If you know how to fix common conservatory problems you could save yourself money or know when it’s time to call a professional. Conservatories are becoming an essential addition to any home, adding much-needed space character and style to your property.
In a recent survey, 73% of homeowners stated that the conservatory was their favourite room in their home and it’s easy to see the attraction; copious amounts of natural light flooding the room and the close proximity to the garden area make a conservatory a room unlike any other in the home. Unfortunately, though, a conservatory can also be problematic – which we’re going to walk you through and teach you how to fix common conservatory problems.
Why is my conservatory leaking
Conservatory leaks are one of the most common problems that homeowners experience, knowing you have a leak is one thing, finding and fixing it is totally different. Knowing how to fix common conservatory problems such as leaks could save you money if you know what you are looking for which is what we will cover in this article.
Leaking conservatories can seem a lot worse than they actually are, we are going to tell you how to diagnose a leaking conservatory and how to fix it.
Why is water leaking in through the conservatory Ridge:
The first place to look for a leak in the roof is at the highest point, the ridge. If you have water coming in or running along the ridge then there could be an issue with the ridge cap, the lead flashing where it meets the ridge or the bung at the end of the ridge cap. A leaking ridge is probably one of the easiest leaks to find as it’s at the very top of the conservatory, being the highest point a leak at the conservatory ridge height can be caused by the following:
Failed, cracked or missing sealant or cement:
Knowing how to fix common conservatory problems will help you to stop further damage to your home and belongings from occurring. The first place to look if the conservatory ridge is leaking is at the lead flashing above the ridge cap, the sealant around the lead and any cement work around that area. If you find any cracked or missing silicone, cement or porous lead it will need replacing straight away.
Ridge cap problems:
Assuming that the leadwork and sealant are all fine around the backend of the ridge, the next place to check is the ridge cap itself which can become loose due to expansion and contraction. To reseat the ridge cap the internal covers will need to be removed, this is a two-person job. Person one will need to go outside on the roof using the correct safety equipment.
Person two will need to be inside the conservatory and undo the clips by turning the black T-bolts clockwise one by one until the ridge cap becomes free. If there is no bar in the T-bolts, a small screwdriver can be used to turn the bolts.
Once the cap is loose, remove it completely and ensure that everything is sealed against the wall, the baffle is present and the brushes are still intact on the ridge cap. To refit the ridge cap, person one will need to line up the cap and push downwards whilst person two twists each T-bolt 45 degrees to lock the cap in place.
Slipped glazing causes leaks and is an easy fix
Over time glazing panels can slip which results in gaps where water can enter the conservatory. These gaps are not always obvious and it is worth checking each glass or polycarbonate panel carefully. Glazing panels slip due to a few reasons, poor installation, missing parts and expansion and contraction will all cause problems. Polycarbonate roofs tend to leak as they become older because over time glazing caps become weaker and do not grip the panels as well as they did when the roof was new, this will allow water ingress and if the parts are still available can be easily remedied.
To put glazing back in the correct position, you will need to remove the glazing bar caps, to remove them you will need a pair of needle-nose pliers and a flat edge screwdriver.
Remove the end cap with a flat edge and Phillips screwdriver. The centre cap should pop out revealing a Phillips screw that will need to be removed allowing you to take the cap off. You should now see the grips of the glazing bar, squeeze them together with the needle-nose pliers whilst prying upwards with the flat head screwdriver, this will remove the glazing caps.
What causes water leaks between the wall and conservatory?
When water is running down the wall that the conservatory is fixed to it is most likely a problem with the lead flashing, check the flashing and any sealant for cracks or holes, replace as necessary. When sealing any leadwork only use a lead sealant, if the lead is porous it will need replacing.
Another cause of water ingress on the host wall is leaking valleys or dislodged tiles on the roof above the conservatory if it is a bungalow. Sometimes scaffolding can knock slates so its worth checking to make sure this isn’t causing your leak.
How to check the leadwork is correct
The leadwork is an important part of the conservatory and needs to be correctly installed in order to keep your conservatory dry. Knowing how to fix common conservatory problems such as leadwork can save you money if you can sort it out yourself.
Lead apron flashing:
The most common type of leadwork on most conservatories is a simple apron flashing, this is the type of lead flashing that will be found on lean too conservatories and porches. Check that the lead has been installed properly following this guide:
What depth should the flashing be set into the wall ?
