The granddaddy of all roofing materials is slate! These are considered to be 100-year roofs and will definitely live up to their reputation. If you properly install and maintain slate as your roofing material you can expect a life of somewhere between 75 and 200 years.
These amazing roofs are not, however, completely immune to damage and deterioration through the years. It is vital that you have your roof professionally inspected once per year to see if you need any slate roof repairs. Only use a contractor who has experience and knowledge about this type of material.
If you notice a leak in your home and think you may need some slate roof repairs, the first step is to have a look at the actual surface. Without the need to climb on a ladder you can survey the roof surfaces for any irregularities. If there are missing or broken slates then these will need replacing.
If the leak seems to originate around a pipe, vent, chimney or other penetrating element, you will need someone to inspect the area more closely. You are best advised not to try this yourself. The surface of slate is by its very nature unstable for walking. And if repairs are necessary, you will not want to attempt this by yourself either.
One trick of the trade for determining if you need any slate roof repairs is to check the attic for dust. Yes, attics are covered with all manner of tiny particles. For this test you need to determine if what you are seeing is slate (rock) dust.
This is a definite sign of deterioration as is the presence of flaking on the outer surfaces, which can end up on the ground around the edges of the house or in the gutters.
The weakest parts that will most likely be the causes for you to have slate roof repairs are the surrounding elements. The flashing that is used around all penetrating parts as well as in valleys and at the edges is probably going to be the first thing that needs repair. These components are made of metal and will not last as long as the slate.
Flashing can be seen above the slate application, but it is also found underneath the stone. This may have damage or corrosion and you will not know it until you see a leak. This is not a job for the amateurs among us. There are many skills and techniques to safely and correctly fixing these problems. Leave this one to the pros.