Roof Leak Repair
Roof leak repairs are the bread and butter of any Edinburgh Roofer. The changeable weather and strong winds test the resilience of Edinburgh Roofs, and while prevention is usually better (and almost always cheaper) than a cure (See “Roof Maintenance” article), roof leaks happen on even the best maintained roofs as seemly increasingly harsh weather does it’s worst.
In this article we have explained a few of the most common causes of roof leaks that HomeForce’s thoroughly vetted and continually appraised Edinburgh roofers encounter.

Repair / Replace Flashing 

- What is lead flashing?

  • It is a lead “sheet” that covers a point where tiles / slates meet brick work
  • A 3 – 5cm deep channel (or chase) is cut into the brick work
  • One edge of the lead sheet is slotted into this channel and the lead then held in place with bungs or wedges
  • The lead sheet is folded over to cover the join between the brick work and slates or tiles
  • The channel or chase is then pointed (in filled with sand and cement) flush to the brick work 

- What causes it to fail?

  • Lead is hugely durable lasting up to 100 years or more so it is more likely that the pointing or brick work will give way before correctly fitted lead
  • As the lead is flexible, strong winds and driving rain can cause the lead to lift over time
  • The most common reason for lead flashing to fail though is poor installation where factors such as the expansion and contraction of the lead as temperatures rise and fall or condensation has been able to gather.

- How is it repaired?

  • Because of the durability of lead it can often be reused.
  • When this is the case it would be picked out and then re-bedded.
  • Old worn out flashing would be replaced with new

- What does it cost?

  • Excluding the cost of scaffolding costs will be £15 to £25 per meter.
  • Minimum charges would apply

Replacing Cement Skews

- What is a Cement Skew?

  • A cement skew or cement fillet is essentially a cheaper and less durable alternative to using lead flashing
  • As with lead flashing it is designed to make the join between tiles or slates and brick work water proof.
  • It is a sand and cement mix that is run along the length of the tile / brick work join

- What causes it to fail?

  • Although cheaper than lead flashing it is far less durable and so over time the cement will degrade and crumble over time.

- How is it repaired?

  • Cement skews can either be replaced with the same or, to create a longer lasting (though more expensive ) repair, they can be replaced with lead flashing.
  • It is important that a failed cement skew is properly removed and then replaced not just covered with more cement. Often referred to as “Buttering up”

- What does it cost?

  •  Not with standing any “minimum charges” allow £5 - £8 / meter

Slate or tile replacement

- What is it?

  • Over time the nails that hold slates in place may fail due to corrosion or wind lift causing the slates to fall out of place.
  • The slates themselves may also corrode and break or crack
  • Similarly for tiles these may crack or slip due to weathering, impact or simply age.

- How is it repaired?

  • Exactly how a slate is replaced will depend on the location on the roof of the damaged slate as well as the extent of the damage. In effect however the broken or slipped slates will be stripped out and then then new or reclaimed slates slid into place and secured.
  • The new slate(s) will be held in place with the kinds of nails that hold the other slates.
  • The final slate put back in place will be held in place using a slate hook, or lead tag


  • Interlocking concrete tiles are very straight forward to replace.
  • The tiles above the one to be replace are slid up under the tiles above. The damaged tiles is removed and replaced
  • The biggest challenge can be finding a tile to match the design of the ones already on your roof.

- What does it cost?

  • For a minimum charge (usually around £80 - £85) an experienced and qualified roofer would be able to replace up to 4 or 5 slates or tile. Materials would be in addition.

Gutter and Down Pipe

- What repairs might be needed?
  • Sometimes a repair may not be needed at all. Gutters and down pipes may simply need clearing. When a gutter is choked water can overflow and run either under eves or down the side of a building.
  • This water can find it’s way through degraded pointing causing water marks inside that give the impression of a leaking roof.
  • Common repairs would range from resealing joints, replacing brackets, hangers or end caps or replacing lengths of gutters or down pipes
  • An early sign that gutters main need maintenance work are staining on the masonry work near the gutters or downpipes. Left untreated this can lead to erosion of mortar or masonry and a catalogue of other problems if left for a sustained period of time.

- What causes damage?

  •  Lack of regular maintenance. Have a problem looked at sooner to save money in the long run.
  • Blockages caused by build up of vegetation
  • Fractures caused either by impact (A ladder being leant against the gutters) or freezing of trapped water
  • Corrosion; many gutters and down pipes in Edinburgh are cast iron which will corrode over time, and corrode more quickly if left unpainted.

- What does it cost?

  •  On Edinburgh Tenements the cost of access may form the bulk of the cost either for scaffolding
  • At ground level clearing of gutters can take from £40 to £100 depending on debris in the gutters and of course how much guttering needs cleared
  • Minor repairs such as resealing joints would also often be included in a gutter clearance
  • Usually a roofer will make a minimum charge of £80 to £90