What Are My Roofing Options?

February 15, 2011

Roofing Guide

Asphalt shingles—used on an overwhelming share of the U.S. residential roofs—can be reinforced with fiberglass materials. Fiberglass-reinforced products are more durable and dominate the market.

Fiberglass shingles have a fiberglass mat, top-and-bottom layers of asphalt and mineral granules. They are available in architectural grades and a variety of colors that offer a textured appearance.

Wood shingles and shakes are typically made from cedar, redwood, and southern pine. Shingles are machine-sawn; shakes are hand-hewn and rougher looking. Their natural look is popular but brush fire concerns limit their use.

Slate is quarried and applied mostly in the northeast and comes in different colors and grades. Considered virtually indestructible, it is, however, more expensive than other roofing materials.

Synthetic roof products simulate various types of traditional roof coverings, such as slate and wood shingles and shakes. A point to consider: Although synthetic roof products may simulate the appearance of traditional roof coverings, they do not necessarily have the same properties.

All roof systems have five basic components:

Structure: the rafters and trusses that support the sheathing.

Deck/sheathing: the boards or sheet material that are fastened to the roof rafters to cover a house.

Underlayment: a sheet of asphalt-saturated material used as a secondary layer of protection for the roof deck.

Roof covering: shingles, tiles, etc., that protect the sheathing from weather.

Drainage: the features of the roof system’s design, such as shape, slope, layout, etc., that affect its ability to shed water.

Flashing: sheet metal or other material laid into the various joints and valleys of a roof system to prevent water seepage.

Ventilation is Key

One of the most critical factors in roof system durability is proper ventilation. Without it, heat and moisture buildup in the attic area combine to cause rafters and sheathing to rot, roof shingles to buckle, and insulation to lose its effectiveness.

It is important never to block sources of roof ventilation, such as louvers, ridge vents, or soffit vents. Proper attic ventilation will help prevent structural damage, increase the life of the roofing material and reduce energy consumption.

In addition to the free flow of air, insulation plays a key role in proper attic ventilation. An ideal attic has:

  • A gap-free layer of insulation to protect again heat gain or loss
  • A vapor retarder under the insulation to stop moisture from rising into the attic
  • Enough vented spaces properly allow air to pass in and out freely
  • A minimum of 1 inch between the insulation and roof sheathing

Roof Enemies

Sun: Heat and ultraviolet rays cause roofing materials to deteriorate over time.

Rain: When underneath roofing, water can work its way to the deck and begin to cause rot.

Wind: High winds can lift the roof edges and force water underneath.

Condensation: The buildup of relatively warm, moisture-laden air in a poorly ventilated attic promotes decay of the wood sheathing and rafters.

Moss and algae: Moss can grow on wood shingles and shakes if they are kept moist by poor sunlight conditions or bad drainage. Once it grows, moss holds even more moisture to the roof surface, causing rot, and its roots actually work their way into the wood.

Algae also grows in damp, shaded areas on wood or asphalt shingle roof systems. Besides creating an ugly black-green stain, algae can retain moisture, causing rot and deterioration.

Trees and bushes should be trimmed away from the house to eliminate damp, shaded areas, and gutters should be kept clean to ensure good drainage. Tree branches touching the roof will scratch and gouge roofing materials as they are blown back and forth. Leaves retain moisture and cause rot.

Missing or torn shingles: No longer complete protection.

Shingle deterioration: When shingles get old and worn out, they curl, split, and lose their waterproofing effectiveness and are more easily blown off, torn, or lifted by wind gusts.

Flashing deterioration: Many apparent roof leaks really are flashing leaks around chimneys, vents, skylights, and wall/roof junctions.

How long can you expect a roof system to last?

The condition and lifespan of your roof system will depend on the type of roof system you have, the effects of the local environment. According to the American Society of Home Inspectors, asphalt shingles generally last 15 to 20 years; wood shingle/shakes, 10 to 40 years; clay/concrete tiles, 20+ years; slate, 30 to 100 years; and metal roofing, 15 to 40+ years. Most top-of-the-line roofing product manufacturers offer a variety of warranties.

