If you’re like most people, you don’t spend one minute thinking about the roof over your head unless a problem arises. Usually a roof problem comes to our attention only when we notice some rather disturbing symptoms, such as a water mark on a ceiling, cracking drywall or plaster, wet insulation, a damp or musty smell coming from an attic, water in a light fixture, or water dripping from a ceiling or wall. Other signs that your roof is in need of professional attention can be cupping or curling shingles, granules missing from shingles, or shingles completely gone, loose or fall off. Sometimes people also realize they have a roof problem when ice damming occurs and water finds its way in under shingles and down a wall or ceiling.
Signs such as these indicate you should contact a professional contractor to see if your roof needs repairs or replacement. If it is time for a new roof, here are some important things to consider.
When You Need a New Roof
- Get precise estimates: When evaluating a contractor for a new roof, we can’t emphasize enough to make sure you get comparable estimates. There are some “tricks” that unethical roofing contractors will use to get the job. Anyone can cut corners on quality of materials, approach to the work, or guarantees to offer a low price. You should never buy based solely on price when purchasing parachutes, surgery or a new roof. Be sure to get precise estimates that include detailed information
- Take off old roof: Although many municipalities allow roofers to put a new roof on over an old one, this approach is very likely to lead to problems. A new roof on top of an old roof is likely to trap moisture against the wood that provides the integrity and structure of your roof. Be sure that any roofing contractor you are talking to will take off the old roof materials — not leave it in place.
- Select quality materials: Whether you are using tile, slate, asphalt or other roofing materials insist on quality. Materials can come in a wide range of quality, such as materials with a 15 year guarantee all the way up to a lifetime guarantee. You will pay more up front for higher quality materials, but when you consider the fact that your home will last a long time you should have a roof that will last along with it.
- Choose coordinating colors: The color of the roofing materials you use can greatly affect the look of your home. Be sure your roofing contractor offers you a range of colors to choose from that will coordinate with your stone, masonry, siding and shutter color.
- Ice and water shield: The lower part of your roof that is closest to your gutters should have a high-quality ice and water shield installed. This seals the roof against ice damming and water wicking into the roofing materials, through nail holes and seams and into your home. Unfortunately, we have seen roofs where contractors have not used ice and water shield or have used poor quality materials. The result is the same: water damage to the home, even though the homeowner paid for a new roof.
- Inspect roof structure: Every responsible contractor should inspect your roof structure as part of the estimating process and tell you if they can see damage to the underlying wood prior to removing the old roof materials. They should give you an estimate that includes replacing any damaged materials. At the same time, it is also possible that the contractor will find hidden damage after the roof surface is removed. If your contractor finds damage either before or after the materials come off, they should be willing to show you the damage and explain why it should be repaired at this time.
- Roof venting: In our area of operation, roofs are subject to cold temperatures in the winter and hot, sunny weather in the summer. Every roof should have some form of venting in order for the shingles to last longer and for your roof to last longer. Vents may include gable vents at the ends of your home, ridge vents along the top of the roof, and/or a roof ventilator fan. Be sure to talk to your contractor about your home’s roof venting. If the venting is inadequate, the best time to address it is during when your roof is being installed.
- Clean up and protection of your home: When the old materials come off of your home, they need to go somewhere. Make sure your contractor takes responsibility for clean up and protection of your home. Siding, windows, masonry, stairs, decks, walkways and landscaping should all be covered with protective tarps to ensure that falling shingles and roofing material do not cause damage. Make sure your contractor puts these protective measures in writing when you get an estimate and does not minimize the importance of protecting your home. Likewise, ask the contractor what they will do during the cleanup process to ensure that no rusty nails are left in your yard for you, children and guests are not injured after the job is complete. We sweep the work area with a large magnetic device that effectively removes nails from your lawn.
- Insurance and Guarantees: Your contractor should always, always, always be insured in case of injury to workers or damage to your property. On top of that, be sure that your contractor provides you with written manufacturer’s guarantees on materials being used. On top of that, your contractor should provide you with a written guarantee on workmanship. We offer a 10-year workmanship guarantee on new work — something not every contractor is willing to offer.
Whether you’re certain you need a new roof, think your roof may need repairs, or really aren’t sure, we’ll be happy to take a look at your roof and offer advice and a free, no obligation estimate for repair or replacement. Please contact Matt Potter, 215-651-4850, or go to our website, www.PotterContracting.com.