Are Rain Drops Falling On Your Head?
Time to check your ROOF!
Roof Types and Materials
There are a wide variety of roofing materials that are used on homes today. Deciding on the roof that is right for you depends on a number of factors, including the type of roof you currently have, location, climate, desired look, maintenance and cost.
From sod and thatched roofs (still in use today in some places) to ultra modern composite materials designed with the utmost of environmental and energy conscious concerns, your choice of house topping is wide. Standard asphalt shingles are the least expensive roofing option, but some may say they offer the least amount of curb appeal as well. Shingles, tiles, shakes and slats come in all sorts of materials, shapes and sizes.
Clay and ceramic tile are often used in areas where snow isn’t a real concern. The style of arched tile, sometimes referred to as Spanish tile, provides natural insulation with pockets of air in the spaces from tile to tile.
The Types of Roof include:
gable, cross gable, simple hip, pyramid hip, cross hip, mansard, salt box, gambrel, flat and shed. These are divided into two major groups: pitched or flat.
Pitched Roof Materials
Pitched roof materials include cedar shakes, composition shingles, dimensional shingles, tile, metal, slate, and synthetic materials. Each of these products has its own set of pros and cons,
all of which should be examined carefully before deciding which product you want for your roof.
Flat Roof Materials
Flat roof materials include tar and gravel, modified bitumen roofing, EPDM rubber roofing, roll roofing, metal roof systems, and PVC membrane. Each of these products has its own set of pros and cons, all of which should be examined carefully before deciding which product you want for your roof.
Repairing your Roof
First, make a comprehensive list of everything you want done. If its repairs, be as detailed about the problem and symptoms as possible, so that estimators have all the information they need for an accurate evaluation.
In most cases it is advisable to hire a professional roofer for estimates and repairs, especially if damage is a result of a storm or other occurrences and includes broken structure elements. Even what seem like small problems, such as dark spots on the ceiling or small drips (indicating a leaky roof) can turn out to be major inconveniences. Damage here could be the result of rotting wood or the work of termites or other infestations, and repair could include everything from replacing timber to calling your local pest removal experts. In some cases a high tech solution may be appropriate, such as hiring a company that specializes in coating solutions, sometimes referred to as “liquid roof.” Depending on the problem and material on top of your home, a coating of liquid roof can sometimes not only repair your roof but add extra protection.
Hiring Help: The Roofing Contractor
Regardless how you decide to proceed, arm yourself with a list of the important questions to ask the contractor. Knowledge of the products available for your type of roof, and an understanding of the standard costs of roofing labor in your area, etc… will allow you to miss many of the potholes waiting for you on the road to your completed project.
Questions to Ask Your Roofing Contractor
1. What is the full name and address of the roofing company?
2. Can you provide a list of former customers as references?
3. What is your track record with customer complaints? Try to find out how your contractor handles problems when they do arise. Request a referral from a job that involved a complaint.
4. Is payment upon completion?
5. Is there a deposit before the project begins, how much is the deposit?
6. Will you furnish me with a written contract including explicit payment instructions and total price?
7. Do you have bonding capabilities?
8. Will you furnish me with a guarantee and manufacturers warranty?
9. How long has your roofing company been in business?
10. Are you going to obtain the required re-roofing permits? Be leery of the roofer who asks you to obtain these permits!
11. In the event that your equipment damages my property, who is liable?
It is a good idea to have your contractor provide both Certificates of Insurance for both liability and Worker’s Compensation before work begins on your home.
12. Will there be sub-contractors? If so, what are their names and license numbers?
If your contractor does hire out a subcontractor, it is a good idea to go over all of the same questions with them. Of particular interest is insurance; be sure that the subcontractor holds all of the proper insurance so that you are not held liable for any accident that may occur on the job.
13. Will you submit a maintenance program for the new roof system?
14. Are you a current member of any local and national roofing associations?
15. Is there any pending legal action against your company?
Some major litigation could put a company out of business. If a lawsuit is pending, find out what the suit entails. This may include going to the local courthouse and looking at the court documents filed for the case to date.
As with any construction project, be sure you request and receive a written proposal. Examine it carefully to make sure it is both complete and fair.
What to Expect from a Roofing Project
Roof project – Inside and Outside
Having a roof replaced is an experience that many homeowners go through at least once. While it can sound like a real headache, if you are aware of what to expect in advance, and plan ahead, you can enjoy a hassle-free roof repair process.
A great deal of debris—namely, your old roof—will literally be thrown down from the top of your house into your yard during this project. To minimize damage, the yard should be cleared of everything that can be removed—law ornaments, hose, potted plants, etc. Valued landscaping/plant life should be marked with red tape and covered with tarp; any in-ground sprinkler system should be visibly marked as well. Discuss this process with your contractor so you can be sure to leave adequate space for the workers to do their job. It’s better to choose a small area of lawn as a designated ‘sacrifice’ than to deny them access to anything, which usually means debris will be thrown everywhere.