When selecting a new roof, cost and durability are tops, but aesthetics and architectural style are important, too. The right roof balances these four considerations.

To discuss all of your options, contact a Minnesota roofing contractor today!

Attic Condensation & Ice Dam Leaks

February 10, 2011

Preventing Ice Dam Leaks

Attic condensation and ice damming are related. Both can be caused by warm, moist air leaving the house and entering the attic. Attics will be in good shape if there are no holes, air leaks, or bypasses from the house to the attic and there is sufficient insulation to keep house heat from escaping. If you can ensure good air sealing and insulation, the attic will remain cool and dry, as if it were outside. For example, it is rare to see moisture problems or ice damming on the roof of a detached garage or unheated barn.

Formation Of An Ice Dam

Where to look for leaks

  • around plumbing stacks or plumbing walls
  • chimneys through the attic
  • any light fixtures from the ceiling below
  • electric wiring
  • ducting for fans or heating systems
  • perimeter walls
  • partition walls
  • party walls
  • above pocket doors
  • above lowered ceilings
  • where the side of a cathedral ceiling meets an open attic
  • split level discontinuities
  • where additions meet an older section of the house
  • above rounded corners or staircases
  • balloon frame walls

Prevent Ice Dams With Ventilation

Attic Venting

If you have properly sealed the attic you should not need more attic ventilation. Attic ventilation is overrated. In winter, the cold outside air cannot hold much humidity or carry moisture away from the attic. In summer, attic temperatures are more affected by the sun and shingle color than by the amount of ventilation.

Ice Damming

Ice dams are the large mass of ice that collects on the lower edge of the roof or in the gutters. As more melting snow (or rain) runs down the roof, it meets this mass of ice and backs up, sometimes under the shingles and into the attic or the house.

Ice damming usually occurs with a significant depth of snow on the roof. If the attic temperature is above freezing, it warms the roof sheathing which melts the snow lying on the shingles. This water runs down the roof until it meets the roof overhang, which is not warmed by the attic and will be at the temperature of the surrounding air. If the air and the overhang are below freezing, then the water will freeze on the roof surface and start the ice dam.

The balance between removing ice and damaging the roof

Thick ice is hard to remove. You must decide if trying to remove it will cause more damage than leaving it on the roof. Tools, such as hammers, shovels, scrapers, chain saws, and devices such as shoes with ice spikes can damage roofing materials or the structure below. Chemical de-icers can discolor shingles, break down membranes and corrode flashings and drains. De-icers can also damage plants on the ground.

Has your roof been damaged by a winter storm and you’re now looking for a Minnesota roofing contractor to fix it?

If damage has occurred and ice must be removed, hiring professionals that use steamers is strongly recommended.

Was Your Roof Damaged From Ice Damming This Winter?

February 3, 2011

Roof Damage from Ice Dams this Winter

Winter Roof Damage

Ice dams in the Minneapolis – St. Paul area of Minnesota can be nightmares, potentially costing you thousands.

Minnesota winters are hard on our homes. Ice dams are created by a number of factors, most importantly the damage they cause can be significant; water leaks, ice buildup, shingle damage, gutter damage and even structural damage or failure.

The severe weather this winter is not only a headache for commuters but it can also be a huge hassle and hazard for Minnesota homeowners. If you have long icicles hanging from your gutters, that’s a warning sign of possible ice dams on your roof which could lead to major damage to your home.

If you see a buildup of ice and an accumulation of icicles, you need to have a roofing contractor or gutter cleaning company come out and check it out. If left unattended, it can be quite expensive to fix.

