Ask Roofing Contractors in Pittsburgh, PA
The process of purchasing and installing a new roof is brimming with considerations large and small. The costs and quality of the results are directly related to decisions made before and during the process. Before you make any decisions, be sure to get answers to your initial questions from experienced roofing contractors.
Pittsburgh, PA, residents trust Doing It Right Roofing, Siding, Remodeling LLC for quality work and honest, transparent service. We’re happy to offer roofing advice and roofing tips relevant to your needs. Don’t hesitate to contact us at our Russellton location for a free, in-home estimate or for answers to any other questions you may have about your roofing, shingle, or remodeling projects.
Below, owner Robert Jermalowski provides expert roofing information about how a job is done correctly and to the customer’s complete satisfaction. Topics range from signs you need a new roof, what to ask and look for in a roofing contractor, information about warranties, documentation, and much more.
10 Signs That You Need a New Roof
This 10 point checklist will help you to determine if it’s time for a new roof. If your asphalt shingle roof shows these signs, it should be evaluated by a professional roofing contractor. Call the roofing experts at Doing It Right Roofing, Siding, Remodeling LLC to get a professional evaluation of your roof and to determine if your problems are shingle, flashing, or weather related.
- Missing Roof Shingles
Dislodged shingles or shingles that have been blown off the roof surface indicate that your roof’s asphalt shingle is losing its tar seal. When this happens asphalt shingles will become loose and have the tendency to flip up or off in even the lightest wind storms. Once the tar strip loses its seal not much can be done with the old shingle. Temporary tar sealing will work in the short term, but is not guaranteed to fix the problem permanently. Replacing the missing tab shingles is an option, but you need to be careful depending on the age of the roof. Mixing new asphalt shingles with much older, worn out asphalt shingles may cause other problems. Always consult an expert roofer like Doing It Right Roofing, Siding, Remodeling LLC before making costly repairs that may not work rather than getting a new roof.
- Missing Granular on Roofing Shingles
On a new roof, asphalt based shingles have a granular covering to protect the tar surface and give the shingle its attractive appearance. Over time, the granular surface of the asphalt shingle loosens and wears off. Once worn down to the asphalt base, the asphalt shingle will tend to dry out and crack exposing the underlying roof. Once the granular surface has worn from the asphalt shingle base, the shingles must be replaced.
- Curling Roof Shingles
Curling is generally caused by poor ventilation or a dried out asphalt shingle base. Once this curling process starts, nothing can stop it. Eventually the curled pieces break off which may cause the roof to leak. When a roof reaches this stage it is important not to walk on it if possible. Walking on it will dislodge the curled pieces will make them break off from the asphalt shingle base. Many inexperienced roofers will attempt to inspect a roof with curled shingles. Before doing a full roof inspection, Doing It Right Roofing, Siding, Remodeling LLC will discuss any damage risk from walking on your roof.
- Blistered Roofing Shingles
At this point the shingles have had it. They are cracked, bubbled looking, and, in most cases, dislodged from their seal and original roof placement. This is another instance where everyone should remain off the roofing surface in order to avoid further damage to your existing shingles. Under these conditions, Doing It Right Home Improvements would recommend a completely new roof.
- Multiple Layers of Shingles
When I started in this business back in 1984, it was common practice to install an asphalt shingle roof over an existing asphalt shingle roof. The manufacturers at that time even provided directions on how to do this type of installation. That has all changed and no reputable roofer would even consider installing shingle on shingle roofing now. Doing so will void your shingle warranty. What the roofing manufactures found is that the first layer of shingles actually cooks the layer or layers of shingles installed over top of them. We can attest to that since we have found up to 5 layers of shingles on some roofs. This will decrease the life span of the new shingles installed thus costing the consumer thousands in the end. Always remove all shingle and other roofing products down to the wood deck surface before installing a new roof.
- Algae Growth on Shingles
The growth of brown or black algae on your asphalt shingles will not hurt your shingles’ performance. It doesn’t look very good, but it will not affect the shingle surface. After 30 years in business, Doing It Right Roofing, Siding, Remodeling LLC has never replaced a roof due to algae growth. Any replacement was either for appearance or because of condition of the underlying roofing material unrelated to algae. Removing the algae is optional and can be done using a bleach solution, however, bleach does remove granular as well and so we don’t recommend it.
