How to Inspect and Maintain Your Roof
Pitched roofs should be inspected at least once every two years. To check the condition of an asphalt-shingle roof, go to the sunniest side and bend the corner of a few shingles. If they’re brittle and crack, a new roof might be in order. Other tell-tale signs an asphalt roof is beyond its prime: curled tiles and bare spots where the shiny ceramic mineral granules are missing.
Flat roofs should be inspected annually. Keep an eye out for ponding, or standing water in the form of puddles after a rain, or dry pockets filled with residual debris. Such areas may need to be built up to assure water properly drains to the downspouts.
If your asphalt, often called composition roofing, is in need of repair, you may have a couple of options. If there’s a single layer of asphalt shingles, you might consider nailing over an existing roof versus tearing off the existing shingles. This is called a reroof. If there are two or more layers of asphalt shingles on a roof, a tear off will be required. Also, be sure to check local housing codes; some regulate the maximum number of nail-overs.
Wood shingles in need of being replaced will crack, warp and reveal larger than normal gaps between shingles. Aged tile roofs may show signs of cracking. The flashing (meaning the plastic or metal weather stripping) around the chimney and any vent pipes also need to be inspected. Gaps can occur along flashing joints and this is often the source of water damage.
For an indoor roof inspection, look for sagging ceilings or stains that indicate water damage. In the attic, search for moist, dark spots on the roof deck. After rain, if these spots are wet, there’s a problem.
Attic vents should be periodically checked to be sure they’re clear of obstruction. Insufficient venting can damage your shingles and invalidate the manufacturer's warranty.
Clean your gutters annually and keep an eye out for algae and moss. Both can weaken roofing materials. You can prevent algae and moss growth by installing zinc strips along the ridge of the roof. Water running over zinc washes minute amounts of zinc carbonate over the roof, killing the moss and algae.
What It Costs to Replace a Roof
Roofing costs vary depending on the type of roof. The number of obstacles on the roof, such as chimneys and vents, as well as the pitch of the roof, can greatly alter the cost of roof repairs. The cost of roof repairs are measured in squares: One square — an industry term — equals 100 square feet of roof and usually includes the cost of both labor and materials.
Generally speaking, a composition roof — often sold in good/better/best selections — costs between $150 and $250 per square and has a lifespan of 15 years to 30 years. A reroof — nailing over an existing roof versus tearing off the existing shingles — costs approximately $135 to $200 per square, not much of a savings, particularly when you consider it alters the material warranty of the new layer.
Concrete tile runs between $350 and $450 per square, and clay tile ranges from $400 to $500 per square. Both have a life expectancy of 25 years to 50 years. The classic cedar roof or fire-treated wooden shake costs between $550 and $650 per square and has a lifespan of 10 years to 20 years.
Costs for a single-ply membrane on a flat roof are between $250 and $400 per square. Thermoset membranes can be warranted up to 30 years. Tar and gravel roofs cost between $250 and $350 per square and have a lifespan of 10 years to 20 years, depending on the regions weather severity.
Before installing any roofing material, read the warranty’s fine print. With any roofing material, proper installation is crucial and regular maintenance by the owner is required.
If your roof is in need of repair, you can locate licensed contractors in your area by visiting the National Roofing Contractors Association.
~ Vince Petrolle, Prospect Mortgage, 301-461-1734~