Thermography is the use of thermal infrared energy emitted by various surfaces to create an image using a camera sensitive to thermal infrared photons. Depending on the camera, sensitivity and resolution, it shows the relative temperature of that surface. Since surfaces differ in the way they radiate thermal energy, it does require some understanding of physics, underlying structure, and device operation to meaningfully extract the information contained in a thermographic image.
As readers of my blog know, I focus on the system approach to analyzing issues, because many of the issues that come up are due to an incomplete understanding of how various elements of a system work together to give the desired end result. So when someone uses the same approach to analyse another aspect of owning a home, I pay attention. I was privileged to be present at a discussion organized by Jon Eakes, a well-known advisor to homeowners (forty years, I believe), about the benefits of a system called Tri-Energy, developed by Martin Janssen of ABC Hybrid Energy Inc. This meeting was held on January 12, 2017, at the Holiday Inn Pointe-Claire, and was open to anyone who had an interest in the subject. A number of homeowners who already had installed the system were present to talk to other homeowners about their experiences. Simply put, the system benefits homeowners by using the equipment most homeowners already have, in a much more intelligent and efficient manner, thereby improving comfort, and reducing operating expenses.
Metal roofs with smooth surfaces (native metal like copper or zinc, or painted metal) are generally quite slippery when wet. In winter, under the right conditions, this allows accumulated snow (and ice) to avalanche off roofs. If the fall area has no traffic or things that can get damaged, that’s probably a good thing, as there is less weight on the roof. If the snow ends up hitting people (your kids, your postman/woman, your visiting friends), or sensitive property (your car, your expensive BBQ, your heat pump, your eavestroughs/gutters), then that’s not a good thing. Unfortunately, if the snow control methods were not part of the original roof design and installation, then intervening after the roof is installed is often an area ripe with unintended consequences.
For most people, a roof is leaking when the ceiling gyproc starts to discolour, or bulge, or when the paint starts to bubble.
This usually happens after a heavy rain, or at the end of winter when the snow is melting off the roof. Yes, those are usually leaks. They are easy to notice and impossible to ignore. However, the sad thing is that the cause of the leak is usually several years in the making, and by the time the leak is noticed, there is lots more damage that has occured. In other words, the apparent and visible leak is preceded by “invisible” leaks that start (often) many years before the leak is apparent. This post is about these invisible leaks.
Metal roofs are much better products compared to asphalt shingles when considering durability, performance, and resistance to the weather. However, one aspect of metal roofs that often surprise new owners is the difference in behaviour during the winter, if the metal is a smooth metal like painted steel, painted aluminum, or native copper.
If you have a tar-and-gravel low-slope roof (typical of constructions in many areas in Montreal), you may consider changing the roofing material to something else. Two common alternatives to tar-and-gravel are two-ply membrane assembly and standing-seam hidden-fastener metal panels.
Most people think they have a good grasp of how roofs work – the shingles (usually asphalt) keep the water out, and that they do that by being the waterproof layer that stops water from getting in. That’s more myth than fact.
Another myth, is that caulking is an acceptable way to achieve waterproofing.
Another myth, is that if you have ice-and-water shield on your roof, you’re good.
What all these myths have in common is that they misunderstand how a sloped roof system works in reality.
You were happy to have the roof done a few years ago and you were delighted when the roofer told you he saved you money. Except that now your gyproc is showing signs of water damage, and the last roof lasted 15 years without any leaks in that location. What should you do?
The quick answer is:
Diagnose the problem
Identify the probable cause
Assemble your evidence
Notify the party responsible in writing
Give adequate time for the party responsible to respond and correct
If no acceptable solution is reached, escalate
The long form of the answer follows below. (Disclaimer: I am not giving legal advice in this post. The following discussion is only one of the ways such issues can be resolved, and there may be other mechanisms available to you that are not covered in this post).
Condensation plays the same role in “modern” roofing practice as “bad spirits” did in medieval times. If something went wrong, you blamed the bad spirits. Nowadays, if a roofing system is not working, it’s due to “condensation”. So let’s get into it and understand what condensation is, when can it appear in a roof system, and what corrective action you can and should take if condensation is really the cause of an apparent leakage.