What’s On Your Roof? A Consumer Education Guide from NTRCA

NTRCA launched its ongoing Who’s On Your Roof? consumer awareness campaign in 2009 and, since then, has received national recognition from the National Roofing Contractors Association for it and was selected for the “Texans with Character” honor by CBS 11.

Our latest consumer resource focuses on WHAT’S on your roof. There’s a lot more to any roof than meets the eye, and as homeowners review insurance and contractor paperwork, it’s really helpful to understand the different components of a roof and the various layers that make up a professionally-installed roof.

ntrca whats on your roof

Resourses like this are especially important in Texas, where most homeowners are surprised to learn that the state has no licensing, certification, registration or even insurance requirements for roofers. ANYONE can call themselves a roofer in Texas … and it’s not unusual to see an influx of out-of-state roofers or local folks in another profession suddenly become “roofers” after big storms hit North Texas.

ntrca roofing components

In addition to shingles (or tiles, sheet metal etc.), most home’s roofs will have anywhere from several to all of the above components, depending on the size and shape of the roof and whether or not the home has a chimney.

Provided below are definitions of each component:

Chimney – a pipe through which smoke or gas goes up into the air, usually through the roof of a building.

Gutter – shallow troughs fixed beneath the edge of a roof, with the sole purpose of carrying off rainwater (learn more about gutters in NTRCA’s Gutters 101 article for homeowners).

Valley – a hollow resembling or suggesting a valley, as the point at which the two slopes of a roof meet

Chimney Cap – a cap or cover for a chimney; they help keep animals and rainwater out, block downdrafts, block debris and help stop sparks and embers

Vent Stack – an opening designed to convey air, heat, water vapor or other gas from inside a building or a building component to the atmosphere.

Attic Vent – part of an attic ventilation system that replenishes fresh air through the attic space (learn more about attic ventilation in NTRCA’s Attic Ventilation Basics article for homeowners)

Ridge Cap/Vent – a ridge cap is a material or covering applied over the ridge of a roof; a ridge vent is a ventilator located at the ridge that allows the escape of warm and/or moist air from the attic area or rafter cavity.

Fascia – a board that is nailed to the ends of a roof rafter; sometimes supports a gutter.

Soffit – the exposed undersurface of any exterior overhanging section of a roof eave; soffit vents (an air inlet source as part of attic ventilation) are often installed in soffits.

Counter Flashing – flashing is used to weatherproof or seal roof system edges at perimeters, penetrations, walls, expansion joints, valleys, drains and other places where the roof covering is interrupted or terminated. Counter flashing is a strip of sheet metal in the form of an inverted L built into a vertical wall of masonry and bent down over the flashing to make it watertight.

Hip Ridge – a material or covering applied over the ridge of a hip roof

ntrca roofing material layers

Not only are there more components to a roof than most people realize, but there are also many more layers involved. And it is critical that these layers are applied properly by trained professionals – to protect your home AND to protect your roof’s warranty. To keep your warranty intact, a roof must be applied properly, per the shingle/tile manufacturer’s specs.

Provided below are definitions of each layer in the illustration above:

Decking – the foundation or base upon which the entire roofing system is dependent; can be made of steel, concrete, cement or wood (most home’s roof decks are made of wood in North Texas).

Drip Edge – a metal flashing or other overhanging component with an outward projecting lower edge intended to control the direction of dripping water and help protect underlying building components.

Felt/Underlayment – an asphalt-saturated felt or other sheet material installed between a roof deck and roof covering, used to separate a roof covering from the roof deck, shed water and provide secondary weather protection. When re-roofing a home, it’s important to make sure that your roofing contractor removes ALL of the old felt/underlayment and inspects the decking underneath. Manufacturers require this as part of their warranty, and it’s critical to inspect all of the decking (and fix any issues) before applying the new roof system.

Starter Edge – roll roofing or shingle strips applied along the downslope eave line before the first course of roof covering and intended to fill spaces between cutouts and joints of the first course.

Flashing – components used to weatherproof or seal roof system edges at perimeters, penetrations, walls, expansion joints, valleys, drains and other places where the roof covering is interrupted or terminated.

Headwall Counter Flashing – A headwall is defined by the junction between a sloped roof and a wall. Counter flashing this area of a roof correctly is very important to avoid leaks.

