HOW TO SPOT A BAD ROOF INSTALLATION
As a homeowner, you encounter costly decisions every day. One of the most expensive choices you’ll make for your home is the decision to fix or replace your home’s roof. Unfortunately, the roof can also be one of the biggest victims of poor craftsmanship.
While many roofers work hard to maintain the integrity and beauty of your home with proper roof installation, others do a rushed job that results in numerous future problems and can even damage your home’s entire structure.
You may not feel qualified to determine whether your roofers did a good job on your home. But fortunately, it doesn’t take an expert to know what a bad roofing job looks like. The following are some of the most common signs that you didn’t get the quality you paid for during your recent roof installation.
Commonly Missed Steps in Installation
One of the most frequent problems with roof installation is the failure to include a critical installation step. These are some of the most commonly missed parts of roof replacement:
You might never have realized that the number of nails used per shingle is a calculated part of a roof’s installation. A manufacturer determines the minimum number of nails needed and specifies this number on the shingles’ wrappers.
Most roofers agree that at least four nails should be used for any shingle type. Any fewer nails will leave the shingles vulnerable to flying off the roof with even low wind gusts.
Likewise, nails and other fasteners support the roof’s flashing and other necessities that keep water from entering your home. Many rushed roofing jobs particularly fail to properly fasten gutters, which will eventually cause them to sag and improperly move water.
2. Starter Shingles
Many amateurs fail to place starter shingles before beginning a roofing job. Any experienced roofer should take the time to install a starter strip under the first layer of shingles along the eaves.
A roof is most susceptible near the eaves due to the ease of ice buildup and water penetration. Starter shingles provide added protection for this vulnerable area. Failure to install the starter strip increases the risk of leaks and ruined shingles.
3. Proper Underlayment
In any New England or Northeastern state, contractors should prepare new roofs for icy winters by installing a protective underlayment between the sheathing and shingles. Cold winters bring ice dams, which occur when snow melts and refreezes. A felt underlayment or an ice and water shield prevents ice dams from forming at the roofline and forcing water underneath the shingles.
Pennsylvania’s residential building code requires most roofs to be covered with at least two layers of underlayment. Further, the law requires roofers to equip areas with a history of ice buildup with a special ice barrier. Failure to do so could result in water damage to both the roof and the walls underneath.
The responsibility for any roofing cleanup lies on the contractor. Sadly, some roofers fail to keep their end of the bargain.
Cleanup agreements are usually outlined in the contract. Cleanup includes any garbage or debris from packaging, nails, excess materials, tar blobs and any damaged landscaping.
Failure to remove these items doesn’t just indicate a poor roofing job — it’s also downright dangerous. Some materials used in installation might be toxic and unsafe for regular disposal, and leftover nails could cause serious medical emergencies if stepped on. Make sure all cleanup is performed sufficiently before signing off on a roofing job.
Common Installation Damages
Unfortunately, accidents can happen during any construction work. But a roofer’s failure to try to fix the following damages indicates that their crew might have performed a shoddy job on your roof’s installation:
1. Heavy Foot Traffic
Obviously, workers will need to stand on your roof for long periods of time. But they should also take care to follow a project plan that minimizes the need to access finished sections of the roof.
At the very least, heavy foot traffic can lead to messy dirt or tar footprints that will make your roof look unattractive. But it can also cause more severe problems such as worn-down materials and crushed insulation. Broken shingles or excessive shoeprints can indicate that your roofing job was rushed.
2. Damage to Surrounding Areas
A responsible contractor should avoid any destruction to your home and the surrounding area. But if an accident happens, they should warn you about any damage that occurred to your property.
Damage includes any harm to surrounding trees, grass or shrubbery, siding scratches due to heavy use of ladders and tools, tarred cement and other destruction stemming from installation. Failure to address and correct these issues indicates a lack of respect for you and your home.
3. Interior Damage
Ventilation is an integral part of your home. Improper ventilation causes excessive heat and moisture buildup. These can then cause dry rot, cracked shingles and premature roof failure.
If you’ve noticed water damage in your attic following a new roof replacement, there’s likely a leak in your roof. Interior water damage is one of the most serious signs of poor roof installation and should be handled by a professional as soon as possible before it worsens.
Flashing, Drip Edge and Gutter Issues
If you find that your new roof often leaks around eaves, edges, chimney corners or other areas with a tendency to harbor water, you might be dealing with one of the following issues:
1. Flashing Mistakes
Flashing is a wide metal strip installed over the roof’s joints and in other areas with a high water runoff concentration, such as around chimneys and pipes. Flashing should be installed underneath new shingles to prevent water damage.
Roofers sometimes poorly install flashing over the shingles instead of underneath, which compromises their water resistance. Even if caulking is used, the roof will have to be re-caulked often to avoid leaks if the flashing isn’t installed correctly.
Pipe flashing can also be compromised when a roofer installs the nails too close to its corners. Over time, these nails work themselves loose and can loosen the boot, which allows water to flow under the edge and leak into the nails’ holes.
2. Missing Drip Edge
The drip edge is an angled sheet of flashing that extends beneath the shingles at the bottom edges of the roof above the gutter. It allows water to filter out of the roof system, protects shingles from water damage, reduces the risk of erosion and increases the roof’s overall lifespan.
