Be sure to be fully prepared before undertaking a project like a new roof. Photo Credit: Martin Pettitt
A new roof is one of the most expensive home repairs you can make. Unfortunately, most homeowners don’t think about the status of their roof until it shows visible signs of regression. Curling shingles and small leaks get most people’s attention, but by then it’s too late.
Newer roofs can also fail due to faulty installation. In some cases signs of poor workmanship won’t even show up for several years. If the roof is older and showing its age, that means the materials are spent. On average, 15 to 20 years is about normal duration of asphalt shingles.
Buy yourself some time and isolate the problem. It may take some time and you may feel completely lost, but if you solve the problem then you may have saved yourself thousands of dollars. On the other hand, if the problem is beyond your capabilities, then bringing in a professional roofer will put your mind at ease. If you just want to troubleshoot the roof, here are the check points to look at.
New shingles. A leaky roof could mean past damage was not fixed correctly. Finding damage takes time and is best handled by professionals. However, the cheapest way to deal with a leaky roof is to seal it with roofing tar. Another viable option is a layover. This is merely laying new shingles over old ones. You’ll have to check with the local building authorities to see what the guidelines are. Usually, they allow only 2 layers of shingles before they consider it a risk.
In some areas of the country, black mold algae will take hold. Make sure the shingles are resistant to mold. The most durable shingles you’ll buy are the thickest. These shingles are more expensive but they last much longer. Look for architectural shingles if you’re doing the work yourself or bring that to the attention of your roofing company.
Roof felt. Good underlayment will act as a moisture barrier if the shingles are loosened by wind. Felt is the last moisture block before running into the roof deck -- then it’s straight into the house. If you’re doing a layover job, don’t bother with the felt. Just remove as much of the old shingles as possible. You’ll get a longer life out of the new shingles when the old ones are cleared. Ice shields may also be required. It’s important to have it around chimneys, gables, and gutter lines. Wind can blow water into places that don’t normally get wet. With an ice shield, the overall system is protected.
Ventilation. Every roof needs to breathe; make sure the right amount of vents are installed on the roof ridge. If you don’t have any, the heat could do damage to the roof system. Without a way to vent, the roof will generate high temperatures in the attic and that makes the house harder to cool. It also takes years off your roof system. Structural beams can buckle and shingles will blister or crack. Proper flashing is also a must to protect the roof system; this includes chimney, step, counter, and drip edges.
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