Answers to Commonly Asked Roofing Questions
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Q. I want to install a new roof on my house but there are already two layers of asphalt. Do I have to have them removed in order to build the new roof?
A. As long as the sheathing itself is intact it would be less expensive to simply put down another new layer of shingles directly on top of the old ones. It can be done properly so that it is not only less expensive than completely tearing off and installing a new roof, but the quality should also be just as good and should last just as long.
Generally, building codes allow for there to be two layers of organic or fiberglass asphalt shingles on standard roof pitches, however it is important to check with your local town codes because some areas leave allowance for three layers on roofs with step pitches.
Q. What amount of ventilation is really required?
A. It is important to have the proper amount of ventilation because it keeps your house energy efficient and it will help keep away the ice, in turn lengthening the lifespan of your roof. Required ventilation is fairly easy to figure our for the industry standard is that every 300 square feet of attic space will call for one square foot of intake ventilation along with one square foot of exhaust ventilation. The most accurate way of determining this would be to run continuous intake soffit ventilation as well continuous exhaust ridge ventilation.
Q. There are icicles all along the eaves of my house. What causes them to appear and what can I do to prevent them?
A. For more specific and detailed information on the subject, please visit our blogs section of the website and look for an article regarding Ice Dams. Ice Damming is the terminology we use for this occurrence and it is a very common problem for home owners. The heat rising from the living space inside your house can leak out through the roof melting whatever snow lay on top of it, thereby causing it to drip down towards your gutters and the eaves of your roof, at which point it re-freezes into ice dams and icicles, and can become a serious problem. Especially when it is not maintained, the more ice that begins to form, the heavier things get, and the more likely you are to have damage to your shingles, leaks inside your house, and with severe enough damage the gutters could even be torn from the sides of your house as well. When water begins to leak inside your home, although it is capable of lots and lots of different types of damage, one of the worst places for it to get is in your insulation. Once insulation gets wet it becomes practically useless, and once your house isn’t insulated well your energy bills are likely to skyrocket.
There are three things to do in order to most efficiently prevent ice dams and the damage caused by them. Proper ventilation must be installed on order to maintain the right air temperature at roof level. This constant, ambient temperature will aid in keeping the snow atop your roof from melting and refreezing in a different spot. It is also crucial to insure that the attic is very, heavily insulated in order in make certain that heat capable of melting snow atop the roof stays out. You can also purchase and install a product known as ice and water protection membranes on to the eaves and valleys of the roof. This can help to prevent future damage. These membranes however, do not solve the most significant problem which is heat loss. Sometimes people will use what is called “heat tape” as a solution but it is not only expensive, but also not very effective.
Q. I am considering a new color for the asphalt shingles on my roof. I have come to understand that brown shingles absorb more heat than white shingles, and could thereby raise what it costs for me to run my air conditioner. Is there a rating to determine heat absorbancy?
A. There is not much difference in the the rate of heat absorbency between the two colors of brown and white shingles. It actually depends more on how well your roof was ventilated; if it was done properly. Although Darker shingles are believed to keep your house a little warmer in the winter, weigh the pros and cons in terms of what your roof needs as a whole, year round- don’t just focus on what it needs for a particular season.
Q. Recently, I built a new garage, and want begin installing the underlayment for the roof. Does it effect anything if it rains on this material, or should I install the shingles right away?
A. It shouldn’t make a difference as long as you do it as soon as possible or in the very near future. If you decide to use standard tar paper however, and it ends up raining, it is possible that buckling and wrinkling will become apparent, and this could end up being a bit of a difficulty to work with. If you are doing all the work within the same week it would make more sense to hold off on the tar paper until you are going to work with it right away. A lot of people believe that rain will damage roof sheeting as well, but this is not correct. It is possible that over a long period of time there could be damage, but only if left constantly exposed to the elements. In general, you want to try and get your shingles installed as soon as possible, although there is a bit of leeway.
Q. Do I have to get my roof repaired right away following a hail storm?
A. As long as there is no leaking following the storm, you should be absolutely fine. If roof leaking does occur, you will need to get it repaired as soon as possible because delaying that process can sometimes void your warranty. If there is leaking and damage to your roof it could also break away and deteriorate at a much faster rate than that of a strong, newly installed. So basically if there are no leaks, you’re fine, but if there are, you want to get it fixed as soon as possible.