- Flashing and Caulking Damage
Most flashing products are made of aluminum, copper or tin. The latter being the most susceptible to water damage. Most flashing problems are repairable; however, don’t accept caulking as the fix all for your roof flashing problems. Most flashing problems are caused by incorrect installation or from the flashing being dislodge from its original place due to ice, water or wind. Caulking is used to “pretty up” the edges of the flashing and is primarily a mask. If flashings are incorrectly installed any leaks are usually caused by flashing issue and not the caulking job. I suggest a complete roof evaluation before you spend any amount of money on costly repairs.
- Roof Buckling
One of the main causes of roof buckling is poor roof ventilation. Most manufactures also site poor ventilation as the # 1 cause of premature shingle wear. When heat and moisture are trapped in an attic space, it causes severe damage to the roof truss system and the roof sheathing deck. Doing It Right Roofing, Siding, Remodeling LLC always performs an attic inspection prior to replacing any roof. We check for proper ventilation and recommend additional vents if required to prevent roof buckling on your new roof.
- Water Damage and Rotting Roof Wood
About 75% of all asphalt shingle roofs that we replace each year have some sort of rotting or water damaged wood that the homeowners are not aware of. The professionals at Doing It Right Roofing, Siding, Remodeling LLC take pride in our ability to spot those areas even before the roof surface is removed. Finding the signs of water damaged areas is key in evaluating a roof. Low spots in the roof surfaces or funnel areas, sagging or out of place lines of site are just some of the determining factors in spotting damaged areas. We recommend measuring the damaged area and then doubling the replacement radius.
- Water Marks / Interior and Exterior
Let’s face it. If you find a water mark on the ceiling of your home or in the soffit area off your roofing overhang you have a water infiltration problem. That does not necessarily mean you need an entirely new roof. Doing It Right Roofing, Siding, Remodeling LLC will make the necessary assessment of the water mark and determine if it is related to a shingle, flashing, gutter, or maybe a chimney problem. Most homeowners call a roofer for leaks that are usually not caused by what the homeowner originally believes to be the problem. Correctly diagnosing the problem and implementing a good solution could save the homeowner thousands in unwanted repairs and keep the remaining untouched areas from future damage.
Choosing a Roofer or the Right Reasons
Choosing the Right Roofer is like choosing any other specialist, like the right dentist or doctor for your family, at least it should be. Would you take your children to a dentist that worked out of his basement? Would you recommend a doctor that worked out of his car? Okay, maybe it’s a little extreme to compare roofing to a medical practice, but it does get you thinking doesn’t it?
Let’s face it; our homes are our most valued personal possession. We work long and hard to afford them. The last thing any of us need is a bad roof installation, with roofing that either needs repaired or replaced again in a few years. Although I am a contractor, like you I am also a consumer. I battle the same question and answer game as all of you when hiring people to help me.
Everyone asks the same basic questions that have been asked for the last 50 years:
- How long have you been in business and doing this?
- Are you insured?
- Do you have a license to perform this work?
- How long will the job take?
- Will you work straight through until the job is complete?
These are important questions and should be asked of any roofer you consider hiring. But there are other, more important questions that will let you know what type of roofer you are dealing with and what kind of roof you will get.
- How will this roof be installed?
Answer: The answer should always be by manufacturers’ specifications. Installing roofing to the manufacturers’ specifications ensures that whatever is being installed will meet warranty & installation requirements giving you the upper hand in any warranty claims or installation failure disputes. Most important get that in writing in your contract.
- How will the ventilation of my attic space work and affect the roof performance?
Answer: There will always be an intake at the gutter or roof end line and an outlet at the roof peak. This item is not open for negotiation. Without either item the warranty will be null and void, period!
- How will you handle the gutter end line where the roof edge meets the fascia board?
Answer: We will install a roof to fascia apron or a roof to gutter apron at that end line. We have all dealt with ice dams and icicles over the past couple years in the Pittsburgh area. The leading cause of most ice dam leakage is that apron. Properly installing that apron will prevent the melting ice from backing into your living space like it tends to do here in Western PA. Unfortunately, we have no control over icicles.
