UK roofs must be prepared for extreme weather

Stuart Nicholson
Stuart Nicholson

We may be approaching the summer months, but in some parts of the UK, homeowners are still repairing damage caused by the Beast from the East and the smaller Mini Beast storms. With punishingly cold temperatures as low as -15, the UK was battered with three snowstorms in just a matter of weeks throughout February and March, bringing parts of the country to a standstill.

The unusually high volume of snow in some areas was certainly a test for pitched roofs, particularly on new builds. In fact, there have been recent reports in the media, as well as anecdotal feedback, about some instances where homeowners have experienced leaks in the roofs of their new houses due to the snow. This appears to have been caused by the excessive amount of snow leading to ingress through tile vents, ridge rolls or underlay, into the roof insulation and down through the ceiling.

While the amount of snow was high, these types of problems aren’t inevitable. Rather, it highlights the importance of choosing a high quality dry fix system and making sure it is installed correctly. Not all dry fix systems offer the same levels of weather-resistance and durability, which is precisely why the BS 8612 standard has been brought in and why it should be adhered to.

It seems strange to be talking about winter in the middle of May, but taking action now will make sure that roofs are prepared for any similar weather events next winter. Fixing to BS 5534 requirements will help to ensure that pitched roofs are as secure as possible, but it is also important that contractors are confident that the systems they are using will stand up to extreme weather and won’t lead to them being called back for repairs. There are several things that contractors can do to make sure they are safeguarding against extreme winter weather.

Dry Fix: preparing for extreme weather

  1. Make sure that any dry fix systems you use that require BS 8612 compliance, meet the requirements or have BBA certification. At Marley Eternit, we have already put our dry fix products through rigorous testing to ensure they meet or exceed the expectations of the new BS 8612 standard.
  2. When you are choosing a ridge roll product, consider the size of the holes or methods used for ventilation. Our Ridge Roll has been designed with smaller holes to minimise the risk of snow getting through, whilst still meeting the requirements of BS 5250.
  3. When installing roof vents, make sure you fit the soaker tray above – this helps to prevent snow or water getting through. Our tile vents come ready supplied with the soaker tray, not all products on the market do.
  4. Always install membranes to BS 5534 requirements and seal the laps to prevent snow or water ingress. Our vapour-permeable and non-breathable membranes come with integrated tape to seal the laps to prevent ballooning, without the need for additional tapes or the use of a dangerous fly batten.
  5. Consider using a full roof system from one manufacturer. This means all of the different components have been designed and tested to work together. In addition, with our roof system, you can benefit from a 15-year warranty, giving you peace of mind if there ever was a homeowner complaint and reducing the inconvenience of repair.

Whilst the deluge of snow seen in February and March was rare, experts predict that the UK will face more extreme weather over the next few years, with more storms, snow and flooding as a result of increasing global temperatures.

This means rather than treating these occurrences as once in fifty year events, we need to start taking it as the norm and make sure all elements of pitched roofs are built to withstand unusual amounts of snow or rain – from the roof tiles, to the underlays and dry fix systems.

As well as carrying out the rigorous BS 8612 dry fix tests, all of our roof tiles are subjected to wind tunnel testing for driving rain and deluge conditions equivalent to a once in 50-year extreme weather event, following the test methods stipulated in CEN/TR 15601: 2012.

If you have any queries, you can contact Marley Eternit’s technical team on 01283 722588, or visit the website for advice