Slate is among the most durable roofing materials, according to the website Ask the Builder. It is also known for its fire and hail resistant qualities. While slate roofs may last as long as a century, the material does occasionally need repair. The repair process varies depending on the type of problems needing attention. The project requires some special tools as well as ladders or scaffolding to facilitate safe working conditions on a roof.
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Signs of Problems
Odds are the slate on the roof is old. The material was most commonly used in the early 1900s. Check the slate with a screwdriver. If it is soft or flakes off when probed then it is failing. Slate in good condition is hard. Don't probe the slate roof tile too hard. If it is in good condition it is as brittle as glass. Check for loose slate while inspecting the tile.
Sometimes the slate itself is not the problem. Moisture causes swelling of the roof boards, which may cause the roofing nails to work loose. If copper nails and flashing were used during the slate installation this problem is minimised.
While very durable slate roofing tile do occasionally break. Removing the broken slate usually isn't difficult because the pieces are loose. Use a slate ripper hook to remove the nails that held broken slate in place. Replace the slate nailing it is place through the gap between the next course of slate.
Preventing Slate Roof Problems
Slate roofs should dry as quickly as possible after any rain event. This prevents moisture accumulation under the slate. Trim any trees close to the home so that the roof is not shaded. Allow the sunlight to dry the roof as quickly as possible.
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