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Frequently Asked Residential Roofing Questions and Answers

How Can a Homeowner Recognize When a Roof Has Problems?

All too often, roof problems are discovered after leaking or other serious damage occurs. Periodic (twice a year) inspections can often uncover cracked, warped or missing shingles, loose seams and deteriorated flashings, excessive surface granules accumulating in the gutters or downspouts and other visible signs of roof problems. Indoors, look for cracked paint, discolored plasterboard and peeling wallpaper as signs of damaged roof areas.

What Are My Options If I Decide to Reroof?

You have two options. You can choose a complete replacement of the roof system, involving a tear-off of the old roof, or you can choose a re-cover over the existing roof, involving only the installation of a new membrane and surfacing. If you've already had one recover over your original roof,check with a professional roofing contractor to see if your deck can support a second recover.

My Roof Leaks. Do I Need to Have It Totally Replaced?

Not necessarily. Leaking can result because some flashings have come loose or because a section of the roof has been damaged. A roof failure, however, is generally irreversible and results from improper installation or choice of materials or from the installation of a roof system inappropriate to the building.

Can't I Just Do the Work Myself?

Most work should not be do-it-yourself. Professional roofing contractors are trained to safely and efficiently repair or replace a roof. Novices can harm a roof with improper roofing techniques and severely injure themselves by falling off or even through a roof in need of repair or replacement. Homeowner maintenance should be confined to roof inspections in both the fall and spring to check for cracked or curling shingles and to clean rain gutters filled with dead leaves and other debris. If you must see the roof for yourself, 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) if possible.

How Long Can I Expect My Roof to Last?

The condition and lifespan of your roof will depend on the type of roof you have, the effects of your local environment and the maintenance which the roof has received. According to the American Society of Home Inspectors:

~Asphalt shingles generally last 15-20 years

~Wood shingle/shakes, 10-40 years

~Clay/concrete tiles, 20+ years

~Slate, 30-100 years

~Metal roofing, 15-40+ years.

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 they will assume if their products fail to reach their expected lifetimes.

What Will a New Roof Cost?

The price of a new roof varies widely depending on the material selected, the contractor doing the work, the home itself, area of the country, local labor rates, time of year and more. To get a good idea of the cost for your roof, get three or four estimates from reputable contractors in your area. Keep in mind that cost is only one factor, and it must be balanced against the quality of the materials and workmanship. For each roofing material, there are different grades and corresponding prices. Plus, there are a variety of styles and shapes. You 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. Pick a contractor who is committed to quality work.

How Can I Determine My Annual Cost?

When mulling over your roofing options, the following formula may help: total cost (materials and labor)/life expectancy of roof (in years) = annual cost.

How I Do I Know If I Have Hail Damage to My Roof? Can I Tell From the Ground?

If you've had hail in your area, to determine if the shingles have been damaged, a close inspection of the shingles has to be made from the roof. Usually, you cannot tell from the ground.

If I Think I Have Hail Damage What Should I Do?

Call your insurance company and ask for an adjuster to come inspect your roof for hail damage. Call a reputable roofing company and ask for the same inspection. If there are any discrepancies between the adjuster's findings and the roofer's findings, you may call for a "Re-Inspection" where your adjuster meets with the roofer to go over the roof together. Re-inspections are very common. The insurance company must determine two things when assessing the amount of your loss:

Was there sufficient damage to the roof to declare it a total loss? (Usually determined by 10 verified hail hits per 100 square feet.) What is the size of the roof, and how many shingles will be needed to replace the roof?

What Does Hail Do to a Roof?

Shingles are designed so that the granules block the UV of the sun and protect the asphalt underlayment. As the shingles age, the granules fall off over time. As the asphalt is exposed to the UV, it dries out, and the shingle gets a "potato chip" appearance as the corners start to curl up. A shingle at the extreme end of its life is bubbled in appearance and is brittle to the touch. A 20-year shingle is warrantied by the manufacturer to have a useful life, under optimal ventilation conditions, of 20 years.

Hail does several things:

~Accelerates granule loss.

~Accelerates shingle aging.

~Voids manufacturer's warranties.

