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Roofing

Up keep and regular maintenance ensures your home is safe and sound.

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Just because your roof is out of sight, doesn’t mean it should ever be out of mind.

From longer warranties on high quality roofing materials to newer solar shingle systems and an increase in metal roofing requests, keep track of and address the roof on your home by making regular visual inspections and tackling annual maintenance.

From solar and metal to synthetic and newer shingle systems the sky is nearly the limit when it comes to roof material choices – and warranties have improved over the past several years, too.

“If you can get warranties from a master or elite contractor, the warranties are just fantastic,” said Melissa Eiseman, owner of Eiseman Construction Co. Inc. in New Britain.

Solar reconsidered

Eiseman said solar shingle systems, which create a perfect interlocking fit – are among the newest GAF Roofing products her firm installs.

“It works like a puzzle and if one fails you don’t have to replace the entire roof” just the failed shingle, Eiseman said.

GAF Energy (which works with GAF Solar) conducts a site visit and takes an inventory of the home and property to determine if the product is a good fit, she explained.

“They do the metrics on your home to determine how much [energy use] savings you will receive” over time, she said.

Tree species, north or south facing building exposures and several months of prior electric bills are part of the review process.

“If you buy the system, they figure up how much energy you’ll be saving and they guarantee the amount of energy you’ll be producing,” Eiseman explained.

State and federal tax credits – which amount to direct tax breaks – are part of the upfront evaluation process.

“And people are taking advantage of these tax credits,” Eiseman said.

Dennis Gehman, president of Gehman Design Remodeling in Harleysville, Montgomery County, said government tax credits may even extend to roofing substrates – that’s the roofing material under a conventional solar panel roof or shingles – for property owners considering standard tech systems.

“If you need a new roof in order to put the solar panels on, you can get that 30% tax credit,” he said.

Installing a new roof substrate takes the worry out of installing new solar panels on top of an aging or worn roof.

New tech: synthetic cedar shakes

A new product hitting the lineup of roofing materials is manufactured or synthetic cedar shake shingles.

Designed to look like real wood manufactured or synthetic cedar shakes offer the beauty and appeal of a wood roof without the maintenance and downside of natural wood products.

The synthetic material can last as long as 50 years, Eiseman said.

Asphalt improvements

As a construction standard for years newer asphalt shingles have improved good looks and longer warranties – some products as long as 50 years. Many asphalt shingle products are thicker than ever before. Some incorporate algae resistance to prolong the working life of the shingles, while extending the roof’s appearance over time.

“Asphalt shingle manufacturers are offering guarantees for the first 15 years” for algae resistant products, Eiseman said.

Along with better products and warranties, she makes sure clients understand many roof warranties are transferable during a property sale.

“And you may get homeowners insurance discounts on some of these projects,” she said.

Metal roofing requests on the rise

While Eiseman said metal roofing is a popular choice for accessory buildings, like garages, barns and some areas on a house – like a porch or portico – Gehman said he’s been receiving more requests for this time honored, long-lasting material for main house residence roofing.

“We are seeing more call for metal roofing – and many warranties are lifetime for the material,” he said.

With metal roofing products, Gehman said “it’s set it and forget it.”

Part of the appeal of metal roof structures is a significantly low failure rate.

They are known to hold up well under most conditions – except natural disasters, and severe storm damage – like tornadoes, downed trees or large sized hail.

When metal roofing does not require gutter systems it virtually eliminates ice dams from forming during cold weather months.

For some types of architectural styles rubber roofing might be an appropriate choice, according to John Gemmi, owner of Gemmi Construction Inc. in Buckingham Township.

Home style examples for flat or partial flat roofs most commonly include: Mansard, Queen Anne, Second [French] Empire and Victorian.

“With Victorian, that has convex dormers with slate in the back you could have flat roof and seaming,” Gemmi explained.

Pipes, chimneys, vents and skylights

Most home roofing material will have access points cut through to the outside for various pipes, chimneys or other installations like skylights.

For vent pipes a roof or pipe boot is a type of flashing made from various materials – metals like copper, rubber, plastic or even lead. The boot protects and maintains the roof’s structural integrity – until wear and tear cause the boot to fail.

“About the 15 to 20 year mark, a rubber roof boot will be at risk for developing cracks,” Gehman explained.

Gehman recommends a plastic sleeve cap that can slide down over a vent pipe and create a tight seal.

Some cap products are available in matching roofing materials, he said.

Chimney, fireplace and wood stove flashing should also be regularly inspected for slips, damage, cracks or failures, he said.

Check the roof annually and after severe weather

Dealing with a minor issue before it becomes a major catastrophe should be part of every home and property owner’s toolkit.

“One way for people to check is a visual inspection,” Gehman said.

He recommends an annual roof materials checkup – even from the ground level – as telltale signs of problems will be visible.

Most damage or change will start on the southwest side of a home, which gets the most sun exposure, Gehman said. If rain gutters are regularly cleaned and maintained, you’ll begin to notice grit or roofing granules after rainfall.

“If downspouts empty gravel or granules that is a red flag to have the roof checked” by a professional, Gehman said.

Algae, moss, mold and mildew are other red flags there is a problem brewing on the roof.

Evidence these organic materials have taken up housekeeping on your roof should warrant a further investigation. Contact a professional for appropriate removal and cleaning.

“With annual inspections you can deal with issues before they become a bigger problem,” Gehman said.

A few words about insurance coverage

While some new roof installation projects will carry over additional warranties to a second home owner through the sale of a property, insurance carriers can also drop insurance if a roof is considered in severely damaged condition.

Check with your insurance agent regarding the type of insurance coverage you have, and if there are additional coverage or endorsements you should consider on your policy.


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