Raise the Roof

Table of Contents

  1. Introduction
  2. Wear & Tear
  3. Roof Guard
  4. Gutter Protection Systems
  5. Roof Rehab
  6. Roofing Options
  7. Mr Fix It
  8. Last But Not Least

Article Source: Holmes Magazine June 2010: Text by Lisa Van De Ven

1. Introduction

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It seems like everybody has a horror story: the leaky roof come springtime, your pots and pans placed throughout the house to catch the water coming in while you frantically scour the Yellow Pages for a contractor.

Nothing seems more fundamental than keeping a roof over your family’s heads, yet there’s plenty that can go wrong with a roof. Learning to recognize the problems that can occur is a step in the right direction. If you stay in the same house long enough, chances are, you're going to have to replace the roof. So how do you know when it's time to re-roof your home? Get outside and bring a pair of binoculars, or a ladder if you feel comfortable climbing up to take a look.

Most experts recommend that homeowners take a close look at their roof at least twice a year, preferably in the fall before the snow falls and again in the spring after it’s gone. lt's a good idea to check after a serious windstorm as well, says Peter Kalinger, technical director with the Canadian Roofing Contractors' Association. Look for missing shingles or damage from fallen tree limbs.

2. Wear and tear

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Most signs of overall wear and tear with asphalt shingles will be obvious. ”There’ll be curling of the shingles, where the edges turn up, and buckling, where the edges turn down,” Kalinger explains. Another thing to look out for is the significant loss of granules on the surface of the shingles, which exposes the reinforcing felts underneath to the elements and leads to deterioration. Asphalt shingles will lose their granules gradually over time, but when your roof starts to look too bare, it’s time to call in a roofer.

Buckling and curling may be the product of natural wear and tear but could also be signs of something else: poor ventilation in your home's attic. Since heat rises, it often accumulates in the attic. lf the heat has nowhere to go, it can build up in the ceiling insulation and 'heat the roof, causing asphalt shingles to lose their flexibility and shrink, making them age more quickly.

Homeowners should be aware that proper ventilation requires an upper source (exhaust-usually a ridge vent) and lower source (intake-usually a soffit vent), says Josh Jensen, roofing specialist and project manager for JRS Engineering Ltd., a roofing consulting firm in Burnaby B.C. To ensure proper ventilation, insulation and personal belongings should be kept out of the ventilation area, and an insulation baffle should be used to keep the insulation from blocking the venting at the soffit, he adds.

Rob Harris, assistant technical manager of the Roofing Contractors'
Association of British Columbia, recommends that roofers check that the required intake vents are installed around the roof’s perimeters and attic vents at the peak in accordance with the National Building
Code, so that air can move from the bottom of the roof through the attic and back out the peak. A roof inspection carried out by a qualified roof inspector or better, a building envelope consultant or engineer, can evaluate your homes ventilation needs

3. Roof Guard

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Besides further deteriorating your roofs shingles the added heat in the attic can also lead to another serious problem for your roof: ice damming. Ice damming happens when warm air from the home leaks into the attic and melts the ice on your roof. Once the ice melts, it trickles down the roof toward the eaves, where it refreezes and builds up. "That can stop water from running off the roof, which can cause it to back up underneath the shingles," Kalinger says. Most recent Canadian building codes require eave protection-a roofing membrane placed between the roof shingles and roof sheathing This, combined with proper ventilation of the attic and root will stop ice damming But anyone with a roof installed before the codes were changed, or where faulty installation may be an issue, could still be dealing with the problem.

In the spring and summer gutter guards applied to the eavestroughs can stop them from clogging up with leaves and debris If you don t have them Kalinger says it’s important to clean out your home s gutters every year before Winter Eavestroughing is great for the summer but it's almost a curse in the winter; because there's simply no way to keep your gutters free of snow and ice," he adds. If you do need to clear them in the winter call in a roofing professional. “

Refrain from going on the roof and chopping at the edges of the ice," says Kalinger adding that doing so can damage your roof and is dangerous Problems can also arise at the seams of your home’s roof where sheet metal known as flashing is used for sealing If the flashing has been installed incorrectly and isn’t properly sealed off leaking can result, usually around the outer edges of your home's interior walls. Kalinger recommends that roofing contracts include clauses that flashing be installed to specific standards, such as those set our by the Canadian Standards Association (available at www.csa.ca).

