Lately we have noticed more and more roofing companies trying to woo customers with the latest uber-vent. Is this a new fad? Does every house need a roof vent?
The simple fact is that while each of us need to vent every now and then, roofs need to vent all the time.
The simplest answer is to let the air out of your attic. Whether it’s warm or cold air, attic vents (and ventilation in general) help the roof last longer and can prevent many serious and expensive issues from popping up later as the moisture and stagnant air will begin eating away at the roof system.
Ventilation helps to exhaust hot, moist air as it rises within the attic. It can escape naturally, via the ridges on top of the roof (ridge vents), OR it can be forced out via powered exhaust vents; also known as roof vents (or attic vents).
Hot air, especially if it is moist, will soon cause a whole host of issues if it is not properly vented. But just adding a roof vent will not solve this problem. For the hot air to escape, fresh air must be able to flow INTO the attic.
First, excessive heating or cooling bills are a certainty. Additionally, poor ventilation creates excess moisture which will eventually cause metallic materials, including nails, to rust and break.
Further, the roof decking itself will begin to deteriorate from rot and various types of fungi.
Finally, mold will develop and wreck havoc everywhere it grows.
The best way to is to make sure there is adequate air ventilation and movement at each ventilation point. Roof vents alone are not the answer.
Proper attic ventilation will be balanced between inflows and outflows. This requires using ridge vents as well as exhaust vents (roof vents) along with intake vents at the eave, soffit, or fascia area of the roof.
Most experts agree, you need 1 square foot of ventilation for every 150 square feet of attic space; 50% should be intake and 50% exhaust.
Still have questions, the experienced roofers within the RoofBidders’ network understand what it takes to properly install adequate ventilation for your home.
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Many “standard” housing in the United States primarily uses what is considered a “low-slope” roofing style. So what are some of the most common issues with low-slope roofs?
“Obvious or unforeseen, roof problems are always a pain and undoubtedly a significant expense,” says Jane Madison at Builders Magazine, who posted a great article about low-slope roof issue. Below I posted the first part if her article.
Buildings magazine examined which problems are most common and the conditions that can either cause or be the result of premature failure and reduced service life of low-slope roof systems. This is not a self-diagnostic guide, but rather an informative list of some of the problems most often battled by building owners and facilities professionals.
“If you look at a failure curve, most roofs are the best they’re going to be at the time they are installed. The curve is pretty flat in terms of their deterioration for the first several years, and the last 25 or 30 percent of the roof [life], the curve becomes more steep,” explains Ron Harriman, vice president, Benchmark Inc., Cedar Rapids, IA. Unfortunately, problems are inevitable as the roof ages. Without proper and routine maintenance, these minor problems can even become catastrophic.
“With any roof – no matter what type – if you’ve got roof leaks, then you’ve got a problem,” explains Charles Praeger, executive director, Metal Building Manufacturers Association (MBMA), Cleveland. Leaks can occur for a number of reasons. Built-up roofs (BUR) might experience leaks due to flashing details that weren’t fastened properly during installation. “The problems an owner is typically going to have [with a BUR system] is that 95 percent of leaks occur at flashing details – anywhere the membrane itself is terminated or interrupted,” explains Helene Hardy Pierce, director of contractor services, GAF Materials Corp., Wayne, NJ. Additionally, hot bituminous and torch-applied modified bitumen roofs may experience leaks when a proper moisture barrier is not installed underneath a coping cap on parapet walls, according to Avoiding Common Roof Installation Mistakes, a CD-Rom produced by the Center for the Advancement of Roofing Excellence (C.A.R.E. Ltd.).
The C.A.R.E. CD-Rom also pinpoints improper installation of flashing as a source of leaks on torch-applied modified bitumen roofs. Inadequate head laps and backwater laps are another mod bit installation problem that can allow moisture infiltration. “Water can get under the membrane if the field of roof is installed so that water flows against the lap. The consequences of backwater laps are leaks and blisters, which can lead to roof failure,” C.A.R.E. explains. With cold-applied modified bitumens, improper storage of materials can result in moisture infiltration built into the roofing system, and under-application of adhesive can result in poor lamination and roof leaks.
Leaks can result when single-ply membrane roofs are installed with poor seams. “You’ve got to have good seams with single-ply, because if you don’t, you don’t have much. The membranes themselves will hold water. You’ve got to have the seams either glued or heat-welded properly,” Harriman explains.
