Repairing a roof is important because your home's roof acts like an umbrella. You grab an umbrella when it's raining, or maybe you keep one in the car? You rarely think about your roof until it's raining, snowing, the leaves are collecting in the gutters … or you suddenly find you've got a leak because there's water dripping or a stain on a ceiling.
The roof is a key component of your home's envelope or skin, keeping the rest of the house dry. A good roof is like insurance, protecting your home from serious damage that occurs when water seeps into the attic ruining insulation and whatever you're storing up there. Delaying roof repairs or a new roof is like asking for trouble.
Roofing Basics Anyone Can Understand
Roofing is a critical component of every house yet most home owners know little about how it is constructed, and more important, how to determine when it needs to be replaced. Let's start with roofing basics:
- Roof framing – like any stick built house, there is lumber (called trusses) underneath the visible roof to support the roofing materials. The framing is critical to support the climate where a house is located from the weight of winter snow to hurricanes winds.
- Roof slope or pitch – reflects how steep (How to Measure Roof Pitch) a roof is. While a roof is pitched to shed water, different materials (shingles versus rice straw thatched roof in Japan) have different requirements and then there's the architectural look and feel.
- Roof's raincoat – is made of many layers starting with plywood sheathing laid on top of the trusses. The plywood is covered with a vapor barrier or underlayment. While felt has been used for years, there are now much better solutions like Grace's ice and water shield, a rubber membrane that seals around the nails used to secure your roofing shingles.
Don't Take Shortcuts with Roofing Problems
Here's a typical problem we run into at my handyman business. We did work for a customer and three years later they called to say the roof was leaking and … they thought we were there last year. This customer was hoping any repairs would be covered under our 1 year guarantee, until we determined the work we had done was 3 years ago. We had provided the customer with 2 estimates:
- Remove a skylight and roof over the opening, tying in with the existing roof
- … or replace the entire roof of the sun room.
Your guessed it, they went with the less expensive job to save money, at least temporarily. Unfortunately they won't save money when you look at the big picture and they absolutely need a new roof as the shingles are disintegrating:
- They now have the added expense of repairing the interior damage from the current leaks.
- They will now pay for a new roof, in addition to the skylight work we did 3 years ago.
We're not sure where the story will end. We did an assessment, provided an estimate and ultimately they asked for a list of materials to save some money. They called back and said they were going to pursue another solution. We're worried as we tried to explain that they really need to use ice & water shield on the entire roof due to the “almost flat” slope of the roof. This is a very expensive material but it's worth it.
PS Here's a really great web site on roofing, with a really neat name, The Roofery. If you've got lots of roofing questions, this is probably a place where you'll find the answers you need.