So, you think you might need a new roof. You’ve just had a punishing storm roll through and it wreaked havoc on your roof; shingles are torn and ripped off. So many issues can be caused by weather, especially in New England. If you have a leaking roof, you questions yourself, is it really that bad? Can we get by with a simple roof leak repair? How are we going to afford this? It may also be quite simply if you know your roof is old and want to be proactive about its health. Needless to say, there are many factors that cause someone to explore roof replacement and weigh its pros and cons.
We have heard every possible question when it comes to customers needing a new roof. As a leading roofing company in the greater Boston area that has been in business for more than 20 years, we have seen every type of roof imaginable. In this time, we have developed an internal framework on how to help both current and potential customers not only identify roofing issues, but how to best approach a roof replacement from start to finish. It doesn’t hurt to get some outside perspective for any project; therefore, we have combined our tips and tricks with those from some of the most respected minds in the home improvement business.
So, You Have an Old Leaking Roof
To the untrained eye, it may be difficult to determine both current and potential roofing issues. Our roofing anatomy blog contains all of the necessary terms and roof landmarks for you to best understand the different areas of your roof and how they all come together to create an impervious shield against weather.
So, how do you know when it’s time to explore roof replacement options for your leaky old roof. In some cases that could be simple, while in others you may have put in your monocle and don your top hat to do a little investigation work. First and foremost, much like everything in life, there is an unofficial lifespan to your roof. This depends on the type of roof you have. In this guide, we are mainly going to focus on asphalt shingles, slate shingles, and rubber roofs for brevity as well as that is what falls within our expertise. According to NAHB, the lifespan of these different shingles are:
- Slate shingles – North of 50 years with most roofs lasting a lifetime.
- Asphalt shingles – Last an average of 20 years give or take depending on climate
- Rubber roofs – 40 to 50 years with proper upkeep and maintenance
Keep in mind, these statistics are not set in stone and consider favorable conditions with no outside factors such as extreme weather. Similarly, roofs require maintenance and if you let you roof suffer, its lifespan will decrease significantly. Just because a roof is old does not mean it needs replacement. This is where a professional opinion comes into play. A good roofer will be able to determine the health of an otherwise pristine looking roof and give you advice on when you should explore roof replacement.
Leaky Roof Issues
Once you have figured in age of your roof, another indicator of the health of your roof are issues than can be seen with the untrained eye. Many issues can be seen from the ground, including dark spots that indicate either fungus growth or granule loss, missing shingles, lifted shingles, among many others. Dry Home, a residential roofing and siding company from Sterling, Virginia outlines the myriad of factors that you should look for when inspecting your possibly leaking roof:
“If you suspect that your roof is damaged, here is a basic list of what to look for:
- Composition shingles: curling, loss of granulation, broken, damaged or missing shingles
- Flat roof: Obvious patches, cracks or tears, several blisters and/or wrinkles (also check patched areas from inside the attic)
- Flashing: Tears, buckling around roof penetrations
- Roofing cement: Excess cement, crumbling
- Soffits and fascia: Decay, stains
- Soffit and ridge vents: Clogged or damaged vents, flashing and shingles around them curling or missing
- Gutters: Decay or rust, leaky seams, loosely attached to structure, bent or sagging, missing sections of gutter or downspout, filled with debris. Clogged gutters can easily freeze shut and cause excessive weight on gutter fasteners, ice dam conditions, and slippery walks below.
- Chimneys: Leaning, loose or missing flashing, damaged bricks, cap or cracked joints. Chimney flashing is especially prone to tearing because a chimney settles independently from the house.”
-Dry Home Roofing and Siding, facebook
As you can see, there are many issues that can be present on your roof that indicate it is time to explore a new roof replacement. Also, issues may be obvious on the outside of your home, it is also wise to check your attic or any area directly under your roof to identify leaking roof areas before they cause substantial damage or mold growth. Start by climbing into your attic and examining the underside of your roof deck. This is the area of plywood that is used to support the shingles and create structural integrity to your home. Here you will be looking for wet areas, areas that look like they have had moisture issues, or areas of mold growth. The Morning Call polled a multitude of contractors on how best to spot issues from both the inside and outside of your roof.
“After a hard rain, go up into the attic and use a flashlight to examine the roof sheathing and rafters for wet, darkened or stained wood. In severe cases, the wood may be rotting.”
-The Morning Call, facebook
In our case, a leaking roof is most always an indicator of the need for a new roof rather than a roof repair. We pride ourselves in our honesty to our customers, we will not stress the need for a new roof if your issues are minor.
Finding a Good Roofer for Your Roof Replacement Project
Finding a quality roofing contractor for your project that you can trust is like taking a shot in the dark. Without strong referrals from friends or neighbors or seeing quality of work done yourself, it may feel like a daunting task to find a good roofer. We have seen it all when it comes to quality and less than quality jobs and through experience and feedback have been able to consolidate tips and tricks to ensure you are comfortable with your decision. For the most part, these tips cross all lines and relate to hiring all types of contractors for your various housing projects. Our blog on how to find a good roofer contains these tips in detail; however, here are some of our tips for find a good roofing contractor to replace your old roof.
