Info & Tips
Be Prepared For Winter’s Severe Weather
We’ve all seen enough of snow, ice and rain this winter, and many roofs are worse for the weather. The unusually cold temperatures and excessive precipitation have caused all kinds of roofing troubles. Here are some tips to cope with the winter’s aftermath and avoid future problems:
- Install an ice and water shield. This is an efficient and cost-effective way to avoid snow and ice related leaks. The waterproofing membrane is applied around vulnerable flashing points to protect against wind-driven rain and ice dams.
- Have snow guards installed. These protect people, landscaping, lower roofs and gutters from heavy slides of melting snow and ice. The snow guards hold snow and ice in place allowing a gradual melting.
- Do not attempt to have broken gutters reattached until the snow is cleared.
- Have your roof inspected once the cold weather is gone. For the most effective results, a professional should do the work.
Avoid Ice Dams Next Winter
Everyone wants to know how to avoid problems from ice dams. Our advice is that if your home has never had a problem before, you probably do not have to worry. Remember this has been an unusally severe winter; conditions were not normal.
If your home is new or you have recently moved in, and you need an expert opinion about the potential for future, ongoing winter problems, call us. We will be happy to evaluate your situation and make necessary recommendations.
If you know that snow and ice is a problem at your property, we make the following suggestions:
- On slate and tile roofs, we can install snow guards. These are protruding pieces of metal that help hold the snow in place at the eaves, rather than allowing it to slide uncontrollably into the gutter. Snow guards help in two ways. They protect gutters by encouraging snow to melt gradually, and they protect passersby and landscape from falling snow.
Note that snow guards are less effective with large amounts of snow, as we saw in the recent blizzard. But in snowfalls under a foot, they can be very effective.
Most asphalt shingle roofs do not need snow guards because the granules in the shingle help hold the snow naturally.
- On new construction and problematic existing roofs, we recommend ice and water shield. This waterproofing membrane is applied to the roof deck at the eaves and around vulnerable flashing points to protect against ice dams and wind-driven rain. The membrane effectively seals nail holes, which are the most likely entry point for water.
For more information on this effective weather-proofing treatment, give us a call. We will be happy to send you information or discuss the need for them at your property.
- Finally, if all other methods fail, we recommend heat tape to alleviate ice dam problems. We emphasize that this method should be a last-ditch measure because of the cost of installation and of use (it adds to your electricity bill) Heat tape is a copper wire with a heating element. We can run it through a downspout or gutter to prevent ice build-up.
Heat tape can also be installed on standing seam roofs, whose slick surfaces encourage sliding snow and resulting ice dams.
For more information, please contact our office at 301-927-9030 or 800-295-9030.
So What Is An Ice Dam Anyway?
Ice dams are what cause a majority of problems after a large snowfall or blizzard. This is how they happen:
First, snow lands and stays on your roof. Rising heat from your attic heats up the roof, except for the overhang. When the melting water runs down the slope of the roof, it is stopped by the snow on the overhang. This ice dam at the overhang backs up the water, sending it under shingles, through nail holes and into your house.
Water also can back up in gutters the same way. Ice build-up on gutters forces water up and under roofing material. In addition, many gutters will collapse because of improper installation others because of the sheer weight of ice – which weighs in at 56 pounds per cubic foot.
Follow These Tips In Snow And Ice Emergencies
- Do not attempt to climb your roof to remove snow. You could get hurt or make the situation worse. These removals can be dangerous even for professionals.
- If you have a winter weather leak, there is not much you can do about it at that point. Get a bucket and keep an eye on your ceiling. If your ceiling looks like it will cave in or water is coming through a light fixture, call a professional. Electricity and water do not mix.
- If your frozen gutters are beginning to fall off, call a roofing professional to remove them safely. In the meantime, tread carefully. Avoid walking under the gutters and do not slam your door, which could dislodge the gutter and send it down.
- For safety reasons, leave the snow on flat roofs on most homes and apartment buildings; beams on these structures are usually stronger than on other roofs. However, unusual amounts of snowfall – especially when followed by rain – can cause a roof to collapse. Property managers should keep a close watch on large flat roofs, especially on unheated buildings. Contact a structural engineer to find out whether clearing is necessary.
Research Roofing Contractors Before You Hire
Property owners’ headaches can begin the moment they select an unqualified contractor to work on their property. But, with a little investigation, it is easy to find and hire professional contractors who will not only perform quality work, but will also make working with them a satisfying experience.
We suggest you protect yourself and your property by using the following guidelines when selecting a roofing contractor.
- Obtain customer references and check them. Ask about the company’s stability, reputation, record on completing jobs on time and quality of work performed.
- Make sure that the company is licensed and bonded.
- Call you local Better Business Bureau or your state’s Department of Professional Regulation to check for possible complaints filed against the contractor.
- Insist on a written proposal and examine it for complete descriptions of the work and specifications, including tasks the roofer will perform, types of materials, financial arrangements, and guarantees. Remember to check on the roofer’s plans for keeping the property as clean as possible.
- Have your contractor list the roofing manufacturers with which his firm has licensed or approved applicator agreements. Most materials require special application expertise in order to achieve a quality roof system that will last.
- Carefully read and understand any warranty offered and watch for provisions that would void it.
- Don’t hesitate to ask the roofing contractor for proof of insurance. In fact, insist on seeing copies of his liability coverage and worker’s compensation certificates. Be sure the coverage runs through the duration of the job.
- Keep a healthy skepticism about the lowest bid. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Remember, price is only one of the criteria for selecting a contractor. Professionalism and quality workmanship should also weigh heavily on your decision.
At Wagner Roofing, we strive to make all of this information available to our customers. Our goal is to offer the highest quality work with top-quality service. Please call us if you have any questions.