Sometimes, you’ll find a contractor offering a price to re-roof your home that, perhaps, sounds too good to be true. Often, it’s because they have not included all of the critical components of a roof system and/or don’t plan to remove your existing roof’s felt in order to provide the low number. Cutting corners to save money now could mean you spend more later as your roof system begins to fail or needs repaired. Make sure you know what you’re getting and/or not getting. And if you’re comparing bids, make sure you’re comparing apples to apples.

Find more North Texas consumer awareness resources at www.ntrca.com/advice or www.ntrca.com/consejos.

 

Gutters 101: What Homeowners Need to Know About Gutters in North Texas

A consumer awareness resource compiled by NTRCA, with special thanks to NTRCA members Rich Frazier, owner and founder of Frazier Roofing and Guttering and Matt Reilly, CTO (Chief Technology Officer), at Reilly Roofing and Gutters.

Gutters aren’t something the average homeowner gives a whole lot of thought to, but if 1) your home doesn’t have them (many homes in North Texas don’t), 2) your existing gutters are in disrepair or 3) hail has damaged your roof and/or gutters, it’s helpful to learn some basics so you can make the best decisions for your home and, most likely, prevent costly damage.

What are house gutters and what purpose do they serve?

Gutters are shallow troughs fixed beneath the edge of a roof, with the sole purpose of carrying off rainwater. That sounds simple enough. But without gutters that are operating well, you could be facing some not-so-simple (and possibly expensive) issues with your home.

What problems can arise without gutters?

In North Texas, we don’t typically get nice, soft rainfalls. Instead, we get long, hot dry spells interspersed with massive rain and hail storms. Additionally, the North Texas area has clay soil, which is particularly sensitive to moisture changes, affecting your home’s foundation.

When rain is allowed to pour off your roof with no channeling of the rainwater, flowers and shrubs underneath your roofline can get pelted and damaged, and the soil in your flower beds can be washed away, causing soil erosion and unsightly ruts.

“Without gutters, water can also cause dampness on outside walls, which can cause mold to grow and timber to rot,” said Matt Reilly, CTO at Reilly Roofing.

Worse yet, without gutters, water can pool in areas near your house, causing serious damage to a home’s foundation. This is especially important in North Texas, with our clay dirt, which easily contracts and expands based on the amount of moisture in the soil.

“It’s best to keep the moisture levels steady across your entire foundation, rather than having areas where water pools and other areas that are dry,” said Rich Frazier, owner of Frazier Roofing & Guttering.

Many newcomers to Texas are surprised to learn that it’s extremely helpful to “water” your home’s foundation in the summer for the same reasons. Consistent and even moisture levels around the entire home are best. Inconsistent moisture levels, with pooling water in some areas, can cause serious damage to a foundation.

“Gutters save homes from unnecessary and expensive repairs,” said Reilly.

What are the different types of gutters? What are the pros/cons of each?

“The most common gutters installed by professionals are seamless gutters, made out of aluminum,” said Frazier, “but they aren’t the only choice out there.”

“There are six main choices for gutter materials: aluminum, copper, steel, galvalume, zinc and vinyl,” said Reilly.

Here’s an overview of the six types of gutters, provided by Reilly:

Aluminum Gutters: They are corrosion-resistant, lightweight, available in a variety of colors and less expensive than all the other materials, except vinyl. On the flipside, hail can damage them relatively easy because they are lightweight.

Copper Gutters: These gutters cost more than aluminum ones, but they last longer and do not need painted. However, they’re considerably more expensive than any of the other options, which is why they aren’t as common.

Galvanized Steel Gutters: These gutters are made of zinc and are very strong, but they are prone to rust.   

Galvalume Gutters: Steel gutters with a coating of aluminum and zinc. It is a strong and durable metal that can last nine times longer than gutters made of galvanized steel.                                                    

Zinc Gutters: Similar to copper, gutters made from zinc do not need to be painted. Although they do cost more than aluminum gutters, they don’t need paint, require little maintenance and their lifespan is twice as long compared to aluminum.

Vinyl Gutters: Also known as PVC or plastic gutters, these are the least expensive and easiest for homeowners to install themselves. The downside to vinyl gutters is that when they get hot, they tend to twist, so they aren’t as sturdy as other options.

