Leadwork: a guide for UK homeowners

Roofing leadwork plays a vital role in protecting your home from the elements and ensuring a watertight roof. This guide aims to provide homeowners with valuable information about roofing leadwork, plus its average lifespan and maintenance tips.

What is roofing leadwork?

Roofing leadwork refers to the lead in various components of a roof, such as flashings, valleys, gutters, and chimney stacks. Lead is by far the preferred material due to its durability, malleability, and ability to create effective weatherproof seals.

Lead lifespan

With proper installation and regular maintenance, quality roofing leadwork can last for several decades. On average, a well-maintained lead roof can endure for 50-100 years. However, the lifespan may vary based on factors like climate, exposure to pollutants, and maintenance practices.

Looking after your leadwork:

  1. Regular inspections

Conduct visual inspections of your roof at least twice a year, preferably in spring and autumn. Look for signs of damage, corrosion, or missing lead elements.

  1. Cleaning

Ensure gutters, valleys, and other lead components are free from debris, such as leaves or twigs. These can impede water drainage and cause damage. Remove moss and lichen which can retain moisture, leading to corrosion. You should use appropriate biocides, or consult a professional for safe removal.

  1. Do not walk

Minimise foot traffic on lead roofs to prevent accidental damage. If you notice any signs of damage or deterioration, consult a qualified roofer to address the problem before it worsens.

Maintenance tips for leadwork

  1. Flashings

Inspect flashings around chimneys, dormer windows, and roof joints for cracks, gaps, or signs of lifting. These areas are prone to water penetration.

  1. Gutters and valleys

Examine gutters and valleys for debris accumulation, sagging, or signs of corrosion. Clean them regularly to ensure proper water flow.

  1. Leadwork around chimneys

Check the lead flashings around the base of the chimney stack are intact and adequately sealed. Any gaps can result in water leaks.

  1. Staining

Internal water stains might indicate a leak in the leadwork. Investigate the source promptly.

Know your roofing terms

There are several specialist terms used by roofers. By familiarising yourself with technical parts you’ll find it much easier to diagnose any issues and request assistance:

Flashing: Thin lead strips used to create a waterproof seal around roof penetrations, such as chimneys or vents.

  • Valley: The V-shaped metal channel used to direct rainwater away from the intersection of two roof slopes.
  • Soldering: The process of joining two lead components using a molten metal alloy (solder) to create a watertight seal.
  • Patination: The natural formation of a protective layer on the surface of lead due to oxidation.
  • Apron: A horizontal piece of lead installed under windows or along walls to prevent water ingress.
  • Soakers: Lead pieces that fit beneath roofing tiles to prevent water penetration.

Replacing leadwork

Whenever it becomes necessary to replace damaged or deteriorated leadwork, follow these steps:

  • Engage a reputable roofing contractor with proven expertise in leadwork to assess the extent of the damage and provide recommendations.
  • Obtain multiple quotes from different contractors to ensure a fair price.
  • Choose high-quality lead materials to ensure longevity and effectiveness.
  • Ensure the leadwork is installed according to industry best practices and local building regulations.

Regular inspection and maintenance are key to preserving the integrity of your roofing leadwork. By identifying issues early on and addressing them promptly, you can extend its lifespan and protect your home from water damage.

Remember, investing in the care and maintenance of your roofing leadwork will pay dividends in the long run, safeguarding your home and providing peace of mind. If you have any concerns about your leading, please give our friendly team a call today on 020 3189 1618.

Share this post

Roof Rescue Ltd - Checkatrade