Waterproof, Windproof and Weatherproof: The Perfect Roof for Your Climate

Protect Your Foundation With A French Drain

Water that runs off of your roof can saturate the ground around your foundation. This may not seem like a problem but it can become one. Not only will saturated soil allow water to leak through your foundation, but it can also cause your foundation to start cracking, and without a solid foundation your roof can collapse. Thus, any roof should be fitted with a system of gutters and downspouts. While these should channel the water away from your foundation, sometimes you need more: Limitations of Downspouts One problem with a system of gutters and downspouts is that it channels all of the water that collects in the gutters to one area. If the downspout doesn’t run far enough away from your foundation, you might not have saturated soil all along your foundation, but you may still have problems in just one area. Extending your downspout for some distance away from your foundation can be visually unpleasing and can create problems in that the section of downspout that extends out from your building can get damaged by lawnmowers, people, or even snow falling off of your roof.  How a French Drain Can Help A French drain is a trench that you cut into the ground and then fill with gravel. At the end of this trench, you may also dig a pit to fill with gravel for water to collect in. In order for the trench thus created to be effective in guiding water away from your foundation, it should slope slightly from the bottom or your downspout to the end of your trench. Because the trench is filled with gravel, any water that enters the trench will flow away from your home, so you don’t have to worry about foundation problems. Also, because a French drain is underground, you don’t have to worry about it getting damaged or broken away from your downspout. Repairing a foundation represents a huge cost if repairs are possible at all. If you don’t catch damage to your foundation soon enough, you might have no choice but to have your home condemned. As is usually the case, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. If you notice that your downspouts are simply directing a large volume of water collected from your roof to a relatively small section of your foundation, then you need to take steps to improve your drainage. Remember […]

Maintaining An Exposed-Fastener Metal Roof

Metal roofs are ideal for locations where extreme weather is expected. Metal will slough snow before you have to worry about a build-up of snow collapsing your roof, they will withstand hail, and they will stand up to gale-force winds. Still, even highly durable metal roofing has a weak spot. If you install an exposed-fastener metal roof, then the fasteners that hold your roof in place can fail long before your roof itself does.  The Anatomy of a Metal Roof Fastener Metal roofs use screws to secure the roof to the decking since the screws will stand up better to abuse than nails. Each screw is self-tapping, made from the same material as the roof, and painted to match the color of the roof. To prevent water from leaking through the hole made by the screw, each screw should be fitted with a metal umbrella washer and a rubber gasket.  Maintenance Begins with Proper Installation Even though the screws used on a metal roof are designed to prevent leaks, human error can still undermine the design of the screw. When you place each screw, you should drive the screw until the edges of the rubber gasket are just visible around the edges of the metal washer. If you don’t drive the screw far enough, then the gasket won’t make a good seal and leaks are possible. But if you drive the screw so far that the edges of the gasket begin to rise above the edges of the washer, the stress on the gasket can cause premature cracking and leaking. If you don’t install your own roof, you should still inspect the screws to make sure that they are installed properly. It’s tedious, but it can decrease your maintenance load down the road.  Repairing Damaged Gaskets Even when properly installed, the rubber gaskets on a metal roof will typically last 15-20 years. To prevent leaks, you should inspect the screws in your roof for signs of damage to the washers. Any screws that have faded or cracked, or gaskets that are brittle should be replaced with new ones.  While a galvanized steel roof can last for up to sixty years and copper roofs can last far longer, any fasteners that fail can cause leaks well before your roof shows signs of damage. Thus, to keep your roof and your home in good condition, homeowners should start to inspect fasteners at least fifteen years after the roof […]

Your Questions About Cedar Shakes Answered

Cedar shakes are not an uncommon roofing material, but if you’ve only ever had asphalt shingles or a metal roof in the past, you might have a few questions about this wooden alternative. Here’s a look at some of the most common questions people have when considering cedar shingles for their home – and their answers: How does a wooden roof not just rot away? There’s a reason you always see cedar shakes, and not shakes made from other woods. Cedar wood has a remarkable resistance to rot. It will withstand exposure to rain, snow and sleet without getting slimy or moldy. That is not to say you don’t need to take precautions to prevent rotting of your cedar shake roof, because it will rot if you really neglect it. You’ll want to remove leaves from it in the fall so they don’t trap moisture up there, ensure your roof is not overhung with tree branches, and ensure your gutter system is well-maintained so your roof is not exposed to more moisture than necessary. Do you have to worry about termites eating a cedar roof? In short, the answer is “no.” Termites do not like to eat cedar because it contains a resin that repels them. They may begin to eat cedar once it is very old and worn, since its levels of resin may be lower by this point. However, you will probably have had your cedar shakes replaced by the time they become appealing to termites. Does a cedar shake roof need to be treated with any special sprays or coatings? The beauty of a cedar roof is that it most cases, it does not need to be treated with anything, since it is naturally resistant to rot and insects. Some contractors who are not experienced with cedar shake roofs may try to tell you that the roof needs to be sealed or coated, but this is not true, and in fact, sealing your cedar roof could cause it to fail prematurely, since it will prevent the wood from breathing properly. How long does a cedar roof last? Life expectancy depends on many factors, including the climate in your area, how well the roof is installed, and the number of trees overhanging the roof. However, you can expect a cedar roof to last between 30 and 40 years, on average. Hopefully these answers have allayed some of your […]

Two Keys To Maintaining A Slate Roof

Slate is a durable material and can last for between 75 and 200 years depending on whether you install soft or hard slate on your home. Just because you project that your roof will last for longer than you are in your home does not mean you don’t occasionally have to perform some roof maintenance. In particular, you will need to inspect and maintain flashings and replace any shingles that get damaged.  Flashing News Flash Flashing is a metal collar that you slip around chimneys, dormers or any other structures that protrude from your roof. The purpose of flashing is to block any water that runs down the vertical sides of these protrusions so that it doesn’t run under your roofing material. When you install a slate roof, you will either use galvanized steel or copper flashings. You can save a little money on your roof installation by using galvanized flashings, but you will have to paint your flashings whenever they show signs of wear and replace them at least every 20 years. For a more durable flashing, you should use copper, which will last for 70 years before it needs to be replaced. Breaking Down Repairs for Broken Shingles While your roof as a whole should last for decades if not centuries, you may have problems with individual pieces of slate. Whenever you discover that you have a damaged shingle, you need to replace it. If you are reasonably comfortable with walking on your roof, you can remove the old shingle with a flat nail puller and then hang a new shingle in its place with a slate hook. Follow these steps: 1. When you walk on your slate roof, make sure that you step on the bottom edge of shingle where you are actually stepping on two layers of shingles instead of in the middle of shingles where there is a gap between the shingle and the roof, which may allow the shingle to break.  2. Insert the nail puller under the damaged shingle and fish around until you hook the nail that holds the shingle in place.  3. Grab the handle of the puller with one hand and pound on the flat guard at the end of the handle with a hammer until the nail comes out.  4. Fill the nail hole with roofing cement.  5. Use a straight edge to mark where the bottom of the new […]