Leaks are not the only problem that can result from improperly installed flashing. Hot bituminous roofs where flashing is poorly attached may experience open seams and laps and ultimately cause blow-offs, reduced puncture resistance, and code issues, advises C.A.R.E. Poor gravel embedment and the use of an inadequate number of fasteners in the base sheet during application of both hot bituminous and torch-applied mod bit roof systems can also have similar consequences.
Wind uplift resistance can be reduced greatly if seams are not cured adequately on cold-applied mod bit systems. C.A.R.E. notes, “Seams made with cold adhesives do not have good integrity until the adhesive has cured. If the seams are exposed to wind and rain before they are properly cured, moisture can infiltrate the roof system or wind uplift can damage the roof membrane.”
If not adhered properly to the substrate, single-ply roofs are at risk for blow-off and billowing. “With single-ply membranes, we do a little more to hold things in place, and if it’s not done properly, then we end up with tenting of the flashings [and] we end up damaging the membrane,” says Pierce.
A faulty installation dramatically increases the likelihood of problems and reduces a roof system’s life expectancy. “Workmanship does tend to be one of the more common problems or common reasons for problems that crop up at some point in the life of the roof,” Harriman comments. BUR system installation can be problematic if specific preparations are not taken. According to Harriman, problems with adhesion can result when the area isn’t cleaned, dried, and primed properly prior to installation. “Those are things that are difficult to walk up on a roof and visually see, but could lead to future problems, premature aging, or premature failure,” he says.
Torch-applied mod bit system performance can be compromised if crews do not relax the sheets prior to installation. Material preparation is important to a quality installation. C.A.R.E. notes, “Sheets installed that have not relaxed or are installed when ambient conditions such as temperature are not right can result in wrinkles, leaks, fish mouths, contraction of sheets, or blisters.” Be sure that the contractor and crew you’ve hired are educated in proper installation techniques specific to the roof they are installing.
There are many reasons not to neglect the roof – including financial and business continuity reasons. Being wise to problems can prevent their escalation. “The problem in roofing is a lack of education on all levels. But if the owner of the property is better educated, the whole industry does better and less problems [occur],” explains Chris Mooney, GAFMC/C.A.R.E. national training manager, C.A.R.E., Wayne, NJ. Specific levels of maintenance are required to prevent voiding the warranty. “Perform routine inspections. You don’t have to know a lot about roofing,” Pierce explains. “Things like ponding water, a piece of slipped base flashing, pitch pockets that haven’t been filled – those should be obvious whether you know a lot about roofing or not.” Addressing minor problems before they escalate maximizes roof life as well as minimizes headaches and expense.
“Another common problem across all roof types is what I call ‘incidental ponding water.’ If we move the water off the roof, the roof has a really good chance of performing the way it should,” notes Pierce. During the design of a dead-level roof, slope should be added with tapered insulation or crickets. “If we don’t take proactive measures when we’re actually designing the roof, then we’re building in ponding water,” she stresses.
UV rays compounded by ponding water can have adverse effects on BUR and asphalt-based mod bit roofs. During installation of hot bituminous systems, C.A.R.E. warns that improper mopping can produce voids in the membrane, block drains, and result in ponding water as well as void the warranty.
Pierce cautions that before roof repairs are hastily made, the source of the ponding water should be investigated.HVAC units without condensate drain lines could be the culprit. Always inspect thoroughly before making a repair. Check drains to make sure they are free of dirt, silt, and debris.
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Run a ladder up the side for you to precariously balance upon OR do you climb onto the roof itself?
Answer: Climbing on the roof is a better way to go about cleaning gutters. Assuming that is, your roof isn’t too steep. The work will go much faster and you can more easily see what you are doing when on the roof.
Take care not to needlessly drag yourself across the roof as you’ll scrape granules off your shingles. Once in position, use a trowel or a gloved hands to scoop leaves and other debris into a bucket. Be very careful not to lean on your gutter which will likely bend or break off sending you tumbling over the edge.
On second thought, don’t use a water gun, instead grab a water hose. After clearing out the bulk of the debris by hand, crank up the hose to run water as forcefully as you can through the gutter. It will go much faster if you use a nozzle to amp up the pressure. The water should clear out small debris, dirt, and other junk.
