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Roof Maintenance – Facts You Should Know

Kyle Brink

06 December 2017

Roofs have a very important role in keeping the occupants and the internal areas of a building away from harmful environmental conditions, especially moisture. Roofs, proper insulation and ventilation need to be combined in order to keep moisture away from the building. Roofs are also great protectors against sunlight. Apparently, when the right designs are applied, the external parts of the walls can be protected from humidity and sunlight too. The issues related to humidity, durability aspects and aesthetical value may appear different; these are dependable on the selection of materials you use for your roofs.

How to maintain your roof

When it comes to maintaining a home, the task should involve clearing up the leaves and dirt off the curves of the roof. Dirty particles in the roof valley area may result in the accumulation of water below the shingles. This may result in damages to the internal areas of your roof. Blocked roof gutters may result in the inability of water to be expelled effectively when it rains; thus, water is likely to accumulate below the shingles particularly on the eave area and this may result in damages no matter what material is used such as wooden shakes, tiles, metals and composited shingles. The ideal solution in preserving the condition of your roof is by keeping it cleared from any harmful elements particularly the changes of weather where severe damages are likely to occur.

When your roof is leaking it may cause damages to your ceiling, wall and furnishing. In order to keep a building safe from damages caused by water, roofing contractors may often repair and apply new roofs made of substances such as tar, asphalt, gravel, rubber, thermoplastic and metal. Shingles are often used as well, and they’re commonly made of tiles, wood, fiberglass, slates or asphalt. Repairing may also include applying water resistant foundations to walls and floors.

Roofs can be found in two versions, i.e. the sloped (pitched) and flat. Many business premises, industrial-related structures and high-rise buildings are made with flat or a bit slighted sloped roofing. The majority of homes are built with pitched roofs. Certain roofing contractors prefer to install both versions while others tend to specialize. The majority of flat roofs are made with layered coverings comprised of different substances. Initially roofing contractors place a type of insulation material as the first layer on top of the roof’s deck. On top of the insulation, a layer of coating made of molten bitumen which is a substance that looks like tar is spread all over. Then, felt which is a garment coated with bitumen is applied in a semi-overlapped manner. A mop is often utilized in order to spread out the hot bitumen in the middle of layers of substances beneath and on top of it. This locks the seams and results in a water resistant surface. Roofing contractors often repeat the process for a number of times depending on how many layers they want to create, and the layers are known as plies. The topping is covered with a glaze to create a smooth, polished finish or it might also be embedded with gravel to produce a coarse finish. More buildings have been observed to be using flat roofs topped with water resistant rubber or thermoplastic substance making up a single ply membrane. The sheets are then rolled over the insulation layer and then the seams are sealed. For holding the sheets firmly, a stone ballast or a mechanical fastener in the form of adhesive are used. The structure of the building must be strong enough to keep the ballast in place.

A majority of home roofs are having shingle toppings. The process of shingle installation begins with laying, cutting and tacking of felts to form strips measuring 3’ in length and these are covered above the whole roof. The project starts at the bottom part where shingles are arranged in overlapped rows and nailed or stapled to the roof. The felts and shingles are measured and cut to acquire the right fit at the intersecting surface areas of the roof and to enable them to fit nicely with the chimneys and vent pipes. When there is an intersection between two surfaces of roofs, or when any shingles are touching the chimneys or vent pipes, metal strips or shingles are cemented or nailed on top of the intersection to seal them tight and make them water resistant. Lastly, cementing or caulking is covered over any visible nail heads to avoid water leakage. When tiles, shingles made of metal or shakes are installed, roofing contractors commonly abide to the same procedure. Certain roofing contractors make an effort to waterproof and moisture proof any masonries or walls and floorings made of concrete. To create surfaces that are totally waterproof, uneven surfaces are removed with hammers, chisels or rubbing bricks before a layer of waterproof liquid solution is applied. Surfaces may also be painted or sprayed with waterproof substance, or certain waterproof membranes are attached to them. For moisture proofing, internal or external surfaces are often sprayed with a layer of bitumen.