What is the advantage of using a gutter installation company that is also a roofing expert?

While it isn’t necessary to use a gutter installation company that is also a roofing expert, it does provide an advantage.

“Sometimes a home has roof issues that affect the proper flow to the gutters,” said Frazier. “A company that installs both gutters and roofs would have the knowledge and ability to spot and address these issues.”

Reilly agrees: “While your gutter is being installed correctly, you also have a professional roofer up there who can let know you if there are any problems with your roof.”

Additionally, because gutters are typically attached under the roof’s drip edge, it’s important that they are attached properly, without impairing the roof shingles.

If I have gutters, how do I know when I need my gutters repaired? Replaced?

“You don’t need to replace your gutters if the original ones are straight, solid and don't leak,” said Reilly.

Vinyl gutters can’t be repaired, but others, such as steel or copper gutters, can be repaired if they are leaking. If this is the case, Reilly recommends contacting a local sheet metal shop.

How often should I clean my gutters? Is there maintenance I can do on my gutters to help them last longer and work properly?

The critical maintenance task for your gutters is to make sure they stay clean.

“A good rule of thumb is to clean your gutters at least twice per year,” advised Reilly. “First, after leaves have fallen from the trees in the fall and then again in the spring, to clear out winter debris, before the spring rains come. But pay attention year-round to make sure water is flowing freely off your roof, through the gutters and out your downspouts when it rains.”

What about gutter guards? Do I need them?

“If you have a landscape with big trees, you should consider installing gutter guards,” said Frazier. “Otherwise, the gutters will fill up and your downspouts won’t work properly. And with a lot of moisture being held in your gutters, it will create mosquito issues.”

There are 3 basic types of gutter guards available that homeowners can add to their gutters: gutter screens with large holes, gutter screens with small holes and gutter caps. Gutter screens, designed to block leaves and debris, attach to the top of gutters. Gutter screens with small holes are more expensive than those with large holes, but prevent more debris from making it through.

“Gutter caps, at about four times the cost, cover the entire gutter and often have a lifetime warranty,” said Frazier.

Both Frazier and Reilly point out that no gutter guard product is perfect.

“Gutter guards do an excellent job of prohibiting full-sized leaves from falling into your gutters, but many of them cannot stop small leaves, flower buds, seed pods or evergreen needles from getting caught in the gutter,” said Reilly. “These products can spare you some time and work, because they do eliminate most leaves from you gutter. However, they do not allow you to sit back and be lazy: your gutters will still need cleaned once in a while.”

When my home is being re-roofed, what do I need to know about my gutters?

If your home needs re-roofed due to North Texas hail damage, chances are that it’s best to replace your gutters as well.

Why?

First off, if hail damaged your roof, it’s likely that it damaged some or all of your gutters as well.

Second, said Fraizer: “To re-roof a home properly, you have to take the gutters and the drip edge off, and the gutters are typically attached under the existing drip edge.”

Even if your gutters haven’t been damaged, if you have typical gutters, such as aluminum or copper, it’s virtually impossible to take the gutters off and put them back on without damaging them, he added.

“There’s too much movement and room for them to bend, twist or get a kink, so if you have to remove your gutters for any reason, it’s best to replace them,” said Frazier.

Rich Frazier, a long-time member of NTRCA and former NTRCA board president, is the owner and founder of Frazier Roofing and Guttering. Founded in 1977, Frazier Roofing and Guttering is the second oldest roofing company based in Arlington, Texas and serves all of the DFW area. Learn more at www.frazierservices.com.

Matt Reilly is an NTRCA member and the CTO of Reilly Roofing and Gutters. Founded 15 years ago, the company serves the Dallas/Fort Worth, Denton and San Antonio areas of Texas. Learn more at www.reillyroofing.com.

 

 

The Top 5 Red Flags to Look Out for When Hiring a Roofing Contractor in North Texas

In the aftermath of North Texas storms, neighborhoods are typically flooded with roofing salespeople and flyers, trying to drum up business in one of the few states left in the country without some sort of state licensing requirement for roofers. It can be difficult for homeowners to weed out the good roofing contractors from the bad. To help, NTRCA has compiled a list of the top 5 shady roofing practices reported to the organization by members and homeowners.

