When It's Time for a New Roof

April 20th 2006
When It

When the time comes to re-roof your home you should research your options carefully - this is a long-term investment that will affect the value of your home and your curb appeal. Most people think of a new roof as just banging up some shingles. But savvy homeowners know better! Today, effective roofing relies on advanced material technology and an integrated systems approach to protect your biggest asset, your home. There are some points to consider when making an informed decision.

We cannot stress enough the importance of hiring a qualified roofing contractor. Asking the right questions is the key to selecting the right installer.

  • - Are they certified installers and covered under the warranty plan of the roofing product?
  • - Are they fully licensed in your area to perform roofing work?
  • - Are they adequately insured for your protection?
  • - Do they have a proven reputation for providing quality roofing?
  • - Do they treat the roof as an integrated system?

Comparison - shop and consider the costs against features and benefits desired. While function is always important, the value of esthetics may vary. If your roof is very visible from the street, an architectural shingle will enhance your curb appeal.

Roofing materials vary from the traditional three tab or strip shingles that have been around for several years, to architectural shingles, cedar, slate or metal roofs. When deciding which product to use, try to consider the overall style and look of your house that will fit in with the neighborhood as well. Ask your installer for locations where you can see the material actually used on a house. When selecting asphalt shingles pay attention to the quality the weight and the composition of the shingle. Good, Better, Best -- heavier weight shingles and fiberglass re-enforced shingles will perform better.

Proper attic ventilation systems allow a continuous flow of outside air through the attic. Protecting the efficiency of the insulation and helping to lower temperatures in the living space. It consists of a balance between air intake (at your eaves or soffits) and air exhaust (at or near your roof ridge) Consider a minimum of at least 1 square foot of attic ventilation for every 200 square feet of attic space. Proper ventilation in the attic will reduce heat build-up, moisture and condensation, weather infiltration and ice dam build-up. Poor attic ventilation can ruin your insulation, destroy your shingles, and raise your energy bills!

When installing a new roof, it's always best to remove the existing roofing materials. This reduces excess weight, giving you the opportunity to properly examine the roof deck for defects or damages. It also allows installation of waterproofing underlayment.

Waterproofing underlayments (Ice and Water Shield) should always be used in valleys, on ridges, at eaves and around chimneys and skylights. On low pitch roofs, the entire roof should be covered with Ice and Water Shield prior to installation of shingles.

A quality leak barrier will help: Create a watertight seal that keeps water out at the most vulnerable areas of your roof (at the eaves and rakes, in valleys, around chimneys.) protect your home from rain and damaging ice dams with a waterproof leak barrier.

Pay special attention to the manufacturers warranty. Warranties range from 20 to 40 years. There are two types of coverage that you should ask your contractor about: coverage against material defects and coverage against workmanship errors. Look for warranties that cover materials and labour.

How do I determine if a roof should be replaced?

Sooner or later, every roof needs to be replaced, usually due to the long-term effects of weathering. If a residential roof is more than 20 years old, it is a prime candidate for re-roofing. To determine if you need a new roof:

- Inspect your roof for cracked, curled or missing shingles, as well as any excessive loss of the protective mineral granules. DO NOT CLIMB ON THE ROOF; walking on the roof is dangerous and can damage your roof.
- In your attic, take a flashlight and look at the underside of the roof deck and rafters for any stains or wet spots indicating water leaks.

Signs to Watch for:

Leakage in attic after wind-driven rain
Possible cause: Leaky or inadequate shingle underlayment or deteriorated flashing.

Blistering and/or peeling of interior and/or exterior paint
Possible cause: Excessive temperature or high humidity due to poor attic ventilation.

Stains on interior ceilings and walls or and mildew growth
Possible cause: Inadequate or faulty shingle underlayment allowing leakage or inadequate ventilation.

Decay of roof shingles, sheathing, and/or siding
Possible cause: Poor attic ventilation.

Missing, cracked or curled shingles
Possible cause: Shingles have reached the end of their useful life.

Dark, "dirty-looking" areas on your roof
Possible cause: Environmental pollutants; vegetation, fungus or algae; loss of granules due to age of shingles.

Excessive energy costs
Possible cause: Insufficient attic ventilation causes heating/cooling system to run excessively.