Structural Systems: Roof Covering Material

A professional property inspection is an impartial third-party visual evaluation of a properties:

  1. Structural Systems
  2. Electrical Systems
  3. Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning Systems
  4. Plumbing Systems
  5. Appliances
  6. Optional Systems (Sprinkler, Pool, Outbuildings, Private Water Wells, Septic)

Each ‘system’ has its own number of inspectable items. In this series of articles, we take a closer look at some of the more common ‘defects’ of each inspectable item. Today’s article will discuss:

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Structural Systems: Roof Covering Materials

The inspector shall report as Deficient:

  • Fasteners.
  • Adhesion.
  • Roof covering materials.
  • Flashing details.
  • Skylights; and
  • Other roof penetrations.
Roofing

Roofs play a key role in protecting building occupants and interiors from outside weather conditions, primarily moisture. The roof, insulation and ventilation must all work together to keep the building free of moisture. Roofs also provide protection from the sun. In fact, if designed correctly, roof overhangs can protect the building’s exterior walls from moisture and sun. The concerns regarding moisture, standing water, durability and appearance are different, reflected in the choices of roofing materials.

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 Maintaining Your Roof

Homeowner maintenance includes cleaning the leaves and debris from the roof’s valleys and gutters. Debris in the valleys can cause water to wick under the shingles and cause damage to the interior of the roof. Clogged rain gutters can cause water to flow back under the shingles on the eaves and cause damage, regardless of the roofing material. including composition shingle, wood shake, tile or metal. The best way to preserve your roof is to stay off it. Also, seasonal changes in the weather are usually the most destructive forces.

A leaky roof can damage ceilings, walls and furnishings. To protect buildings and their contents from water damage, roofers repair and install roofs made of tar or asphalt and gravel; rubber or thermoplastic; metal; or shingles made of asphalt, slate, fiberglass, wood, tile, or other material. Roofers also may waterproof foundation walls and floors.

There are two types of roofs:  flat and pitched (sloped). Most commercial, industrial and apartment buildings have flat or slightly sloping roofs. Most houses have pitched roofs.

A number of roofing materials are available…
 

Asphalt

 Asphalt is the most commonly used roofing material. Asphalt products include shingles, roll roofing, built-up roofing, and modified bitumen membranes. Asphalt shingles are typically the most common and economical choice for residential roofing. They come in a variety of colors, shapes, and textures. There are four different types: strip, laminated, interlocking, and large individual shingles.

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Metal

Most metal roofing products consist of steel or aluminum, although some consist of copper and other metals. Steel is invariably galvanized by the application of a zinc or a zinc-aluminum coating, which greatly reduces the rate of corrosion.

Wood

Wood shakes offer a natural look with a lot of character. Because of variations in color, width, thickness, and cut of the wood, no two shake roofs will ever look the same. Wood offers some energy benefits, too.

Concrete and Tile

Concrete tiles are made of extruded concrete that is colored. Traditional roofing tiles are made from clay. Concrete and clay tile roofing systems are durable, aesthetically appealing, and low in maintenance. They also provide energy savings and are environmentally friendly. Although material and installation costs are higher for concrete and clay tile roofs,

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Single-Ply

Single-ply membranes are flexible sheets of compounded synthetic materials that are manufactured in a factory. There are three types of membranes: thermosets, thermoplastics, and modified bitumen’s. These materials provide strength, flexibility, and long-lasting durability.

Are You at Risk?

If you aren’t sure whether your house is at risk from natural disasters, check with your local fire marshal, building official, city engineer, or planning and zoning administrator. They can tell you whether you are in a hazard area. Also, they usually can tell you how to protect yourself and your house and property from damage.

Replacing Your Roof

The age of your roof is usually the major factor in determining when to replace it. Most roofs last many years, if properly installed, and often can be repaired rather than replaced. An isolated leak usually can be repaired. The average life expectancy of a typical residential roof is 15 to 20 years. Water damage to a home’s interior or overhangs is commonly caused by leaks from a single weathered portion of the roof, poorly installed flashing, or from around chimneys and skylights. These problems do not necessarily mean you need a new roof.

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Fire-Resistant Materials

Some roofing materials, including asphalt shingles, and especially wood shakes, are less resistant to fire than others. When wildfires and brush fires spread to houses, it is often because burning branches, leaves, and other debris buoyed by the heated air and carried by the wind fall onto roofs. If the roof of your house is covered with wood or asphalt shingles, you should consider replacing them with fire-resistant materials. You can replace your existing roofing materials with slate, terra cotta or other types of tile, or standing-seam metal roofing. Replacing roofing materials is difficult and dangerous work. Unless you are skilled in roofing and have all the necessary tools and equipment, you will probably want to hire a roofing contractor to do the work. Also, a roofing contractor can advise you on the relative advantages and disadvantages of various fire-resistant roofing materials.

Keep these points in mind if you plan to have your existing roofing materials replaced:

  • Tile, metal, and slate are more expensive roofing materials, but if you need to replace your roofing anyway, it may be worthwhile to pay a little more for the added protection these materials provide. 
  • Slate and tile can be much heavier than asphalt shingles or wood shingles. If you are considering switching to one of these heavier coverings, your roofing contractor should determine whether the framing of your roof is strong enough to support them. 
  • If you live in an area where snow loads are a problem, consider switching to a modern standing-seam metal roof, which will usually she

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