One advance precaution that most people forget until it’s too late is to warn the neighbors of the impending temporary increase in noise and traffic. You yourself may want to make plans to be out of the house during working hours to avoid the loud sounds. If you need any neighbors to move their vehicles to allow for a clearer path for the roofing trucks, make sure to give them plenty of notice, and offer to do the same for them should they ever need it.
Many homeowners don’t consider that having work done on the roof outside can affect what’s going on inside. Persistent hammering and multiple people walking above can cause your home’s structure to shake. If you live in an earthquake-prone area, your home is likely already in pretty good shape to handle this added activity. If you don’t, you may want to perform a more thorough walk-through before any roofing activity commences.
Start by looking up. Anything mounted to the ceiling, whether it’s hanging plants or chandeliers, is in danger of breaking and/or causing cracks to form in the surrounding ceiling. Grab a ladder and a screwdriver, and take down whatever you can. (This can be a great reason for finally cleaning off that dusty ceiling fan.) In a multi-story home, items hung from your first floor ceilings may or may not need to come down; ask your contractor for specifics.
After the ceilings have been cleared, turn to the walls and take down any photographs, art, or other hanging objects. You will also want to be on the lookout for furniture and decorations vulnerable to heavy tremors, like a glass display case or a vase resting on an unsteady table.
Important Roof Considerations
There are several important considerations to keep in mind both before and after new construction or repairs are completed on your home. Paying attention to these issues can help extend the life of your roof, and minimize the amount of repairs you will need to finance over the years.
5. Ice Dam
Attic Ventilation Information
Ventilation is an integral part of making a roof last, and occurs naturally when vents are placed at the base of the roof (at the eaves or in the soffits) and near the top of the roof (the ridge) so that warm air can leave through the top, and cool air can be drawn through the bottom. This process does not need electrical or mechanical fans in most cases, as nature will do the work on its own. However, when vents are placed you should be aware of the following guidelines:
Vents should not be inserted into the middle sections of the roof, since this will often interrupt the natural circulation of the air. Instead, evenly distribute vents along the roof, to ensure even airflow to all portions of the roof.
Approximately half of the vents should be placed near the ridge and the other half near the eaves or soffits, to encourage maximum airflow.
Approximately 1 square foot of ventilation per 300 square feet of attic floor space should be included in the plans for your new roof (this is an approximate and depends on climate, roof pitch, orientation and available attic vent space).
If adequate ventilation is not installed, serious problems such as attic condensation, wood rot, mold, mildew and rusting metal will occur. These problems can affect the integrity of the roof as well as the integrity of the house, and can even cause health problems for family members in the home.
Roof Attic Insulation
Insulating the attic of a house is important for heating and cooling inside the house. However, the ideal temperature of the attic/roof area is as near to the outside temperature as possible to prevent unnecessary condensation. Therefore, insulation should first be applied between the ceiling joists; this will allow insulation of the living areas of the home, without creating too much heat in the well-ventilated attic area. Additionally, insulation should never block inside or outside vents.
If the roof decking is the ceiling (as is the case with tongue and groove decking, with no attic space), insulation can be added in the form of rigid insulation on top of the decking rather soft insulation in the attic.
Even in places that don’t get much rain, rain gutters are necessary. Without rain gutters, water can collect by the house’s foundation. All it takes is 1 or 2 good storms a year to possibly cause some damage.
Gutters and downspouts perform the simple function of taking water away from the roof to a location far from the foundation. The most common gutters are aluminum, and are installed by contractors. Vinyl gutter systems are also available to the homeowner without the specialized tools to deal with the aluminum gutters. Other gutter systems are made of tin, copper or wood.
Aluminum won’t rust, but steel is sturdier. Gutters come in seamless or sectional pieces. Sectional gutters can be found in stores and self-installed. Seamless gutters are made by a special machine that the installer brings to your home, and never leak because there are no seams.
If water is still collecting near the foundation, drain extensions (above or below ground) can be added to draw the water away from the house. Another low budget fix is to raise the soil level near the foundation, so that the land slopes away from the house, and not into the house.
Gutters need to be maintained by:
Cleaning out leaves and debris regularly (or add leaf guards to the gutters)
Cleaning downspouts regularly
Checking for leaks
Maintaining gutter supports
The first step to moss control is prevention by placing a zinc or copper strip under the edge of the ridge cap. The zinc or copper changes the composition of rain so that moss growth is reduced and/or stopped. Some composition materials come with zinc granules already embedded in the shingles.
