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Roofing FAQ's and Helpful Information

 

As a service provider, we get our fair share of questions related to our clients’ projects. In order to better educate future clients, we like to provide information for our most frequently asked questions. We also have provided a glossary of basic roofing terminology. If you have a roofing question, don’t hesitate to ask through our contact us by calling or using our contact form. It’s that easy.  This section is an ongoing effort to provide a source of knowledge for all things roof related.

 


 

Quick Reference:

 

General Section:

Tips for dealing with roofing contractors

What is the roof replacement process / What are roof replacement steps?

How long does a roof replacement take?

Why should a roofing contractor have workman's compensation insurance?

 

Pre-project Section:

How much does a new roof cost?

Can I roof over my existing roof?

How does the homeowner's insurance process work for storm damaged roofs?

How many roofing estimates should I get?

 

Repair Section:

Why are my pipe penetrations leaking? / Why are my vent boots leaking?

 

Estimate Section:

What should my estimate include?

 

Storm Damage Section:

What does hail damage look like?

How do I know if my roof has storm damage?

 

Materials Section:

What is the discoloration on my roof?

Should the plastic strip on the back of my shingles be removed?

Can staples be used instead of nails to install my shingles?

How important is ventilation for my roof?

Can low temperatures affect a roof replacement?

Can high temperatures affect a roof replacement?

 

Roofing Glossary

 


 

What is the discoloration on my roof?

 

Many homeowners ask about the discoloration on their roof. What you see is the result of algae. Algae growth can occur due to airborne spores, especially in areas of the roof that remain in the shade for extended periods of time. Nearby trees can lead to greater occurrences.

 

One method to fight against alage is to install zinc strips along both sides of ridges. The zinc has an adverse chemical reaction on the algae, and kills it overtime. Zinc granulars are placed on shingles that hold the “AR” distinction for being algae resistant. These shingles typically remain algae resistant for 5 to 10 years.

  

How much does a new roof cost?

 

One of the most important questions for most homeowners is what the cost will be for a new roof. There are many factors involved, and no two roofs can be priced the same. Here’s a list of many of the factors that go into an estimate for a new roof.

 

Is this a replacement or a newly constructed roof? If it is a replacement and the existing layers need to be torn off, there will be higher labor costs associated with the replacement versus new construction which only requires installation of the shingles, and no tear-off.

 

What sort of materials are you using? There is a considerable price difference between a 20-year shingle and a 50-year shingle. There are many ranges of shingles based on the life, cosmetic appearance of the shingle, shading (some have more color definition), etc. Labor costs are generally the same despite what shingle material is used. Material costs do vary based on the type of roof, ie shingle, metal, or rubber.

 

Is the old roof being removed, or will it be laid over? As a company, we strongly urge customers not to perform lay-over roofs. If a leak occurs with two layers (or more), finding the leak will be a difficult task. Is it coming from the first layer or second layer? Is it working it’s way down the transition between the shingles? Down the ceiling rafter? With multiple roofs, labor costs go up quite bit because there is an increase in the amount of tear-off labor. (Essentially tearing two roofs off versus one, twice as much waste meaning an increase in dump fees, an increase in clean-up time, etc.)

 

What will be going under the shingles? There are different types of felt and there is also ice and water protection membrane. Ice and water protection membranes are used in valleys, high slope to low slope transition areas, eaves, and any other places where water may have the potential to work its way beneath the shingles. Ice and water protection serves a major purpose in protecting the underside of the shingles when ice damming occurs.

 

Can I roof over the top of my existing roof? 

 

It is not recommended to roof over your existing roof. In some cases, homeowners make prefer this route because it is cheaper, but it can prove to be less cost effective over time. If you have two layers of shingles on your home, how do you find the source of the leak? If it’s not in an obvious location such as a valley or vent boot penetration, it can be very tough to find. Water could leak through the first layer, and then find its way to the roof sheathing further down the slope. This is what makes it difficult to pinpoint the exact source on multiple layers of shingles.

 

There’s also the fact that the roof is going to absorb more heat. This can lead to higher energy bills to control cooling during the warm months of the year.

 

The maximum amount of shingle layers is two layers. Even at two layers, this is a considerable amount of weight, and again this leads to higher energy bills to control heating/cooling.

