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Roofing 101 for Homeowners

Recognizing a damaged roof

How do you know your roof needs replacing? Obvious signs like buckling, cracked or missing shingles, worn-looking shingles and leaks into the interior are all indications of a deteriorating roof. What’s not always obvious are other signs of an inadequate roof like a higher-than-average electrical bill (indicating a poor roofing ventilation system), cracked or blistered exterior paint (indicating high humidity due to poor ventilation), interior mold or mildew growth (possibly due to excess moisture underneath the roof layers), water damage or stains in attic or ceiling following heavy snow or ice (ice blockages or dams possibly caused water to leak under the shingles). If you live in an older home, and the roof hasn’t been replaced in 20 years, you may be in the position to install a new, upgraded roof.

Repairing versus replacing a roof

Whether or not you should repair a damaged area versus replacing the whole roof should be a decision made with the help of a professional roofer. If your roof is in great condition, with the exception of one area damaged in a storm, for example, you may be able to replace just the damaged area. An expert roofer can asses by visual inspection and by walking around the surface of the roof to see if it is in need of a full replacement. Some roofing manufacturers may not grant a warranty to a roof that is partially replaced, so be sure to ask the pros and cons of a full or partial replacement.

Calculating the size of a roof

The greatest cost factor is the square footage of your roof, which is not the same as the square footage of your home. A 2,000 square foot one-story rambler home with overhangs may have a larger roof area than a 2,000 square foot three-story home with no overhangs. An expert can take the exact measurements, taking into account the area of the roof plus the pitch of the roof and any additional areas like dormers and eaves. They can also calculate how much material you roof will need based on the size and the actual materials (some roofing types may require certain minimums or overages to properly complete the job).

Taking care of your new roof

Taking good care of your roof should be part of your regular home maintenance program. One of the most important things to take care of are your gutters, as clogged or blocked gutters can very quickly deteriorate your roof. Regularly sweeping your roof and clearing debris like branches and leaves will not only keep moss at bay, it will also help keep your gutters clear. After heavy rains or storm, check your roof for any broken shingles or damaged flashing. A note about inspecting your roof: it is never recommended to walk on your roof if your roof is wet or steep. A metal or clay tile roof should never be walked upon unless it is done by a professional roofer. Every year homeowners accidentally fall from their roofs while trying to clean it to use caution when scaling ladders or roofs.


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