"We're finding more and more flashing problems occurring because of features like turrets and dormers being built on roofs,” says Kalinger. “Adding those architectural elements to a roof means more seams that need to be sealed by flashing, increasing the potential for flashing problems.”

4. Gutter Protection Systems

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Gutter protection systems work to prevent unwanted debris like leaves and twigs from entering the gutter whsle letting rainfall and melting snow drain from the root into the downspout without interference lf debris is allowed to accumulate in your gutter it can cause overflow which can allow water to gather near you homes foundation and potentially create problems It will also freeze in winter and can cause ice damming

When considering a gutter protection system for your home look for one that blocks small objects such as pine needles and seeds but also allows the free flow of water Adding a gutter protection system will save time you’ll otherwise need to spend on cleaning your gutters every season and increase safety by reducing the time you’ll spend on a ladder make sure you purchase one made from heavy duty aluminum such as Smart Screen since its maintenance free rust resistant and strong enough to withstand the weight of snow buildup and fallen twigs.

5. Roof Rehab

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If you see damage on your roof, consult your warranty. But even though asphalt shingles have 30-year, 40-year, 50-year and lifetime warranties available, don't expect them to last that long, "There is no evidence that there's a relationship between the warranty offered and the life expectancy of a roof," warns Peter Kalinger of the Canadian Roofing Contractors Association.

Also be aware that most warranties include various exclusions and conditions and are pro-rated, meaning you're promised less and less return over time if something goes wrong, and only if the manufacturer determines that the materials themselves are at fault. (And keep in mind that to remain eligible for any refund you may be entitled to for your shingles, you must hold on to the manufacturers written warranty.)

6. Roofing Options

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Most homes in Canada are roofed with asphalt shingles. While asphalt shingles may be the most common of roofing materials in Canada because of their low installation cost, asphalt is petroleum based and energy intensive to produce so it scores low with
environmentalists

Other roofing materials exist, and they are more durable and eco friendly What are the alternatives then?

Clay and concrete tiles can last for decades and since they can be recycled at the end of their lifespan they’re some of the best options for the environment too But clay and concrete tiles have to be maintained. Cracked or broken tiles should be replaced while any buildup of leaves or debris needs to be cleaned up to stop water from damming and causing deterioration. It’s not always easy for homeowners to keep that up themselves, though Josh Jensen roofing specialist and project manager for JRS Engineering Ltd says given that clay and concrete tiles are also fragile and can break when you walk on them So it s best to bring in a roofing contractor who’s used to working with them Slate roofs are much the same. All three get high marks

For fire resistance but for existing houses homeowners also need to consider that clay concrete and slate are much heavier than asphalt You can’t just replace your asphalt root with those because it’s an added weight, Jensen says "With new construction it’s a very good option but for an existing roof you have to get a structural engineer Involved An engineer will assess how much weight your roof can hold and what structural changes are necessary to carry the extra load.

Two other roofing options are cedar shingles and metal roofs. Like their asphalt counterparts cedar shingles can curl and if there is damage they can only be repaired come summertime since algae can grow in the winter making It slippery for anyone walking on the roof And while cedar shingles can be treated for fire resistance they’re not recommended in wildfire areas. On the positive side cedar is not only aesthetically pleasing but it also comes from a renewable resource, can last for many years, is biodegradable and takes relatively little energy to produce making it an ecologically responsible choice

Metal roofs meanwhile are the most durable and fire resistant roofing option and since they can be recycled eventually they’re also an environmentally friendly option. Metal roots can last 50 years or more, which also reduces landfill waste but their slippery surfaces make them unsafe for owners to walk on and snow stop systems need to be built in to stop the threat of sliding snow. For metal roofs and many other non-asphalt roofs, the materials are more expensive and the installation is more specialized. Hire a qualified roofing installer who specializes in these materials.