Now you know what to ask to make an informed decision when it comes time to have your roof replaced. Choosing the right roofing contractor can make the difference between a quality roofing job and more follow up work after the installation. Remember, sometimes it’s what’s under the roof that you don’t see that’s most important.
Knowing and Understanding the Signs for a New Roof
Over the years, thousands of homeowners have asked my staff and me the same question, “How much life do I have left in my roof?” If I was able to get my crystal ball, I might be able to tell them all exactly how much time they have, but unfortunately it’s not that easy. In my opinion, there are 5 important things that determine shingle and roof life. They are as follows:
- Weather and the Severity Of It
- Composition Of the Roof Covering
- The Installation Of the Roof Covering Product
Weather will always impact your roof area and there is not much you can do about it. Nature is nature. We would always recommend if you anticipate weather affecting your roof more than not, look into purchasing higher quality roofing shingles and accessories. Doing It Right is committed to providing you with the highest quality materials for your project. Ask us about roofing shingle and accessory options.
Your roof can be greatly impacted by the composition makeup of the roof product. Each manufacturer has their own way of producing their product. Some use less asphalt and more fiberglass. Some add different agents to their product — some do not. Natural coverings such as slate and tile will undoubtedly last longer, but also cost much more to purchase and have installed. It’s important to know what you might have in place and what you will get if you have a new roof installed. Ask us to explain the differences.
Original installation could be the difference between getting 2 or 10 extra years out of your existing roof. Technology and the way installations are viewed these days have changed over the past 20 years. Just because it worked then doesn’t mean it’s going to work the same way today. Warranties have changed and the demands to install a roof correctly have become that much more important. Doing It Right believes in continued education for our installers to ensure a proper install of your project. Ask us how a new roof should be put on correctly to meet the current warranty guidelines.
Through advanced research manufacturers have determined that air flow restrictions not only make the roof shingle perform inadequately, it also affected the life expectancy of the shingle. I remember 30 to 35 years ago when my old bosses used to say, “Make sure you seal that up good and pack the insulation in tightly at the gutter end lines and ceiling areas.” Little did I know at that time that I was causing a stir in the roofing industry and how it is looked at today. Ask us about your house air flow and how it affects your shingle life and performance.
There’s not much you can do to additionally maintain your roof like adding coatings or spray-on applications. We do not recommend any coatings even if it was something that is available. Make sure your gutters are flowing properly and cleaned regularly. Clear the roof surface from debris. A yearly maintenance plan with a qualified roofing contractor, not a handyman, would benefit you to identify problems before they cause major damage. Talk to us about the different types of maintenance plans available.
What to Expect From a Roof Replacement Quote
When you start the process of looking for a qualified roofing contractor to provide you with a roof replacement quote you should consider the following before making your final decision. Sure the obvious comes to mind (insured, cost, etc.), but here are some additional things that should be looked at and considered.
Please take a moment and review the list for your own benefit. Keep it for reference when making that final decision.
- Is the company that I am getting the quote from a true roofing contractoror something other? “Roofing” in the company name would lead you in the right direction.
- Are their installers roofing installers, not siding guys or carpenters? There’s a difference.
- Does the contractor have an established address that he does business out of in case you need to find them?
- Does the contractor have ane-mail address or an alternate phone number so you can contact him through a variety of different options to fit your needs?
- Was the estimate you received detailed? Stating, “Remove shingles and install new ones,” doesn’t cut it. Get all the details involved in a new roof replacement. Get everything in writing.
- Never, and I mean never give money down on a job. You are not helping the contractor you are hurting yourself. Those not capable of handling financial aspects of installations could ultimately cause you problems with your installation.
- Never pay before a job is completed. Paying prior to completion is OK only if you have done something to delay the project yourself.
- Always get some kind of labor warranty and I don’t mean a year or two. Quality contractors who do a project correctly give at least a 10-year warranty on labor.
- Always get the installation done per manufacturer’s specifications. When you don’t, you short change yourself. Your contractor should do the job the way it’s intended to be done.
- Last but not least,question your contractor, be involved, but let your contractor do his job. Have faith before you hire them. Do not let price dictate your decision completely. This normally leads to an installation with problems.
At Doing It Right we are committed to following industry best practices and providing you with complete and accurate information.
What Did the Contractor Find During My Roof Replacement Quote That Might Affect My New Roof Installation?
