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Homeowner's Guide To Roofing

Owning your own home may be a dream come true for everyone, but when it comes to keeping it up with proper maintenance and repairs, many people suddenly begin to long for the good old days of renting. Nothing can send shivers through a homeowner's spine faster than finding out that they need a new roof. When you think of the fact that the roof is one of the main ways of protecting your investment, it is extremely important that you know how to choose the right materials, keep it in good condition, and make smart choices.

Picking the Right Roofing Materials

Because there are several different types of roofing materials, you'll have to decide on what will work best for your particular home and environment. You want to make sure that your roof will be able to seal your home not only from water but also from the sun's rays. When you consider the fact that your roof is the most important means of keeping out environmental damages it is easy to understand how important your choice of materials will be.

  • Energy Efficient: Most people don't think of their roofing as a way to conserve energy but the materials you choose can actually help you save on your energy bill over time. Try to choose materials that carry the government's Energy Star label. The Energy Star program was implemented to encourage consumers to invest in energy-efficient products. Roofs that carry this type of approval rating reflect enough of the sun's rays that they can actually lower the temperature of your roof by as much as 100 degrees during the hottest times of the year.
  • Location: Your choice of roofing colors should be based on your location. Light-color roofs will reflect heat and work well in warmer climates and dark-colored roofs absorb heat and work well for cooler climates.
  • Materials: Roofs come in a wide variety of materials including asphalt, metal, wood, concrete, and tile. Clay tile and concrete roofs are usually more expensive during the installation phase but because they are more energy-efficient they can save you money over time.

Picking the Right Roofer

Once you know what materials will work best for your new roof, you need to start talking to roofing contractors. There is no doubt that buying a new roof will set you back a tidy sum so you want to be sure that you have someone capable of not only doing the best installation you can find but will also be willing to stand behind their work no matter what happens over the lifespan of your new roof.

Roofing contractors should be able to meet some very high standards and satisfy some very strict requirements. First and foremost you want to make sure that your contractor has the following:

  • Business Stability: A business that has already established a solid reputation in the community is important. It will ensure that the job is done right and that they will be there if there are any problems in the future.
  • Is Properly Licensed and Insured: Always make sure that they have all the required state and local license for the kind of work they do and that they hold a minimum of $1,000,000.00 of insurance coverage.
  • Has a Good Reputation: When you're searching for a roofing company it is always good to get recommendations from those who have used them in the past. By doing this you will be confident that they have a good work ethic and a good reputation as well. In addition, you can check with the Better Business Bureau to make sure that there are no major complaints or issues with previous customers that have not been settled to satisfaction.

When you speak with the roofer, don't be afraid to ask the hard questions. Make sure that they are qualified to handle the job and willing to back up his work with some type of warranty that will cover you in the future.

Getting Ready For Roof Installation

Once you've decided on the right contractor for the job you need to start your preparations for the work at hand. Installing a new roof is a major undertaking and you can be assured that it will disrupt your life. The job will go much more smoothly if you're prepared for what's to come:

  • Traffic flow: In cases where your old roof will be removed, clear a place for a large dumpster so that all the old materials can be thrown away. Trucks will be coming to haul away the old materials so they need easy access and clear your driveway or another pathway to your home.
  • Debris: Falling debris may enter your home or attic so make sure that your things inside the home are properly covered to limit the risk of damage. Make sure that you point out any exterior areas that you want the contractor to be extra careful of; flower beds, shrubbery, etc. If possible, remove anything that can be damaged out of the way.
  • Noise Level: Removing a roof is a noisy job, not just for you but also for your neighbors. If you aren't able to handle the noise, make plans to be away while the job is being done. It is also a sign of respect and courtesy that you inform your neighbors before the job gets started.
  • Weather: Schedule your roofing job at a time when you know that the weather will be in your favor. There is nothing worse than having your roof torn out and it starts to rain.

Roof Maintenance

Once you've got your new roof installed, your job is not over yet. Your new roof represents a major investment in your home; make sure that it stays in excellent condition for its lifetime. It is wise to start a preventive maintenance program so that you can avoid having to deal with a major roof failure at a time when you need it the most. There are three different areas that should be addressed at least once or twice a year.

  • Make Regular Inspections: Check the perimeter edge, wall flashing, surface/coating condition, seams, fasteners, caulking, etc. to make sure there is no peeling or separating.
  • Documenting: Keep a record of any possible deficiencies that you see. When you're performing your inspection mark possible danger signs with some type of spray paint or take a photo of it before you call in a repair technician.
  • Repair: Make the needed repairs while the problem is still minor rather than watching the problem grow into a major issue. If you're not qualified to do the repairs yourself, it is wise to hire a roofer to make sure that the job is done right and is up to your local area's legal regulations.

