Cleveland OH Roofing Questions & Answers

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Q: I want to install a new roof on my house but it already has two layers of asphalt.  Do these layers need to be removed before I can install my new roof?

A: No.  Unless your sheeting has been compromised, you can re-roof your house by adding a new layer of shingles directly over the old one.  And, when done correctly, your new roof will not only cost a lot less money than a complete tear of but it will look just as good and last just as long.

However, it’s important to know that on a standard roof pitch most building codes will only allow two layers of organic or fiberglass asphalt shingles, although some codes will allow up to three layers on a roof with a steep pitch.  So make sure and double check your local town’s building codes before you plan your re-roof.


Q: What is the actual amount of ventilation necessary for my roof?

A: Having adequate attic and roof ventilation will ensure good energy efficiency for your home and reduce the amount of ice damage each winter thereby extending your roof’s lifetime.  It’s fairly simple to figure out the proper amount of ventilation needed.  According to industry standards, every 300 square feet of attic space must have one square foot of both intake and exhaust ventilation.  To insure your home is getting the right amount of ventilation, we recommend running both continuous intake soffit ventilation and continuous exhaust ridge ventilation.


Q: Why do icicles form along the eaves of my roof and how can I prevent them from occurring?

A: This problem, known as Ice Damming, is actually very common.  The heat from your attic causes the snow on your roof to continually thaw and when it runs down to your unheated eaves, it freezes creating ice dams along the roof’s edge.  This cycle continues on a daily basis until the icicles forming on the eaves become quite large.  If preventative measures aren’t taken when installing your roof, ice will eventually build up underneath your shingles and cause your roof to leak.  In severe cases, these ice dams can rip the gutters right off your building; create moisture within your attic insulation which will reduce its R-value and raise your energy bills; and allow water to enter into your walls causing paint and plaster to peel, nails and electrical boxes to rust, and any other non-rustproof metal building materials within the walls to erode.

The good news is you can prevent these ice dams and any possible damage they may create if you take a few simple measures.  Proper ventilation is a must as it will help to maintain ambient temperatures at roof level and prevent the snow from thawing and creating these ice dams, especially over the living areas of your home.  Installing heavy attic insulation will also help to maintain cooler attic temperatures.  Also, make sure to install ice and water protection membranes in the eaves and valleys of your roof.  Although it won’t reduce the root of the problem, which is heat loss through your attic, it will help to prevent the damage that ice damming can cause.  Heat tape however, while often used as a solution to this problem, is rarely proven effective.


Q: I want to change the color of my asphalt shingles. I’ve heard that brown shingles will absorb more heat than a lighter color, like white, thereby raising the cost of my air conditioning bill in the summer.  Is there a heat rating for absorbency?

A: This issue is actually more complex than just the color of your shingles. Mainly, it depends upon how well your roof is ventilated and if the ventilation was done properly.  Darker shingles are believed to retain heat and keep your house warmer in the winter, however you need to remember to weigh all your options and not simply focus on a single season.  White or grey shingles are known as frost and lighter, tan shingles are normally referred to as autumn.  At the end of the day, the absorbency rate between the two doesn’t have much of a difference.


Q: I just built my garage and I’m ready to install the roof underlayment.  Will this material be damaged if it is rained on?  Do I need to install the shingles right away?

A: If you plan on installing the shingles in the near future, then you don’t have anything to worry about.  However, if the underlayment you’re using is standard tar paper, then you may see buckling or wrinkling appear if does get rained on.  And, once this occurs, the tar paper becomes very difficult to work with.  I would suggest holding off on installing your tar paper until you plan on shingling, especially if you plan to shingle within one week of the installation.  The biggest misconception about roof sheeting is that rain will damage it and, while if left exposed over a long period of time it could become damaged, many homes are left sitting for weeks at a time with only the sheeting on the roof, exposing it to the elements with no damaging effects.  In any case, if you want to play it safe, it is best to try and install your shingles as soon as possible.


Q: Following a hail storm, is it necessary for me to have my roof repaired right away?

A: Unless your roof is leaking, hail damage shouldn’t cause any problems.  However, if your roof has begun to leak after the storm, any delay in repairs could void your warranty.  Once damaged, your roof will deteriorate much faster than a healthy roof will, so we recommend getting the repair work done as quickly as possible.


Q: There are woodpeckers pecking holes in my roof.  What should I do?