You can choose from a plethora of roofing substances:

1. Asphalt:

This is considered the most common substance found in the making of roofs. Asphalts are found in variations of shingles, roll roofs, built-up roofs and altered bitumen membranes. Asphalts are inexpensive and easily available, making them often selected for home roofing. They’re offered in various colors, textures and appearances. You can find them in four versions, i.e. strips, laminated, inter-locking and huge single-ply shingles. Shingles that are laminated appear to be thicker as they’re consisted of tabs in several layers. To acquire better resistance toward the wind the use of inter-locking shingles are more preferred. Huge, single-ply shingles are commonly produced in the shape of rectangles and hexagons. Roll roofs are often utilized for home roofing, and their main use is found for underlayment and flashing. These are found made of four substance varieties consisted of smooth surfaces, saturated felts, flashing with special eaves and surfaces made of minerals. Only those with mineral surfaces are utilized on their own as the main topping for small sized buildings; for instance, sheds. Surfaces with smooth finishes are mainly used as flashing, and they seal all intersections and bulging surfaces to make them completely waterproof. The deck and substance of the roof need proper underlayment and saturated felts are utilized for this purpose. Flashings in the form of special eaves are commonly utilized when the climate is prone to result in ice dams and water backups. For business, industrial-related and academic buildings, the use of built-up roofs are common.

Built-up roofs are commonly found present in flat and low sloped roofing solutions. They consist of several coatings of bitumen and ply-sheets. Built up roofs are comprised of the decks of the roof, the vapor retarders, insulations, membranes and visible substances. Bitumen membranes can be altered and the alteration is comprised of saturated felt in continuous folds, coated felt, garment or mat used alternately with the bitumen coating, be it on the surface or not. Surfacing for plants, whenever it applies, may include granules made of mineral, slag, copper and aluminum. The appearance of the membrane is determined by the bitumen and it creates a waterproof solution to the roof. The reinforcement, on the other hand, provides increased strength, resistance to puncture and improved integrity of the whole system.

The majority of roofing substances made of metal are comprised of steel and aluminum, but some versions are found in copper and others. Steel can be modified in texture by coating it with zinc or mixture of zinc and aluminum. This procedure lowers the possibility of corrosion. Roofs from metal are found in various versions such as the common seam and batten, tiled roofs, shingle roofs, and shakes. Various designs and colors are also available. Roofs made of metal and installed with solid sheathing are as effective in their usage to minimize the production of noise when it rains or during a hail or other environmental hazards as other roofing substances. Metal is also capable of preventing the eaves from ice dams. In areas where wildfire is a common scenario, roofs from metal are capable in protecting buildings from being caught on fire if shreds of flame happen to fall on top of the roof. Take note that metal roofs are more expensive than asphalts; however, they are commonly two or three times more durable than asphalts and wood.

Wood shakes

Shakes made of wood appear more natural but they have more character. They are available in various colors, widths, thickness and types of cuts; therefore, no roof would appear similar to the next. Wood shakes help in power savings as well. They provide increased attic insulation, provides better ‘breathing’ for the house, and better circulation of air due to the presence of tiny openings beneath the rows of felt where the shingles are installed. However, wood shakes need to be maintained and repaired on a regular basis; otherwise, their durability won’t be at par with other roofs. They’re susceptible to mildew, damages and critter invasion. The maintenance cost for shake roofs is relatively high, as old ones are non-recyclable. The absence of fire safety code ratings for wood shakes is a common scenario. For protection, wipe-on or spray solutions are used but these are not safe enough and may only work for several years. Certain shakes are pressure treated and equipped with fire eliminator and they abide by the fire safety standards. It’s more difficult to install wood shakes compared to composite shingles, and the end result of the installation relies much on the expertise of the roofing contractor and the quality of shakes. The highest quality of shakes is made of the core part of huge, matured cedar trees, which is rather hard to get. A number of roofers have been using shakes produced from the external part of the small sized cedar trees. These are common options of today, but they’re less standardized, vulnerable to twisting and warping and aren’t very durable.