The last thing any of us would want is a service professional providing us with a quote and finding a bunch of issues or problems that we were not prepared to address or spend money on. However, allowing yourself to be convinced by those who are just looking to do the minimum and cover over issues which will cost you thousands later is insane.
Take it from me, we see this every day when we do our initial inspection for homeowners and provide them with a bid. Here are some tips that will help you make sound decisions and point you in the right direction when they are presented to you.
- Get explanations on problem areas that you know of or don’t know of. Missing shingle areas, existing leaks, etc. may be damaged beyond what is seen.
- If you are shopping for a new roof expect to have some issues pointed out. You must realize you may have a problem sooner than later. So what are they? Get answers.
- Sometimes it’s just not the roof. It could be the chimney, siding, gutters, etc. that’s actually causing the problem. Distinguish those problems so that the same problem does not exist once the new roof has been installed.
- Update to modern technology. If tin is found, you need to replace it with aluminum. Your installation should always include all new flashings. (Pipes, chimney, valleys, etc.)
- Unlike duct tape, caulking does not fix everything. Caulking is designed to make things look pretty and “aid” in the performance of the installation, not be the determining factor. Having caulking issues pointed out could be the difference between a new roof now and a new roof 5 years from now.
Knowing what the real problems are vs. letting someone tell you what you want to hear will be the difference in getting a project installed the correct way. The good roofing contractors will let you know what needs done to do the job the right way. The bad ones will try and convince that you just need what they want to do. In most cases that’s just pound shingles on your roof.
Part 1: The Percentage of Roof Leaks Not Associated with the Shingles
I always tell everyone, “I could teach a monkey to install shingles on a roof.” I wish I had access to a monkey so that I could prove my point. The fact is, most roof leaks are not associated with the shingles themselves, but the protrusions and entities surrounding and within the roof area. These things should be checked out when a new roof is being installed. Diagnosing a problem before will save you grief later.
Through the cap or through the facing, if in bad condition the chimney on your house will leak. I cannot even count the times that we were called out for service because of a leaking chimney area. More than not, it was the chimney itself and not the roof surface. You should have your chimney routinely checked by a qualified person to ensure that it is holding up to the elements.
Whether step flashing, counter flashing, valley flashing, pipe flashing or any other type of flashing, I can assure you at one point or another, if not installed properly, you will develop a leak. Back water seams, overlap, nailing through flashing, or just not knowing what you are doing are just some of the interesting things we have seen over the years in regards to flashing leaks. Make sure your contractor installs all new flashing when a new roof is installed.
They can be tricky. Quality of the skylight and its existing condition are the true factors in what you should do with them when you replace your roof. Cost, of course, is the other factor to be considered. I can tell you this, 9 out of 10 service calls we look at in regards to the skylight area is skylight related and not shingle related. That pretty much speaks for itself. Be aware of skylight condition and accept the fact that they should be replaced with a new roof installation.
Driven weather has always been a nemesis of roofing contractors.We have provided thousands of service calls for roof leaks to find out that the leak had generated from a side wall or through the siding panels. When having your roof replaced it is important that you speak to your contractor and get them to do a once over of the areas surrounding the roof to ensure additional issues do not exist.If they exist have them addressed as well.
Part 2: The Percentage of Roof Leaks Not Associated with the Shingles
In our last blog we touched on the premise that roof shingles rarely are the problem when roof leaks develop. Feeling that we did not provide a complete list, we wanted to finish our thoughts on that. Here are some other situations that should be looked at before you blame your roof leak on the shingles.
If not routinely cleaned and maintained, they can cause serious problems and allow water infiltration when you least expect it. Back up or overflow issues may penetrate through fascia boards or into window head areas. Having the proper apron system installed would alleviate a lot of these issues as well as a good cleaning each year.
New ridge vent technology is pretty sound with shingle caps being installed over top of them. Old style ridge vents, because of design and age, cause more problems due to wear and tear than anything. Something a lot of roofing contractors do not take into consideration when installing ridge vent cap is the direction that the weather comes from. You should always install your cap shingles away from the weather so that the open end is opposite the driven weather.
Fascia and Siding Meeting Areas:
Back in the day, siding manufacturers’ accessories were not much bigger than your average ¾ inch fascia. Not many issues could be pointed to what I am about to tell you. Today’s sidings and accessories used to usually extend past the average fascia board, leaving a lip above the J channel and can allow water to infiltrate. In this case, bigger is not always better and can present a problem.
