“At least you have a roof over your head,” is an expression that we all understand immediately—a good roof on your home is essential. A roof bears the brunt of storms and sun like no other part of your house. Here in Savannah we enjoy a generally temperate climate but there is no shortage of enemies for your roof: wind, water, and heat.
Although a roof looks pretty basic, spotting when something is going wrong before it’s too late really takes an expert eye. And not all residential roofing companies that hang out a shingle have the experience it takes. That’s why it’s so important to develop a relationship with a residential roofing company with the experience and qualifications you can trust with your family’s most valuable asset.
Develop a relationship? Consider this:
It will payoff in the future to identify a reputable residential roofing company now and having their professionals inspect your roof. Being ignorant of or ignoring minor deterioration to a roof can lead to serious problems, like water damage, rotting wood, mildew, pests—the list goes on. Early detection is important and will insure a well maintained roof—which is key to maintaining the value of your home for years to come.
You can perform checks on your roof, too, with the spring and fall typically being a good time to do so. Scan the entire surface, looking for raised, loose, or damaged shingles; where the roofing and siding meet penetrating objects like vents and flues, check for gaps in the flashing; and around chimneys inspect for damaged mortar. Also look for excessive gravel in the gutters.
One thing that’s hard to detect is hail damage and is best left to a professional. If you know you’ve had a hail storm, contact the company that carries your your homeowner’s insurance policy and ask them about how to proceed. If you don’t know or have been co
Remember to be careful during your inspection, remaining on an anchored or braced ladder as much as possible. Not only for your safety but foot traffic and dropped objects are a common source of damage to a roof. Or do as recommended by the Savannah Morning News—scan the roof from the ground with a pair of binoculars. They go on to suggest a trip to the attic to look from the inside, checking for water stains on the sheathing and the rafters.
Typical roofing materials are rated for 25 or 30 years but 20 years is a more realistic expectation of a useful life. Their actual life span is determined by a number of factors, including local climatic and environmental conditions, proper building and roof system design, material quality and suitability, proper application and, very importantly, adequate roof maintenance.
Here in Savannah we are fortunate to escape, for the most part, the severest forms weather. Although we only rarely experience hurricane force winds or freezing and thawing, a 2006 study showed that roofing materials are continually degraded by things we have plenty of: ultraviolet light, heat, and moisture.
Your roof is subject to all kinds of hazards. Things as simple as a workman turning abruptly can tear a shingle. Prior roofing contractors may have used damaged materials or materials with manufacturing defects—or may have installed them incorrectly. Nailing errors that range from missing or misplaced nails to nails driven too deep or too shallow—all can cause lifting.
Most residential roofs are what is know as a steep slope roof, that is, roofs with over a 25%, or 3-in-12 slope. That’s where the roof rises vertically three inches for every twelve inches of horizontal length. According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, the most common roof-covering materials are:
Your roof is a system of overlapping materials, each of which performs a key function. No matter what kind of roof you have, there’s a durable outer layer, a moisture barrier, and a support structure. The outer layer is made of interlocking pieces that must be properly fitted and fastened together to maintain their integrity. A nail driven too deeply, not deep enough, in the wrong place, or even not at all is a chink in your roof’s armor, leaving you open to wind and water damage.
Steep-slope roofs have six main parts, five of which are shown in Figure 1.:
Here are examples of the most of the styles of roofs found in North America. Each roofing style has specific points where failure is likely to occur. A qualified residential roofing company will know which areas to give closest attention and what to look for in each.
Roofs often have features added, generally to admit more light into an attic being used as living space. Here are a few of the more common roof features:
Not all damaged roofs need replacement. A qualified representative from a reputable residential roofing company will advise you of your options and help you make the best decision for you home.
Damaged or faulty covering, underlayment, or flashing is leaking or may lead to leaks if not corrected. Repairs are usually isolated to specific areas of the roof. It may be more cost effective to replace the roof rather than patch it, especially if the roof is over 15 years old.
For homes with one covering of shingles that needs replacing, most building codes allow a second layer of shingles to be added directly over the worn layer as long as it has a solid roof structure. However, the supporting structure must still be sound and have been engineered to support the additional weight.
A tear-off is when the old roof covering and underlayment is removed and new materials are installed. This is the preferred method and may give you a better warranty. A tear-off allows the inspection of the underlying sheathing so it can be replaced if needed. A tear-off is required to make the repairs in cases where the roof’s underlying decking, beams, or rafters are damaged or if the roof already has two or more layers of shingles.
The expense of a roofing job is no small matter but the good news is it may already be paid for—in the form of monthly homeowner’s insurance premiums. But call your roofing contractor first. Having a knowledgeable project manager from a residential roofing company check your roof first will enable you to speak intelligently should the adjuster try to deny your claim. Call the insurance company to schedule an adjuster to inspect your roof and determine if a repair is covered.
The importance of working with a reputable company cannot be overstated. The Savannah Morning News published an article about watching out for roofing scams in the wake of hail storms. Such residential roofing companies might even damage your home themselves during an “inspection.” Be careful who you allow access to your roof—do your research. See the article, Inside Insurance: Beware of Roof Repair Scams for more information.
All roofing contractors in Savannah and the surrounding communities are required to have a contractor’s license. In addition, look for things like professional memberships. The more specific to the roofing trade, the better. Some examples are the National Roofing Contractors Association, the Roofing And Sheet Metal Contractors Association of Georgia, or the Home Builder’s Association of Greater Savannah.
With the Internet, finding information has never been easier, but it still takes some digging. Expect to wade through a lot of search results to find the golden nuggets you’re looking for. Here are a few resources to check:
A well established residential roofing company will usually employ project managers or estimators who will meet with the home owner, perform an inspection, and arrange for the materials and the work crew. A separate foreman will usually supervise the crew, but the project manager may stop by during the work to verify that things are going well. It’s not unusual for smaller, independent contractors to fill all these roles themselves.
No likes to think that things might go wrong, but they might. So it’s important to verify that the roofing contractors on your short list are bonded and insured, as well as licensed. And find out how much insurance they have and be sure it will cover the job if it has to be redone by someone else.
Once an estimate is received, be sure to review it a make certain that you understand the details of the proposed work. Here are some things to watch for:
The roof is a home’s first line of defense against the elements.
Without a good roof, the comfort, safety, and value of a home is compromised. When considering the repair or replacement of a roof, a qualified residential roofing company is so very important. They have the knowledge to advise the best options, the experience to handle situations that arise, and the resources to do the job right the first time. And, in the end, that costs a whole lot less than doing it over.