  1. Contingency Contracts

Contingency contracts are a common practice for many roofing companies. If the homeowner is aware of the contingency and understands and agrees to it, that’s one thing. But when a roofing company hides the language in fine print AND rushes a homeowner to sign a contract without discussing the contingency with a homeowner, it’s a shady business practice. Most typically what’s been reported to us is a roofing company promising “free” emergency repairs, a roof inspection and/or roof tarping if a homeowner will quickly sign an agreement. In the fine print are details that tie the homeowner to that roofing contractor in the event that the homeowner’s insurance company pays for a roof replacement. TIP: always read everything (even the fine print) before signing anything.

  1. Contractors Asking for Money Upfront

If a contractor asks for money upfront, that could be the sign of a potential red flag. The elderly, in particular, are often targeted by scammers who get payment (partial or in full) upfront and then never return or complete the work. This is the most common scam reported to the NTRCA. In some cases, a partial payment upfront is not cause for alarm, such as 1) when a partial payment is required for materials, after they have been delivered to the project location and 2) if a special, high-end product is required, such as a specialty type of slate material. TIP: do significant research on any roofing contractor before paying them anything; never hand over your insurance check to a roofing company or any other contractor; and do not make a final payment before a job is complete.

  1. Sales Lead Generation Companies

Another tactic reported to NTRCA is one where lead generation companies, disguised as “roofing damage experts” call areas that have received storm damage. They call and use a script that carefully avoids identifying themselves by a company name and tell homeowners “we’ll be in your area next week.” When the homeowner agrees to an appointment with the no-name company, that company turns around and sells the lead to a roofing company, which could be a legitimate roofing contractor … or not. TIP: If you get a call like this ask, “What company are you representing?” and “What is your address?” If they hesitate or side-step the question, simply hang up.

  1. Roofing Companies Acting As Insurance Adjusters

Another red flag is when roofing contractors act as insurance adjusters and claim they can help homeowners negotiate or “work” their claim. This practice is illegal – a single company/person cannot act as both a homeowner’s roofer AND their insurance adjuster. TIP: talk with your insurance adjuster about the claim and your roofing contractor about the scope of work to be performed. 

  1. Storm Chasers – Here Today, Gone Tomorrow

In Texas, anyone can hang up a “shingle” and call themselves a roofing company. And when storms hit in North Texas, we see an influx of out-of-town roofers (a.k.a. storm chasers), who “work the storm” and then leave town not long after the storms do, unable and unwilling to service any kind of warranty they promised. Similarly, we also see “in-town” storm chasers, who may be from the area, but have no roofing expertise, yet suddenly jump into the roofing business simply because there is significant opportunity to make money. TIP: pick a company that is local, experienced and a member in good standing with a professional roofing organization.

There are plenty of good, reputable, local roofing contractors based in North Texas. How do you spot them? Read this for some clues to keep mind to help you spot and select the GOOD, professional roofing contractors.

 

 

When Your Roof Gets Hit By Hail and Needs Tarped -- Next Steps and Tips from NTRCA

If you are one of the many North Texas property owners hit by hail in the recent spring storms, and you have holes in your roof and/or skylights, the road ahead can seem daunting.

The first step is to get your home dried-in as much as possible by getting tarps on your roof. In neighborhoods hit by storms, you will suddenly see a convergence of pickup trucks with ladders, roofing flyers on doorsteps and people knocking on doors to sell you roofing services. In areas hit hard like Wylie, the stores were out of roof tarps and large plastic wrap for windows and automobiles in no time.

What should you do? Who should you trust? How do you get your house dry ASAP before the next round of rain comes?

If you have used a local roofing company you know and trust, give them a call. Let them know if water is coming in your home or not. When storms of this magnitude hit, reputable, local roofing companies get very busy and have to operate in a sort of triage mode, attending to those with water coming in their homes first.

If you don't have a relationship with a local roofing company, visit www.ntrca.com and go to our Find a Roofer page. You can do a search by city. Also, check out our advice on hiring a roofing company at www.ntrca.com/advice and www.ntrca.com/consejos (in Spanish). NTRCA warns all homeowners about scam artists and storm chasers, who prey on people when they're most vulnerable, and offers advice on how to avoid them.