After blasting out the debris, watch the water carefully to make sure the water is flowing down the downspout. Why? First, to make sure you do not have leaks or cracks in the gutter itself or where they are joined (i.e. seams). Second, poor water flow indicates a clogged downspout. A good suggestion is to come down off the roof and take a quick break so you can check the water from below. From ground level it is easier to see if the gutter is leaking and if the water is flowing easily through the downspout. If water is overflowing or if only a small amount of water is coming out the downspout then it is clogged. You should be able to clear it with water and a broomstick or plumber’s drain snake.
Sure you could fiddle on the roof; but try to focus on cleaning gutters and looking for problems you cannot easily see from the ground. What type of problems?
Remember that leaking or broken gutters can not only damage the fascia board but debris can rip the edges of your shingle. Also, take time to make sure water is not entering your home or pooling somewhere that later will cause major damage. Finally, walk around your home while looking at the gutters all the time telling yourself, “I won’t wait so long next time.”
Seriously? What could be more boring when love and Spring is in the air than thinking about maintaining your roof?
But as the weather warms up in the South it is critical to start the clearing and cleaning process.
Focus first on cleaning winter debris from the roof, eves, and gutters. Garbage in, garbage out. Failing to remove the garbage from your roof and gutters is almost a guaranteed way to damage your roof. Then begin a cursory examination of your roof.
If you see any signs of leaking, like dark spots on the ceiling, or mold or dampness in your attic, act immediately. Roof leaks get worse, not better, and it’s better to spend a few dollars on roof maintenance rather than a lot on a big repair.
In part one of common roof problems in the winter we began examining some of the frequent issues that arise in the cold. What are some of the other issues?
Skylight leaks. While great for letting in natural light, skylights must be properly sealed. Piled up snow and icy rains can put a lot of pressure on skylights and the flashing around their seals. Make sure the flashing around the skylight is intact.
Chimneys. Roof flashing leaks around the chimney or nearby areas can quickly become channels for water to enter the home. Accumulated snow slows water drainage off the roof, providing extra time for water to enter the home through even the smallest hole or crack.
Ice dams. Ice dams occur when snow melts from heat loss in the attic which causes the water to run down the roof and then re-freeze on the of the edge of the roof. Ice dams are more likely to occur on structures with poor insulation. Water then backs up because it is not draining properly. This slow draining and pooling water can infiltrate your shingles and thereby enter your home. Make sure to keep the gutters clean and clear.
Snow avalanches. A pile of snow accumulates on the roof to the point of crashing down. When snow avalanches occur they can injure anyone standing below. Snowguards can be installed to keep snow in place so it can gradually melt and drain into the gutters instead of crashing off the roof.
Wintertime is beautiful so do not let these common roof problems ruin your snowy season. Be proactive and keep your roof in great shape so it can protect you and your home from the elements.
Fall has quickly passed and we’re moving into Winter, although in the South it stills feels like Fall. Yesterday, I had a Christmas light installer put lights on my home. He pointed out that several sections of the roof had “slippery” shingles – meaning the granules easily came off. I assured him that I knew and asked him to use a ladder instead of running around on my roof.
Preventive roof maintenance is an absolute necessity. The heat of the summer is behind us, but it’s possible that you have buckled shingles, dried out caulking, or leaking roof areas which are unidentified. Strong winds over the past several months may have lifted shingles or blown debris such as tree limbs onto your roof. Take a good look at your drains which easily become clogged which then results in improper drainage which can set up a water penetration situation in the future.
Winter brings cold weather, higher winds, and blowing dead or loose debris, which will damage your roof. As your roof continues to be exposed to nature’s elements, your roof integrity will degrade resulting in damage that can go undetected until it becomes a serious problem. It is good to remember that your roof is the skin protecting your home or commercial building. If you have a lot of snow then you should consider snow guards such as those designed by Rock Mountain Snow Guards like this:
Preventive roof maintenance should be viewed as important as preventive maintenance on a car and truck. Skipping oil changes or mileage service points will slowly degrade your vehicle – roof maintenance is no different. I encourage you to have your roof inspected by a professional every three years, or more frequently if you do no engage in preventive maintenance or have moved into a new home and have no idea if the seller did any type of roof maintenance.
Remember though to not jump to conclusions about your roof needing to be replaced simply because a single roofer says you need one. A quality roofing company will present ideas on how to patch or otherwise mediate your damage. When you are ready to replace your roof get multiple bids from quality roofing contractors.
If you are able to get up on your roof, even if only partially via a ladder, do it. Do your own inspection looking for problems that need to be addressed. You will save a lot of money by proactively maintaining your roof and heading off issues before they become big problems.