Here in Preston I could confidently say that pretty much 90% of roofing material is slate. It is durable, easy to fix and replace, and is probably protecting you and your home right now. Having a slate roof can last for centuries without being replaced, but of course it is not just the slate you have to worry about – how it was installed and the quality of the other materials used (the rafters, the flashing etc) can also affect how long the roof lasts.
Because slate roofs last so long you’ve probably bought your house with a survey saying the roof is fine, but how will it last? You won’t know what maintenance has been done, if at all, or what you should even look for if the slate roof is in urgent need of repair, or in a worst case scenario, complete replacement.
The best place to start is trying to find some record of when the roof was installed. This most likely was done when the house was built however if the entire roof has been replaced at any point there should be a record – perhaps an invoice. This could hopefully give more info on age and even what type of materials were used. If you can find out what variety of slate was used this can help in knowing how old it is and if and when it needs to be replaced.
If you have a head for heights you should be able to get up onto the roof and have a look at the slates themselves. You should be able to examine each slate for signs of flakiness or surface wear. Slate is a layered material of compressed stone, and after a certain age can start to disintegrate. Look closely at the thickness of the slates as well – any that seem particularly thin have probably lost layers over time.
A more obvious indication of problems are cracked or broken slates. Some may have become dislodged and be unaligned with the others – some may have disappeared entirely, and you may be lucky and find these in the gutter!
If you can access the wooden rafters, eaves and beams underneath the slates there should be tell-tale signs of problems here too. The wood will have moisture stains if the slates are letting in water, or the wood may be rotting. You may be able to detect a musty smell. Looking at any potential damage on your roof, it is the wood that will show any obvious problems as the slate won’t display any issues unless they are beyond repair. Remember it is only a tiny crack or hole that can let in moisture and create permanent damage.
If you are based in Preston and think you may have a leak, give Total Roofing Solutions a call. They are a reputable Roofing Preston firm.