Monday, September 22, 2008

Properly Fixing a Roof Now Will Save Time and Money Later

Take time to fix your roofFall is upon us, and it won't be long before you look at your roof and see snow piling up. While that isn't an image many people enjoy, it reminds us that it is a good time to check your roof to make sure it is ready to handle the harsh winter weather.

While fall is often a time when homeowners focus on some indoor home improvements, one of the most important home improvements may be putting on a new roof (see if this is covered under your home warranty). Sure, a new roof doesn't have the "wow" factor that a new kitchen or finished basement has, but it is vital in eliminating the potential for serious water damage in your attic. If you have an older home, or even one built in the last 20 years, there is a good chance you need a new roof.

Of course, one of the most common questions I get from callers is, "How do I know if I need a new roof?" If you have any obvious leaks in your attic or ceiling, that's a sure sign that you need a new roof. Even if you don't have a problem with leaks, it doesn't mean your roof is fine. To determine if your roof is in need of repair or replacing, take a pair of binoculars and inspect your roof shingles. If they are cracked, discolored or curling, you should call a full-service roofing contractor to get it inspected.

Once you determine that you need a new roof, you should learn all you can about roofing and roofing products. For example, in the past, many homeowners that had one layer of shingles on their roof would elect to have the roof "re-covered." That's where the contractor would put a new layer of shingles over the old ones. While that is certainly cheaper than a complete "tear-off" of the old shingles, it is not the best solution to your roofing needs.

ORA Warranty is one company that doesn't recommend re-covering. According to experts, if you do a re-cover, it means you are assuming the wood underneath and the original shingles are in good shape. However, you can't really know that unless you tear off the old shingles and inspect the wood. If that wood is rotting or in need of repair, your roof could still leak even after a re-cover.

Home warranty and construction experts also say that re-covering a roof doesn't enable a roofer to address other important areas of the roof's integrity, such as flashing walls and areas around chimneys or stack-vent pipes.

When it comes to roofs, you get what you pay for. Therefore, saving some money by doing a re-cover could unfortunately lead to paying your deductible on an insurance claim when your ceilings are damaged by water leaks.

Cost of shingles

You also get what you pay for in terms of roofing products.

While most contractors may be similar in pricing for installation of a new roof, the bigger cost differences are in the type of shingle you choose. There are two categories where the cost for a shingle can vary dramatically. One is the style of the shingle, while the other is the shingle warranty.

In the past, most shingles were the flat, three-tab variety, and only came in a few basic colors, such as black, gray or brown. Fortunately, today's homeowners can choose from a variety of architecturally designed shingles in a several colors that complement the look and color scheme of your home.

So, today's shingles can actually bring better curb appeal.

Of course, these architectural shingles are more expensive than the flat, three-tab version, but there are various price points for you to choose from to help you stay within your budget.

The other important price factor when considering roofing shingles is the warranty. Obviously, a shingle that is warranted for 50 years is going to cost more than one warranted for 25 years. But it also will be better then the 25-year warranted shingle, so it will last longer.

When it comes to warranties, you need to know what the warranty covers before you can decide whether it's worth the investment. The best warranty is one that has a "No Dollar Limit." Which means that no matter how bad the problem or the cost, the shingle manufacturer will take care of the problem.

If you are planning to get a new roof, it's important to familiarize yourself with the common terms used in the roofing industry to help you make an educated decision when choosing a contractor and roofing materials. See the accompanying story for some of the most common terms used in the roofing business.

Once you have settled on the type of roof shingles you want, make sure you have enough roof and soffit ventilation to improve the shingle's life. With the proper amount of insulation on your attic floor, your attic temperature is closer to the outdoor air temperature, which eliminates the potential to "cook" the underside of the shingles. Most roofing contractors will recommend and install the proper ventilation system for your roof.

1 comment:

mcgelligot said...

Often you can get a look at the structural integrity of the wood beneath the shingles by going into the attic with a flashlight. You are right, removing shingles is normally the best way to go. Putting on a layer over old shingles may be easier, but generally it just buries problem areas deeper.