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How do I know if I have roof problems?

The roof on your house is probably the most overlooked part of the structure of your residence. Many people do not realize they have a problem with their roof until the inevitable happens….. roof leakage. More often than not, that is when we receive a call to perform a roof repair - only to find that the whole roof needs replaced. Some are frustrated when they are being apprised of this situation and believe we may be trying to "sell" them something they may not need. Be aware that roof repairs cost more on a hourly basis then replacing a roof. It would take "only" approximately two days of doing roofing repairs to equal the same amount paid in labor for an entire week when replacing your roof. When inspecting your roof check the condition of the following:

Roofing Repairs/Leaks - Problems are usually, but not limited to the following:

  1. Deterioration or improper installation of the roofing shingles
  2. Deterioration or improper installation of the roofing sheathing/decking
  3. Deterioration or improper installation of the flashings (soil-stack, chimney, step)
  4. Improper installation or inferior quality of skylights
  5. Improper installation/lack of drip-edge
  6. Improper installation/lack of ice and water guard
  7. Improper installation/lack of proper ventilation

Roofing Replacement - When contemplating your roof re-covering/replacement keep in mind the following facts:

Even though local building codes may allow you to install another layer of shingles over your existing roof, this may not be your best option. You may be covering existing problems that are only visible upon removal of your existing roof. This includes, but is not limited to items 2, 3, 5, and 6 from the list above. To properly re-cover/re-roof over your existing shingles you need to make sure the sheathing, flashings, and drip-edge are in such a condition they will last the life of your "new" shingles. You also need to keep in mind that if your existing shingles are brittle, cupping and/or buckling that this will not allow your new shingles to lay flat or seal down, further reducing their life expectancy.

If you want to re-cover/re-roof your existing roof "properly" you would need to remove the shingles approximately 4-feet up from the gutter edge to install ice and water guard. You would also need to cut back the shingles around the entire perimeter of the roof to install new drip edge. After all of this, you could still be reducing the life of your new shingles by as much as 50%. Re-covering the "right" way is "rarely" done and is just as expensive in "most" instances as removing the existing shingles that are on your roof and installing your new roofing materials properly.

Many roofing companies when re-covering/re-roofing will simply install new shingles over your old without giving any thought of what the useful life of the new shingles/roof is going to be. For roofing companies, installing new shingles over the old is the most "lucrative" way of making money and earning your business (lowest priced estimate/proposal). It is also the easiest, least time-consuming part of roofing.

One roof comes to mind that was completed by us.

We believed there was one layer of shingles on the roof, but the roof felt very "soft" in spots. The customer agreed that removing the existing layer of shingles was the best thing to do. We arrived at the job and proceeded to remove the single layer of roofing. We found that there were actually four layers of roofing on the main house and five layers of roofing on a large area on the back of the house. This consisted of roofing felt, roofing shingles, asbestos "style" layer of slate, and two layers of shingles over top of the slate style roof. The rear of the dwelling had an extra layer of "rolled" roofing and also had approximately 160-square feet of sheet metal on a large portion of the roof which covered the completely deteriorated sheathing boards. There was approximately two-inches thick of roofing material on this house. They disguised this very well when putting on the last layer by cutting the roofing back around the perimeter and installing 2"x2" wood, and then siding the house. The aluminum fascia covered everything (which had to be trimmed down by two inches and new plywood sheathing installed on the rear of the residence). I couldn't imagine the great length of time and effort taken to disguise what had been done.

The "best" and most cost effective way to ensure that you will receive the maximum life from your new roof is to remove the existing roof, re-nail the existing sheathing, install ice and water guard, install felt/underlayment, install new premium aluminum drip-edge, install new flashings/soil boots, install proper vents/ventilation and install roofing shingles. The cost is not that much higher to begin with, and the increased longevity of your roof will provide savings in the long run.