  1. Call a professional: Removing an ice dam can be quite dangerous. A good place to start is with a reputable roofing contractor. Check and get estimates and references from contractors in your area. Gutter cleaning companies may also offer this service.
  2. Remove snow from the roof: If you’re tackling the job yourself, there is a special tool for removing snow called a “roof rake”. Carefully pull it down the slope of the roofline. Never pull snow across the roof. You could damage the shingles.
  3. Chip away at the ice: For immediate action, you can chip away through the ice dam so the water can flow through. Stop when you get close to the roofing.
  4. Properly ventilate and insulate the attic: The main cause of ice dams is an overly warm attic.
  5. Never walk on a snow-covered roof: Make sure you work from a ladder to access/fix the damage.
  6. Do not install mechanical equipment or water heaters in attics: These are a fire hazard. Stick to insulation to help keep heat in your home.
  7. Do not use salt or calcium chloride to melt snow off the roof: These chemicals are very corrosive. The runoff of these chemicals can also damage grass and plants.

MN Snow and Ice Dam Removal

Removing Ice on roof with steam in Minneapolis, MN

Has your roof been damaged by a winter storm and you’re now looking for a Minnesota roofing contractor to fix it?

Our ice dam removal services start with safely and carefully removing the snow from your roof. Once the snow is removed from the ice dam areas we will then melt the ice dams using commercial grade heavy duty steamers.

 

Steam Method To Remove Ice Dams

February 2, 2011

Safely Remove Ice Dams With Steam In Minnesota

Ice dams are created by a number of different factors, such as snow accumulations and heat loss. But, most importantly are the damage they can cause and the significant damages that can incur do to; Water leaks from ice buildup, shingle damage from ice forming under the shingles. Gutter and Soffit damage from the weight and pressure from ice as it forms at the eaves, and structural damage as water intrusion can rot the untreated lumber used in the construction of your home. Not to mention the rot of your sheet rock as water leaks in and on your ceilings and walls.

Ice dams may seem harmless at first, but they are known to cause thousands of dollars in repair due to roof leaks, structural damages and interior repairs to your home. Results of ice dams can create dangerous mold growth, which can cause or aggravate allergies, asthma and other respiratory diseases.  Fighting ice dams can be costly and, you also need to know how to approach the problem to make your efforts more efficient to permanently eliminate ice dams.

If damage has occurred and ice must be removed, hiring professionals that use steamers is strongly recommended.  Using a “Steam Method” of ice removal, as opposed to other methods which may include a hammer and chisel, will safely remove ice dams without damaging the integrity of your shingles.

Ice Dams Have Been A Big Problem For Minnesota Homeowners

February 1, 2011

Steam Removal of Ice Dams | Ice Dam Removal

Ice Dam Defense

Ice damming has been a big problem here in Minnesota this year. Record snowfall amounts in December, preceded and interspersed by bouts of sleety precipitation, produced the perfect storm for ice dams to flourish.

Although sometimes thought of as a problem with roofing or attic ventilation, ice dams are actually caused by the presence of warm air in the attic, combined with snow on the roof and the right weather conditions. Ice dams occur when heat leaks into the attic and melts the underside of the snow on the roof. The melted snow then flows down the roof surface until it reaches a cold spot (such as the eaves or soffit) where it forms a frozen dam, behind which more snowmelt and ice pile up.

The ice build-up can back up under the shingles, damaging them and allowing water to leak ICE DAM to the ceilings and walls below.

The source of ice dams: attic air leaks

Warm air leaking from the house into the attic is the primary cause of ice dams. Anywhere there is a penetration into the attic space (around wires, plumbing vents, light fixtures, chimneys, and knee walls) there is the potential for air leaks. Even homes that are only a few years old may not be properly sealed. To avoid these types of problems and eliminate most ice dams, attic air leaks must be sealed with caulking or expanding spray foam.

Solutions

  • Sealing attic air leaks saves energy and is key to preventing ice dams.
  • An energy audit with an infrared scan can pinpoint trouble spots.
  • If damage has occurred and ice must be removed, hiring professionals that use steamers is strongly recommended.