Concretes and tiles

To create concrete tiles, concrete is extruded and color is applied. Clay is being used to create the traditional version of tiled roof. Both concrete and clay are long-lasting, beautiful to look at and do not require a lot of maintenance. They help in saving energy and friendly to the environment. Higher costs are required to install these roofing options, but their performance outruns other roofing substances. Tiled roofs are found in a lot of historical and modern buildings. Due to their powerful characteristics, tiled roofs seem to be the most popular options among global users. Time and again, tiled roofs have been resistant to severe environmental hazards such as hails, high winds, earthquakes, extreme heat and ice-cold climates. These tiles receive the non-conditional ‘Grade A’ fire rating. This means if tiled roofs are applied accordingly, they won’t be combustible and they’ll maintain the same quality during their entire lifespan. In the past few years, water shedding designs have been applied and to beat windy conditions newly-designed adhesives and technical fasteners have been used. The actual lifespan of tiled roofs depend much on the condition of the sub-roofs. Due to this reason, the improvement on quality of flashing and underlayment system is currently in progress.

In common scenarios when tiled roofs are installed the proper way they will never need any maintenance. Tiles are different from other substances, as their strength increases over time. Due to the superb quality of tiled roofs, the majority of them are offered together with a warranty of fifty years or even for their entire lifespan.

Both concrete and clay based tiled roofs are power savers as they help in maintaining the ideal temperatures for the internal areas of homes (be it cold or warm) in a more cost-effective manner compared to other roofing materials. As tiled roofs create better thermal capacity and air ventilation, they may reduce the cost of air-conditioning and heating, and that it minimizes the creation of ice. Tiled roofs are typically made of natural substances and they are recyclable into new tiles or some other items. No chemical-induced preservatives are used to produce these tiles, and they don’t cause the depletion of natural resources.

Single Ply Membranes

These come in the form of alterable, synthetically compounded sheets and they’re factory produced. Three versions are available; namely, thermo-sets, thermo-plastics and altered bitumens. They are strong, flexible and durable in nature. Their positive points are referred to their quality and flexibility in the manner of installation as well as application. Since they’re flexible, they’ve been used in various applications; to increase their lifespan and long-term waterproof quality they’ve undergone the compounding procedure. Rubber polymers are used to compound thermo-set membranes. EPDM is the most regular option for polymer. Thermo-set membranes are popular for making roofs as they’re resistant to sunshine and various chemicals often present on roofs. The most common method of identifying thermo-set membranes is by looking at their seams. The seams typically require the application of adhesive, be it in the form of liquid or tape to create waterproof seal at the intersections. Plastic polymers are utilized in the making of thermo-plastic membranes. A common version is PVC or polyvinyl chloride and its composition has become flexible due to the addition of other materials known as plasticizers. Simply look at the seams created through heat or chemical-induced welding procedure to identify thermo-plastic membranes. The seams are commonly better in strength than the membranes themselves. The majority of thermo-plastic membranes are plant-produced in order to add several more layers like polyester and fiberglass to increase their strength and firmness. Altered bitumen-based membranes are hybrid in nature and they use advanced techniques and the benefits of single ply prefabrication together with the conventional roof building methods. These substances are asphalts in layers, and they’re plant-produced and altered via rubber or plastic materials to increase their flexibility. Then, a combination of reinforcement is introduced to make them stronger and more stable. Common modifiers are available in two versions, i.e. styrene butadiene styrene and stactic polypropylene. Different modifiers may require different sheet installation techniques. In some techniques, hot asphalts are mopped to the deck surface, and some are melted with torches to create smooth finishes. For sealing the seams, the same methods are used.

Is Your Home at Risk?

If you can’t figure out the safety level of your home, addressing your concerns by contacting the local fire officers, building officers, local engineers, residential planners and zone planners is highly encouraged. They’re able to inform the actual risk level of your home and the surrounding areas. They can also advice you on ways to shield your home, properties and yourself from possible hazards. Asking the Inter-NACHI inspection officer when he comes around to check whether your roofing system needs any fixing is a good idea. Protecting your roof may require a plethora of modifications to your home and property, and the level of complexity as well as installation rates may differ. You can do your own roof fixing. However, bigger and more complicated repairs that may involve your home’s structure, electrical wirings and plumbing must only be done by qualified roofers that are allowed to do business within your territory. Fire protection, for instance, is done by changing non-fireproof roofs with fireproof roofs. This type of project normally
requires you to hire a professional roofer.