 

Should the little plastic strip from the back of my shingles be removed?

 

This strip does not need to be removed. The strip is there to help keep the shingles from sticking together within the bundles they are packaged in. The shingle still seals with the strip on them.

 

Can staples be used instead of nails to install my shingles?

 

No. Staples should never be used to install asphalt shingles.

 

What are the most common sources of roofing problems?

 

Most common source of problems:

  1. Lack of Maintenance
  2. Weathering 
  3. Wind Damage
  4. Improper Design

How Does the Insurance Process Work?

 

Roof Inspections / Insurance Approval:

  1. Customer calls roofing contractor to inspect for wind or hail damage.
  2. Contractor either finds damage or does not find damage.
  3. In the event damage is found, contractor may recommend homeowner to contact insurance company.
  4. Insurance adjuster comes out for inspection. At this point you want your roofing contractor present to discuss their findings.
  5. Those adjusters that work directly for the insurance companies have the ability to make decision on spot. Independent adjusters (subcontractors), cannot make the decision on the spot.

If the roof is approved:

  1. Insurance company will mail/email homeowner claim information.
  2. First check will be issued prior to work being completed.
  3. Homeowner will select contractor and complete work.
  4. Once work is completed, certificate of completion/final invoice signed by homeowner and contractor is sent to insurance company.
  5. Insurance company releases second check, which pays the remaining amount on the final invoice, which the first check did not cover.
  6. Homeowner deposits checks from insurance company into personal account, then pays contractor amount on certificate of completion/final invoice.

Tips for Dealing With Roofing Contractors

 

Always do some background research on the contractor you wish to use. Are they locally owned? Do they carry proper licensing as a company. It's important that they offer workman's compensation insurance and general liability in order to cover their company and the property owner in the event of an accident.

 

Never sign a paper from a roofer promising a free roof, this is a tactic used by many out of state "stormchasers".

Get multiple estimates. Don't always accept the first unless it's someone you've used in the past and trust.

Never pay money upfront. If a company needs money upfront, then they may not be in a good standing financially. They can also accept your money and never step foot on the roof, which is one of the worst cases of companies giving the roofing industry a bad name. The majority of roofing contractors have accounts set up with their materials dealer, so they are able to cover materials, then pay their labor once the job is complete.

 

Here's a news article link about a roofing contractor that came in from out of town "storm-chasing" hail damage insurance jobs.  The company took the money up front without ever placing the first shingle, leaving many homeowners across North and South Carolina without the roof for which their insurance companies paid for. Click this link to read the story at www.wbtv.com.

Be weary about door-to-door tactics, there are many storm chasers that will enter the area when a storm hits. They can come from neighboring states, and if used, when problems arise, getting them back out can be a hassle.

Do a little reading up on roofing, and ask the contractor questions when he comes out. Test his knowledge base.

There are good, reputable roofing companies out there, just do your homework!

 

Can high temperatures affect a roof replacement?

 

High temperatures in the summer can have their effect on a roof replacement. Very high temperatures can lead to an increase in the risk of exhaustion or dehydration for employees.  The darker the roof, the more the roof absorbs the heat, which tends to radiate at the surface of the roof.  These high temperatures can directly affect the shingles as well.  3-Tab (25-Year Shingles) are thinner than Architectural (30-Year Shingles), and once heated, the granulars have a greater risk of coming loose.  For instance, the granulars tend to slide at high temperatures, because there is a decrease in adhesion between the granular and asphalt. The 3-Tab will tend to "scar" when walked on at very high temperatures, especially on very steep roofs, since more traction is required for one to walk on.  Therefore in the summer months, roofing crews will tend to start as early as possible, then break during the peak temperatures of the day (approximately 12pm-3pm).  This break allows the shingle temperature to drop, and also prevents workers from suffering from exhaustion or dehydration.

 

Can low temperatures affect a roof replacement?

 

There are no minimum requirements for temperature when installing shingles.  Shingles can become brittle and crack at low temperatures (especially when bending for valleys etc).  Sealing strips may also be slow to seal, as it takes heat for the make the seal.  The risk is that high winds get beneath shingles prior to them sealing, which could lead to shingles being damaged or blown off the roof.