If moss is already growing on the roof, cleaning agents can remove the existing moss growth. This, however, is not a quick fix, and may require repeated applications to control the problem. These products can be very toxic, and should be used only according to the manufacturer’s instructions.
After the moss has been killed, the dead moss will remain on the roof. Though unsightly, it is no longer a hazard to the roof. The dead moss can be removed with a soft broom, but caution should be used when doing this, since walking on the roof (especially older roofs) can cause significant damage.
Removing an Ice Dam
Ice dams occur when snow melts near the ridgelines of warm roofs (roofs without adequate ventilation). As the water runs down the roof to the overhang, it cools and freezes. If the snow continues this melt and freeze process, an ice dam can form that can seep under the shingles, through the decking and into the house. This, of course, can cause serious roof leaks–even in freezing temperatures. The best prevention to ice dams is well-ventilated (cool) roof. Additional protection for your roof can be applied with an impermeable ice and water membrane. The membrane is installed on top of the decking, under the roofing material.
Temporary prevention of ice dams can also be done through the use of electric cables along the eaves of the roof (where the dams usually form). However, new ice dams can form above the cables and still cause extensive damage.
Outside Roof Inspection Advice
It can sometimes be tough to determine just why your inspector says a new roof is necessary, but there are a few simple signs to look for.
We do not recommend that you inspect your roof by walking across it. Instead, start by taking a pair of binoculars with you into the yard, find a spot without trees or other buildings blocking your view and look for any of the following signs:
Blistered, curled or split shingles.
Loose or missing shingles or tiles.
Broken or loose shingles at the ridgelines and hip lines.
Loose nails. A loose nail means an open hole, which can cause leaks and subsequent water damage to your roof.
Exposed nails. These also can lead to leaks in your roof as the water seeps around the head of the exposed nails.
Dark patches on asphalt shingles and/or large amounts of granules in the rain gutters. This could mean that the granular coating of your roof is wearing away and needs to be replaced.
On a slate roof, dark patches could indicate mold, but are often just discolored places from trees dripping repeatedly on the slates. If you see dark patches, be sure to check the interior for dark or discolored drywall or other evidence of a leak before calling an inspector or contractor.
Sagging either on the ridges or in the center of the roof.
Rusty or corroded metal (flashing) and loose shingles in the valleys, plumbing vents or near chimneys. You may need to remove leaves and other debris before a proper inspection can be done. Remember that a lot of leaf debris in the valleys, plumbing vents, or near the chimney can cause problems with your roof if not dealt with promptly at the end of the season.
Rusty metal or loose shingles in locations where a vertical side of the house meets the roof.
Overflowing gutters or excess water pooling near the foundation of the house.
On a flat roof, look for blisters in the coating. If you want to fix them yourself, pop the blisters with a knife and coat them with roofing cement to prevent further damage.
Depressions near the vent pipe on a flat roof are another sign to look for. These depressions also can be filled in with roofing cement. Keep your eyes open for separations in the flashing, or clogged drains, as these are also signs of trouble for a flat roof.
Inside Roof Inspection Advice
Do you need a new roof? It can sometimes be tough to determine just why your inspector says a new roof is necessary, but there are a few simple signs to look for.
Continue the inspection from inside, where there is a whole new set of problems to look for. The obvious leak is not hard to miss, but there are warning signs you can look for that may help you stop a problem before it reaches the critical stage. These include:
Sagging decking between the rafters.
Outside light that can be seen from the attic. If you have a shake roof, this may not be a problem as shakes will swell and seal during the wet months. On any other type of roof however, seeing the sky through your roof is not a good sign.
Signs of leaking in the attic. This could include dark spots in the wood, especially around vents, chimneys, and other hole to the roof, or stained drywall/ceiling tiles if your attic is finished.
If you find a dark spot on your wood, test it to determine if it is old or a new problem. If the spot is still wet, or if it is soft when you press a screwdriver to it, the spot is a current problem. If it is dry and hard, the problem has already been taken care of and you do not need to worry more about it.
Signs of water damage or leaking (usually in the form of water stains, or sagging ceilings)–this could be from either an active leak in the roof or to collected condensation caused by poor ventilation.
If any of the above signs are present in your roof, inside or out, you need either repairs or a new roof. It will be up to you to decide, depending on the degree of damage, what is going to be best for you and your home. Sometimes it is less expensive to pay for a new roof than to deal with fixing the damage from an old, continuously patched roof.
This paper is intended for informational purposes only. Nothing contained herein constitutes legal, financial or other professional advice. Transmission of these materials is not intended to create, and receipt does not constitute, any relationship of any kind between the provider and the recipient. Some of these points may not apply in your area. Different term and conditions may vary from state to state and province to province. All articles, text and photographic material presented here is for the use and pleasure of the recipient only. Download PDF