Is a Replacement Necessary?

The number of years your roof has been used determines when a replacement is needed. A majority of roofs can last for years and years, and with proper installation they only need repairing than replacement. One or two leakage is a fixable problem. In general, home roofs are able to last for around fifteen to twenty years. Water damage that occurs to the internal part of a home is mainly derived by leakage from one weather-beaten spot of the roof, poor installation of flashings, or splashes from a chimney or skylight. When such issues occur, it doesn’t mean replacing your roof is necessary.

Fireproof Substances

Certain roofing substances like asphalt shingles and wood shakes are not as resistant as other substances. The cause of fire is usually due to burning branches and leaves as well as other burning substances triggered by heated air and brought to the roof through the blow of the wind. If your home is using asphalt or wood shingles, it’s wiser to replace these two with fireproof substances. The ideal materials to replace your existing roof are such as slates, terra cottas, tiles and metals. Take note that replacing the substances of your roof can be a complicated and dangerous task. If you are not a skilful roofer and you don’t have the right equipment and tools, you might want to consider hiring a professional roofer to get the job done. Additionally, a roofer is able to suggest the benefits and the drawbacks of using varieties of fireproof substances.

Working With a Credible Roofer

In order to find the best roofer asking your friends or relatives is highly recommended. To obtain some referrals you’re encouraged to call the professional roofers association. The association imposes a strict guideline for all their members. Your area’s association will inform you about who the roofers are. When choosing a roofer, make sure you:

• Obtain 3 references and study their past performance

• Allow at least 3 contractors to bid for your project

• Have a contract in written form, and do not put down your signature unless you’ve understood the terms

• Only pay a down payment equivalent to 10% of the actual cost or $1000, whichever is less

• Do not pay if there is no progress in work

• Never pay in cash

• Do not pay in full unless you are already happy with what you get

• Do not assume that repairs need to be done quickly or allow yourself to be forced to make quick decisions

You’ve Found the Roofer, Now How to Create the Contract?

Everything must be written down, as a contract can be used to protect yourself from problems even when the project hasn’t even started. Protection is given to both you and the roofer as it may contain everything agreed by both parties. Make sure to write down all promises and jot down in an interim manner of all the things the roofer will and will not perform.

How About Permits?

An ideal contract must contain all work expected to be carried out based on proper building codes. Take note that building codes are typically set with minimum standards for safety in construction work. In general, a permit is often issued when there will be structural work to be performed. A roofer must get all the necessaries in acquiring building permits. If this isn’t put down in written in the contract, you may be considered liable due to failure of getting the necessary permits. Roof inspection will be performed by the building department when your project has reached certain levels of progress, and once again when the project is completed.

How about Insurance?

The roofer of your choice should be covered under the workers’
compensation and general liability insurance to prepare for any accidents or losses if they do occur when work is in progress. Remember to request for a copy of the policy for your own reference. You mustn’t let yourself become the victim of mechanics’ liens if the roofer didn’t pay his sub-contractors or suppliers. This can be done by writing the ‘release of lien’ clause in one segment of the contract. With the presence of the clause, roofers, his sub-contractors and suppliers are required to produce a ‘certificate of waiver of lien’. If you are taking a loan, lenders may usually require the roofer, his sub-contractors and suppliers to confirm receipt of payment before the proper funds can be released to support the following steps in your project.

If you need roof replacements, please remember the points below:

• Tiled roofing, metal roofing and slates are considered the more expensive choice of roofing substances. However, if you are planning to replace your existing roof, paying a bit more to acquire better protection is highly encouraged.

• Slates are commonly heavier and bulkier than asphalt or wood shingles. If you need to lift up these heavy roofs you need to ask the roofer to identify the strength of your roof’s framing and whether it has adequate support.

• When your residential area is often loaded with snow, you should consider changing to the more modern-looking metal roofs.