If your home needs tarped ASAP, we warn homeowners to please beware of the difference between signing a contract that authorizes a contractor to put a tarp on ... and sigining a contract for future repairs or a new roof. Read carefully before you sign a contract with contingencies.

The company may knock on the door and promise “free” emergency repairs if a homeowner will sign an agreement or may insist that the homeowner sign an agreement before the contractor inspects the roof. In the fine print, details about the “contract” are written. Don't sign anything without knowing exactly what you're signing, and do your research before you let anyone work on your home!

Click here to learn more about roofing red flags and scams to watch out for.

 

 

5 Signs You Need a New Roof

A guest article contributed by NTRCA member Malarkey Roofing Products.

5 signs you need a new roof north texas roofing contractors association ntrcaA solid roof is crucial to the health of your home. Not only will it keep your family safe, but it’s your home’s first line of defense against other serious and costly issues.

Unfortunately, most people don’t think about their roof until something goes awry, like a leak or broken roof shingles. Don’t wait until water comes pouring through your roof!

Here are 5 things to look for that might indicate it is time to repair or replace your roof.

  1. Curling Shingles and Shingle Grits

Inspection can offer insight into the condition of your roof. We recommend looking for curling shingles first.

Shingles can curl in two main ways:

  • Cupping occurs when the roof shingles turn upwards.
  • Clawing happens when the edges stay flat and the middle starts to come up.

Both types of curling are signs of weathering and indicate potential problems or leaks. We encourage you to keep an eye on your rooftop to make sure it’s in tip top shape, especially following a heavy rain or windstorm.

Roof shingles should lie flat against the roof. Cracked shingles are typically a result of wind damage. If you find patches that are cracked, damaged, or buckling, then it may be time to make some repairs.

While you can make repairs and replacement, it’s important to note that architectural roofing shingles will vary in color. It’s just about impossible to get a new shingle to match the color of an old one because the granule colors will change over the years due to weathering. You can keep patching until a bigger issue presents itself, but your roof will look a bit patchy and you may want to consider replacing the entire roof.

While you are inspecting your roof, you may want to look into your gutters or downspouts for shingle grit. Shingle granules in your gutters are a sign that your roof is losing a lot of granules and it may be at the end of its useful life.

  1. Age of Roof Shingles

Check your home improvement records to see how long ago the roof was replaced or re-shingled. Depending on the weather conditions, your roof should last around 20 to 25 years. Knowing when a roof was installed can offer insight into how much life it has left.

  1.  Signs of Water Damage

The first place we recommend looking for water damage is in your attic. Grab a flashlight and climb up under the eaves. Look for beams of light coming through the top of the house or stains and streaks, which are indications of water damage and could signal a leaky roof.

Signs of water damage can also show up on the ceiling and along the walls within your home. Water damage can add up to thousands of dollars in damage. If you do have signs of water damage, it’s important to enlist the help of a roofing professional immediately to prevent further damage.

  1. Roof Shingles Covered with Moss or Algae

When your roof shingles begin to be covered with moss or algae, it can look unsightly. Many homeowners choose to replace their roof because they don’t like the aesthetic. Fortunately, there are many new shingles that are algae resistant.

You may be tempted to power wash your roof or scrape away the green mildew, however, you should resist the temptation. You could damage your architectural roofing shingles and chip off all the granules, which could in turn make your shingles useless. If the algae situation is controllable and you really want to remove them, consider a wash that’s one part bleach and one part water. Zinc strips can also be installed at roof peaks and will eventually eliminate the problem.

  1. Sagging Roof

A droopy or sagging roof is one that definitely needs replacing before further damages occur to your home. Check the surface for signs of moisture or rotting boards in the sagging spots. A sagging roof is a good indication of a structural issue. There could be a problem with the attic or foundation. It’s important to take care of sagging roof problems as soon as possible before they sprout into larger issues.

What If I Need to Replace My Roof?

There are many factors to consider when replacing your home’s roof, including materials, size of the roof, shape and pitch of the roof and cost. Architectural roofing shingles are a bit more expensive than regular asphalt shingles because of their high quality materials and stunning three-dimensional appearance.

Your roof is what keeps you warm and dry. When it’s time to get a new one installed, seek the help of a roofing professional to get the best value out of your investment.