Roofing isn’t an innate skill that comes naturally to homeowners. In fact, most are so busy working to pay off the house that they have little time to do any depth of research on the art of roofing. The worst part is that even if they leave aftermarket contractors to make decisions for them, those contractors may advise them negligently. The truth is that there is a lot more to roofing than there may seem. And the consequences of not having everything perfect can lead to severe water damage and the need for professional residential roof repair. Let’s look at the 8 common mistakes made by homeowners below.
#1: Roof Walking
It is inherently dangerous to walk on a roof unless you have undergone extensive textbook and on the job safety training. Novices who think that there is nothing to walking on a roof can damage the covering and create leaks. In fact, even if there is something stuck on your roof that seems impractical to hire a roofer to retrieve, like a frisbee or ball, you should use a ladder and a telescoping pole to retrieve it rather than walking on the roof itself. The same is true when you are cleaning gutters. The roof warranty is typically voided concerning any damage that you may have caused by walking on the roof.
#2: Using Trusses for Storage
The trusses that support your roof are only there to support your roof. People who decide to use these areas for storage, often wind up with damaged or sagging roofs. It is important for homeowners to consult a contractor to determine whether the extra weight can be supported before storing any objects up there. It may be necessary to construct additional supports if space is precious and other storage solutions seem impractical.
#3: Failure to Install Shingles Properly
Homeowners can run into a variety of problems when they try to install shingles themselves. The primary mistake is to think that they can hack it as they go. In these cases, they will skip over the starter shingles that have to be placed along the eaves. Without this secure footing, the water will run under the shingles along the eaves when they are finally installed.
The shabby roofing jobs are most obvious when the shingles are visibly out of alignment. They are either lacking vertical alignment in the case of three-tab shingles or are cursed with bumpy looking butted joints that do not align on the same horizontal plane.
The shingle exposure is often shortened below the suggested 5 inches for standard three-tab shingles. This means that the shingles will be improperly layered and bunched up on top of each other. When this occurs, the shingles do not protect the roof but instead collect moisture or blow off during hard wind gusts.
The same problems occur when there is too much or too little overhang of the shingles on the edge of the roof. The edge of the shingles should overhang by 1 to 1.5 inches in a standard installation. This will drip the water away from the building instead of allowing it to seep into the fascia boards or rake. If the overhang is too long, the shingles can blow right off in a high wind.
The other element of properly installing shingles comes down to nailing them. Homeowners may not realize that shingles require 4 to 6 nails each. The average roof only needs 4 nails to secure it. Rooves that have a steeper grade require 6 nails. As a general rule, nails should never be used to secure the shingles at the self-sealing strip or above it. The nails should, instead, be used in consideration of the self-sealing strip as a separate set of nails, all of themselves, and spaced accordingly.
You should always check with the manufacturer, however, to be sure that the warranty will not be voided if you install shingles in a certain manner. Most warranties require that a certain number of nails be used and that certain steps be taken to ensure the life of your roof structures.
#4: Improper Valley Flashing Installations
Sub-par contractors and homeowners often struggle with how to install valley flashing. The valleys are critical areas of a roof because they manage the highest volumes of runoff water during a hard rain. The valley flashing is a support structure to layer beneath shingles rather than to simply install as an additional shielding above them.
Sometimes the flashing will even be installed backward like a mountain instead of being flush against the valley and firmly sealed into place. Even if the valley flashing is otherwise installed correctly but not secured properly, it can accumulate excess water in pools beneath it and rot the entire structure out from the inside.
#5: Failure to Vent Attics
If the rooves do not vent properly, the moisture will build up and break down the shingles by water-logging and eroding them from the bottom. This will weaken them, make them flimsy, and susceptible to premature wear and tear. The air has to be able to escape from your attics and ceilings. Amateurs may cover up any air vents in attempts to quickly seal every surface of the roof.
#6: Failing to Obtain a Permit
Most municipalities have regulations that mandate that homeowners first obtain permits before installing a new roof. If they skip this step, the home insurance company may refuse to insure it. In addition, the municipality may fine the homeowners or force them to remove the roof, under the duress of progressive penalties.
#7: Underinsured Contractors
There is always a risk of injury or damage to a home when contractors are installing a roof or making repairs. If the contractor themselves do not have sufficient insurance to cover any damages, you may be responsible to pay the bills. For this reason, you should always double-check to ensure that your contractor has a sufficient insurance policy to cover the costs of potential damages to your structures and to their crews.
#8: Recycled Roof Flashing
Some contractors will recycle flashing that is removed from your roof or other projects to cut corners. When they do this, they reduce the lifespan of the roof because it will rust out and degrade prematurely. Having fresh flashing is worth the small investment to ensure that your roof lasts a long time for all the time and trouble put into installing it.