If a few shakes / tiles fall off my roof in Bellevue WA, can I just nail a few new ones in their place?
The short answer is probably no. There’s a skill to replacing missing pieces to a roof, as well as correct tools – such as nails – to use so that you don’t create an even bigger problem. Roofing is not that complicated, but it does have to be done right because improper installation can cause a much bigger problem with other parts of your home. A ten-dollar piece of material on a roof can impact ten thousand dollars worth of roofing and house infrastructure. So, how do you go about fixing a seemingly small problem on your roof? Here’s how:
Get a roof inspection so you know what you’re up against
The best thing about a roof inspection is, they are often free of charge. Or, if they do come with a charge, that payment amount is discounted against any paid work that has to be done as a result of the inspection. The other great thing is, a roofer is certainly incentivized to find a problem if there is one. After all, it’s business. He’s there at your house, hands you a quote for the fix, and is happy to do the work. Lastly, an inspection of a roof is more understandable than, say, an entire home inspection, which can be a lot more complicated. How a roof works can be explained fairly easily, and most if it is easy to see with a cursory, layman’s eye.
Is your current roof still covered under its original warranty?
If your roof is a few decades old, it might be well past its useful life, and is due for replacement. In that case, you can’t reasonably expect your original roofing company to fix a natural wear-and-tear problem on your roof, if that is what it is. But if it is a new roof, the roofing company that did the work will likely be happy to fix it for you gratis. But perhaps the problem is because of a tree falling on your house, of a big storm overwhelmed a few slates and your roofing company can’t reasonably be asked to cover you for such “Acts of God”, as they call them in the insurance industry. Still, simply as a measure of good will, they may fix it for you. Sometimes it’s easier just to help a customer on a fly-by repair visit, and not waste time looking for money for a ten-minute fix. It’s all up to the roofer you contracted from in the first place.
The next step is often – especially in the case of a natural problem – to see if your home insurance will pay for it. Every insurance policy is unique, you could say, as every home is unique and every roof issue caused by nature might need to be examined carefully to see if it is covered. A quick phone call to your insurance agent will answer that question quickly.
Last, you may have to pay for it yourself. The beauty of the natural look to homes in the Pacific Northwest comes with a price. Many of the older houses in the region are covered in natural wood (cedar) shakes which eventually deteriorate and need to be replaced. They can certainly last a long time, but they do eventually give way, and they must be replaced before they start letting water in.
Replacing roof tiles needs special tools
You’ve probably heard of a ‘roof nail’. It’s not the same as any old nail, and if you don’t use the right type, you might be making a small problem a big one. One of the challenges of creating a waterproof roof with tiles is, yes, they have to be nailed in place. Each nail, you would be forgiven for assuming, creates a hole through which the rain can flow, right? Well, roof nails are different they are made to penetrate layers of protective roofing, but can maintain watertightness nonetheless. I don’t understand the exact science of it, but you can see how the ‘wrong’ nail might cause a problem.
The good news is, there are multiple layers of protection water must get through before it becomes a problem. For example, if a crack in one of the tiles is letting water reach the waterproof layer under it, well that next layer is there to stop the water going any further. It’s good that there are these multiple layers of redundancies, but they are may to be repaired as soon as possible when one of them fails. It’s like, although you are happy that your car has airbags, it shouldn’t mean you can now ignore the use of safety belts.
New roofing materials offer new types of house protection
If you think cars, phones, TVs and entertainment systems’ technology is advancing at a rapid rate, a similar thing is happening with roofing materials. Every year, it seems, technology has enabled roofing material manufacturers to offer better and better roofing materials. For example, today you can buy roofing tiles than look like actual wood cedar tiles. Only when you pick them up in your hand would you know that they are synthetically made. To “fool” the eye, a manufacturer will make a small selection within a single product. There might be six varieties of pattern within a single synthetic roof product. This gives the illusion of a natural, infinitely varied product across all tiles. This is a trick that has been used by product manufacturers forever. The next time you are in your bathroom or kitchen – if you haven’t already noticed this – look for two tiles that look identical. Even in linoleum with a tiled pattern, the pattern does repeat itself. It’s a neat trick, and has one distinct advantage: ease of use:
Ease of use in a modern, synthetic roof tile product
Manufacturers want the installation of product to be easy. The easier they are to install, the more likely a roofing company is going to promote them, and the better deal that roofer can offer to his or her customer. These new tiles are designed to be easy to install, more ‘mistake tolerant’, last longer, and to look great. When the day comes to replace your roof, consider new, synthetic tiles as an alternative to wood products. It may actually cost less and be a better solution.
More next week!