Help, my roof is leaking, what can I do?

OK, we all told you that your roof needed to be replaced. We identified the issues, as well as the pointed out all the signs of a roof that needed replacement.

Why aren’t you replacing your roof??

One of the most difficult issues in the renovation, construction business, is convincing someone, that their roof needs to be replaced. No one wants to spend any money until they have problems and issues. No one wants to replace the brakes until they are screaming, no one wants to replace tires until they have a blow out. This is the same with a roof. No one wants to spend any money until they are either getting wet, the water stains are become too embarrassing to ignore, or the ceiling is collapsing around you.

What are the signs of requiring a new roof?

1.) Age / no matter what the roof looks like, there is only so long that a shingle or built up roof will last. The majority of roofs are now guaranteed for a minimum of 15 years. The heavier roofs can be guaranteed for up to 30 years or more. Unfortunately, after the 15 year mark, roofs should be observed for pending issues. No matter what the original manufacturer indicates, after 15 years all surfaces exposed to acid rain, sunlight, changes in temperature, wind, humidity, etc. will have deteriorated from their initial quality status.

2.) Curled shingles / the curling of shingles on a roof, is a sign that age and deterioration is starting to effect the performance of the roof. Shingles are intended to lay flat on the roof to minimize the uplift of wind and driven rain and provide the most water protection in a flat position. As the shingle ages, it has a tendency to curl due to the sun and the composition of the shingle. This will cause the roof to deteriorate and be subjected to wind uplift and water penetration.

3.) Heavily stained and discoloration of the roof shingles / the staining and discoloration of the roof, is a sign that the makeup of the shingles is deteriorating. This deteriorating of the shingles causes a breakdown in the shingle composition. If the shingle is an asphalt shingle or a fiberglass shingle, the breakdown of the composition will cause material to break out of the shingle itself, and slide down the roof slope. This sliding of material dislodging from the shingles will accumulate in the valleys or at the eaves of the roof, causing discoloration. In addition, the removal of the material out of the field of the roof, dulls the color and changes the appearance of the roof itself. The color of the roof maybe totally different from the original shingles when they were installed new. Any visual change of the roof should be carefully analyzed for further deterioration.

4.) Water penetration / obviously one of the clearest indications of a roof issue, is the physical leaking of water into the interior of the structure. This can be identified by water actually accumulating on the floors of the structure or the staining of ceilings and walls. Water penetration will usually mean a severe issue with the roof. Leakage does not normally occur as the roof ages or deteriorates. A roof that is actually leaking has been in need of replacement for quite some time and should be attended to immediately. In most situations, a leaky shingle roof, means that the entire roof should be replaced. In some instances, if the roof is a built up or single ply flat roof patching is effective.

5.) Structural collapse / another extremely obvious indication of a roof issue, is the physical collapse of the ceiling structures within a building, due to the accumulation of water in the ceilings. Water will deteriorate sheetrock and other ceiling material, causing it to fall due to gravity. Once this occurs, this is a very serious indication of severe water penetration. In most cases, the sheetrock or other surface applications on the ceilings will fail and fall in. It is rare that a structural collapse of significant structural members is attributable to water penetration, however, if the water has penetrated for long enough, this could occur.

6.) Soft and spongy roof bearing / the feel of the roof bearing as you walk on the roof, is a good indication of the status of the roofing systems. There is normally plywood, ply-score or roofing boards under the roofing material. If water is penetrating down into the substrate of the roof, there will eventually be deterioration of the substrate. This deterioration will cause the roof itself, to feel spongy or springy to the step. In some extreme cases, the person walking the roof, may actually fall through the roof sheathing due to extreme deterioration. The status of the roof sheathing is normally a good indication of the status of the roof above it. Water penetration will cause the roof sheathing to become compromised and possible failure of the sheathing system could occur.

OK, I am convinced, I need a new roof, what can I expect?

1.) If you have been diligent in your observations and have decided to replace your roof as required based upon your observation of the initial signs of roof deterioration, you may only need to simply replace the roof shingles, or the built up roof. This could simply be the installation of the new roof directly over the old roof. There are various building codes that will allow, a new roof over an existing, depending upon the number of layers of shingles already on the roof. In normal situations, three layers of roof shingles are allowed, until the existing roof must be stripped, and the new roof installed directly on the sheathing.

2.) If you have not been quite as diligent as you needed to be, and have allowed a few years of damage and deterioration to occur, then the replacement of roof sheathing, possibly rafters or rafter tails could be required. This will depend upon the amount of damage that was allowed to occur. In addition, when a roof has been allowed to fail for a period of time, there could be some interior ceiling work or trim work that will need replacement once the new roof is installed.

3.) The cost of a replacement roof is dependent upon the product selected, as well as the location of the project. To provide some very rough ideas of the cost;

a.) Asphalt roofs / anywhere from $250 to $450 / per square of roof. A square is 100 square feet or a patch 10 feet by 10 feet.

b.) Fiberglass roofs / slightly higher, however normally the warranty on the roof is longer. Therefore in most situations the installation of a fiberglass roof is preferred over the older type asphalt roof.

c.) Metal roofs / again this is dependent upon the type of materials, however, the costs are substantially higher than a fiberglass roof and can be $1000 to $1500 per square of roof.

d.) Wood shakes / this type of roof is extremely popular with an Adirondack home or a log home and can run approximately $750 to $950 per square.

e.) Tile roofs / there are several different tiles to choose from, as well as several different shapes and designs. These roofs can cost well over $2000 square.

f.) The replacement of a 4 X 8 plywood sheathing board can be approximately $150 to $200 per board.

g.) The replacement of rafters or rafter tails is totally dependent upon the number of rafters involved, as well as the height above the ground, etc.

4.) Roof replacement can also lead to many other issues.

a.) Replacement of flashings, gutters and leaders

b.) Replacement of any type of eave thawing systems or leaf guards over gutters.

d.) Replacement of scuppers ( on flat roofs )

e.) Replacement of chimney caps or other ornamental or roofing accessories.

Failure to replace an existing roof at the proper time can lead to costly and disastrous results. Water can be an extremely dangerous and destructive element if allowed to repeatedly soak a structural material. There is no such thing as ” dry rot “. The term is used when there has been repeated moisture or wetting of a structural member over a period of time. The leakage has stopped, however the structural member has already been compromised due to the amount of moisture that it has absorbed over the period of time leakage had occurred. This has deteriorated the structural element to a point that it has been weakened from its original structural capacities. Water and dry rot can cause structural failures and serious building issues. In addition, the accumulation of moisture will cause the growth of mold and mildew which can further harm the interior environment of a structure.

If you roof is leaking, you may have allowed it to go far beyond a simple repair. Further procrastination will only add to the problems and expense.


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