Ice Dam Defense
There are 3 ways to defend against the damage ice dams cause.  All 3 work together.

  • Insulation/ Insulation keeps heat from escaping from your home’s living space into your attic.
  • Ventilation/ Ventilation removes the heat and keeps the roof deck evenly cool to help prevent snow from melting on the roof.
  • Water-proofing/Water-proofing is laid across the roof before shingles are applied and protects against dams that form on the roof.

With existing roofs, waterproofing underlayment is only an option if you remove the existing shingles or are building a new addition.  Either way, increasing the insulation R-value in the attic is always possible, and ventilation can usually be added to your attic quite easily.

An energy efficient roof minimizes problems with ice dams.  A Minnesota roofing contractor can do an in-home evaluation to diagnose the performance of your home and together decide what the best course of action is for your situation.

Ice Dams Still Causing Problems For Minnesota Homeowners

January 27, 2011

Ice Dam Removal | Steam Removal of Ice Dams

Ice damming is a big problem here in Minnesota this year. Record snowfall amounts in December, preceded and interspersed by bouts of sleety precipitation, produced the perfect storm for ice dams to flourish.

“There’s a lot of leaks out there,” say Minnesota roofing contractors, who have been taking calls for help. After a series of wimpy winters, this one and last year’s have prompted ice dams to return with a vengeance. As a result, Minnesota homes are being affected much earlier than usual this year.

Ice dams form when snow accumulates on a roof that’s too warm, then melts and drains down to refreeze at the colder overhangs of eaves. The water that collects behind the frozen dams may seep through the roof and down into a structure. Poorly insulated and inadequately vented attics are the biggest contributors to ice buildups, which can be mitigated by clearing snow from roofs.

Long-handled roof rakes can be employed to pull off the first few feet of snow behind eaves, but locally they’ve become a scarcity. Menards ran out over the weekend, and Home Depot’s supply was depleted for the third time this winter.

Complete removal of roof snow is best, and is best if the work is done by a contractor using a steam unit to clear heavy snow and ice buildups. This method melts the ice dam in a manner that will not damage your roof.

Ice shield membranes, routinely installed along roof edges before new shingles are installed, make a big preventative difference when it comes to water issues produced by ice dam formations.

Prior to five or six years ago building codes called for membranes to extend three feet up from an exterior wall. Under the new code, 6-foot rows of membranes are now standard, and some homeowners request even more. Some people have wanted a membrane on the entire roof.

Contractors say that an ounce-of-prevention is worth-a-pound-of-cure. Thousands of homeowners in the community who had new roofs installed following severe summer storms may have been lulled into a false sense of security. Ice shield membranes guard against water penetration but can’t prevent ice dams that, if left untended, can extend upward beyond the shields.

According to the University of Minnesota Extension Service, problems occur when a series of conditions coincide:

A roof’s upper surface must average above 32 degrees for sustained periods while the lower surfaces average below freezing temperatures. The dams form in the areas that are below freezing, and water collects behind them in areas that are not.

In addition to removing roof snow, ice dam prevention involves controlling heat loss from the house to the attic. This can be achieved by enhancing ceiling insulation that keeps heat out of the attic, thereby preventing the roof from heating up, and by keeping roof vents free of snow.

And as a related precaution, snow should be cleared away from outside gas meters to guard against blockage of regulator vents that could cause gas leaks inside the home.

If you are one of the many Minnesota homeowners with roof damage from ice dams, contact a Minnesota roofing contractor today!

Winter Buildup Still Causing Headaches For Minnesota Homeowners

January 25, 2011

Minnesota Homeowners Still Solving Ice Dam Problems

Ice dams — or ice buildup on roof eaves — are all too obvious and all too familiar to Minnesota homeowners. The shelf of ice along the eave and the icicles are clearly visible, as are the dislodged roof shingles, sagging gutters, damaged insulation, and water stains on interior ceilings and walls that are the result of ice dams. What isn’t clearly visible is what causes ice dams.

