ROOFING TIPS-

Click 'Ask The Experts' to read articles I wrote for the Calgary Herald 2012 Home Renovation Projects & Maintenance. 

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14808 Parkland Blvd S. E. Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2J4X7
403-830-6830
403-278-8239
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We have devoted the first few pages of this website to the public education of our trade. There are many fine and reputable companies in Calgary but there are also many sales people who are more interested in closing than in giving the best products and/or warranties. 


Eaves-metal is very important for preventing any run-off water from soaking the deck sheating at the eaves. It also guides the run-off into the eaves troughs to help prevent dripping between the fascia and the gutters. Roofs without eaves-metal will almost definitely suffer with deck rot within the useful life of the new roof.
Open valleys often cause problems after the caulk sealant valley 'cut edges' dries up. Water, snow and ice pushes against the cut valley edges, and will eventually succeed in 'lifting' the dried caulk. A 'woven' valley does not present any cut edges; it is installed like braiding hair; however, we prefer a 'closed valley' as it is a nicer look, and we can make it last a lifetime.

 Lack of proper attic ventilation can cause shingles to age prematurely, causing shingle fissures to form. An improperly vented attic can allow the attic enclosure to heat-up to temperatures that could come close to enabling eggs to fry. This heat will drive out the asphalt oil to cause premature shingle aging.



Ridge Venting and/or Raised Caps should be only installed where snow and ice will not cause any problems. 
The area where two roof slopes meet (a 'valley') should be a good distance away so that snow and ice will not creep underneath these raised products. 

Velux skylights have factory-made seamless corner flashings; often skylights leak at corners. The less expensive skylights require roofers to make their own flashings. Velux skylights do not require the skylight to be sealed to the curb; less expensive skylights require the installer to 'seal' the skylight onto the curb. 

Customers are often confused as to the difference between a standard skylight and a tubular skylight. 

This illustration shows the difference in construction and in the installation. 

A standard skylight is an actual roof 'window' that allows one to look up and see birds, clouds, etc. 

A tubular skylight is a round tube that has a mirror finish on the inside. Light is reflect into the home, and is 'diffused' through a ceiling lens. One cannot see birds, clouds, etc. Only actual sunlight is sent into the home. The tubular skylight has a round surface (like a chimney B-vent) that does not allow for snow/ice/water build-up; thus leaks do not occur as in the standard 'curb' construction of skylight allowing 'build-up'!

The six most common questions customers ask me: 

  1. "What is the difference between manufacturer's Architectural shingle products?" ... these shingles are the most popular shingles sold today
  2. "Will the more expensive skylights still have condensation problems during a long, hard winter?" ... today's homes commonly have skylights
  3. "Will new flashings be installed with the new roof?" ... some companies sell their customers on the idea of ALL NEW WALL & STEP FLASHINGS!
  4. "Are the large, chimney type roof vents better attic venting  products?" ... this is a newer attic ventilation product being promoted
  5. "What is the reason for the vast difference in pricing among roofing companies?" ... there is a variance of approximately 30% in roof quotes
  6. "Are some roofing underlayments better than others?" ... for almost 100 years roofing felt has been the standard roof underlayment product
My responses to these questions are: 
  • Today's Architectural, fibreglass/asphalt shingles are all made very similarly, but the 'SBS rubber modified' shingles are thicker, and are more resilient to hail impact damage (they are about 40% more costly). 
  • Condensation problems are mainly due to three influences: 1. lack of proper sealing to keep warm interior air mixing with colder exterior air; 2. prolonged cold temperatures; and 3. snow/ice pack influences.
  • Standard skylights that have been properly installed will prevent the water run-off from finding a way into the home but it is important to do proper insulating and sealing when finishing the skylight interior. Flashings that can be easily installed should always be replaced when replacing a roof; but flashings imbedded in mortar or behind stone/brick/siding/etc. should be re-used if possible/ 
  • ANY VENT WILL CAUSE AIR TO FLOW THROUGH ITSELF! Proper attic ventilation system should pull air flow evenly between the roof trusses, from the soffits up through the roof peak. Ridge Venting accomplishes this easily; it is the best form of attic venting in my opinion. 
  • Pricing structures are normally one-third for materials, a one-third for labour, and one-third for overhead & profit. Material/labour costs will determine the quote price. Most companies will negotiate price in order to get the work - you should always try to negotiate with a company pushing for quality, as you will often get a better roof at an acceptable price. Companies going for volume at a low price often results in poor workmanship warranties, and less project management. 
  • An underlay is only a 'back-up measure'! One underlayment will do just as good a job during that short emergency period as another. They all cost roughly the same, so it is a matter of preference. 

 

The do's & don'ts when arranging for a new roof are as follows: 

Do's... 

  • Check on the contractor's reputation and "their time in business"
  • Ask for the LAST THREE completed job addresses & contact info 
  • Ask these last three customers these three very simple questions: 
      1. Did they act professionally at all times?
      2. Were the clean-ups done satisfactorily?
      3. Would you recommend them to others?

Don'ts...

  • Verbal contracts are very difficult to validate (always get it in writing)!
  • Re-roofing overtop of an existing roof won't allow for roof deck repairs
  • Workmanship warranties are important (work deficiencies are the major cause of leaks/blow-offs). Don't accept anything less than a lifetime workmanship warranty (it's either done correctly, or it isn't)!!
  • Do not forget that proper ventilation is very important to Home Health 


One of the more common causes of harsh winter interior leaks is the accumulation of forst and ice inside of the attic. Open beam ceiling are particularly vulnerable to condensation problems if the builder has not ensured that proper interior vapour barrier has been installed and that there is a minimum of two-inch clearance above the insulation for air to travel from the eaves to the roof peak. Stagnant air is very bad for airspace between the trusses. Often, even with a properly-sealed home, condensation occurs in this space between the trusses and/or in the attic space. 

Shake roofs that have been converted to an asphalt shingle product may develop condensation problems. Shakes keep the accumulating snow/ice 2-3 inches ABOVE the attic air envelop; but asphalt shingles allow accumulating snow/ice to rest directly on the roof sheating. This can result in much more frost and ice condensing on the underside of the sheating and/or in the attic. When temperatures rise, and the condensed frost/ice melts this can appear as a 'roof leak'. Also, if a home is not properly sealed, condensation problems can be an expensive issue to resolve; however, rather than taking down wallboard to install vapour barrier, a simpler, less costly solution may be to have the roof sheathing underside sprayed with a 'breathable' Styrofoam product, or to install an insulating product to the roof deck prior to the shingle installation. These actions help to increase the distance between the ice/snow and the attic air envelop. Open beam ceilings can have major condensation problems if an insulating product such as Styrofoam sheeting is not installed prior to the shingles. 


Most companies have the same goal of providing quality work and product to satisfied customers. 

If you have done a reasonable amount of research (BBB and references from the last three customers), you will get a good job from the company you hire. 

If you do have concerns during or after a project, have it inspected before your final payments. It's such a small additional cost for 'peace of mind'.