Remember, if you don't take care of your roof through preventive maintenance this year, you will pay more for reactive maintenance next year.

How to Handle Roof Repairs

It is obvious that some roof repairs should be left purely for the experts and others are simple enough that the average person can do them. When your roof needs a little extra help it would be helpful if you knew the difference.

  • Assess the Problem: Some roofing problems are due to minor issues like a torn shingle or a hole in the flashing. With a little DIY know how you should be able to fix the problem yourself. If you can't fix the problem quickly then call a pro.
  • When to Call in the Experts: It would be best to call an expert if there are multiple leaks in your home, if you can't find the source, there is major damage to the roofing surface, or the repairs you made are not working.

Basic Roofing Repairs

Keep the following points in mind when attempting basic roofing repairs:

  • Repairing shingles: When a shingled roof has been damaged repairs can be made with a tube of roofing cement and aluminum flashing. Cut the flashing about 1 inch narrower than the ripped tab and about 4 inches longer. Loosen the damaged tab and the tabs on either side, and apply the roofing cement underneath the shingle. Switching Shingles: Sometimes you'll have to replace old and worn out shingles with new ones. To do this, you'll want to split the damaged shingle into several narrow pieces and then pull them out with pliers. Cut through the nails holding the shingle in place and yank it out. Slide the new shingle to within 1 inch of the final position and drive galvanized shingle nails in at an upward angle. Tap the new shingle up and into place.
  • Chimney Sweep: When the paint on your chimney masonry keeps peeling it is usually caused by water traveling from the inside out. A simple fix would be to install a galvanized steel or copper rain cap.
  • Always Use Caution: Working on your roof is one of the most dangerous things you can do around your house. There is always a risk of slipping and falling as well as the risk for those below if your were to drop a tool or any materials you're using. Use a roofer's ladder with a bracket that bridges the roof, a safety harness or belt secured to a lifeline, and always make sure that the weather is favorable before you attempt to do anything.

Warning Signs That You May Need Roof Repair

The roof is the most vulnerable part of your home. It is not only at risk from water damage during the seasonal rains and snow but it also has to absorb much of the damaging affects from the sun's powerful rays at other times. Throughout all of it, it is exposed to winds, debris from nearby trees, and just plain old wear and tear that comes with all man made materials. Protecting your roof is a means of protecting all of your personal assets that are inside. There are some very clear signs to look for that tell you when it is time to get some roof repair:

  • Ceiling Spots and Mold: Even if you can't see it, mold can be lurking somewhere in your house. The tell tale signs of mold are a distinctive smell or spots on your ceiling.
  • Curling and Buckling: Any type of physical changes to your roof's exterior is a sign that something has changed. Curling and buckling is usually the result of wind damage.
  • Missing Shingles/Damaged Flashings: This type of damage could be the result of poor ventilation or fallen tree branches.
  • Algae: The loss of granules (the protective covering over the shingles) is usually the result of algae, hail, or other external forces.

Watching for these warning signs can give you an early indication that your roof is at risk. Once you identify these problems, your best course of action is to start immediate repair. If these problems are neglected, it will only get worse.

Roofing Costs

The cost of repairing or replacing your roof is probably one of the most expensive home improvement projects you'll ever perform. There are many different types of materials and supplies needed depending on your exact needs. However, there are some ways that costs can be kept to a minimum.

  • Minor Roof Repair: The cost for minor roof repairs could run anywhere from $200 to as much as $1,600. Clearly, the sooner you find the damage and take care of it, the lower this cost will be.
  • Roof Replacement: Replacing your roof is another matter altogether. This is a major undertaking and depending on the materials used and the size of your home the costs could vary widely. The prices average around $7,000 with a minimum cost of $3,000 all the way up to $12,000 and sometimes even higher.

Still these figures can be only averages as other factors also come into play as additional issues also need to be considered like:

  • The size of the home - the larger the house the more materials and manpower will be needed.
  • The higher the roof and the steeper the pitch makes the job more difficult to complete.
  • Removal of the old roofing materials requires more labor hours.
  • The type and quality of shingles and materials you choose.
  • Replacement of gutters and flashing.

While replacing a roof can be a major decision, it is the smartest investment a homeowner can make. Not only does it protect your physical assets it can also improve your home's overall value. Still, you want to take all the necessary precautions so that you don't make a priceless mistake that will cost you in the long run. Follow these simple guidelines and you'll know how to protect your investment so that it will last you for many years to come.