 

What should my roofing estimate include?

 

  • The type of roof covering, manufacturer and color
  • Materials to be included in the work. This could include underlayment, ice dam protection membrane, new vent boots etc.
  • Scope of work to be done
    • Removal and/or replacement of existing roof
    • Flashing work - Will all flashing be redone? What type of materials?
    • Ventilation work - Will new ridge vent be put in? Will turbine vents be removed, or replaced?
    • Debris removal - Does estimate include hauling of debris? One would assume so, but estimate should include this.
  • 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
  • Payment methods which are accepted
  • Length of warranty and what is covered. For instance there should be a workmanship warranty in addition to the shingle manufacturer's warranty.  We offer a 10-Year Workmanship Warranty in addition to the Shingle Manufacturer's Warranty. Shingle manufacturer warranties start at 20 Years, 25 Years, 30 Years, and increase from there based on the higher priced materials which they offer.

How many roofing estimates should I get?

 

It's generally a good idea to get three estimates for any type of work to be completed.  This gives you a much better gauge for pricing, in addition to the type of contractors are out there. When you meet contractors, their presentation and knowledge provide insight into what you can expect in their work. You can also ask for references, or addresses where they have performed work.  Prices may vary greatly, which is why detail is very important when it comes to an estimate.  For example, if one estimate is $500 cheaper than another, but they don't include debris removal, then is it really the cheapest estimate? Considerable differences in price may raise red flags, so pay close attention to what all is (and isn't) included in the estimate.  We carefully prepare our estimates to include all the proper details for your project.

 

How important is ventilation for my roof?

 

Ventilation is a major player when it comes to the life span of a roof.  When you look at it from a long term perspective (15-30 years and on) for a given roof, you can begin to see how small problems which can become big problems over time.  The industry standard for ventilation is as follows: 

 

For every 300 square feet of attic space, there should be one square foot of intake ventilation and one square foot of exhaust ventilation.

 

Improper ventilation can lead to pitted and cracked shingles.  This is due to the heat in the attic space not being able to escape, which can literally "cook" the shingle.  Improper ventilation and reduce the life span of the roof signficantly.  Any homes we look at which are missing improper ventilation, whether it's ridge vent, ventilator fans, eave vents, etc, we always bring this to the homeowner's attention.  Ventilation issues can also lead to ice damming. Ice damming occurs when there is a buildup of heat in the attic which causes snow to melt on the upper portions of the roof.  Once the snow melts and makes it way down the roof slope, it will build up near the eaves, where there is not a buildup of heat.  This allows the water to make its way back under the shingles, especially when the melted water begins to melt, and has no where else to go.\

 

As you might imagine, differences between the outside and inside of the roof, can lead to issues with moisture.  These varying temperatures can cause condensation buildup in the attic (on the underside of the wood sheating). This can cause the insulation in the attic to become saturated.  Once the insulation is saturated, the R-value is lowered, meaning higher energy bills because the insulation is not insulating as it should.

 

How much more does a metal roof cost?

 

Metal roofs can cost two to three times as much as a normal asphalt shingle roof.  This increase in cost is due to the increase in the material costs, in addition to some extra labor costs when compared to shingle roofs.  The Metal Roofing Alliance provides some great information on metal roofs, including a page that focuses on many metal roofing questions.  Click here to learn more about metal roofs on the Metal Roofing Alliance webpage.

 

Do I need to be home when you come out for a roofing estimate?

 

We are able to perform our site visits with or without anyone home.  Some homeowners prefer to be home, while some are busy and may have a hard time scheduling to get off of work etc.  If there is interior damage due to a leak, and the homeowner wants a repair done, we would need to be able to get inside to inspect the location of the interior damage to trace down the location of the leak on the roof.  Many homeowners find it convenient for us to e-mail a copy of the estimate to them, while some prefer fax or meeting to discuss the estimate.  We always provide document estimates in one form or another for all of our jobs.

 

How much does a roofing estimate cost?

 

We provide roofing estimates free of charge.

 

How do I know if my roof has storm damage?

