Roof Repair 101 – How to Begin Repair Contracting Process for Roofing (in Canada)

General Roofing Systems Canada (GRS) provides Roof Repair throughout Canada. Calgary, Red Deer, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Lloydminster, Saskatoon, Regina, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Canmore, Banff, Cranbrook, Kelowna, Vancouver, Whistler, Winnipeg, Mississauga, Toronto and points between. British Columbia. Alberta. Saskatchewan. Manitoba. Ontario. 

[To the reader: This article is a Canadian adaptation of an article that I originally published in our stateside blog.]

A Step by Step Guide for Successful Execution of Contracting Roof Repair and Maintenance Services in Canada.

First, a Little Bit About Me.

I have been managing roof repair crews in Canada from Vancouver to Edmonton / Calgary to Saskatoon / Regina and Toronto / Mississauga for about ten years now. Repairs on every roof system type imaginable on projects the size of five football fields (industrial type manufacturing facilities) to small repairs on homes – products including flat roofs to shingles to roof coatings, metal roofs and many more.

This experience has given me unique insight that I hope will help you with engaging your roof repair challenges in such a way that brings success.

When your roof is leaking it is important to undertake repairs in such a way that successful remediation  is achieved in the most effective and efficient way. Re-do’s are not a good place to find yourself. Roof repairs are expensive, but more than cost, the inconvenience of business operation interruption or interior business or home damage can be considerable. And, in some instances a roof simply cannot leak (such as with molten copper facilities or steel manufacturing plants or buildings that house computer servers such as our clients that operate cloud computing operations).

The goal when starting the process of roof repair is to have successful completion in the most predictable, efficient and economically feasible manner.

Successful roof repair requires the following steps:

Determine the Type of Repair, Replacement or Maintenance Needed.

The reason you first want to determine the type of repair needed is so that you can effectively communicate with contractors you call, but more importantly so that you call the correct type of roofing contractor for the right type of roof repair. Also, if it is an emergency situation there are contractors like GRS that will attend 24 hours a day.

Emergency Roofing Repair
Red Seal Roofer attending to Emergency Roofing Repair in Calgary.

Do You Have a Residential, Commercial, Industrial or Institutional Roof?

This is important because you want to hire a company that has regular experience in the same working environment. When we are called to work in a mining operation for example or crews are required to operate within parameters that are appropriate to industrial operations.

Contractors that are equipped, trained and know how to function in required safety, have the appropriate insurance and more are important considerations.

In Canada we find our crews attending many industrial sites that require stringent safety procedures from nuclear and manufacturing in Ontario, to coal mines in British Columbia, the oil and gas industry in Alberta and Saskatchewan and much more.

Roofers, Safety
Personal Protection Equipment on our Roofers in Edmonton.

Generally, What Type of Roof System do you Have? 

Is it a flat roof (low slope membrane), a steep pitch (such as shingles, tile or shake) or a low slope industrial roof? The reason this is important (beyond selecting a company suitable to the type of operating environment) is so that you hire a contractor that is an expert in the specific type of roofing you have. Flat (or low slope membrane) contractors are much more specialized in scope than say a shingle company (for example). The same applies for industrial low slope metal roof systems… some contractors only know how to replace a low slope metal roof and may not give you options for coating or recover options.

Industrial Roofing Repair Mississuaga
Our workers applying a coating for low slope industrial roof repair in Mississauga.

What Type of Roofing Product Needs Repair? 

Once you have identified contractors that work in your type of environment (residential, commercial, industrial, institutional) and you have determined that the contractor is in fact an expert for the general type of roofing (flat – low slope membrane, steep pitch shingles, tile or shake or low slope industrial metal) then it is important to know that the contractor is experienced and an expert at repairs for the specific type of product.

Not all flat roofing contractors (for example) are knowledgeable and experienced in all flat membrane material types. Flat roof membranes include variations of Tar and Gravel (Built up Roofing), SBS Modified (torch-on, hot tar mopped, or cold applied), EPDM (rubber roll roofing), TPO (Thermal Plastic), PVC (Poly Vinyl), Liquid Applied (such as hot rubberized asphalt, liquid rubber, or a white reflective coating) and more.

With steep roofs this can include asphalt shingles, shake, concrete or clay tile, synthetic tile, metal shingles, metal tile, composite tile, rubber tile, standing seam metal and so much more.

The point is that you need to identify a contractor that has specific experience in the specific type of installation. You do this by asking questions and discussing the contractors knowledge. Also, specific to the market in Canada we have noticed many spray foam contractors that may not have a background in roofing providing spray foam roofing systems.

The roofing trade is a red seal trade in Canada so you do want to consider due diligence as it applies to the contractor’s experience and knowledge of systems (more than just being able to apply spray foam and a coating).

Roof Repair Toronto
Ongoing repairs in Toronto – EPDM, Commercial Roof

What Options for Repair, Maintenance or Replacement are Available for the Specific Type of Product? 

