“Rooftop Repercussions from Rudolph” – Protecting Your Roofs from Damage Caused by Holiday Lighting – Article by Charles Antis
The winter holidays are a favorite time of year for many who live in your communities. In fact, most of us get so excited that we decorate our homes with Christmas lights to spread our feelings of cheer. This enthusiasm sometimes results in damage to the weather-protective system that covers you. Damages include but are not limited to broken roof tiles and holes punched through your roofing and siding systems.
Roofing and waterproofing contractors delight in protecting your community by keeping it free from leaks. While dilapidation from age is expected, what is unexpected is damage to your roofs caused by homeowners and vendors.
Your roofing tiles and your stucco cover an asphalt-saturated “paper” which is the actual waterproofing membrane protecting your homes from the weather.
There are many non-penetrating fasteners and clips which are effective for installing holiday lighting and decorations. Nylon fascia clips and gutter clips are examples. Fasteners should never be installed through the roofing, siding, or metal flashing. Chuck Evans, President of Illuminated Concepts in Laguna Hills stated “The three best methods to attach Christmas lights are the parapet clip, the universal clip and the fascia clip. By using different combinations of these durable nylon clips, virtually every roof area lighting pattern can be attached without breaching the roofing system. ”
The only acceptable place for penetrating fastener consider-ation is the fascia board. The fascia is that eight or twelve-inch horizontal board that runs directly underneath the edges of your roof. Mr. Evans advises that “When you must attach the lighting anchors into the fascia, then I recommend using a T-25 (wire tacker). The staples will only penetrate the top ¼-inch of the wood and will not damage the weather-protective membranes behind the fascia.”
Due to the delicate nature of this membrane, broken tiles or holes through the siding can cause devastating moisture intrusion. Furthermore, once water breaches the weather protective paper, the entire surrounding paper protective system is compromised and loses longevity.
Tips for Holiday Lighting Installation:
No one is suggesting that holiday lighting be outlawed. Rather community associations are urged to adopt some simple rules for homeowners and vendors to follow:
1. Keep vendors and homeowners off the roof! Homeowners should never walk on your community roofs. Vendors should only do so when absolutely necessary. Holiday lighting installation can generally be accessed by the use of ladders. Not only does ladder-accessed installation help protect the roofing system; it is also much safer than standing on the roof edge.
2. If roof access is necessary, require vendors to use walkboards. A walkboard is an approximate 2’ by 4’ section of plywood with a skid-resistant topcoat and a resting point consisting of foam on the bottom. The cushioned platform allows vendors access to the roofing and flashing transitional areas, while not disturbing the integrity of the roof. (See inset article on making walkboards)
The use of walkboards should be requiredfor all non-roofing vendor traffic. This is especially true for satellite/ cable installers, pest companies, and painters.
3. Do not nail or drill through roofing, siding, or stucco
4. Consider a “Post-Santa” roof inspection. If your community goes a little “crazy” for the holidays, then arrange a post-holiday inspection from a qualified vendor who can repair and replace damaged components of your exterior shell system. At that time all broken tiles can be replaced and all fastener divots can be properly sealed at an affordable cost. It is imperative that damages to the roof and siding are repaired because the effects of moisture intrusion will surely cause additional damages to the compromised areas. Your roofing vendor can provide you with a list of what was necessary so that the HOA can bill the individual homeowner for the damages they caused.
It is your duty to your community to protect your investment. A few simple rules will keep you dry and allow you peace of mind during the busy holiday season.
How to Make Roofing Walkboards
Do not expect vendors to bring their own roof protection equipment. I recommend that you purchase walkboards or have them made and keep them at the guard gate or the clubhouse. In a newsletter, inform home-owners that any roof traffic requires the use of the pro-vided walkboards.
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