 

In order to determine if your roof has storm damage, a thorough inspection is required.  While wind damage may be easy to spot in the form of missing shingles, hail damage requires a roof-walk inspection of the entire roof surface.  Hail damage is rarely seen from the ground, unless soft-ball sized hail has affected the area.  This is a rare occurrence. Much smaller sized hail can still damage the shingles by knocking the granulars off and leaving the asphalt below exposed directly to UV rays.  The granulars protect the shingle from UV rays, which means their absence can lead to premature shingle deterioriation.  Metal roofs can also be affected, but require large sized hail.  Metal roof damage comes more in the form of cosmetic damage.

 

Why should a contractor have workman's compensation insurance?

 

It is important for your contractor to have workman's compensation insurance to protect the homeowner if a roofing worker was unfortunately injured while on your property.  If a contractor doesn't have this insurance in the event of an accident or injury, the homeowner could be held responsible.  We are proud to have workman's compensation insurance to provide protection to you as a homeowner.  Some companies that do not offer workman's compensation often submit lower bids for projects, but when an accident occurs, some homeowners end up paying many times over the savings they thought they were getting. Always use a contractor that has workman's compensation insurance.

 

Can you provide evidence of workman's compensation insurance and general liability insurance?

 

We are more than happy to make copies of our documentation available.

 

What payment types do you accept?

 

We proudly accept Visa, Mastercard, and Discover in the form of card purchases. Many homeowners take advantage of this to receive reward points on their credit cards. We also accept checks as well.

 

How much do I need to pay you to get started?

 

We do not require any payment until the job is complete. Any reputable company will not require payments prior to completion.  We do not recommend paying anything upfront to a contractor, for the fear that they may take the money and never step foot on the roof.  Last year, one company came through North Carolina and South Carolina, taking millions of dollars of insurance checks from homeowners. Unfortunately, they never completed any of the work, leaving many homeowners having to pay for their new roofs out of their pocket.  Never pay a contractor upfront.

 

Here's a news article link about a roofing contractor that came in from out of town "storm-chasing" hail damage insurance jobs.  The company took the money up front without ever placing the first shingle, leaving many homeowners across North and South Carolina without the roof for which their insurance companies paid for. Click this link to read the story at www.wbtv.com.

 

What types of roofing shingles are there?

 

There's a number of products on the market as the industry has evolved over the years. Some of the top manufacturers include Certainteed, GAF, and Owens Corning.  Each company offers 20-year and 25-Year three tab shingles, in addition to 30-Year Architectural shingles.  They also have a wide range of designer and luxury shingles that can reach up to 50-year warranties.  There are also composite shingles which resemble slate, which are becoming more and more popular.

 

20 Year and 25 Year 3-Tab Shingles

 

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30 Year Architectural Shingles

 

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Designer Shingles

 

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RPG_HighlandSlateProdImage

 

Composite Shingles

 

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All photos courtesy of www.certainteed.com

 

How long does a roof replacement take?

 

Every roof replacement is different based on a number of factors.

 

How many people are on the roofing crew?

How big or small is the roof?

How steep?

How many roof penetrations?

How much flashing is required for end walls, chimneys, dormers, etc.?

How many valleys does the roof have?

Will ridge vent need to be cut in?

What type of access is there around the property?

 

These are all factors that can have a direct impact on the installation time.  The best case scenario is that a roof is removed and replaced in one day.  This eliminates the risk of harsh weather overnight.  Some jobs may take multiple days. In these cases, contractors prefer to work small sections of the roof, rather than tearing off the whole roof and leaving areas exposed over night.  In the event that bad weather unexpectedly makes it's way into the area, contractors should be prepared to quickly cover the exposed areas with tarps to prevent water infiltration.  

 

As a company we prefer to assign our roofing crews to jobs based on the size of the roof.  Our preference is to perform our replacements in one day.

 

What is the typical roof replacement process /  What are the roof replacement steps?

