The Ultimate Roofing Guide For Homeowners

Home Improvement Advice / Contractor Features

Adam Helfman

Adam Helfman

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Roofs are the least exciting part of homeownership but they are the MOST important part of homeownership. Follow this helpful guide to help prevent issues and extend your roof's lifespan.

Your roof is an umbrella for your house – and keeping it in good shape is essential. It’s not something we think about very often, but it requires regular maintenance to ensure a long and trouble free lifespan. Most people don’t even realize they have a problem with their roof until the inevitable happens, a roof leak and water damage. 

If you catch problems early, you may be able to extend the life of your roof with simple repairs instead of a major roof replacement.  

INSPECTION CHECKLIST:

Once a year you should be inspecting your roof to check the condition of the following:

  • Brittle shingles
  • Cupped or buckling shingles
  • Granular wear
  • Proper ventilation
  • Chimney flashings
  • Soil-stack flashings
  • Step flashings
  • Sheathing rot
  • Loose sheathing/decking
  • Popped nails 

There are 5 areas where most roof leaks occur, so you’ll want to pay extra attention to the areas around:

  • Skylights
  • Chimneys
  • Valleys
  • Drip edge
  • Any area with flashing

PREVENTION CHECKLIST:

Inspection is one thing, but what can you do to prevent roof damage? There are a few easy tasks you can do to keep your roof in good working condition:

  • Clean the gutters and downspouts at least once a year
  • Trim tree branches that touch or overhang the roof
  • Make sure the attic is properly ventilated
  • Don’t let leaves or other debris sit in the valleys or around chimneys, skylights or flashing

IF YOU NEED TO REPLACE YOUR ROOF:

Most roofing problems are the result of improper installation, more often than failing materials, so your choice of a roofing company is very important. Hire It Done pre-screens roofing companies, checking their licenses, insurance, references and staff – and then gives you up to 4 qualified contractors to choose from.  

When planning your roof replacement, consider the following:

1.      Even though local building codes often let you install another layer of shingles over your existing roof, this is not always your best option. You may be covering existing problems that are only visible upon removal of your existing roof. To properly re-cover/re-roof over your existing shingles you need to make sure the sheathing, flashing and drip-edge are in really good condition so they will last the life of your "new" shingles. You should also consider that if your existing shingles are brittle, cupping and/or buckling, your new shingles won’t be able to lay flat or seal down, further reducing their life expectancy.

2.        If you want to re-cover/re-roof your existing roof properly, you will need to cut back the shingles around the entire perimeter of the roof and then install new drip edge. After all of this, you could still be reducing the life of your new shingles by as much as 50%. Unfortunately, many roofers won’t include all of these services in your estimate – so your ‘less expensive’ new layer of shingles won’t really be a good bargain. Re-covering the right way is rarely done because it is often just as expensive as removing the existing shingles that are on your roof and installing your new roofing materials properly.

3.       So, it’s a “buyer beware” marketplace. Many roofing companies will offer to simply install new shingles over your old without considering what the useful life of the new shingles/roof is going to be. For roofing companies, installing new shingles over the old is the most profitable way of making money and earning your business (lowest priced estimate/proposal). It is also the easiest, least time-consuming part of roofing.

4.       The best and most cost effective way to ensure that you will receive the maximum life from your new roof is to remove the existing roof, re-nail the existing sheathing, install felt/underlayment (we recommend 30lb felt if possible), install new aluminum drip-edge, install new flashings/soil boots, install proper vents/ventilation and install roofing shingles. The cost is not that much higher to begin with, and the increased longevity of your roof will provide savings in the long run.

So, if you want to fix your roof once and have it last 20 years or more, do it the right way from the start, inspect it annually and follow these simple preventive steps. You’ll be glad you did! 

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