Items Not Related To Your Roof At All:
Do you have an AC unit located in your attic? Is there duct work or exhaust fan piping running across the attic floor? These are just a couple of things that we have run across over the years. AC units and condensation speak for themselves. Duct work or piping can also create a condensation pool that will leak out of the pipe, through the insulation and into your living area. You might want to consider a routine inspection or an overview of a qualified individual or company to get an honest and fair assessment of what might be at risk there.
Let’s Focus On the Finer Details: Warranties
At Doing It Right Roofing Siding Remodeling, I reinforce into every facet of our business the same thing every day, details, details, details. I think most of us as consumers would agree that cost, what you are getting for that cost, and what it looks like are the main objectives that go into every purchase we make. I understand value, need, affordability and want also play major roles. Let’s take a look at some of the details that you probably will overlook when making that final decision to replace your roof.
Manufacturer’s Specifications and Warranty
The majority of things we buy come with a specification and/or warranty because there are specific outlines and rules to follow. In order to achieve the best performance from that product you must follow their guidelines. “If that product goes bad, do I have the warranty coverage in place to replace it without additional absorbent cost?” You must ask yourself this question when replacing your existing roof with a new one.
Do not discredit a contractor that is suggesting you purchase an extended warranty or for explaining the existing warranty for that matter. That contractor is just trying to make you aware of what you are getting and what to expect if something goes wrong. Those who just try to pass it off for something that it really isn’t or do not explain it at all are the ones should be cautious with. Companies put this information out there and present it with the products for a reason. They want the products installed correctly so that you, the consumer, are not taken advantage of.
For the best results you should be receiving the following information when a roof installation is being presented to you:
- In writing, a detailed outline of the installation and in writing, that they will follow manufacturer’s specifications.
- In some cases you might be asked to sign off on some items which might not apply to your project and that is acceptable in most Not all specifications can be followed on some house styles. Make it a point to discuss these items in detail with your contractor.
You should always be receiving some kind of warranty for both labor and material. If you are not getting both, then, “Buyer beware.”
Let’s Focus on the Finer Details: Choices and Documentation
At Doing It Right Roofing Siding Remodeling I reinforce into every facet of our business the same thing every day — details, details, details. Last blog I touched on some of those details to help homeowners weed through the contractors to make the right choice. This blog will continue that trend to assist the homeowners with the out of the ordinary items.
The Company You Choose to Perform the Work
We are all always looking for the best price to obtain the things we need. Unfortunately sometimes we overlook what that cost actually will reflect and put the blinders on basing our decision solely on cost alone. We should also consider the following:
- It’s important to compare apples to apples, not oranges.Is all of the information I need to ensure a proper roof installation in my bid? In the age of computers, finding what you should have and not when a roof is to be installed is right at your fingertips. Deferring to the manufacturer and their website will eliminate any second guessing.
- Can I be sure that the contractor that performed the installation will be there when I need them in case a problem does occur? Getting a warranty of more than a year or twomakes more sense and protects you in the long run.
- When paying a deposit read between the lines.Most companies who do short-term projects such as roof installation should be able to incur the cost of the labor and material for over a few-day period. This term will separate the stronger companies from the weaker ones. You should be sure that nothing will ever get in your way when the installation of your roof is going on. Financial issues should scare you off.
Was All Documentation Available and True?
- Without being registered in the State of Pennsylvania database with the Attorney General’s officea contractor installing roofs is not permitted to do such installations. Furthermore, if their registration number is not on their documentation they are hiding something.
- If your contract proposal is no more than one or two pages long, then question the lack of information. There is so much to specify in a roof installation other than “ tear off the old shingles & replace them with new ones “. It amazes me how many people sign those kinds of contracts and then complain how they got taken. Be sure you have everything spelled out in length.
Insurance certificates should be presented to you for review. Although insurance varies and coverages can be misleading always get your name as an additional insured for your protection. No one should have a problem with this. If they do then something is being hidden.
Depend on us for honest and reliable roofing, siding, and remodeling advice. We proudly serve the Greater Pittsburgh area. Contact us and schedule a free consultation.