7. Mr Fix It

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If you see obvious issues like buckling or curling, you may Want to call a roofing contractor, but if you think there may be issues that are harder to identify yourself: flashing or ventilation problems, for instance, calling a third-party roof inspector may be best, says Harris. Inspectors will assess the extent of the problem so that you know what to expect before you call someone in for the contracting job. RCI Incorporated (wvvwtrci-on line.org), an international association of roofing consultants, lists accredited inspectors on its website, including ones in Canada.

Whether an inspector is called in or not, homeowners need to be careful when hiring a roofer, Harris says. "Fly-by-night contractors who don’t pay taxes or have workmen’s compensation are a common problem," he says. Check all potential contractors thoroughly Get references from friends, or look for roofing contractors’ who are members of credible contractors' associations. National and provincial roofing contractors associations publish membership directories on their websites.

Get several quotes, Kalinger says, and ask them all for references. If they don't have references to offer, don’t use them. And be sure to call the references and even the contractor's suppliers to see if their credit rating is good and their reputation stellar. While you're at it, check out the materials the contractor plans to use, something that should be clear in the roofer’s quote-how does the manufacturers reputation hold up?

What else should you be asking along the Way? Your contractor should be in good standing with the workers’ compensation board. To find out if they are, ask for a letter or certificate of good standing from the board. If they’re not, you could be liable if an employee is injured while they’re working on your house.

Homeowners should also make sure their contractor has and provides proof of sufficient insurance with coverage for at least $1 million Kalinger says although he recommends as much as $2 million. If a contractor is working on your house and he injures someone or causes damage to a neighbour’s property and he doesn’t have sufficient insurance your homeowner policy is going to be attacked Kalinger says.

Also beware of low quotes when comparing estimates from different roofers. Some can offer cheaper prices by cutting corners on the work they do. See, for example, whether they're replacing the integral roof flashing 'or not. “l've seen this a lot where a quote says 'replace if necessary' I have seen many corroded or perforated flashings patched up and reused when that option is in the specification,” Harris says, pointing out that for a quality job, replacing the flashing is always necessary when you replace the shingles that are interwoven with it.

8. Last But Not Least

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Everything that's included in the price should be laid out in the estimate, Kalinger says, and the final contract should include a clause that ”all work will be done in strict accordance with the building code and standards of good practice. You should also find out whether you need permits to replace your roof; those regulations depend on the municipality in which you live; says Jensen, but if they are needed it’s up to the homeowner to get them.

A sample of the warranty on the roofer’s work should also be included with the contract Kalinger says. If you re concerned about the quality of the work being done on your roof, or simply want to make sure that it’s up to par, you can bring in an inspector even while the work is in progress.

As for the job itself, the new layer of shingles can in some cases be installed over the old ones, but the Canadian Roofing Contractors’ Association doesn’t recommend it because removing the old shingles is the only opportunity to examine the plywood sheathing underneath for decay and to fix any problems there before installing new shingles

While a roof can be installed 365 days a year, Kalinger suggests that it’s better to do it under the best conditions, between March and October, a last-minute, full-scale*disaster and to ensure quality work. For the best price, get estimates in the late winter or early spring.

Since most roofs need to be replaced every 10 to 20 years, it makes sense to keep your eyes up. Searching for the warning signs can prevent a last-minute, full scale disaster, and will allow you to deal with roof repairs, long before it’s time to pull out the pots and pans.

When looking to hire a contractor to repair your roof you’ll get the best price if you get estimates in the late winter or early spring when contractors are trying to solicit work that will keep them going through the summer. It’s usually more expensive to get a contractor to come in and do the work ID the fall.

 

 
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