In other words, you want to also know specific to your type of system and product what options are available. Let’s assume you have a tar and gravel roof that is leaking. You want to know first of all what options the contractor is proposing for repairs, maintenance and replacement (or a recover or coating). But more than that, if the contractor is recommending replacement you want to know more about the options for replacement (this can include removal of the complete system to the substrate, or perhaps only leaving the insulation after the top membrane is removed, or even simply removing only the gravel and putting another system on top of the old).

The point is, you want to know about all the viable options. Once you know all your options for repair, maintenance and replacement you can then focus on the actual “system” or “assembly” itself. The climate in Canada can be a significant deciding factor also, so it is important to understand how a membrane interacts with the climate (expansion and contraction, UV, insulating value and more).

Torch On, Roof Repair, Toronto
Torch On Roof in Toronto, Ontario.

What are Your Objectives? 

Your objectives will determine what the repairs, maintenance or replacement include. For example, if you have an old low slope metal roof (commercial or industrial) that is starting to leak, you may consider spot repairs with coating type material or you may consider a complete coating or replacement of the metal roof panels. But it wouldn’t make sense to consider spray foam to that roof if you are wanting to simply waterproof the roof. Spray foam roofing would make sense (perhaps) if your goal is for R value but not specifically for waterproofing a metal roof that is leaking. Why pay for R value when that isn’t what you need is my point.

Many of our Edmonton Roof Repair customers (specifically this area of Canada because of the regional marketing) make the mistake of getting a spray foam roof when they actually only needed waterproofing (accomplished with liquid rubber or some other roof coating with-out the cost of the spray foam). And for each roof system and type there are many considerations.

Tar and Gravel, Roof Repair, Mississauga
Tar and Gravel Roofing Repair in Mississauga Ontario.

What are the Geographic Implications?

Different roof systems are better for different locations. Some membranes are better in hot environments and some are better in cold. Some roof assemblies make more sense in hot climates than cold also. Be sure your roofing contractor is knowledgeable in the different product offerings and the specific engineering and science behind each for your specific climate (achieving a net benefit to the building efficiency for example).

A simple example would be roof coatings – a reflective or white roof coating in a hotter (relative speaking in Canada) sunny climate such as Kelowna makes more sense than in a colder climate like Edmonton. A black roof coating vs. a white roof coating (reflective) in Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon, Regina, Winnipeg and even in parts of Ontario is more often a net benefit choice (simply because there are more cold days than warm so the objective becomes absorbing heat and not reflecting the UV).

The same applies to low slope / flat roof membranes – a black roof may make more sense than a white (reflective) roof in Edmonton, Calgary, Saskatoon, Regina or northern Ontario than in Kelowna, Vancouver or even in downtown Toronto. Our Toronto Roof Repair and Mississauga Roof Repair divisions constantly deal with the issue of white or reflective roof net benefit when inspecting and advising on roof replacement and repair. We are finding more and more stateside influence north of the border here in Canada with white roofs / reflective roofs and in cold climates they can cause significant issues with condensation and negative efficiency results.

Our main website has articles (go to grscanadainc.com and click on Flat Roofing) about the issue of condensation with white roofs in colder climates. Our Calgary Roof Repair division is seeing this at inspections all the time now.

Roof Coating, Mississauga, Industrial Roof, Metal
A low slope industrial roofing repair in Mississauga that requires a coating.

Due Diligence. Once you have determined your roof contractor works on your type of building, on that type of roof, on your specific type of product and that he or she will offer the available options for repair, maintenance or replacement you then need to finalize your search with simple due diligence such as making sure they have enough liability insurance, they are registered with local safety as provided for by law and they are credible.

As mentioned above, in Canada roofing is a Red Seal trade so this should be an important consideration especially with commercial, industrial, flat roofing, metal roofs and coatings. Typically serious due diligence is only a concern at the residential level because the industrial and commercial roofing contractors are few (there are 200 residential roofing contractors for every significant commercial or industrial roofing contractor) and the residential contractors can simply start up quickly with-out a lot of investment etc. The commercial roofing contractors have significant upstart cost and compliance protocols that deter fly by night start-ups.

Conclusion:

It is critical to select the right type of roofing contractor for your roof repair job. This is accomplished by following the steps I have outlined above. General Roofing Systems Canada (GRS) performs roofing work on all types of buildings and on all types roofs and products. We also provide our customers with all available options for repair, maintenance, replacement (including recovers or coatings) as part of the roof inspection reporting and quotation phase.

If you require simple roof repair advice or have any questions write me an email, fill out our roof repair online form or call anytime. If you require a roof repair quotation and/or inspection call our 24 hour call center and request assistance.

Thank you for reading my article on roof repair and best of luck on your project.

Tyler Sinclair.

Video with Summary Content:

Roof Repair Calgary, Red Deer, Edmonton, Fort McMurray, Lloydminster, Saskatoon, Regina, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, Canmore, Banff, Cranbrook, Kelowna, Vancouver, Whistler, Winnipeg, Mississauga, Toronto and points between. British Columbia. Alberta. Saskatchewan. Manitoba. Ontario.