Archive for February, 2011

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!

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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.