Know Your Overhead – The High Cost of a Neglected Roof

As I stood barefoot on my roof the other day sweeping away some pine needles, I had a few thoughts running through my head.

1) My feet are no longer the epitome of calloused desert play as they were when I was growing up in Phoenix.

2) I hate heights deeply, but what I hate about them most is my fear of falling from them, which is why I am barefoot.

3) I don’t want to have to replace my roof – ever.

The next day, I visited the worksite with Mallory and JoeJoe. When I asked Mallory what they were working on, she told me “(Drywall) Mud is drying in the kitchen. The roof had to be replaced and there was a lot of damage. There’s no electricity right now.” I was reminded even more why I never want to replace a roof.

As part of my intention to never have to stand on a roof again, here are a few things I learned this past week to be on the lookout for, and also learn how to keep your roof in good shape. Consider it my gift to you.

P.s. Be careful in all things but especially with roofs.

P.p.s. Maybe wear shoes…

First and Foremost

Determining the quality and style of roof is imperative. Make sure to know the age of the roof. Avoid making assumptions about its maintenance.

Roofs are far more complex than just tacking a cover over a house. The proper ventilation of a home is dependent on the roof’s integrity and design.

Neglect of a roof can quickly double the cost of replacement. If at all possible, it is better to replace the roof before needing to tear it off. Fix leaks quickly and without cutting corners. A leaky roof is not a cause for alarm if it is addressed right away. Most leaks can be fixed with a protectant metal layer called flashing.

How it works

Remember math class? That whole slope of an angle thing? So, the slope of the roof is a key component to its ability to allow rain to run off. The steeper the slope, the faster the runoff, and the harder it is for water to sit and find places to leak into.

For those curious, the Addams Family home has what is called Mansard roofs which today is the classic look for eerie Halloween haunted houses, but the tall spindly aesthetic was ideal for its purpose. Styles are numerous and range from traditional barn roofs to hurricane-resistant four-sided hip roofs with flat roofs being the most affordable and favored for rooftop decks.

Terminology

Peak = Ridge

Bottom = Eave

Sloping edge = Rake

Inside corner = Valley

Outside corner = Hip

Underneath = Frame made of rafters or trusses

One of the most common issues that roofs face is moss growth, which over time can lead to color change and deterioration. The solution is in the addition of zinc flashing higher on the roof which kills the organisms causing the discoloration such as algae.

For those living in colder climates, ice dams can pose a threat to roofing. As the heat from the attic melts snow, the water tends to refreeze as it reaches the overhang causing ice damming. This build-up of water can work its way back into your roofing and cause leaking in your home. Waterproofing areas that may be affected by ice dams is the best preventive maintenance.

Important Notice: If your shingles are curling or your material has started to deteriorate, it is time for a new roof!

Material

Shingles are quite common in my area (did you know you can get them in Zig-Zag style?). In general, the basic shingle is considered to be good, but there are other options. Laminate shingles are usually heavier than single-layer asphalt-coated shingles, which could explain their durability. Shingles help show off styles that can mimic everything from 19th century French slate to cedar-shake roofs. Shingle colors and shapes offer homeowners the opportunity to subtly express their aesthetics. An asphalt shingle roof typically lasts 25-30 years.

Tidbit: I went down a rabbit hole and researched cool-roof shingles with reflective materials embedded into the asphalt to help minimize attic heat. Some cool-roof shingles are EnergyStar rated and can help drop the temperature of your attic up to 10 degrees! That’s crazy!

The energy efficiency of metal roofs comes from the fact that they reflect solar radiation instead of absorbing it. Metal roofs last 50 years, almost twice as long as shingles, and three to four times as long as flat roofs. Various metal choices are available based on aesthetics and needs, with copper roofs becoming increasingly popular in recent years.

It doesn’t get more modern than ceramic tile imitating terra-cotta in modern metal or thermoplastic tiles, which is just all-around awesome.

And Finally…

DIY-ing a roof is probably not the best idea. If done incorrectly, it can prove costly. It could put the entire home at risk, not to mention working at a height on a slope. That being said! Hire a pro and check credentials. Shop around, get more than one estimate from an inspector and contractor. Be clear about what needs to be done and make sure to get help prepping the yard and driveway.

All across the country, homeowners need roof replacements for various reasons every year. It is a good idea to save early for just the possibility of needing to replace a roof. A budget for roof repair and maintenance is essential to a house’s overall longevity, but especially to a roof.

– Lanelle Brooks

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