Although sometimes thought of as a problem with roofing or attic ventilation, ice dams are actually caused by the presence of warm air in the attic, combined with snow on the roof and the right weather conditions. Ice dams occur when heat leaks into the attic and melts the underside of the snow on the roof. The melted snow then flows down the roof surface until it reaches a cold spot (such as the eaves or soffit) where it forms a frozen dam, behind which more snowmelt and ice pile up.

The ice build-up can back up under the shingles, damaging them and allowing water to leak ICE DAM to the ceilings and walls below.

The source of ice dams: attic air leaks

Warm air leaking from the house into the attic is the primary cause of ice dams. Anywhere there is a penetration into the attic space (around wires, plumbing vents, light fixtures, chimneys, and knee walls) there is the potential for air leaks. Even homes that are only a few years old may not be properly sealed. To avoid these types of problems and eliminate most ice dams, attic air leaks must be sealed with caulking or expanding spray foam.

Solutions

  • Sealing attic air leaks saves energy and is key to preventing ice dams.
  • An energy audit with an infrared scan can pinpoint trouble spots.
  • If damage has occurred and ice must be removed, hiring professionals that use steamers is strongly recommended.

What NOT to do:

  • Installing heating cables will shorten the life of your roof and cost you money to operate.
  • Removing ice with shovels, chippers, chemicals, or heat can damage shingles, gutters, and other building components—and can be very dangerous.
  • Adding roof vents—including powered vents—will not eliminate ice dams, and oft en makes the problems worse.
  • Additional insulation—especially on the top plate of exterior walls—can reduce heat transfer to the roof deck, but insulation alone is insufficient. Typical attic insulation will not stop air leaks or prevent ice dams.

If you are one of the many Minnesota homeowners with roof damage from ice dams, contact a Minnesota roofing contractor today!

This Year In Minnesota Has Turned Out To Be The Mother Of All Ice Dam Winters

January 20, 2011

Minnesota property owners and homeowners have never seen ice dams as severe as we’ve had this year. The result has led to a surge of insurance claims for rotting ceilings and walls, collapsing roofs other problems.

For Minnesota property owners this has shaped up as a really bad catastrophe year. We keep hearing the same thing over and over from property managers and homeowners: “I’ve lived here a long time and I’ve always had ice dams, but they’ve never been this bad and they’ve never caused roof leaks until this year”, referring to surging ice dam claims on top of damage from 104 tornadoes in the summer. The worst year for ice dams was in 2001, when insurance companies paid out $50 million in losses. This year has been as bad or worse.  It turned from the garden variety of ice dam winters to the mother of all ice dam winters.

Until this year, ice dam problems were more evident in older houses in first-tier suburbs. This year, even newer suburban houses have problems because the snow is deep and blocking roof vents where warmer air usually would escape.

If your building has experienced  ice damming, contact a reliable roofing contractor to repair the roof damage as soon as possible. They will work with your insurance company and can assist you in filing your claim.

Winter Can Be Your Roof’s Worst Enemy

January 20, 2011

Commercial Roofing Takes a Beating

Winter has two faces: A snowy wonderland or a serious threat to rooftops.  Blizzards, freeze-thaw cycles and frigid temperatures place extraordinary stresses on commercial roofing systems. While most are designed to withstand harsh wintry conditions, roof failures can occur when these systems are pushed beyond their limits.  Heavy snow is a major concern.  Clogged drains and leaks are others.  Snow loads of just two to four feet can be hazardous, depending on the building deck.  For a concrete deck, two or three feet of snow usually are not a problem.  But for roofs constructed of economical light gauge steel, often used in strip malls and warehouses for instance, collapse is a genuine danger.  Snow loads of a few feet could be hazardous and snow removal may be indicated.