A: There are quite a few options when it comes to dealing with these problem birds.  One is to mount small magnifying mirrors flat on your roof, with the magnifying side up, where you notice the damage.  Another is to install mobiles that will appear as hawks to the woodpeckers.  You can construct them yourself from plywood, cardboard, or Styrofoam.  Be sure to make them approximately 22 inches wing to wing and 11 inches long.  Then paint them a dark color and hang them from your eaves with fishing line close to where the damage has occurred.  Finally, you can attach light weight objects, such as aluminum pie tins or pinwheels, along the side of your house frequented by the woodpeckers.  This method is quite effective.  You can even purchase special balloons painted with crazy eyes from local bird control companies to fly around your house and frighten the woodpeckers away.


Q: How will I know when it is time to replace my roof?

A: If the problem is that your roof is leaking, it may simply need a repair specific to the leaking area.  Otherwise, roofs generally last anywhere from 20 to 30 years depending upon the materials and installations techniques used.  Roof replacement is generally warranted if your shingles become blistered, torn, missing, or split.


Q: What exactly is a gravel stop and a metal edge strip?  What are their function?

A: Gravel stops and metal roof edge strips primarily function to close off the edges of the roof.  This prevents any wind damage to your roof, such as shingles being blown off.  Gravel stops also work to prevent the loss of aggregate surfacing around the edge of your roof.

There are some problems however that are associated with these gravel stops and metal edge strips.  There are two main issues you may encounter with these areas: leaking through open or broken joints in between the metal pieces and splitting of the stripping felts at the metal edges.  To avoid these issues, be sure to elevate all gravel stops and metal edge strips above the water line whenever possible.  You can achieve this by using raised wood nails and tapered edge strips during their installation.  Often, the use of interior drainage is preferred and always recommended but, when the water must drain over the metal edge, scupper cutouts are preferred over continuous edge drainage.


Q: If my roof is leaking, what steps can I take to minimize damage from the leak until a roofing professional is available to fix it?

A: The most important step is to immediately protect the interior if your home from damage.  Use plastic sheeting to protect the building from further damage and collect the water in containers placed below the leak.  Be sure to never cover the roof vents.  Roof leakage or collapse is often caused by water pooling on the surface of the roof due to clogged drains or scuppers.  Try and remove the excess water from your roof and make sure to check that the roof drains and scuppers are open and functional.

Once you’ve determined the main source of the leak by locating the point on the roof surface above the area of interior leakage, first check for any damage to the rooftop mechanical equipment.  Next, check the flashing at the terminations and penetrations.  If your roof is ballasted, remove any ballast from the immediate area of the leak and inspect the membrane surface for any cuts, splits, or punctures.  Also make sure to inspect the seams in your roofing membrane.  One you’ve determined the source of the leak, try your best to repair it using only materials and procedures that will cause the least amount of damage to your existing roof.


Q: What are the best types of emergency or temporary roofing repairs?

A: Plastic Roofing Cement: This product is trowel grade and is available in both rain patch and wet patch grades.  You must remove all the gravel or granules from the roofing surface before you can apply this product.  The biggest thing to remember when applying a patch is to never use liquid or pourable repair products.  They will not work and can make it harder for your roofing contractor to later locate the source of the leak.

Sealant and Roof Tape: This product is made to be used on smooth surfaces and the roof must be cleaned with alcohol or other household cleaner before it can be applied.  Once the surface is properly cleaned, you can apply this sealant to your roof.

Duct Tape: For a quick but very temporary fix, you can apply duct tape to the leaking area.  However, this method is only recommended for PVC systems.


Q: Why is it necessary to use flashing?

A: Flashing creates a watertight junction between roof sections, roofing materials, and roof projections as well as other parts of the structure such as chimneys.  We cannot stress enough the importance of properly maintaining your flashings – they are absolutely the most vulnerable area of any roof and need to be maintained correctly.


Q: There is a rust stain on my roof from the flashing around my chimney.  Is there a way to remove this stain without damaging the shingles?

A: The best and simplest way to hide any discoloration on your roof is to sparsely apply spray paint to the area.  Make sure to find the closest match possible by comparing the paint’s color charts to your shingles and then selecting an appropriate match.


Q: How can I tell if the problem with my roof is the flashing or the roof itself?

A: The most common early roof problems are generally flashing problems.  Repairing the problem flashing, or installing new flashing in its place, is often all that is needed to make your roof watertight again.  The majority of flashing issues result from either inadequate design or faulty construction.  Most of these flashing problems can be completely eliminated through careful examination by a competent inspector during the installation of your roof.


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