(Excerpted from a consumer bulletin issued by the National Roofing Contractors Association.)
Professional Inspections Key to Good Roof Maintenance
Nothing will extend the life of your roof like a good preventative maintenance program. And the beginning of such a program is inspection; followed, of course, by necessary repairs for problem areas. Inspections should be made in the fall, before damaging winter weather, or in the spring.
The purpose of inspections is to locate and repair roof problems before they happen – that is, before water can damage walls, ceilings and equipment. Inspections should be done by a qualified roofing professional. A good inspection includes looking at many items in addition to the roof surface for clues to possible trouble. The built-up (roof mat with gravel) roof is especially susceptible to leakage and should be inspected regularly and thoroughly, although these inspection points can apply to any roof.
A good inspection on any roof will detect problems in the following areas:
- Drainage system: Inspectors should look for water accumulation. Slow-acting drains and gutters may cause water to back up above the flashing. Drains should be clear of debris and should flush out water below the roof surface. Expansion of the drain can sometimes cause the spout to move above the roof level, preventing full drainage from the roof. Changes in the original slope of the roof also should be checked, as these can cause standing water.
- Exterior walls: Inspectors should check for settlement cracks or other evidence of building movement that might have strained the flashing or displaced drainage facilities. A white powdery excretion from mortar joints, called efflorescence, may indicate leaks in the flashing, coping or parapet wall.
- Interior walls and ceiling: Damp walls, discoloration and flaking may indicate a leaking roof. Built-up roofs should have copings checked. A coping is the covering on the top of the parapet wall. Generally, copings have two main troubles: either coping materials lose water repellency and absorb moisture or the mortar or caulking in the coping joints crack. In either case, water may drain into the parapet, which is the raised wall along the edge of the roof. Where the water enters may be difficult to determine, though most likely the leak will run inside facings and damage interior walls.
- Top side: Defects are difficult to see from a top side-only inspection. But on flat roofs, the experienced inspector looks for cracks in the roofing felt that may reflect cracks in the roof deck. If the mat gives under weight, the under-the-deck board may be rotted and need replacing. Sharp indentations or breaks at right angles to the underboard usually indicate the decking board is improperly supported. Close attention should be given to television antennas, power cable supports, lightning protection, air conditioning equipment and signs. Supports and braces for such attachments often are spiked or bolted to any convenient spot on the roof and may cause serious leakage.
A qualified roofing professional will be able to discuss these items with you after a roof inspection. It’s a good idea to have the inspector establish a check list for your roof or property with specific items that need to be assessed at each inspection. Such a list will help you discover roofing problems early, saving money and adding years to your roof’s life.
Roof Maintenance: Rehabilitation Vs. Replacement
Hardly anyone wants the expense of a new roof. But even the most cost-conscious homeowners and property managers reach a point when they must replace a roof. In spite of good maintenance, timely repair and quality workmanship, they realize that a roof has lived its life, the longest life they could squeeze out of it. But how do they come to that decision, how do they know when repair is no longer feasible? Wagner Roofing recommends homeowners and property managers consider these questions before replacing a roof:
- What are your long-term goals for the building? For example, what is appropriate for a building about to be sold is not necessarily appropriate for a long-range investment.
- Should you remove the existing roof or go over it? A qualified roofing contractor should be able to explain the pros and cons of this question as it relates to your roof.
- Does the roof collect standing water? If so, is it necessary to provide drainage to prevent future problems and obtain the roofing materials manufacturer’s warranty?
Do You Know Your Roof?
To many homeowners and property managers roofs can be a mystery and leaks even more of a puzzle. But your roof really isn’t that complicated. Read this and get a quick lesson on what makes a roof a roof.
Roofs are really just four basic elements. There are the rafters (or trusses), structural elements of a building, to which the roof foundation is attached. This base, called the roof deck or sheathing, is usually plywood and is the first layer of protection over a structure or building. Over this goes the underlayment or felt (often called tar paper), a sheet of asphalt-saturated material that provides the second layer of protection. Finally, the shingles (or other roofing material such as metal or slate) protects the entire structure from the harsh elements of weather.
Property owners’ headaches can begin the moment they select an unqualified contractor to work on their property. But with a little investigation, it is easy to find and hire professional contractors who will not only perform quality work, but also will make working with them a satisfying experience.
We suggest you protect yourself and your property by using the following guidelines when selecting a roofing contractor:
- Obtain customer references and check them. Ask about the company’s stability, reputation, record in completing jobs on time and the quality of the work performed.
- Make sure the company is licensed and insured.
- Insist on a written proposal and examine it for complete descriptions of the work and specifications, including tasks the roofer will perform, types of materials, financial arrangements, and guarantees.
- Remember to check on the roofer’s plans for keeping the property as clean as possible.
- Don’t hesitate to ask the roofing contractor for proof of insurance. In fact, insist on seeing copies of his liability coverage and workers’ compensation certificates.
- Keep a healthy skepticism about the lowest bid. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Remember, price is only one of the criteria for selecting a contractor. Professionalism and quality workmanship should also weigh heavily in your decision.
At Wagner Roofing, we strive to make all of this information available to our customer. Our goal is to offer the highest quality work with top-quality service. Please call us at (301) 927-9030 if you have any questions.
Slate roofs date back more than 1,000 years
Did you know…
- slate is one of the longest lasting roofing materials ever used. In some countries it has been used for more than 1,000 years
- slate is a naturally occurring rock formed by the downward pressure of the earth’s crust
- slate can be found in many regions of the world but much of it occurs in Scotland, Wales, France, Spain, Southern Germany, and the United States
- some slate veins are a few hundreds feet long while others encompass entire mountain ranges
- because of its durability, many companies guarantee slate for as long as 100 years
- slate operations can be as large as stadium-size chambers 2,000 feet below the ground