How Roof Ventilation Can Save You Money

As we all know these days saving money is more important than ever. One way in which to do so that you may not have already considered is through ensuring that you take the proper measures to protect your roof and attic space.

For example, an asphalt shingle roof can cause your attic to retain a great deal of heat, particularly in the height of the summer months. When a roof is exposed to the sun for a significant period of time it can cause a poorly ventilated attic to reach extreme temperatures. After a while this heat will begin to radiate into the house and you will begin to feel the temperature of the home becoming unusually warm. In turn this will lead to a greater consumption of energy as your air conditioner begins to work harder in order to maintain a pleasant air temperature.

The key to lowering your energy bill revolves around keeping the air in the attic as cool as possible and there are a few ways in which to do this effectively. The ideal option is to improve the ventilation in the attic to ensure that the warm air is able to escape and fresh air can be drawn in. Don’t attempt to do this yourself, as it really requires the assistance of a professional roofer who knows exactly where vents should be placed to be most beneficial.

Increasing the thickness of your roof insulation can also help to reduce electricity consumption through making it harder for the heat to radiate through into the main home. If you are considering a residential roof replacement, take into account materials that will most effectively reflect the sun such as metal or lighter colored shingles.

What’s In a Roofing Warranty

When you are obtaining proposals for your residential roof replacement, you will find that there are two separate warranties that will cover the new roof.  The first warranty is the one offered by the shingle manufacturer and will cover the new shingles against manufacturing defects.  The second warranty is the one offered by the roofing contractor and covers the workmanship.

The manufacturer’s warranty is a good way to make sure you are comparing similar quality shingles.  Shingles carrying a 25 year warranty may or may not actually last that long depending on the installation, climate, and maintenance but generally speaking, 25 year shingles from two different manufacturers will be of similar quality.

The roofing contractor’s warranty is a good way to compare contractors.  A roofing contractor who is in it for the long run cares about the quality of their craftsmanship and when it comes to an asphalt shingle roof, the quality of the craftsman ship matters a lot.  No matter how good the shingles are, a poorly installed asphalt shingle roof will fail much sooner than a roof installed using good roofing practices.

The length and scope of a roofing contractor’s warranty is a good indication of the confidence the contractor has in their craftsmanship.  If a roofing contractor is only willing to offer a short, limited warranty, you have every right to suspect that the contractor anticipates problems down the road.  On the other hand, when a roofing contractor offers a long warranty and has a reputation for honoring their warranty work, it’s a sign that they are confident in their work and that they care about maintaining their reputation.

Keep in mind that this really only applies to roofing contractors with permanent local offices.  No matter how good the warranty offered by an out of state contractor, once they leave town it will be difficult to get them to come back and take care of any problems.

The Rule of Thirds

When using a contractor for any type of home improvement project including a residential roof replacement, it is never a good idea to pay for the entire project up front.  In fact, if any roofing contractor insists on full up-front payment, warning bells should be going off in your head.

The custom varies by the contractor and geographical location, but most established local roofing contractors will not ask for any payment up front.  Most reputable local roofing contractors have the resources and cash flow to purchase the supplies and pay the roofing crews without needing your money.

You may find some roofing contractors who ask for a partial payment before the work begins.  If so, remember the rule of thirds: you pay one third when the contract is signed, one third when the job is 50% completed, and one third when the job is fully completed and you are satisfied with the work.

Don’t let some shady roofer convince you that tearing off the old roof is half of the job.  Tearing off the old roof is only the beginning. The job is half done when half the roof is covered with new shingles.

Before making final payment, ask the contractor for a lien release from the materials supply yard and any subcontractors that worked on the project.  This ensures that the materials bill and subcontractors’ invoices have been paid.  If not, the materials supply yard or the subcontractors could put a lien on your home.

With some larger national roofing contractors like Jasper Contractors, they buy shingles in truckload quantities and use their own roofing crews so you don’t have to be concerned about lien issues.

Asphalt Shingle Roof Warranty Length

If you are one of the unfortunate homeowners who suffered roof hail damage or wind damage in the recent waves of powerful storms that swept through the Midwest and Southeast, you are probably working with your insurance adjustor and roofing contractor to have your roof replaced.  As you consider your shingle options, you may have noticed that the manufacturer’s warranties on composition asphalt shingles have gotten longer.

In the past, asphalt shingle warranties typically ranged from 10 to 25 years.  These days, warranties on three tab asphalt shingles range from 20 to 30 years and laminated shingles typically carry 40 year to lifetime warranties.  You may be wondering whether the quality of asphalt shingles has improved or if warranties are just longer.