When snow removal is necessary, using the wrong shovel on a single ply roof can be a big mistake.  Many roofs are ruined that way.  For this reason, a roofing professional should be considered a valuable partner in proper snow removal, potentially saving a building owner the cost of repair resulting from shovel damage failures.

The best safeguard against winter calamities is routine roof inspections just before and just after winter.  Minor problems with drains, flashings, copings and so forth can be repaired before winter.  Spring is the time for identifying major defects such as split membranes caused by wintry weather.  Major roof repairs or reroofing should be scheduled for the summer and fixed well before winter arrives.

A building’s drainage is also at risk during wintry weather.  Snow and ice can obstruct drains and build up during freeze-thaw cycles.  This ice can get under flashings, copings, drains and joints and wreak havoc on all types of roofing systems.  A roofing professional has the experience and knowledge to identify and correct problems before they become catastrophic.

Most buildings are designed to withstand the worst case scenarios of wintry weather, but if a design flaw becomes apparent, extraordinary measures may be required in the winter.

For example, heating tape may need to be installed around drains to alleviate ponding and ice buildup.  Because of the energy costs to melt ice and snow, heat tape is not an ideal solution but may be the only way to avert a disaster if the building is prone to this problem.  Each type of roofing system presents its own strengths and weaknesses. A roofing professional can determine when a roof is no longer reliable or can assist the owner or property manager in obtaining the routine maintenance required for the roof to survive another winter.  Building owners often replace their roofs as soon as the warranty expires even though it could provide several more years of reliable service life.  An experienced roofer can assess the condition of the roof and may recommend maintenance to keep the roof viable for an additional number of years.  They know how to cooperate with manufacturers to obtain accurate technical information about the reliability and performance of roofing products and their suitability for a particular application.

GAF-Elk Shingles Now Pass Two Toughest ASTM Wind Tests For Superior Protection

January 10, 2011

GAF-Elk Shingles Now Pass Two Toughest ASTM Wind Test

GAF Materials Corporation, North America’s largest roofing manufacturer, today confirms that every shingle it manufactures now passes the two toughest wind tests in the roofing industry: ASTM D3161 Class F 110 mph and ASTM D7158 Class H 150 mph. Roofing contractors in the U.S. can now install any GAF-Elk shingle in any area without concern about whether they comply with national or local wind speed requirements. To its knowledge, GAF may be the only shingle manufacturer that can make this claim.

In order to pass these arduous ASTM tests, the shingles were first subjected to 110 mph winds using ASTM’s testing protocol. Not only did the GAF-Elk shingles pass, but they exceeded the test requirements by enduring the test conditions for a full two hours, showing no damage. They were then tested using the 150 mph wind test protocol, and passed again, thanks to GAF-Elk’s DuraGrip® adhesive’s tight seal.

In case some contractors think that wind may not be a major concern outside of obvious coastal areas, according to the American Society of Civil Engineers (who develop wind guidelines for construction in the U.S.), the lowest wind speed that home designers should plan for is 85 miles per hour. In fact, for about 110 million people in the United States from Maine to Texas, codes require 110 mph or greater ASTM classifications. Further, high winds are not just a concern for coastal regions, as local geography can cause high winds at peaks, mountain passes, or large water bodies.

The threat is real. According to The Institute for Business and Home Safety, more than 60% of all homes in the U.S. are vulnerable to damage from high winds generated by storms and heavy rains. Blown-off shingles can leave a home vulnerable to water damage, mildew, and mold and damaged roofs are expensive to repair. As part of its continuing effort to provide the highest quality shingles to homeowners, GAF-Elk submitted to ASTM’s severe testing regimen and successfully proved the quality and reliability of its shingles for use in any market in the U.S.

Because of GAF-Elk’s stringent standards, only the top 3% of all roofing contractors have qualified as Master Elite contractors! Choosing a GAF-Elk Master Elite contractor is your assurance that you’ll be dealing with a quality, reputable, and dependable professional contractor — not some “fly-by-nighter.”

Source: http://www.gaf.com

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.