~Leads to other associated problems.

Do I Need to Get My Roof Replaced Right Away If There Is Hail Damage?

The insidious nature of hail damage is that it may pose no immediate threat to the structural integrity of the roof. However, many insurance companies have a "statute of limitations" on how long a hail claim is viable. If you have experienced a loss such as hail damage, it is prudent to take care of the problem in a timely manner before it leads to other associated problems.

What Does a Hail Hit Look Like?

A hail hit on a shingle looks like a "bruise" or a dark spot where the granules on the shingle have been knocked off, and the asphalt underlayment and sometimes the fiberglass mat is exposed. New hail hits will have a shiny appearance because the asphalt has been freshly exposed and has not had time to weather to a dull color.

Why Would My Insurance Company Replace My Roof?

The purpose of homeowners’ insurance is to protect homeowners against losses in their property's value due to damage that is beyond their control. If you have hail damage, you have experienced a financial loss in that your original investment of a 20-year roof (for example) has now been reduced to a 5- 10-year useful life span. Your insurance company will compensate you for your loss and replace your roof.

Why Does the Estimate Read That There Are More Shingles to Replace Than There Are to Remove?

The amount of shingles to remove from your roof is the actual amount of square feet that it takes to shingle your roof. However, when putting on shingles, some shingles have to be cut to fit dimensions, ridges, hips and valleys. The insurance company adds 10 percent to regular ridge roofs and 15 percent to hip and ridge roofs to account for the loss of shingles.

My Gutters and Siding Were Damaged and the Insurance Company Paid Me for How Many Linear Feet Had to Be Replaced. When I Called a Contractor, They Had a Minimum Fee Which Was Far in Excess of the Small Amount the Insurance Company Paid Me. What Can I Do?

Your insurance company understands minimum charges such as these and has set prices they are prepared to pay as minimum charges for all trades. They do not give you the minimum charge up-front because such a large percentage of their customers never call a contractor and just pocket the money. If you call your adjuster and ask for the minimum charge for the work, they will pay it without any hesitation.

In My Adjustment, My Insurance Company Deducted Some Money for Depreciation. What Is That All About?

Different insurance companies call the amount that they hold back different things. Some call it depreciation; other companies figure it in as a dump and removal fee. What it represents is the amount of money the company will hold back until they receive a signed contract from you and a contractor for the work. When they receive a signed contract, you will receive another check for the amount they have held back.

My Insurance Adjuster Said There Was No Hail Damage on His First Inspection. I Asked the Roofing Company, Inc.'s Estimator to Call Him and Request to Walk Through a Re-Inspection With Him. On the Re-Inspection, the Adjuster Concluded That There Was Hail Damage and "Totaled" the Roof. Why Such a Dramatic Turn Around?

There are many different reasons that this happens so often. Sometimes adjusters get to a roof too soon after the actual damage and the hits haven't had a chance to weather yet. Sometimes the adjusters are inexperienced. Sometimes they were tired after looking at so many roofs that day. Sometimes they just make mistakes. The best results for the benefit of the homeowner seem to be obtained when an experienced roofer walks through the inspection with the insurance adjuster and calls to the adjuster's attention any damage that he sees.

Is Ventilation That Big a Deal?

Well, the short answer is "Yes," but there are reasons. Here are a few:

~Good ventilation creates a cooler attic in the summer.

~An overheated attic, combined with moisture, can be damaging to roof decking and roofing shingles, causing them to distort and deteriorate prematurely.

~Good ventilation creates a drier attic in the winter and helps prevent ice dams.

~Good ventilation serves two main functions:

~Moves hot air next to the roof deck out of the attic in the summer.

~Dilutes and removes the moist air in the winter before it can cause damage.

What Is This Waterproofing Underlayment Stuff?

Waterproofing underlayment is installed underneath the shingles in areas where extra protection is desired. High wear areas, like the valleys on the roof, around dormers, rakes, eaves and skylights, are good places to put an extra barrier of protection against water leakage caused by ice damming and wind-driven rain. Waterproofing underlayment is self-sealing so that it seals around nails. This provides a water-tight barrier against moisture.

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