Roof Crocodiling or Alligatoring

WHAT IS ROOF CROCODILING AND HOW DOES IT AFFECT YOUR FLAT ROOF?

flat roof crocodiling of waterproofing
Flat roof waterproofing looking like crocodile skin. This is crocodiling!

Waterproofed concrete and composite flat roofs on residential and commercial buildings require more maintenance than sloped roofs. They react differently to sun and moisture than tiled or sheeted roofs and require more frequent maintenance to ensure they function as they should. One common problem with many flat roofs is crocodiling.

What is Crocodiling?

Crocodiling is a crazed cracking pattern in the surface of the waterproofing. It looks like crocodile skin, which is where the name comes from.

Crocodiling is a sign that your waterproofing is ageing. The sun’s UV rays dry out and damage the waterproofed surface, and after five years or more years, the coating may develop small cracks. The older your roof gets before you repair the crocodiling, the more expensive it will get.

Extreme temperature changes, changing from hot sunshine to sudden cloudbursts and rain, and even hot winter days and very cold nighttime temperatures will cause new cracks to appear and will make existing cracks worse. 

Leaves and debris will allow water to pool on the membrane which, together with the elements, will hasten the deterioration of protective coating and waterproofing itself.

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Plants Growing against Your House.

The Danger of Creeper Plants Growing Against Your House

Creeper Plants

A while back, I inspected a house in an older part of Johannesburg. From the road, the house was very pretty with an ivy creeper growing on the house and boundary walls. However, having plants winding their way up your outside walls can cause actual damage to your house. Therefore, you should think twice before allowing creepers to grow on any wall in the first place.

In fact, the best advice is not to have any gardens within 1 metre of your home! Watering gardens against your home can cause uneven settlement of the foundation and cracks in your house.

The worst plants to plant against your house are destructive plants known as “self clingers”.

Self-clinging creepers

Self clinger creeper’s rootlets go into existing fine cracks and fissures, using them to enhance adhesion and occasionally penetrating the interiors of buildings through them. The mortar between bricks can be loosened through this activity and is often torn away from the wall when a creeper is removed. The same strong adhesion can result in chunks of plasterwork being pulled away, and attached to the creeper vines.

In addition, on roof structures, creeper tendrils and rootlets can work their way under roof tiles and other roofing materials. Unless you remove the creeper maintenance, like painting and roof repairs, is impossible.

Moreover, any plants and shrubs with their foliage against your home may even dislodge gutters and roof tiles and can hold damaging moisture against wall surfaces causing moisture to penetrate into the wall and roof structure of your home.

Some articles and posts claim not all climbing plants are bad for your house and some can provide “genuinely benefits”. However, the detrimental effect of having these climbers on your walls far outweighs any benefits they may have. Moreover, some climbing plants are very aggressive in the way they attach themselves to your walls and, if left unchecked, can cause serious structural problems.

Which creepers to avoid?

Ivy is a prime example. The sort of plants to avoid having grown up on your wall is often the ones that have “suckers” or little mini branches like spikes, that burrow under the paint into the plastered walls and into the mortar joints of the face brick walls for a foothold.

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