Roofing FAQs

When is the best time to install a new roof?

In Ohio, the winters can slow down our installation process due to less daylight hours and adverse working conditions.  Spring and fall rains only slow down the process, but really have no effect on the work itself. Still, summer is without a doubt the best time to install a new roof.

How do I know when my roof has failed?

Different roof types fail at varying rates and with different failure modes. Without going into a long dissertation, the several general failure clues are:

  1. Does the roof leak in several locations?
  2. Do leaks persist despite repeated repair attempts?
  3. Do repairs seem to make leaks worse, or do new leaks develop after repairs?
  4. How tolerant is the occupancy to leaks?
  5. Low leak tolerance means the “failure” decision is reached earlier. It is generally better to reroof at the appropriate juncture, rather than pour money and time into ill-advised repairs, but there are exceptions, which means a thorough inspection is all that more essential to the process.

The following may indicate that your roof needs replacing:

  • Missing, cracked or curling shingles
  • Blistering or peeling paint
  • Shingle, sheathing or siding decay
  • Leakage in the attic after heavy rains
  • Stains on interior walls or ceilings
  • Increased energy bills
  • Rotten fascia or soffit
  • Chimney leaks

My roof leaks. Do I need to have it replaced completely?

Not necessarily. Leaks can result from flashings that have come loose, a section of the roof system being damaged, or a lack of the proper ice and water shield.  A complete roof system failure, however, is generally irreversible and a result of improper installation, inadequate choice of materials, or inappropriate roof system for the specific home or building.

How much work, if any, can I accomplish on my own?

Most of the work should not be done yourself. Professional roofing contractors are trained to safely and efficiently repair or replace roof systems. You can damage your roof system by using improper roofing techniques and severely injure yourself by falling off or through your roof.

Maintenance performed by home and building owners should be confined to inspecting roof systems during the fall and spring seasons to check for cracked or curling shingles and cleaning gutters filled with dead leaves and other debris.

If you feel qualified to inspect your roof, use a firmly braced or tied-off ladder equipped with rubber safety feet. Wear rubber soled shoes and stay on the ladder, (and off the roof system), if possible.

What is the best way to be proactive about my roof system?

  1. Typically, roof system problems are discovered after leaking or other serious damage occurs. Periodic (once a year) inspections can often uncover cracked, warped, or missing shingles and tiles, loose seams, deteriorated flashings, excessive surface granules accumulating in the gutters or downspouts, and other visible signs of roof system being compromised.Look for cracked paint, discolored plasterboard, and peeling wallpaper as indoor signs of damaged roof areas.  Also, closely examine all trees growing close to your home, as the branches  can scratch or gouge the roof when blown by the wind and the accumulation of leaves and debris can also retain moisture and cause rot.

What are my options if I decide to re-roof?

You have two basic options. You can choose a complete replacement of the roof system, involving a tear-off of your existing roof system, or re-cover the existing roof system, involving only the installation of a new roof system.

If you have already had one re-cover installed on your original roof system, roof sheathing replacement may be necessary. In many instances, building code requirements allow no more than one roof system re-cover before a complete replacement is mandated. Additionally, manufacturers void their system warranty on recovers and require a complete roof replacement.

One important factor to consider is that recover systems only last about half as long as full reroofs because a roof’s flashings, the most important part of a roof, are not replaced on recover applications.

How much does a new roof cost?

Only after an inspection can a responsible contractor give an estimate because the price of a new roof system varies widely, depending on all of the following: materials, contractor, home or building, location of the home or building, local labor rates, and time of year. The best way to estimate a cost is to have a Van Martin certified specialist take a look at your roof.

To get a solid idea of the price for your roof system, get three or four proposals in total from reputable contractors in your area. Please keep in mind that price is only one factor, and it must be balanced with the quality of the materials and workmanship.

For example, for each roofing material, there are different grades and corresponding prices, as well as a vast array of styles and shapes. To be fully satisfied, you’ll need to look at the full product range and make a choice based on your budget and needs.

Within the roofing profession, there are different levels of expertise and craftsmanship. Finding a contractor who is committed to quality work is crucial.

According the Better Business Bureau out of 8 million filed claims 80% of these came from customers choosing the lowest price.  A company that will stand behind the work they do along with upgraded warranties from the manufacturers will not always be the lowest bidder for your project.

How long can I expect my roof system to last?

Most new roof systems are designed to provide useful services ranging 20 – 50 years. Some roof system types such as slate, clay and concrete tile, and metal systems can last longer.

Actual roof system lifespan is determined by a number of factors, including local climactic and environmental conditions, proper building and roof system design, material quality and suitability, proper installation, and adequate roof maintenance.

Roofing product manufacturers offer a variety of warranties on their products. Take a close look at those warranties to see what responsibilities and financial obligations manufacturers will assume if their products fail to reach their expected lives before making any purchase.

What is an architectural or dimensional shingle?

Unlike standard 3-tab, or strip shingles, which are single layer in design, these shingles are multi-layered or laminated.  They are becoming more popular.

What is a fiber glass shingle?

Fiber glass shingles are built on a core, or mat, of fiber glass reinforcement. Asphalt coating is applied directly to this mat and protective color granules are embedded into the coating. Fiber glass shingles carry a Class A fire resistance rating from Underwriters Laboratories (UL), the highest rating available.

What are the algae colonies (or fungus) found on roofs?

In some moist areas, algae can grow on shingles. Although algae colonies have not been proven to shorten shingle life, they can stain or discolor the shingle. Commonly called fungus, this algae staining can be unattractive. The algae-containing stains can be dramatically reduced by the use of special copper or zinc granules.

Why is wind-driven rain a problem?

Wind-driven rain can cause sloped roof coverings to shift and lift. Rain can then easily slide under the roof covering and directly onto the unprotected roof deck, where it causes leaks and damage to the inside of the home.

What is a roofing underlayment?

A roofing underlayment is typically a rubberized membrane that fits under shingles to prevent water penetration. It is the one piece of a roofing system that is expressly designed to be waterproof.

Without a self-adhered underlayment, water from wind-driven rain can infiltrate your roof covering and severely damage your roof—or even worse, the inside of your home. Non-adhered roofing underlayments typically provide only water shedding protection to the roof. Self-adhered underlayments provide full on water-proofing. In the event of Hurricane-like winds, self-adhered membranes are secondary water barriers that protect your interior from water damage.

How can I address stains on my roof?

Most home improvement stores sell a mildew cleaner that can be applied to your roof with a sprayer. The right algae cleaner won’t damage your roof.

How often should I clean my gutters?

Gutters should be cleaned at least once in the spring and at least once in the fall.  How often you must clean your gutters will depend on the type and location of trees around your home and the quality of your gutter system.

How long does it take to replace a roof?

Replacing a roof, whether on a commercial building or residential building, is a labor-intensive project and, depending on the type of roof, could take a few days to 2 or more weeks. The time involved is significantly affected by the weather. Wind, rain, or even just the threat of a storm will slow the process. Careful planning and close project management, however, can reduce some of the delays caused by bad weather.

Can I replace missing and damaged tiles or shingles without calling a roofing contractor?

It is always recommended that you enlist the service of a professional, but in case of an emergency, it is possible for you to replace the shingle or broken tile yourself.