One of the big mysteries when people buy a new home is the age of the existing roof. One way to find this information is to inquire about transferable warranties on either materials or workmanship, but you’re pretty much on your own if those documents aren’t available. At this point, it makes sense to assess 4 different areas to determine whether your roof is in relatively good shape or that a replacement is due.
1) Signs of leaks on the inside of the home – The most obvious signs of an aging roofing system are leaks that have already occurred. Any signs of paint discoloration on walls and ceilings should be examined closely to determine whether leaking water is coming through the roof or is the result of leaking pipes. Remember to check the attic for leaks as well. Pay close attention to the areas surrounding deck penetrations like vents, ducts and the chimney. As a roof ages, so will the flashing around these structures. The breakdown of the metal flashing and sealants make these areas a common ground for leaks.
2) Missing shingles – The shingles on the same roof surface should age evenly, with sun-facing south and west surfaces generally aging faster than surfaces that face north and east. Isolated missing shingles may be the result of hail or someone that carelessly walked across the roof. In these situations, replacing the missing shingles may provide a viable and less expensive solution than doing a full replacement. Rows of missing shingles, on the other hand, are usually an indication that the last phase of the breakdown of materials is underway and that the need for a full replacement will soon be necessary.
3) Curling shingles – Aging shingles will start to lift and curl at the corners and edges in reaction to long term exposure to direct sunlight and wide variations in temperatures. The curling of shingles is an indication that the materials are starting to break down in terms of their structural integrity as well as their ability to defend the structure against the elements. Curled shingles are a particular concern in areas where high winds are common, as the upturned corners make it easier for the materials to be lifted off of the roof deck.
4) Roofing debris at the mouths of downspouts – Wood chips and splinters, as well as sand-like granules at the mouths of your downspouts are indications that wood-based or asphalt shingles are wearing down fast. If you see these types of debris, especially if the quantity is increasing with each storm, the roofing materials don’t have much time left and should be replaced as soon as possible.
Don’t ignore the signs of an aging roof. Opting for a new installation now will be less expensive than replacing the roof after a major breakdown.
Residential roofs are often taken for granted starting with the first day after the installation, due in large part to some long-standing myths about maintenance, repairs and the way that roofing systems work. Unfortunately, following these myths can result in more frequent and costly repairs while also shortening the service life of the roof. These myths include:
1) Durable materials like tile do not require maintenance – While it’s true that this material can last for hundreds of years, neglecting a tile roof can still result in problems that lead to leaks and/or detract from its appearance. Tile roofs have two primary trouble areas; they can be broken when walked upon and vegetation that traps moisture can foster the growth of moss and algae. One of the common ways that clay tiles are broken is when satellite dishes and HVAC systems are installed by people who aren’t aware that tiles are not designed to support a human’s weight. Debris that remains on the roof for extended periods can lead to the discoloration of tiles as moss and algae bloom in trapped moisture. Both of these issues can be mitigated with regular inspections and maintenance steps that replace broken tiles and remove roof debris on a regular basis.
2) An efficient drainage system is nice but not mandatory –This myth is probably based on the idea that water is going to drain off of a sloped roof, regardless of whether there is drainage or not. While that is true in many cases, an efficient drainage system can prevent runoff from flooding low areas around the house, eliminate “waterfalls” at the bottom of roof valleys and ensure that water is directed to public drainage systems. For homes that have drainage systems in place, it is also essential to clear gutters and downspouts to ensure that runoff, especially during heavy rainstorms, is removed as quickly as possible. Clogged gutters and downspouts can create all kinds of havoc, including the backing up of water under the shingles, waterfalls in areas where pooled runoff escapes and accumulations in areas that can threaten the house. Contrary to the myth, efficient drainage is a critical component of every roofing system.
3) The conditions in the attic have nothing to do with the roof – While it is commonplace to think that there is no relation between the two, high temperatures in the attic can have negative effects on the roof in both the summer and the winter. In the summer, temperatures reaching up to 160 degrees can punish the underside of roofing materials. In the winter, heat radiating up from the attic can melt snow accumulations and start the formation of ice dams on the eaves. By regulating temperatures in the attic with ventilation and insulation, you can minimize the effects of radiating heat while also saving money on your energy bills.
As the primary defense against the elements, the roof on your home endures heat, cold, rain and wind. By ignoring these myths, you can ensure that your roofing systems delivers maximum protection, requires little in the way of repairs and lasts for the long term.
Slate roofs are highly regarded for their appearance and longevity but also come with challenges that are unique to this roofing material. Here are the advantages and benefits of this roofing material, followed by some of its challenges.
• Curb appeal – A new slate roof can immediately enhance the curb appeal of a wide range of structural styles. Homeowners can select from a full palette of colors including blues, greens, grays, shades of black and multi-colored tiles. Slate tiles also come in a variety of sizes, allowing homeowners to further customize the appearance of their roofs.
• Slate is long lasting – As a natural stone product, the expectations for the service life of slate roofs extends out to 150 years. Manufacturers tend to agree with these estimates, as evidenced by warranties on slate materials lasting up to 100 years. As a comparison, an asphalt roof could potentially be replaced 4 times over that time frame.
• Slate is fire-proof – The natural stone composition of slate tiles makes them totally fire proof. This can make the difference between a house catching fire from blowing embers and withstanding fires that take place in close proximity to the structure.
• Slate is environmentally friendly – Slate can be considered a “green” roofing material for 2 reasons; the first is that once it is installed, it will likely be in place for at least a century. During this time, 4 asphalt roofs may end up in landfills. The second reason is that when slate is pulled from a roof, it is commonly reused in other roofing applications.
• Cost – Generally speaking, slate is the most expensive roofing material to install. Its longevity, however, makes it a cost-effective option versus asphalt and wood shingles.
• Installation challenges – Of all roofing materials, slate is probably the most difficult to install properly. Still, there are roofing contractors that will take on slate roof jobs even if the complexity of the installation process is above their skill and experience levels. To ensure that slate will be installed correctly, homeowners should only work with roofing contractors that have been certified by the manufacturer of the tiles.
• Weight – Slate is one of the heaviest roofing materials and may necessitate additional fortification of the structure to support the extra weight. The engineering, materials, labor and permitting involved in the fortification of the structure can increase the total cost of the installation by a substantial amount.
• Weight bearing weakness – Like tile roofs, slate shingles can be broken by someone walking across the roof. To prevent expensive repairs, make sure that anyone going on the roof has the experience, knowledge and tools to work up there without breaking anything.