The lead flashing whether it be an apron flashing or any other type of flashing should be set in the wall around 20mm deep, this is the optimum depth however you could go as deep as 25mm when raking out the joints.
What lead thickness should the roof flashings be?
Lead over flashings are usually code 4 lead, this is recommend because it is malleable and durable, this makes code 4 lead resistant to splitting during expansion and contraction.
Code 3 lead is thinner and lighter and is used mostly for lead soakers (waterproof sections of lead placed underneath the slates) however this can be used instead of code 4 for aprons as it is less expensive and will do the job just as well.
Correctly measuring cover flashings for a pitched roof
If your conservatory has a pitched roof that is fixed to the house wall you will should check the measurements of three parts of the leadwork to make sure it is correct and will not allow leaks.
- Chase depth – This is how much lead is pushed into the gap between the brickwork ( 20mm is perfect )
- The Upstand – The depth of the lead from where it meets the wall to where it touches the roof at the bend. ( 150mm or more is ideal )
- The Overlap – This is the amount of lead that covers the tiles on the roof, also known as the cover. ( Again 150mm or more is perfect )
A quick way of checking the upstand and the overlap if you have a brick wall is to see if the lead covers two courses of brick, if it does its perfect.
Maximum length for Lead flashing
Most novices will attempt to put lead aprons in one long length, this is wrong and if your leadwork is in one long length you especially need to check it for cracks, splits or other signs of sagging and fatigue.
Lead flashings should not exceed 1.5 metres per section. If the lead sections are too long expansion and contraction will cause the lead work to split and create leaks in your conservatory.
Lead flashings overlap distance
Lead flashing overlaps should be set at 100mm when checking your lead you may notice that overlaps are bigger if you live in an extremely exposed area, this is for added protection and is fine. Knowing how to fix common conservatory problems such as failing leadwork can save you a lot of money, always remember to use the correct tools and safety gear before climbing on the conservatory roof.
Mortar or silicone sealant
The last thing to check around the lead is the mortar work between the bricks, ensure it is all intact and no bits of mortar is missing. If the lead has been mastic sealed, check to see if it has split or cracked and replace as necessary.
Why is water leaking around the tops of the window frames?
If water is leaking in around the top of the window frames then the water is finding a way in between the eaves beam and the frames, this can be rectified with some skilful trimming or sealing. Another reason water ingress occurs between the eaves beam and the frames is when door frames drop over time especially if they have not been sealed properly or fixed to the eaves beam if this is the case then fix as necessary.
Check sealant for cracks
Check the silicone around the outside of the frames where they join against the house for cracks or splits, the smallest of splits will allow water to enter into the inside of the conservatory.
Check the conservatory guttering
Check that the conservatory gutters are clean, if they are dirty and holding up the water, wind can blow the excess water back into the conservatory causing leaks around the top of the window and door frames.
How to fix leaks around window frames or glass
There are many reasons that windows and doors can leak, from being poorly fitted and badly adjusted to perished or missing seals. Leaks around windows and doors can be problematic causing damage to plaster and even flooring and furniture, fixing them could be as simple as raking out the old sealant and replacing with new.
Check coupler bars are sealed
If the windows in your conservatory are joined together with coupler bars, check that they have silicone down either side to prevent water tracking through the sides of the frames, this is an easy job and will only take a few minutes per joiner bar.
Check window trims and sealant
Window trims expand and contract like any other part of the conservatory, this can cause silicone sealant to split and crack and will eventually allow water to enter the conservatory. If the sealant is looking tired, cracked or split then it would be a good idea to rake it out and reseal with a low modulus silicone.
Window gaskets start to perish, the weather takes a toll on them causing them to shrink or crack and allows water to enter the window frames. Even if you know how to fix common conservatory problems, deglazing windows is a specialist job that should only be attempted by a professional. If the gaskets in your window need replacing then you should call a local window and door supplier to quote for the repair or replacement of the affected units.
You now know how to fix common conservatory problems
Having read this article you should feel more confident that you know how to fix common conservatory problems, what to look out for and when to call a professional. As with any D.I.Y tasks, only undertake a conservatory repair if you are certain that you are confident, if you are in any doubt, always call a professional.
Always use adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) before attempting any conservatory repairs.
Safety access equipment must always be used when climbing up or onto a conservatory roof.
If you are not sure how to fix common conservatory problems yourself and you live in Cornwall, our experienced engineers would be happy to give you a free, no-obligation quote.