6 Common Roofing Questions Answered

The roof over your head is the single most important part of your home – it keeps the elements out, and the heat (or cool air) in.  With so many types of roofing materials, varying degrees of roof pitch and countless design and valley layouts, there are many tough roofing questions to be asked, either when having repairs done, or when getting an entire re-roof.

House

As of last month, there were just shy of 100,000 roofing businesses in the United States alone, employing more than a quarter of a million contractors.  With so many resources available, it’s highly likely that you would get more than a few different answers.  To make it a bit easier, and to cut down on time spent searching for those answers, here are 6 commonly asked roofing questions (and their answers).

Q: My roof is leaking and I need a new one.  How do I ensure my new roof won’t leak?

Ice and Water Shield
Ice and Water Shield

A: The roofing contractor you hire will need to first lay an ice and water shield down over the entirety of the roof (2 layers along the lowest sections).  The rubberized asphalt and PE (polyethylene) fabrication will prevent moisture from contact with the ceilings below.  The roof valleys should also be covered with metal flashing to weep water away from these areas.

Q: How do I protect a roof that was damaged by a storm until I can get it fixed permanently?

Damage

A: This information is good to know for all areas of the county, not just in hurricane or tornado prone areas, as anyone can experience roof damage from high winds, downed tree limbs, or even heavy hail.  Keep in mind that this work is best left to a professional who has experience in temporary roof repairs, especially when a wet roof or strong winds are involved.

Start by covering any damage with a woven plastic tarp, and secure it by using 2” x 4” wood boards.  This can be achieved by following these steps:

1.  Unfold just enough of the tarp to cover the area of the roof that is damaged.

2.  Add 2 feet to the width of the tarp and cut 4 pieces of the 2″ x 4″ wood boards to this length.

3. Roll one end of the tarp around the 2″ x 4″ board, stapling it to secure.

4. Lay the rolled side down on the roof to ensure no water will collect, making sure the board lays flat against the roof.

5. Nail a second board on top of the tarp-rolled board using a nail 3.25″ in length.

6. Pull the other edge of the tarp up and over the peak of the roof.

7. Roll tarp around this board, again stapling to secure, and nail (roll side down) into the roof.

8. Nail the last of the 4 pre-cut boards on top of the tarp-rolled board, securing together.

9. Cut and nail as many 2″ x 4″ boards to the remaining edges of the tarp as needed, leaving no more than 10″ between nails.

Q: What are the stains on my asphalt shingle roof caused from, and how can I remove them?

Algae stains on an asphalt shingle roof
Algae stains on an asphalt shingle roof

A:  Staining on shingle roofing is rarely covered by a manufacturer’s warranty, and so it’s a good idea to know how to take care of those stains yourself, to maintain the pristine appearance of your roof.  Dark streaks on your shingles are actually a form of algae that is attracted to the minerals found in some shingles.  Since algae flourishes in moisture, it is seen most often in shaded or North-facing sections that don’t see a lot in the way of sunlight.  While algae won’t hurt your roof, it does look less than appealing.  One easy solution is to mix 2 parts water and 1 part bleach, using a pump-sprayer to apply it to your roof.  You can then scrub the stains with a brush attached to a telescoping pole.  A pressure washer can harm the shingles, so steer clear of that seemingly easy method.  It’s important to note that any plants you may have directly under the area you will be cleaning should be sprayed with clear water before and after so you don’t end up with a clean roof and damaged plants.

Q: Last winter I experienced ice damming.  How do I ensure my attic is properly ventilated to prevent ice dams in the future?

Proper attic air flow
Proper attic air flow

A: It may seem counter-intuitive to insulate an attic to keep the warmth in, and then allow cold air to enter the attic on purpose, but these 2 steps are the key to an energy-efficient home.  The reason why is that in the winter, proper ventilation will keep the flow of outside air, well, flowing, and by keeping it cold, you will be reducing the potential for ice damming.  You will also be blocking moist air and heat from entering from your (heated) home below.  Natural air flow in the summer months will help move hot air out of the attic and will protect your roof by removing excess moisture.  Fine Home Building published a great article on this topic.

Q: How do I stop snow from sliding off my roofs in big clumps?

Snow piled high atop a roof
Snow piled high atop a roof

A: The installation of snow guards will allow snow and ice to drop off in small amounts or to melt completely before falling to the ground.  Snow guards prevent a sudden release of snow and ice from a roof, which is known as a roof avalanche.  A roof avalanche can harm or damage people, pets, cars, landscaping, gutters, plumbing vents, lower roof areas, skylights and anything else that might be in the area immediately surrounding your home.  Snow guards have been around for centuries, and have historically been used on slate, tile and metal roofs.  The very first snow guards were actually tree limbs that were attached to the eaves of a roof – rocks were then placed atop the limbs to hold back the snow.

Snow guards from days gone by
Snow guards from days gone by

Q: Do I really need to hire a contractor to repair or install a new roof?  Can’t I just do it myself?

Roofer

A:  Roof repairs and re-roofs should generally not be done on your own.  Roofing professionals have the knowledge needed to handle conditions and environments that could be hazardous, plus they know what they’re doing from years of experience.  There is nothing worse than trying to take care of something yourself, botching it, and then having to pay someone else to fix it AND do the work that was intended in the first place.  Something else to keep in mind is that roofing manufacturers will be very hard-pressed to honor a warranty on a roof that is not installed by a professional contractor.

By maintaining your roof, you are helping to minimize the event of future problems, while at the same time, extending the overall life of your roof.  Regular roof maintenance can also help you identify the start of a small problem that could quickly and easily become a serious (and costly) problem.

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EcoFasten Solar® and Alpine SnowGuards® specialize in the design, engineer and manufacture of watertight solar roof mounts and components, as well as snow management systems from our facilities in Morrisville, VT.  We work closely with leading roofing contractors, engineering firms, solar developers, racking system providers and roofing manufacturers to ensure we deliver quality products that do what we say they’ll do.  

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