- Choose a roofer that is adequately licensed
- Your contractor will be able to handle the licensing and permitting for you
- Choose a roofer that has proper insurance
- Proper insurance will help you sleep better at night knowing that any issues will be adequately paid for if something goes wrong
- Choose a roofer than you can trust
- Contractors strongly rely on reviews and word of mouth. Be sure to choose a roofer that you get a good gut feeling about that also comes with strong positive reviews
Our supplier GAF runs a fantastic blog that covers all things roofing, from residential to commercial. GAF has compiled a list of more tips that will help any homeowner choose a good roofer for their replacement or repair. Some highlights from this list include:
- look for manufacturer designations
- get local referrals
- check BBB ratings
-GAF Roofing, facebook
Manufacturer designations are often not talked about when choosing the right roofing contractor. We possess designations from all of our suppliers which essentially means we have passed stringent requirements to be recognized as installers by the organization. In a nutshell, our suppliers put their name behind us to install and warranty their products and services.
Angie has also weighed in on this topic, adding some fantastic tips:
- Avoid storm chasers
- Price isn’t everything
Storm chasers are roofers that will go door to door to try to drum up business whether you need a new roof or not. While this is not a bad strategy and does not automatically mean that they will not do a good job, our experience shows that often this ends badly for the homeowner. Similarly, good roofers will stick to their price and not engage in bidding wars. While money may be tight and you want the cheapest price, the cheapest price often leads to the cheapest work. We are not saying choose the highest price, but do not let price be the overall determining factor in choosing a contractor to replace your old leaking roof.
What to Expect With Your Roof Replacement
The hard part is over, you have chosen your roofer and are hopefully very confident in your choice. Your salesman will now lead you down the path of making choices to create your ideal roof and look for your home. Here you will choose what type of shingles you want, what colors will look best on your home, and what style of shingle. These are all important choices to be made to ensure you are satisfied with your project. You don’t necessarily always notice a quality roof thanks in part to color choices that accentuate your home rather than creating areas that attract the eye and pull away from the craftsmanship of your home.
Once choices have been made and materials have been ordered, now is the time for scheduling and the actual work process of the job. In our order of operations, you will be assigned a project manager that will make sure your project goes off without a hitch. This person is responsible for everything that has to do with your house so that you can relax and not have to worry about project completion. This project manager will schedule permitting, as well as dumpster drop-off and placement. Once the project has been completely scheduled, your next step is the day of removal and installation.
Advanced Roofing, a leader in roofing services in the Pacific Northwest outlines the project from start to finish. Here they lay out the steps of the process, as well as the materials that go into it and what role they serve. Their first tip is, “You should prepare both the outside and the inside of your home.” – Advanced Roofing
Similarly, IKO examines how to best prepare your property for replacement, they suggest your protect your fragile keepsakes, “These same vibrations can potentially hurt your especially fragile items, such as china plates. Make sure glass, vases, dishes, and other breakables aren’t touching each other or the wall.” – IKO
You should clear your yard, allowing full access for the roofers to easily access the roof without having to worry about falling debris causing issues to your possessions and landscaping. A quality roofing company will protect your home’s exterior as well as landscaping prior to shingle removal. The next step is to remove the existing shingles before any new material can be laid. Any issues to the structure of the roof can be adequately addressed to ensure a quality job without leaks.
Once issues have been addressed it is time to install your new roof. This process includes replacing your underlayment which protects against ice and water, fix/replace flashing to ensure proper water shed, and finally install shingles as they pertain to what was chosen for the particular project. Once the installation process has been completed, the roofing contractors will then clean up.
Removing old shingles is a messy job, full of dangerous nails. A good roofer will ensure no stray nails are left in your yard, causing potential harm to your family and pets. Once proper cleanup has been done, your old shingles will be properly disposed of. Here at Ranch Roofing, we supply our own dumpsters and ensure that your waste will be properly disposed of as required by waste type. Following the clean-up, you should walk you around the property with your project manager and have them show you your new roof. They will be able to show you any areas that caused issue as well as give you a final walkthrough to indicate any issues that you see both on your roof and in your yard. A happy customer is essentially for survival in this industry as positive reviews and word of mouth go a long way in creating more work for quality contractors.
The final step is to leave a positive review for a contractor. This is important for all of us; therefore, a small review that does not take a lot of time goes a long way . A good roofer may follow up upon competition of the job to not only ensure continued satisfaction but to also ask for a review on one of the sites that create strong project leads. For a well-connected roofing, a roof replacement review on Google or Angie’s List is important to continued work and success.
Wrapping Up Your Roof Replacement
A leaking roof or old shingles may seem like a daunting task for a homeowner. We have outlined the process from start to finish to show that while it may be a large, extended process, it does not have to be difficult. Calling a professional and having them work with you from start to finish helps ensure your project is completed in a timely fashion with proper work. Here at Ranch Roofing, we are a leader in Cambridge roofing and can help you with any project big or small in the greater Boston area. For more information, or to work with us, feel free to call us at (339) 707-5093.