1. How do I select a roofing contractor?
All contractors are not the same. Some have different specialties, experience and approaches to their work. The National Roofing Contractor’s Association suggests the following guidelines for selecting a steep-slope (residential) roofing contractor:
Confirm a permanent place of business, telephone number, tax I.D. number, and where required, a business license.
Request two copies of the contractors liability insurance coverage and workers’ compensation certificates. Make sure the coverages are in effect through the duration of the job.
Look for a company with a proven track record that offers customer references and a list of completed projects. Call some of these customers to find out whether they were satisfied.
Verify whether the contractor is properly licensed or bonded.
Insist on a written proposal and review it for complete descriptions of the work and specifications, including approximate starting and completion dates and payment procedures.
Check to see if the contractor is a member of any local, regional or national industry associations, such as NRCA.
Call your local Better Business Bureau to check for any complaints that have been filed.
Have the contractor explain his project supervision, quality control and safety procedures. Request the name of the person who will be in charge, how many workers will be required and the estimated time of completion.
Carefully read and understand any roofing warranty offered and watch for provisions that would void it. Keep a healthy skepticism about the lowest bid. If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Remember, price is only one criterion for selecting a roofing contractor. Professionalism and quality workmanship also should weigh heavily on your decision.
2. I received three very different proposals from contractors. How do I decide which contractor to hire?
Clearly written detailed proposals that are broken down into separate line items are a sign that the contractor prepared an accurate estimate. The following is a partial list of items your estimate or proposal should include:
The type of roof covering, manufacturer and color
Materials to be included in the work, e.g., underlayment, ice dam protection membrane
Scope of work to be done
Removal or replacement of existing roof
Flashing work, e.g., existing flashings to be replaced or re-used, adding new flashing, flashing metal type
Ventilation work, e.g., adding new vents
Who is responsible for repairing/replacing exterior landscape or interior finishes that are damaged during the course of the work
Approximate starting and completion dates
Length of warranty and what is covered, e.g., workmanship, water leakage.
3. How long will it take to complete my roof?
On average, it takes one to two days for steep slope roofs. The exceptions are roofs that are larger than average, roofs that need extensive structural repairs, or roofs that require specialty materials.
We arrive on each job site with the manpower, expertise and materials to complete the job in a timely manner. However we will never compromise quality to complete a job more quickly.
Commercial roofs do not have an average time frame due to many varying and complex requirements for commercial buildings. We’ll give you an expected time frame for completion as part of our written proposal.
4. What is the industry standard for warranty length in an asphalt roof system?
A clarification should be made here about the different warranties you will come across during your roofing project. First, there will be the asphalt shingle manufacturer’s warranty. This warranty covers defects in the manufacture of the shingle. The length of coverage can range from 20 years to a lifetime. Be sure the contractor provides you with a certificate for your records.
Second, a roofing contractor should provide a warranty on his workmanship. This covers installation and related issues. The warranty should contain what items are covered and what will void them. Many contractors offer one year or two years of coverage; however, there is no industry standard.
5. At what temperature is it too cold to install asphalt shingles?
There are no specific temperature guidelines regarding when it is too cold to install asphalt shingles. Asphalt shingles do become brittle in cold temperatures, with fiberglass shingles more likely to break than organic shingles. Breakage can be minimized or eliminated if the shingles are stored in a warm area and loaded onto the roof a few bundles at a time. Another concern is that the self-sealing strips will not seal or bond sufficiently in cold temperatures. Hand-tabbing (the application of quarter-size dabs of adhesive to the underside of shingles) is recommended if the building is located in an area prone to high winds. This will help prevent the shingles from blowing off the roof until warmer weather arrives and the sealing strips can set properly.
6. How long can you leave underlayment exposed?
Time is not the critical issue; the condition of the underlayment is what’s important. Wrinkled or buckled underlayment should be replaced so the shingles lay flat.