The reality is that there is an element of marketing in shingle warranties and although today’s composition asphalt shingles are generally of higher quality than those marketed ten to fifteen years ago, composition asphalt shingles wear out over time no matter how well they are made.  In addition, top quality laminated shingles have excellent wind resistance ratings and very good impact resistance, but they can still be damaged by a severe hailstorm or windstorm.

With that said, the warranties provide a basis for comparing competing shingles.  30 year shingles from competing manufacturers will be roughly equivalent in quality and the same is true for 40 year or lifetime warranties on laminated shingles. You may not get the full 40 years out of a good quality laminated shingle, but you will get about the same amount of time out of 40 year shingles by different manufacturers.  Think of the warranty length as a way to make sure you are comparing apples with apples when choosing which shingles are right for your home.

Understanding Roof Warranties

If you are replacing your roof due to hail damage, wind damage, or just plain old age, its important to understand the different warranties that come with a new roof.  The two main warranties that affect your new roof are the shingle manufacturer’s warranty and the roofer’s warranty.

All major shingle manufacturers provide warranties on their products.  Standard three tab shingles are typically warranted against defects for 20 to 30 years.  Laminated shingle warranties are longer – they range from 40 years to lifetime warranties.

Manufacturer’s warranties are usually limited to defects in the shingles.  They do not cover wear and tear, problems caused by improper installation, or damage from hail, high winds, fire, or other damage from natural causes.  In most cases, the warranty does not cover labor and installation, although they may pay for labor for the first five or ten years.

Manufacturer’s warranties are usually pro-rated.  That means that the amount of warranty coverage declines for each year the shingles are in use.  For example, if your roof has 20 year shingles and fails due to a defect in the shingles at 10 years, the warranty would pay for half of the cost of the new roof (excluding labor)

The other warranty is the provided by your roofing contractor.  Contractor’s warranties are the opposite of manufacturer’s warranties -  they cover the labor and installation for defects in the workmanship but not for defective shingles.  Contractor’s warranties vary widely, but typically range from five to ten years.

A contractor’s warranty is only as sound as the contractor.  No matter how good the warranty is, if your contractor has gone out of business or left the area, your contractor’s warranty isn’t worth the paper it’s written on.  Protect yourself by dealing with a reputable local roofing contractor with years of experience and a history of satisfying their customer’s warranty claims.

Service Life of a Residential Roof

“How long will my new roof last?” This is one of those questions that almost every homeowner asks when purchasing a new roof and it is also one of the hardest questions for even the most experienced roofing contractor to answer.  The reason is that there are so many different variables that can affect the lifespan of a roof that providing a definitive answer to this question is challenging at best.

The type of roofing material greatly affects the life expectancy of the roof.  A three tab asphalt shingle roof can be expected to last roughly 15 to 20 years before replacement is necessary.  Architectural or dimensional shingles last somewhat longer; anywhere from 25 to 40 years.  Cedar shakes generally last about 40 to 50 years and metal roofing, tile, and slate can last 50 year or more.

The quality of the craftsmanship of the initial installation has a huge impact on the lifespan of the roof, especially for asphalt shingles.  No matter what type or quality of asphalt shingle used, a poorly installed roof can fail within months of installation.  The same is true to some extent for other roofing materials, but because of the nature of the business, it is less of a concern than for asphalt shingles.

Maintenance is another factor to consider.  A poorly maintained roof will not last as long as it should, especially asphalt shingle roofs.  These need more maintenance than other types of roofs and if neglected they will not reach their full potential.

Finally, wind and hail storm damage will shorten the life of an asphalt shingle roof.  Most other types of roofing materials have higher resistance to hail and wind damage are their useful life is less likely to be affected.

Roof Ventilation

A very important, but often overlooked component of your roofing system is your attic ventilation.  Proper ventilation is very important for maximizing the useful life of your roof.  Heat and moisture are both very detrimental to an asphalt shingle roof and proper ventilation can help minimize both of these.  A well ventilated roof can save you from costly roof repairs or roof replacement.

Too much heat damages an asphalt shingle roof.  Of particular concern is heat during the day coupled with cool evenings.  This heating and cooling cycle causes thermal shock.  Your roof is made up of shingles, fasteners (usually roofing nails), the wood bed, the underlayment, and flashing.  All of these components expand and contract at different rates. 