Q. Woodpeckers are pecking holes my roof and causing major damage… what can I do?
A. You generally want to use tactics that will frighten them away or confuse them about the location of your roof. One idea is to try putting magnifying mirrors flat against the roof where you the damage is located, with the reflective side facing up. You can also try scaring them away by installing mobiles or models that appear as hawks, owls, or other birds of prey. You can find them in the hardware store or make your own at home with anything from plywood to painted Styrofoam.
They can either be placed on the roof or hung with string from the eaves of the roof that are closest to the damage. You can also use lightweight household objects like pie tins attached to strings or small strips to move in the wind along the side of the house that you notice the woodpecker doing the most damage; the noise and the quick jolts of reflective light should scare them off. Some people even purchase balloons with frightening eyes painted on them to fly around their house- they can be purchased from bird control companies.
Q. How and when do I know that it’s time for a new roof?
A.The average lifespan of a roof is about 20-30 years. Sometimes however, particular materials or installation techniques can cause the roof to last a lifetime, or even generations to come. If a roof leak becomes apparent you may only need to repair that particular section of your roof. If the materials themselves that were used to create your roof begin to deteriorate, like if shingles become blistered, torn, or split, then it is definitely time to start considering the replacement of your roof.
Q. What is a gravel stop and metal edge strip? What purpose does it serve?
A. Most importantly gravel stops and metal roof edge strips are used to close off the edges of the roof in order to prevent blow offs and wind damage. The gravel stop also prevents the loss of aggregate surfacing around the edges of the roof. The main issues that are associated with gravel stops and metal edge strips are generally water leaking through broken or open joints of the metal pieces, and the splitting of the stripping felts at metal edges. For these reasons gravel stops and metal edge strips should be elevated above the water line wherever possible, and this can be done simply by using raised wood nails and edge strips with a taper. The use of interior drainage is always recommended and preferred. On the other hand, where water must drain over the metal edge, scupper cutouts are preferable to continuous edge drainage.
Q. What can I do to repair a leak in my roof temporarily until a professional arrives?
A.The most important thing to do is to protect the interior or your home from further water damage as soon as possible. Use plastic containers or sheeting to protect the inside of your house and prevent any further damage. Make sure to never cover roof vents. If it is possible to remove excess water from your roof- do so- check the roof drains and scuppers to assure that they are completely open and functional. When pools of water collect on the top of the roof from clogged drainers- we see a common reason for roof leakage. Try to determine where the main source of the leak is, generally it is in the piece of the roof that is directly above where you are experiencing the leakage inside of your house. Double check that all mechanical roof-top equipment is undamaged, then go about checking the flashings at the terminations and penetrations. If your system is ballasted for whatever reason, remove the ballast from the immediate leak area then inspect the surface of the membrane for any signs of deterioration: cuts, splits, or punctures. It is also important to check the seams of the roofing membrane itself.
Q. What can I use for emergency/temporary roof repairs?
A. A good, dependable option is what’s called Plastic roofing cement: This is trowel grade product. It can be purchased in either rain patch or wet patch grades. It should be applied after all the gravel or granules from the roofing surface are removed. Avoid using liquid or pourable repair products at all costs for they don’t work well, and they may make it more difficult for your roofer to locate the exact source of the leak when he arrives.
Although it can only be used on smooth surfaces, Sealant and roof tape is another good option. The roof must be cleaned with alcohol or household cleaner, and then the sealant can be applied.
Although only recommended for PVC pipes and only as a VERY temporary fix, duct tape can also be a decent aid.
Q. What is the point of using flashing?
A. First off, Flashings are the most delicate and vulnerable part of any roof and keeping up with their maintenance cannot be emphasized enough. The purpose of Flashing is to create a watertight junction between the roofing materials, the roof projections, and other parts of the roof structure including between roof sections.
Q. The flashing around my chimney left a rust stain on my roof. How do I remove the stain without damaging the shingles?
A. The only real simple way to fix this issue would be a small and sparse application of spray paint. Make sure to check out color charts first in order to get the closest match in color.
Q. What could indicate to me that I have a flashing problem or a roofing problem in general? What are some signs?
A. A lot of the time early roofing problems are flashing problems. You will be able to tell because there will likely be a leak somewhere. By repairing the flashings or installing new flashings is usually all that is needed to make the roof watertight again. Most of the time these issues occur because the flashing is not designed or constructed well. Many flashing problems can be totally eliminated and avoided by making sure to have everything carefully examined by competent inspectors during that actual installation of your roof.
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