The old saying goes, “Out of sight, out of mind.” Since the roof of a home isn’t something most people spend an extensive amount of time looking at every day, it’s easy to miss or overlook age, damage, and more. A roofing professional, on the other hand, has the equipment and knowledge to spot signs of a problem- potentially before it becomes an even bigger problem. Preventative roof maintenance is just as important as services performed after the damage has already occurred.
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A roof inspection is the first step in any repair or replacement process, and it’s the first thing that should be done when you suspect that you might have a problem. The roofing contractor will get up on your roof and take stock of the conditions. They will perform a structural inspection and look for uneven shingles, dents, and other physical damage. They will then look at the quality of the work and materials used and may inspect the interior of your house as well, in order to look for signs of roof leaks or weak spots.
Once the inspection is done, the contractor should be able to give you a roofing estimate. The estimate is more than a rough guess at what your project will cost; there is quite a bit of information that should be included. Note that the estimate is not the same thing as a contract, so there shouldn’t be any commitment involved.
The estimate should, of course, include the estimated cost of the project. This cost is usually broken down and itemized to give the homeowner a clear picture of what they’ll pay. Along with the itemized cost estimate, you should be provided with a basic overview of the company (including proof of their license!), a summary of any problems found with the roof, and an overview of how they intend to fix it. A list of materials is usually provided as well, along with a rough project timeline.
Preventative and Routine Roof Maintenance
Inspections aren’t just for the days or weeks following a severe weather event, they should also be done as a part of routine maintenance. It’s generally recommended that homeowners have their roofs inspected at least once per year, especially after years with rough weather. During an annual inspection, a professional roofer will carefully check over the entire roof to find problems before they start. Along with making sure that there are no major roofing issues, they will also look for small indications of a problem yet to come, such as a cracked shingle that could lead to a major leak if not replaced.
The good news about roof problems is that not all of them require a roof replacement. People sometimes think of their roof as a single unit, but there are plenty of different parts that may need to be repaired at some point during the life of the roof. The flashing, for example, is the part of the roof that seals up gaps and cracks where the roof meets the house. It goes underneath the shingles and is typically made out of metal. Since the flashing goes under the shingles, there’s a common misconception that in order to fix it, the entire roof would have to be torn off. However, new flashing can simply be slipped up under the shingles to repair it- no tear-off required.
Roof Tear-Off and Replacement
Nothing lasts forever. Some types of roofing may last for close to a century. An average asphalt shingle roof like the ones on most American homes, however, will most likely last 20-30 years. When it’s time to replace the roof, a tear-off and replacement is the typical way to go about doing so.
“Tearing off” a roof is really more of a dismantling process. The roofing professionals performing the tear-off will use special equipment to pull up the shingles. They will then begin the process of tearing off the top layer of the roof to expose the decking. After removing the shingles and nails, the crew can then install your new roof.
What Type of Roof Should I Install Next?
When your roof needs to be replaced, you may have the option to install a new type of roof rather than simply replacing the old one. If you do have the opportunity to consider a different material, here are a few popular choices:
Clay tile roofs are especially popular in southern states like Florida, where home styles are heavily influenced by Spanish architecture. They last anywhere from 50 to 100 years.
Metal roofing in residential areas has become increasingly popular with modern home trends. Those in windy states may benefit from a metal roof, as they can sustain very strong wind gusts.
Slate roofs tend to be a good choice for homes in warm states. This metamorphic rock is hardy and heat-resistant, and may even be able to survive fires.