When the heat and cold cycle is very pronounced, the difference in the expansion and contraction of these components is high and cracks, holes, and other fissures develop that allow moisture to penetrate the roof.  Once moisture finds its way under the shingles and underlayment, it can enter your home causing damage to walls, ceilings, and your property.  Moisture also causes the wood deck and supporting structure to begin to rot and decay.   In addition, moisture fosters the growth of mold and mildew.

Inadequate ventilation also causes moisture problems.  Absent proper attic ventilation, moisture can condense on the underside of the  roof deck and begin the process of rot and decay.

Proper ventilation can reduce the heat in your attic an minimize the effects of thermal shock.  A properly ventilated attic will also eliminate concerns about condensation.  If you think your attic is not properly ventilated, call a reputable local roofing contractor and have your roof and attic inspected.  They can help make sure your roof has adequate ventilation.

2011 Roofing Tax Credit

If you need a new roof in 2011, consider using energy efficient roofing materials that qualify for a tax credit.  These tax credits have been reduced since 2010, but they are still available and they help make an energy saving roof more affordable.  Best of all, your energy efficient roof will save you money on your energy bills for years to come.

If you installed your roof last year using qualified energy efficient roofing materials, you may be eligible for a tax credit for 30% of the cost of the roofing materials up to $1,500.  This tax credit was set to expire at the end of December, but if you missed out on the 2010 tax credit, Congress extended the credit to 2011.

Unfortunately, the credit was reduced for 2011.  For this year, the tax credit is available for 10% of the cost of qualifying roofing materials up to $500.  The credit only covers materials – labor is not included.  While this year’s tax credit is not as good as last year, it is still a great incentive to consider energy efficient roofing materials.

To take advantage of the tax credit, you need to install qualifying Energy Star rated metal roofing or composition asphalt shingle roofing with solar reflective granules during 2011.  These higher end roofing products offer excellent protection for your home and will save you money on your utilities bills year after year. 

By reflecting the sun’s rays, they reduce the temperature of your roof and keep your attic cooler.  This means your air conditioner will not need to run as often which save money on electricity and helps your air conditioning system last longer.

Asphalt Shingle Colors

If you have been shopping for a new asphalt shingle roof, you have probably noticed that asphalt shingles are available in a vast array of colors.  For some folks, choosing a shingle color is easy – they just tell their roofing contractor to use the same color that they already have.  If you are happy with the current color of your roof, this is a perfectly good option for your new roof.

 Other folks are a little tired of their current roof color and are searching for a fresh new look.  If you are in this second category, do a little due diligence before deciding on a color.  A high quality asphalt shingle roof properly installed by a good roofing contractor can last more than 20 years.  Don’t be hasty and choose a color that you might regret later.  That Tangerine shingle might look great in your contractor’s sample book, but you could get tired of looking at it day after day on your roof.

Also, if you might be selling your home in the next 10 to 20 years, you should probably be a little conservative when choosing a shingle color.  A bold color choice that makes a statement about your individuality might make a different statement to a potential buyer.

One easy way to get some ideas is drive through your neighborhood and look for a house similar to yours with a roof color that you like.  If you find a good combination, just tell your contractor to match it. Also, keep in mind that your roofing contractor has seen thousands of roofs and can give you some good shingle color suggestions.

Advantages of Satellite Imaging

If you have been looking for a roofing contractor to handle your roof replacement project, you may have noticed that some roofing contractors advertise that they use satellite imaging technology.  Satellite imaging is a technique that uses satellite images of your roof and some software to measure the area of your roof. 

In order to prepare an estimate of the cost of a re-roofing project, a roofing contractor has to measure the area of the roof and the length of other elements such as flashing, ridges, and valleys.  This information is necessary to determine the number of man hours and materials needed for the project. 

Roofing contractors have traditionally climbed up on the roof and used a tape measure to take these measurements.   Working on the roof has inherent dangers, particularly if the roof has sustained fire, weather, decay, or other damage.  Such roofs are particularly hazardous.

Measuring a roof by hand is more expensive and not as accurate as satellite imaging.  Hand measuring the roof takes time, and because of the danger involved, it also drives up the cost of your contractor’s workers compensation insurance.  These costs end up being passed along to you. 

With satellite imaging, the measurements are quickly and accurately done without having to climb up on the roof.  Less time and risk means lower costs for the consumer. 

In addition, satellite imaging is usually more accurate than hand measuring which allows your contractor to give you the lowest possible estimate.  Your contractor will be able to complete the project with less wasted materials and man hours because of the accuracy of the satellite imaging measurements.