 

Pre-project

  1. Conduct roof measurement
  2. Prepare estimate
  3. Sign contract
  4. Schedule material delivery

Roof removal

  1. Set out tarps to protect house and landscaping
  2. Remove any yard ornaments, grills, potted plants, etc. away from the home
  3. Set toe boards and take necessary safety precautions for roof traffic
  4. Tear-off roof starting at ridges
  5. Begin clean up of debris on tarp

Roof Installation (some of these items may happen simultaneously)

  1. Replace any rotted, leaky sheets of plywood
  2. Install ice and water shield in valleys, eaves, roofing vents, and vulnerable areas
  3. Install roofing felt
  4. Chalk lines for keeping shingle rows straight, in addition to chalking lines for starter strip to ensure proper overhang
  5. Begin carrying up bundles of shingles
  6. Install vent boots
  7. Install starter strip 
  8. Install shingles
  9. Install any step and/or counter flashing
  10. Install any ridge vent
  11. Install ridge capping

Debris Clean-up / Job completion

  1. All throughout replacement, debris cleanup will occur
  2. Throw all shingles, felt, and nails in dumpster, dump trailer etc
  3. Bag all plastic, paper, or plastic bottles or aluminum cans
  4. Roll roofing magnets all throughout yard to pick up all nails
  5. Carefully examine property for any left-over debris
  6. Load up any remaining materials

Can a new roof provide extra re-sale value?

 

We have seen a growing trend in the number of calls from realtors, in relation to roof inspections for storm damage.  As the general public has become more educated on roof damage with the hail storms over the last few years, more buyers are taking this into consideration when negotiating price.  A new roof can provide extra re-sale value by assuring buyers that they are not going to have to spend thousands of dollars on a new roof after purchasing the home. This serves as a nice selling point, giving the buyer an added peace of mind, and one less excuse not to buy.  We recommend having the roof inspected prior to selling, in case there is storm damage which could be covered by insurance.  As mentioned, we have noticed this as a growing trend as of late.

 

What does hail damage look like?

 

This could be one of our most asked questions and/or misunderstood topics.  Many homeowners are under the impression they can see hail damage from the ground.  Some believe they roof should be leaking if it has hail damage.  The fact is that most hail damage cannot be seen from the ground.  It requires a full roof inspection with careful observation of the entire shingle surface.  As you can see below, the shingles were hit by falling hail, knocking off the granular surface. The granulars actually protect the shingle from UV rays.  When granulars go missing, the asphalt below (seen in the scuff area), will begin to prematurely degrade.  This shingle degradation over time can  reduce the life of the roof and lead to leaks over time.

 

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What is not hail damage? If you look below, the shingles look somewhat similar to the shingles seen above. They both look scuffed up right? The truth is the photo below shows mechanical damage also known as foot traffic, or damage that was done during the original installation.  This would not qualify as hail damage. The two photos appear to be similar because both have granular loss, but only the top photo qualifies as hail damage.  As you can see, it is important to have a proper inspection performed because hail damage may be undetected by the untrained eye.

 

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The first thing most insurance adjusters look for is evidence of hail on light metal objects.  This could be metal vents, gutters, or apron flashing along the roof.  Below shows a metal vent that has evidence of hail damage.

 

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Why are my pipe penetrations leaking? / Why are my vent boots leaking?

 

Overtime, the rubber seals on vent boots (also known as pipe jacks) begin to degrade and crack.  The first vent boot below shows the early stages of cracking.  Once the seal is broken, small amounts of water can make it's way down the penetration opening.  Obviously, the larger the cracks, the more water that is able to get inside.  The second photo below shows a cracked vent boot that was sealed at the top, but the boot cracked below the seal.  Again, this crack lets water get in.  It is recommended to inspect vent boots once a year to ensure that there are no cracks or leaks occuring at these penetrations.  Overtime, the water and moisture can rot the plywood around the opening.  This water and moisture can also lower the R-rating of the insulation as well. If enough insulation is affected by moisture, this can lead to higher heating and cooling bills.

 

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Roofing Glossary:

 

Architectural Shingle: Shingle that provides a dimensional appearance. May be known as a dimensional or laminated shingle. Shingle life begins at 30 years, and moves up with thickness in shingle.

 

Bundle: An individual package of shingles.

 

Cap Flashing: A material used to cover the top edge of step/base flashings or other flashings.

 

Caulk: A material with no elastomeric properties used for sealing joints. Typically used to seal counter and step flashing, ridge cap exposed nails, apron flashing exposed nails, vent boots, and to seal shingles that may have been folded up for toe boards.

