Roof Repair or Replace?
There are several key danger signals to consider when determining the effectiveness of your roof system. Seven key danger signals are:
- Leakage in attic after driving rain.
Cause: Absence of underlayment. Deteriorated flashing.
- Blistering and/or peeling of outside paint.
Cause: Excessive moisture or high humidity due to poor ventilation.
- Stains on interior walls or ceilings.
Cause: Inadequate shingles and or underlayment
- Shingles, deck, and siding decay.
Cause: Poor attic ventilation
- Missing, cracked or curling shingles.
Cause: Shingles have reached their useful life.
- Dark, dirty looking areas of roof.
Cause: Environmental pollutants such as algae and/or excess granule loss.
- Excessive energy costs.
Cause: Insufficient ventilation causes heating and cooling systems to run excessively.
Tear Off or Roof Over?
The question often comes up about whether an existing composition shingle roof should be torn off or if an overlay (or recover) is possible. Overlays save on time, labor, and disposal costs. If the existing roof has only one layer, lays flat, and there aren’t any problems with the roof deck, removal is not necessary.
Regardless of whether you overlay or tear off, you should properly ventilate your attic. In almost all cases, continuous soffit and ridge vents will provide maximum cross ventilation.
If any of the following are true, a complete tear-off of the existing roof system(s) should be considered.
- Too many layers – If a roof has more than one layer of roofing, the roof should be torn off. In most cases this is a code requirement. Codes rarely permit more than two layers of roofing. To determine this, all you need to do is contact your local building inspections department.
- Bad decking – if spongy areas are noticed when walking on a roof, or if you see sags between the rafters or trusses, there’s a chance that some of the roof deck may be deteriorating or be damaged. Deterioration can be attributed to dry rot or delamination of the plies in the plywood due to glue failure. Dry rot is wood rot caused by certain types of fungi and if it isn’t taken care of, it can spread. If there is suspicion of bad decking, then a full tear off should seriously be considered.
- Ice dams – ice dams can be a big problem. In areas where there the average January temperature can be below 30° F, and no ice and water protection membrane is present on a roof, then a full tear off should be considered. Twenty year old buildings with no ice and water protection and no prior problems, can suddenly experience thousands of dollars in damage when a freak cold front hits.
- Incompatible shingles – if a heavy weight architectural style shingle is used to cover a light weight strip shingle such as 3-tabs, then the roof will look good. However, if a light weight shingle is used to cover a heavy weight shingle, the light weight shingles have a tendency to show all the bumps and ridges (called telegraphing) and won’t look good.
- Existing roof is in poor condition – if the existing roof is in really poor shape, such as tabs being severely curled or if the rows are crooked, then complete tear off and replacment should be considered.
- Shorter Life Span – There is no known documented research, but most roofing professionals agree that with an overlay, the average lifespan of the shingles will be shortened by about 10%-20%.
Special Considerations for Overlays (Roof Overs)
- Check manufacturers specifications and local building codes.
- Inspect the bundles for moisture upon delivery. If the bundles are wet, have them returned and exchanged for new ones. If shingles are installed wet, then problems will occur later on such as blistering, mold, mildew, etc.; all of which expedite roof deterioration.
- Remove any curled shingle tabs. You want the substrate of the new roof to be flat. Use a flat nosed shovel as it works the best.
- Make sure the existing roof is dry before you shingle it. Trapped moisture such as dew will shorten the lifespan of your shingles.
- Don’t overlay a roof with algae problems unless you clean it first.
- Before you start, cut the existing shingles back approximately ½” to 1″ from the edge of the roof all the way around. If you install new drip edge, make sure that it covers the old drip edge material or else it will look ugly. Install a starter row along the eaves.
- When overlaying an existing shingle roof, DO NOT install a layer of felt between the systems.
- Tear off the hip and ridge cap before you start or else it will cause a large hump in the roof along the hips and ridges.
- Nails should be long enough to penetrate the deck a minimum of ¾”. 1 ¼” to 1 ½” nails are generally used in overlay applications.
- The nails you use to install your hip and ridge cap should be approximately 1/2″ longer than the nails used on the main sections of the building. This is because the hip/ridge nails generally have at least two extra layers of material to go through.
- Install all new flashings. Remove the old flashings and fill in the void that it causes with shingle material.
- Use four (4) nails per shingle minimum, six (6) nails per shingle in high wind areas.
- Check with your local building department prior to overlaying the existing roof. Some cities/regions allow only two layers of roofing while others allow three layers.
3 Bid Myth?
Roofing your home or business is one of the most important decisions you will ever make. Roofing is the first line of defense against mother nature and the elements. We at Antebellum Roofworks know roofing is not a life-threatening concern such as heart surgery, but the two can be compared to show their affects on a family or business’ financial healthy and safety. When you choose a doctor you do not choose him or her based on price as you would most roofing projects. And in all likelihood, many factors are considered before you pay thousands to a doctor for a procedure you have been advised you need. The same should be true when choosing roofing contractors. A top complaint status with the Better Business Bureau is testament to this so pick your roofing contractor and roofing system wisely.
A common tactic to use when hiring roofing contractors is to select three or more bids from different companies. Price often drives the selection and is often the major influence in roofing decisions. Contractors realize that price drives the market and often they and property owners overlook more important factors such as design, scope of work, and craftsmanship. Other factors just as important to consider include experience, knowledge, and insurance coverage. For example, if you hire a contractor, relative, or friend and they do not have adequate insurance, both General Liability and Workers Compensation, then you the owner are responsible for medical costs, lost wages or damages to your property in the event of an accident. Homeowners feel they are being safe by selecting the middle bid and throwing out the lower or higher bids. Quality is never cheap and although the research seems like a headache, there are many factors other than price that should be considered.
Bid-shopping works with decisions like automobile purchases, but certainly not roofing projects. You can ask three automobile dealerships to price a product with specific make, model, and equipment and feel reasonably sure you are comparing like-products, e.g. “apples to apples.” You are purchasing a product you can see and test drive. When one purchases roofing, they are purchasing a concept with which they often know little about and can’t see until well after the contract is signed and the damages from poor craftsmanship, inferior materials, and design threaten your investments and well being.
Make sure your roofing contractor furnishes you a written contract and specifications detailing all work required to protect your property and the investments therein. All materials and labor should be detailed and specific to insure you a quality job at an honest price. Procedures for changes in work and completion time should be discussed and understood by both parties. A warranty should be given to protect the property owner and their investments. Roofing warranties should give you protection guarantees for both labor and materials. Ask further assurance like warranties that provide added coverage and protection through Contractor Certifications and third-party guarantees such as the long-recognized Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval. Remember, you should be cautious. Know your contractor. Check them thoroughly. The average roofing contractor stays in business less than two or three years!
And finally, if you like a contractor and feel confident in his or her work, but they proposed a bid beyond your budget, a quality roofing contractor should have the knowledge, skills, and abilities to realign a proposal to scale down the price without sacrificing quality protection. We at Antebellum Roofworks have these attributes combine with over 43 years of quality roofing application, which makes us “second-to-none” in our field! Ask your contractor if any part of the job can be scaled down to meet your budget and most importantly whether something omitted would sacrifice protection or warranty. It very well may be as simple as substituting the materials or scopes of work required to install a certain roof system design. You have options at Antebellum Roofworks you can “negotiate” a price rather than selecting a price and “rolling the dice.”