7. What’s the best asphalt shingle to use on my roof?
Asphalt shingle material performance depends on the quality, quantity and compatibility of asphalt fillers, reinforcements and surface granules. There are two kinds of asphalt shingles (based on the type of reinforcement mat used); fiberglass and organic. Fiberglass shingles are more fire- and moisture-resistant than organic shingles. Organic shingles have good wind resistance, high tear strength and can be installed in colder temperatures.
Asphalt shingles should be in compliance with American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards and applicable building codes. Fiberglass shingles should meet ASTM D 3462, “Standard Specification for Asphalt Shingles Made from Glass Felt and Surfaced with Mineral Granules,” and organic shingles should meet ASTM D 225, “Standard Specification for Asphalt Shingles (Organic Felt) and Surfaced with Mineral Granules.”
Consumers also should keep in mind a roofing warranty’s length should not be the primary criterion in the selection of a roofing product or roof system because the warranty does not necessarily provide assurance of satisfactory roof system performance.
8. Is it okay to use staples instead of nails to install my asphalt shingles?
NRCA recommends galvanized steel or the equivalent corrosion-resistant roofing nails for asphalt shingle installation. Also, verify the governing building code requirements and what the shingle manufacturer recommends.
9. Do I really need a ridge vent?
Proper attic ventilation is one of the least understood concepts in steep slope roofing. NRCA suggests the amount of attic ventilation be balanced between the eaves and ridge. The intent of a balanced ventilation system is to provide nearly equivalent amounts of ventilation area at the eave/soffit and at or near the ridge. For a balanced ventilation system to function properly, approximately one-half of the ventilation area must be at or near the ridge.
10. How can ice dams be reduced or removed?
Remove as much snow as possible, but call a professional roofing contractor if your roof is steep, the snow is deep or the ice is thick. NRCA does not recommend using ice picks or shovels (or any tool with sharp edges) because there is a chance of damaging roof coverings and flashings. NRCA also does not recommend hosing down a roof with water or use of a hot air gun. Electric heat cables generally have limited effectiveness.
11. Can ice damming and backup occur without gutters?
Yes, and it is more probable for roofs with lower slopes, especially in valleys and upslope from curbs, chimneys and penetrations.
12. Will use of melting pellets to melt the snow on my roof harm the asphalt shingles?
Generally, chemical melting compounds do not reduce the overall expected service life span of asphalt shingles. Staining may occur until all the residue is washed away. Calcium or magnesium chloride pellets are less harsh and stain less than sodium chloride.
13. Can I tell from the ground if my roof shingles are hail damaged?
If there has recently been hail in your area it’s possible your roof has sustained hail damage. However, it’s difficult to tell from the ground. Hail damage usually requires inspecting the roof up close.
14. What should I do if I think my roof has been damaged by hail?
Call your insurance company and ask for an adjuster to come and inspect your roof for hail damage. Then call a roofing company and ask for their inspection. If there are major discrepancies between the adjuster’s inspection and the roofer’s inspection you may call for another inspection where the adjuster meets with the roofing contractor to inspect your roof. These follow-up inspections are very common. The insurance company is usually trying to answer two questions when assessing your loss related to hail damage:
Is there enough damage to the roof to declare it a total loss? (Usually determined by 10 confirmed hail hits per a 10×10 area.)
What size is the roof and how many squares of shingles are required to replace the roof.
15. How does hail impact a roof?
Hail usually damages a roof by breaking up shingles that are already starting the deterioration process. Hail damage occurs near the edges and corners of the shingles, usually by golf ball sized or larger hail. It does the most serious damage to shingles which are already broken, cupped, or curled.
16. Do I need to get my roof replaced right away after hail damage?
Hail damage doesn’t usually impose any immediate danger to the roof system. However if you are aware of potential hail damage it’s good to begin the inspection process and claims process right away with your insurance company as some companies impose a “statute of limitations” on hail damage.