 

Closed-Cut Valley: A method of valley application in which shingles from one side of the valley extend across the valley while shingles from the other side are installed over the top of those and then trimmed back approximately 2 inches from the valley centerline.

 

Eave: A roof edge that extends out past the exterior wall line. (Normally anywhere a gutter is)

 

Exposure: The portion of the shingle that is not overlapped by the succeeding course. Shingles overlap one another, so the portion of the shingle that is exposed.

 

Fascia: Vertical roof trim located along the perimeter of a building, usually below the roof level. This is a typical area that can be subject to wood rot if shingle overhang is not correct.

 

Felt: A roofing sheet made of interwoven fibers. Typical felts include #15 and #30 lb felts.

 

Flashing: Metal components used to seal the roof system at areas where the roof covering is terminated. Most often used around chimneys, end-walls, apron flashings, and returns. 

 

Granule: A small aggregate, naturally or synthetically colored, used to surface cap sheets, shingles, and other granule-surfaced roof coverings.

 

Hip: The angle formed by the intersection of two sloping roof planes. (Diagonals that are covered by hip and ridge capping)

 

Hip Roof: A roof that rises by inclined planes on all sides of a building. The line where two adjacent sloping sides of a roof meet is called the hip.

 

Ice Dam: Ice formed at the transition from a warm surface to a cold surface, such as along the overhang of a house. The build-up of ice is the result of ice or snow melting on the roof area over the warmer, living area of a building and then refreezing when it runs down and reaches the overhang.

 

Mechanical Damage: Damage to a roof by means of items puncturing or otherwise unnecessarily penetrating the roof system or any of its components. May consist of foot traffic scarring, or damage done during initial installation. Often confused for hail damage.

 

Metal Flashing: Roof components made from sheet metal that are used to terminate the roofing membrane or material along roof edges. 

 

OSB: Oriented Strand Board. Often used as roof sheathing in place of plywood

  

PenetrationAny object that pierces the surface of the roof.

 

Pipe Boot or Vent Boot: A prefabricated flashing piece used to flash around circular pipe penetrations. Also known as a roof jack.

  

Rake: The sloped perimeter edge of a roof that runs from the eaves to the ridge. You would walk from the eave, up the rake, to get to the ridge.

 

Ridge: The line where two planes of roof intersect, forming the highest point on the roof section. (Parallel to ground)

 

Ridge Cap: Material applied over the ridge or hip of a roof.

 

Ridge Vent: An exhaust venting device located at the ridge of a roof that works in conjunction with a starter or under eave soffit vent and is used to ventilate attics. Often roofs without ridge vent will age prematurely, and can lead to pitted shingles, or possible vertical cracks in shingles.

 

Roof Slope/Pitch: The angle made by the roof rise over run and expressed as the amount of vertical rise for every twelve inch 12"horizontal run.  

 

Soffit: The underside of a roof overhang

 

Soffit Vent: An intake ventilation device located in the soffit. An exhaust vent should be installed on or near the ridge of the roof to work in conjunction with the soffit vent in order to properly ventilate the attic space. For example, ridge vent of turbine vents. The ratio of intake vent area to exhaust vent area should be 1:1.

 

Square: 1 square = 100 square feet of roof area

 

Starter Strip: Strips of shingles (usually 3-Tab shingles with the tabs cut off) or roll roofing material that is laid along the eave line of the roof prior to the application of the first course of shingles.  This consists of all eaves and rakes. Anywhere there is fascia below, there should be a starter shingle. The starter strip is used to fill gaps created by tab joints. This prevents water infiltration to sheathing at tab joints.

 

Step Flashing: Pieces of metal or other material that are used to flash roof projections such as chimneys, walls, curbs, etc. The pieces are installed between each course of roofing.

 

Tab: The portion of an asphalt shingle that is outlined by the cutouts. For example there are 3 tabs per shingle.

 

Tear-Off: To remove a roof system down the sheathing. Removal should consist of shingles and felt.

 

Underlayment: A material installed over the roof deck prior to the application of the primary roof covering. Can also consist of an ice and water protection membrane, which provides added protection in valleys, eaves, and low slope areas.

 

Valley: The intersection of two sloping roof planes which direct water toward the eaves of the roof. This intersection collects the most water run-off.

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     

     

     

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