Roofline Replacement Step 1 – Roofline Ripping Out
Before you start your roofline ripping out task make sure you have easy, safe access to all areas. Removing your old roofline can sometimes hold the most risk in the whole roofline replacement process.
Rusted nails or unattached soffits can mean that parts of your roofline may be looser than you expect. And, when you start the roofline ripping out, if something takes less effort to pull away than you anticipated you could easily lose your balance and even end up in hospital. This is why health & safety regulations require scaffolding to be used in these work situations. If access to your roofline is difficult you should consider arranging for scaffolding to be erected.
And make sure you have the right tools for the job – see our Roofline Repair Tools article (opens in new window).
Roofline Ripping Out – Fascia, Soffit and Gutter Runs:
For fascia soffit and gutter runs, the roofline ripping out process can be broken down into five distinct sections –
- Remove The Tiles Keep the gutter on for the time being, unless it is in your way. You only need access to the first batten that the first row of tiles hang from.
Your tiles may be pinned down – use a flat crowbar to ease the pins out to release the tiles.Once the nails are out you can push the tiles up out of the way or remove them completely.You will probably find the end tile on each run is cemented. You do not need to remove these. They should hold their own weight if the cement is in good condition.
Caution [Health Warning]: If your property was built between the 1920s and 1970s there’s a good chance that asbestos cement was used on your roofline. Under no circumstances should you attempt to work with or disturb material containing asbestos – you must get a specialist, licensed company in to handle any asbestos that is present. (See Asbestos FAQs).
Use the gutter (which is still attached) to hold the pins you’ve taken out. Once the tiles are removed you have taken the weight off the fascia. Now you can check the condition of the felt.
- Check The Felt
Now the tiles are away from the roofline edge, you should be able see the felt up to the first batten.
Check for holes in the felt or old birds’ nests resting on top. If the nest is old you can clear it away.(Always check for active bird nests before you start – see my article Roofline Nest).
If you do not have easy access to a bag you can place the waste in the gutter as you will be taking that down soon.
After clearing any debris, cut the felt back so that the toe ends are exposed and the fascia can be freed. Around 50mm is good enough but it does not have to be a neat cut. You will probably find the felt tears away quite easily. This is because mineral felts are often perished by the weather at the point where it is fixed to the fascia.
- Remove The Gutter
This is a simple job, but gutters are made from different types of materials. So here is a short guide to how to handle each type:
- Plastic Guttering –plastic gutter clips only take a little effort and persuasion to free up. If your property is joined to your neighbour’s use a fine precision saw to make a neat cut in the guttering length in line with the agreed boundary. Once you’ve released all the clips the gutter length should be easy to lift out.
If you filled the gutters with bird nest waste etc. remember it is likely to be heavier than it appears, so take care when lifting.
- Cast Iron Guttering – Iron is very strong and extremely heavy. The chances are that it will be rusty and probably deteriorated so much that removing it will be easy. Each length of cast iron gutter is around 2-3 metres long and they will be bolted together.If you find the joints do not free up then a little brute force will usually do the job.
Caution! I cannot stress enough to be careful here. The sheer weight of cast iron guttering – even if it seems rusted through –is enough to surprise the most experienced fitter. If you have an angle grinder I would suggest breaking up the gutter lengths so they are more manageable. Also, if your property joins your neighbour’s, an angle grinder is the only tool I would recommend to make a neat cut at the boundary line.
- Aluminium Guttering– These are easier to remove than iron gutters, but more difficult than plastic ones when you are undertaking your roofline ripping out task. The gutter should just lift out from the clips. You can use a hacksaw for any cuts that need to be done.In all cases – leave the gutter brackets on. They will not hinder you when you start removing the fascia. And, if you plan to re-use the brackets, they are easier to take off when you’ve got the old fascia on the ground.Also downpipes should be left so you can use them as a guide for where the outlet (plastic mould of gutter that joins a gutter to a downpipe) needs to be when you start installing the new guttering.
- Remove The FasciasThe next task is to remove the fascias. It is easier to start from the joints in the existing fascias, so check where these are.
If you cannot see any joins use a saw to cut the fascia roughly in the middle of the run. Going from the middle of the run reduces the chances of damaging the cement, which could happen if you start on a gable end or hipped corner.Be careful – your old fascias should ‘fly off’ with a little pressure from a crowbar. You may find your fascias hold the soffits too – so be aware that lengths of soffit might drop suddenly as your fascia comes away.
Take your time with this and cut the fascia at smaller intervals if it is proving too difficult to manage.
I would say this is, by far, the most dangerous part of the roofline ripping out process.
- Detach The Soffits
If the soffit is not fixed or held by the fascia then it should be fixed to studwork or the toe end itself. Take a look at how it is fixed and take another few minutes to clear away any more old bird’s nests and insulation. If you can see insulation rising from the cavity wall simply push it back down, it is just overspill – you’ll be surprised at how well it compacts.
Once your roofline is clean remove the soffit using a small crowbar. Again, there are many types of materials of soffit but each one is considerably more lightweight than the fascia you’ve just removed.
Roofline Ripping Out – Bargeboards:
Firstly, make sure you have easy, secure access to the bargeboard area.
Start with the crowbar and hammer at the very bottom at the ‘box end’ area. You need to part the existing fascia from the gable ladder that it is fixed to. This is usually a piece of 3” by 2” length of wood.
If the existing bargeboard does not come free with a little work then try splitting the wood along the grain with a chisel to expose the gable ladder behind it.
Be careful, the bargeboard can be considered ‘structural’ if the verge is nailed into the fascia and not the gable ladder. This is normally done when the property is first built to hold the verge in place whilst the tiles are cemented down. If the verge starts to move or the cement starts to crack then I strongly suggest you seek professional help, unless you are happy to re-cement the entire verge on every gable end. Ripping out a gable end and leaving the verge unsupported can make the tiles slip out of place and, in extreme cases, cause the mortar to fall out in large, heavy, pieces.
Your Final Step
Once you’ve removed the roofline and bargeboards, do a final clean out of the area ready to install your new uPVC roofline.
This is just the first of a series steps our professional fitters carry out when fitting a replacement roofline. As you can see there is a lot of work that could be regarded as hazardous if you attempt to carry it out using step-ladders rather than scaffolding.
This is why many householders decide to get it done by professionals.
My fitters at Anglia Roofline are specialists at installing replacement rooflines – we don’t do any other type of building work. (See what other people think of our work: Referenceline Customer Feedback).
If you are located in Norfolk and would like to avoid the hassle of doing it yourself, ask me for a no-obligation, 30-minutes survey and quote.