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Roofing Specialists


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Home page logo: Ongong slate roof repair. Photo: Jeffrey S. Levine

The Repair, Replacement
& Maintenance of Historic
Slate Roofs

Jeffrey S. Levine

Introduction
History of Slate Use
Character and Detailing
Where Does Slate Come From?
Deterioration of Slate and Slate Roofs
Repairing Slate Roofs
The Replacement of Deteriorated Roofs
Maintenance
Conclusion

Maintenance

Given the relatively high initial cost of installing a new slate roof, it pays to inspect its overall condition annually and after several storms. For safety reasons, it is recommended that building owners and maintenance personnel carry out roof surveys from the ground using binoculars or from a cherry picker. Cracked, broken, misaligned, and missing slates and the degree to which delamination has occurred should be noted, along with failed flashings (pin holes, open seams, loose and misaligned elements, etc.) and broken or clogged downspouts. A roof plan or sketch and a camera can aid in recording problems and discussing them with contractors. In the attic, wood rafters and sheathing should be checked for water stains and rot. Critical areas are typically near the roof plate and at the intersection of roof planes, such as at valleys and hips. Regular maintenance should include cleaning gutters at least twice during the fall and once in early spring, and replacing damaged slates promptly. Every five to seven years inspections should be conducted by professionals experienced in working with slate and steep slopes. Good record keeping, in the form of a log book and the systematic filing of all bills and samples, can help in piecing together a roof's repair history and is an important part of maintenance.

As part of regular maintenance, an attempt should be made to keep foot traffic off the roof. If maintenance personnel, chimney sweeps, painters, or others must walk on the roof, it is recommended that ladders be hooked over the ridge and that the workmen walk on the ladders to better distribute their weight. If slates are to be walked on, it is best to wear soft soled shoes and to step on the lowermiddle of the exposed portion of the slate unit.


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contact:
East Coast Builders - Roofing Specialists

Granville, New York 12832
"Have Slate?... We'll Travel!"


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