Some roofers fail to install any drip edge at all, but the 2012 International Residential Code requires all shingle roofs to be equipped with them at all eaves and gables. While their importance is often overlooked, drip edge can be a vital part of your roof’s longevity.
3. Improper Gutter Sloping
Not only do some roofers fail to properly fasten gutters to the sides of your home with the right gutter spikes or screws, but many also fail to slope them properly to allow for water drainage.
Sloped roofs send nearly all the roof’s rainwater into the gutters surrounding them, so these gutters need to be installed at a slope to drain the water properly. Otherwise, rain and leaves begin to pool until they overflow, and the extra weight bows them out away from the house. Pooled water can cause erosion, foundation and siding damage, rust and deterioration to the entire roof system.
Issues With General Shingle Alignment and Longevity
Shingles are responsible for completely covering your roof and providing it with a long lifespan. The following shingle and fastener issues can detract from the beauty of your home and decrease the longevity of your new roof:
1. Unaligned Shingles
Perhaps one of the most visible signs of a bad roof installation is poor shingle alignment. Not only do unsymmetrical shingles decrease your home’s aesthetic appeal, but they can also allow water to seep in between cracks and ruin the sheathing underneath.
Shingles should be applied evenly across all areas of a roof. If shingles aren’t aligned vertically by their slots or horizontally across the roof, they weren’t correctly placed.
2. Shingle Overhang
The end of a roof’s shingles should only overhang off your roof between 0.5 and 0.75 inches if drip edge is installed. Too little overhang directs water into the fascia boards. Too much makes the shingles susceptible to sagging, cracking or blowing off in high winds.
3. Exposed Nails or Improper Nail Placement
Shingles should always be aligned so that the top layer lays directly over the nails in the bottom layer. Exposed nails look unappealing and can lead to serious issues like rust. Nails also start to back out of their holes when exposed to harsh weather, which can lead to leaks or unsecured shingles.
Further, placing a nail too high on a shingle prevents it from securing the top edge of the shingle staggered below it, which results in the shingles coming unfastened. Placing the nail too low results in slippage and shifts. The manufacturer will specify in the directions where nails should be placed. Failure to follow these basic instructions is a sign of rushed labor or inattention to detail.
Top 5 Tips to Maintain Your Roof for a Longer Lifetime
When your roof is installed correctly, it should last well over 20 years depending on the surrounding climate and the materials used. Metal and slate roofs can even last 50 years or more. But its longevity is largely determined by your regular maintenance. The following tips ensure that your roof will last for years to come and can prevent costly repairs:
1. Inspect Your Roof Twice a Year
Your roof is a powerhouse. It holds up under sheets of snow and ice in the winter and endures unbearably hot summer afternoons. But adverse weather often has a negative effect on your roof, whether it’s immediately noticeable or not. Inspecting the roof twice a year from ground level will help you find and diagnose any problems early on.
Because your roof suffers the most in the harsh weather of summer and winter, do your inspections in the spring and fall. Use binoculars to look for raised or missing shingles, damaged drip edge, sagging gutters and other signs of disrepair.
2. Regularly Sweep Off Debris
Branches, leaves and other debris can damage shingles and cause algae to grow, which creates wood rot. Clean these off your roof frequently.
Debris can also clog gutters, which makes them inefficient and can even cause water damage to ceilings, interior and exterior walls and other surfaces. If your home has a problem with clogged gutters due to branches and leaves, consider installing a leaf guard across the gutter system.
3. Trim Branches
Overhanging tree branches can be aesthetically appealing. But they can also be harmful to shingles.
One storm can knock any nearby branches onto the roof or whip the branches across it, which will wear down the shingles over time. If possible, clip any overhanging branches from nearby trees often. Trim as much as necessary to prevent swinging branches from scraping against the roof during windy days or storms.
Likewise, large branches also attract unwanted pests such as raccoons or squirrels near your home. If you notice any signs of bugs, rodents or other creatures, take steps to remove them as quickly as possible.
4. Install Proper Attic Insulation
Believe it or not, your attic plays a vital role in the health of your roof.
Proper attic insulation and ventilation prevent snow and ice on the roof from melting and refreezing. It can also stop your roof from warping and can control the growth of algae and mold.
5. Make Repairs as Quickly as Possible
While a single missing shingle, tile or slate might not seem like a big deal, failure to treat problems when they’re small can lead to far more severe issues in the future. Repair shingles as soon as possible to avoid roof or ceiling damage.
Completing smaller repairs quickly can also make a huge difference in your roof’s health. Monitor leaks and seal any cracked mortar or caulking. Particularly check any caulking around chimneys and other commonly used areas.
Contact TEC for Your Roofing Installation and Repair Needs
Choosing the right roofing contractor is essential to give you peace of mind both during and after your roof’s installation. If you believe your roof has been installed incorrectly, or if you want to ensure you receive a high-quality roof installation the first time around, turn to TEC to help you get the job done right.
TEC is a licensed and manufacturer-certified roofing company headquartered in Lancaster, Pa. We offer roofing repair and replacement services throughout Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Delaware, Maryland, Connecticut and Massachusetts. We’re proud of the testimonials we’ve earned through our thorough, fully-certified installations and our commitment to quality customer care. Contact us today for a free estimate, and discover why so many homeowners entrust us with the safety and value of their homes.