to provide an additional layer of protection. Products like Bradford Fireseal roof batts and Gyprock Fyrcheck both have excellent fire resistant properties, being specially constructed for fire separation and use in fire rated wall and ceiling systems.

Consider a roof sprinkler system

6. Consider a roof sprinkler system

Roof-mounted sprinkler systems work to cool the area around the home and extinguish embers. There are a range of roof-mounted and gutter-hung systems on the market – some are specially-designed hoses that attach to a garden hose and rely on gravity to drop a curtain of water that protects the home; others are high-volume, high-pressure systems that use pumps that can be connected to a water storage tank or swimming pool to deliver large amounts of water via long-range sprinklers.

In addition to creating a protective wall of water in front of your home these systems also work to keep your roof and gutters wet, as protection against any debris that may have been blown in by the bushfire front and ended up on the roof or in the gutters and downpipes.

Contact Sydney Roof & Building Supplies for all your roof protection and maintenance needs

Sydney Roof & Building Supplies carries a wide range of high-quality roof materials and roofing supplies, including hand tools, roof primers and paints, flashing, cowling, gutter mesh and roof insulation. Our fantastic team of knowledgeable staff are committed to providing all our clients with superior service – expert advice, fast delivery, and wholesale prices. For more information, call the team at Sydney Roof & Building Supplies today on (02) 8090 3483 or click here for further contact details.

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Types of Roof Flashing

Types of Roof Flashing

Roof flashing is critical in making sure water does not enter your roof.

Sydney homes receive a battering from the extreme weather conditions it experiences all year round. Heat waves, hail storms, heavy rainfalls, and  string wind, can all take a toll on your home, particularly the roof. Over time, these weather events may affect the structural integrity of your home’s roof system, resulting in damaged roofs and leaks.

This is why routine maintenance is important in reinforcing your roof and making its individual parts effective against any weather. One of the most overlooked yet, extremely crucial part of the roof is the unassuming, simple roof flashing.

What is Roof Flashing?

Roof flashing is a small elements of a roofing system. But, it does a significant waterproofing job. Flashing is designed primarily to prevent water from getting into the house through the gaps on the roof. It is estimated that 90 per cent of roof leaks are due to faulty flashing.

Different types of roof flashing protect different areas of the roof. But whatever type they may be, their main function is to redirect water away to prevent leak and damage. Roof flashing is applied to the corners and valleys of the roof, as well as to any object that projects outward from the roof.

Roof flashing comes in a variety of materials, such as:

  • Aluminium — a commonly-used flashing material. It is lightweight, durable, cheap and easy to apply. It is typically coated to protect it against corrosion.
  • Lead — soft and pliable, lead is one of the oldest flashing materials used for roofing. It is durable and often used for chimneys due to its reliable protection against water seepage. However, lead comes with health risks and is no longer used as often.
  • Copper/Lead Coated Copper — pliable, low-maintenance, solders well, and compatible with almost any wood preservatives, copper flashing is the most durable flashing material. It easily adapts to weather changes and lasts a long time, too.
  • Steel/Galvanised Steel — rust-resistant, easy to apply, and cheap, galvanised steel roof flashing is visually-appealing and can be painted on to meld with the rest of the roofing. It is not as durable a material, however, as others on this list. Thus, it is not recommended in regions with harsh weather conditions.
  • Plastics, Rubbers, and other Composite Materials — these are also cheap but may not be ideal for areas that experience extreme heat or cold. These can be made from recycled materials.

Certain building codes may require roofing professional to comply with specific standards for flashing. For example, flashing materials used must be manufactured in accordance with AS/NZS 2904. Check your local building codes to make sure your roofing system is compliant with the applicable regulations.

Different Types of Roof Flashing

How many types of roof flashing are there? Well, there is one type for every part of the roof — which is a lot! There’s even a flashing for flashing.  All the different types work together. Know more about the key types of roof flashing below:

Continuous/Apron Flashing

This flashing works like an apron between the roof slope and a vertical wall or roof penetration. It consists of a long piece of metal with expansion joints. Its purpose is to redirect water away and carry it down to the shingles.

Step Flashing

This consists of a rectangular metal bent at 90˚ in the centre for a roof-to-wall application. Protecting the transition spots between the roof and wall, this flashing is laid in “steps” — that is, in layers overlapping 2 inches. It redirects water into the gutter. If one layer fails to do its job, the one beneath it will carry on the task.

Base Flashing

Base flashing works with another flashing type, the counter flashing, to effectively seal the vertical and horizontal intersection of the roof. It is typically used for chimneys and walls or parapets. This flashing keeps water from penetrating the roof deck.

Counter Flashing

This flashing complements the base flashing and is entrenched into the masonry to prevent water from getting behind the base flashing. It is also known as cover flashing or cap flashing.

Drip Edging

Applied on a roof’s eaves, this flashing guards against the water seeping underneath the shingles in case of an overfilled gutter. Without it, water can get into your home and damage the roof deck, wood fascia board, drywall, and other roof parts.

Vent Pipe Flashing

This is a special flashing that has a cylindrical body with a flange at the bottom which is fitted over pipes. It prevents water from slipping around the pipes or flues.

Valley Flashing

Shaped like a V or W, valley flashing is placed atop the roofing felt where one of the most critical water leaks can happen — the roof valleys. The roof valley is where two segments of the roof meet forming a dip or a valley. This flashing type guides water down the roof and straight into the gutter.

Saddle Flashing

Also referred to as joist saddle flashing, this is placed over joists, beams, or other protrusions through the cladding.

Common Applications of Roof Flashing

Roof flashing is found all over the roof. These are the crucial areas where flashing is required:

  • Roof valleys and joints — there are prone to water penetration due to the angles that can easily collect water.
  • Roof protrusions — these are anything that juts out of the roof such as plumbing pipes, satellite poles, and dormers. Pipe boots fitted around the pipe can help keep water from slipping in.
  • Chimneys — flashing around chimneys prevents water from collecting and leaking at the base of the chimney.
  • Skylight — there are skylight installations that come with built-in flashing. Without it, roofing professionals purchase or create flashing for skylights, as this area can be notorious for leaks. Flashing for skylights typically consists of continuous flashing, step flashing, and finally, saddle flashing.
  • Roof edges — flashing around these areas help secure the roof against leaks by directing the water off the roof.
  • Kickouts — roofing professionals apply kickout or diverter flashing to reroute rainwater that falls at the lowest point of the joint between the roof and wall and into the gutter.
  • Roof ridge — flashing is applied to cover the roofing material. It secures the roof apex from water penetration due to rainwater falling at an angle.

When to Call for Professional Roof Flashing Service

Roof flashing is essential for weatherproofing every part of your roof that is vulnerable to leaks. Flashing also provides aesthetic appeal and creates a sharp, seamless finish on the roofing job. It is essential to pay attention to roof flashing during routine maintenance.

Over time, flashing can get damaged and may need replacement. If left unfixed, there may be serious water leak damage that can be quite costly to repair. When you notice signs of damage like holes, corrosion, dried out sealant, or flashing that has bent or come loose, it’s time for a roofing service.

When it comes to roof flashing, you can trust the high-quality products and services from Sydney Roof and Building Supplies. We carry different ranges of flashing for your roof. Contact us so we can discuss how we can help with all your roofing needs.

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