Thursday October 31, 2013
You've found that perfect house. Everything about it is right until you learn that the shingles on that new house you can't wait to bid on are asbestos shingles. Cue record scratch. Can't you die from asbestos? Perfect house ruined.
Fear not. Asbestos shingles are completely harmless as long as the asbestos cement is encapsulated. Only when shingles crumble and the fibers become airborne do they pose a health hazard. This is called 'friable'. Asbestos shingles are no longer installed on roofs as they were banned in the late 1980s for health safety reasons. That being said, the asbestos shingles may be in a great shape and pose no threat your family's health. Having your home inspector verify their condition will give you peace of mind before deciding to place an offer.
You may find out the shingles are in great shape but you still want them gone. What then? Laws on handling asbestos vary by state and as long as you follow the state regulations, you will be safe. Protective suiting and masks keep whoever is removing the shingles safe from any potential asbestos dust that may be released during the process and every piece is bagged for proper disposal. Be aware going into the process that it is not a quick fix, nor will it be cheap. Finding a professional abatement company will ensure your safety but some states allow the homeowner to complete the work themselves.
Know that if you decide to purchase the home and have an abatement company do the removal and someday sell the home yourself, you must disclose to the new buyer that you once had asbestos on your home. If you hire a professional abatement company, they will give you a certificate showing proper removal and will most likely give you the peace of mind you're looking for.
If you know without a doubt you want to remove the shingles before moving into the home, ask for an adjustment on the purchase price from the seller. While you can't expect them to concede if the roof is in satisfactory shape, it never hurts to ask, especially since you're assuming the risk of a potentially hazardous product.
Photo © www.istockphoto.com/BanksPhotos Removal of shingles.
Tuesday October 29, 2013
Growing up in the Northeast, fall and winter equate to cold temperatures and a strong possibility of snow and freezing rain. While I can appreciate the beauty of snow, personally anything below 60 degrees is too cold for my blood. I like to imagine living somewhere warm all year long. That being said, there are many of you living my dream in those warmer climates, so high heating bills are not on your radar and a cool roof that helps lower cooling costs would likely be a better investment. Are you wondering what a cool roof is?
Just like light-colored or white clothing helps keep you cool in tropical climates, buildings, whether commercial or residential, benefit the same way. Light colors reflect heat and sunlight, while dark colors do the opposite, absorbing the heat and light.
Cool roofs are made of materials that reflect the sun's energy from the roof surface. Low-slope roofs, typically commercial, are mainly bright white in color. Understandably, you may not want a gleaming white roof on your home. While it would do a fantastic job at keeping the heat out of your home, it may not ascetically be desirable. Manufacturers are beginning to produce more non-white options of cool roofs as the demand for sloped roof applications increases.
Helping reduce energy costs, a cool roof can reduce the roof surface temperature by up to 100 degrees Fahrenheit, resulting in a major reduction in the heat transferred into the building below. The greatest benefit comes in the form of reduced energy costs and increased indoor comfort. Installing a cool roof will provide dramatic savings on electricity bills, helping with the air conditioning costs, save peak electricity demand costs and even reduce the air pollution and smog formation.
Consider a cool roof if you plan to replace your roof and are fortunate enough to be living somewhere where you require air conditioning 8 months out of the year. I'll be here by my heater, cold and jealous. Keep in mind however that cool roofs are not just beneficial in the southern climates; they can also help with cost savings in the north. There are many debates concerning the use of cool roofs in cooler climates but if you understand the pros and cons along with how proper design ties all of this together, you can make the best choice for your building and location and still realize the energy saving benefits of a cool roof.
Photo © Jurin Roofing Services, Inc. Reflective TPO cool roof system.
Monday October 28, 2013
Ease of installation and affordability make heat tape a great option for protecting your home from the dangers of ice dams. If you are looking for a relatively easy solution to keep snow from accumulating on your roof top, heat tape may be a wise investment for your home or building. It can be found at most home improvement stores and can be adjusted to fit the appearance of any roof or gutter for snow-melting and de-icing purposes.
Inadequate air flow to a structure's roof top in geographic locations with colder climates can result in ice dams. These ice dams impede melting snow from traveling through the gutters and downspouts, hindering water drainage. Subsequently, the snowfall water becomes stagnate and sinks into the roofing shingles, sheathing and decking.
Heat tape can be purchased in fixed lengths, usually between 2 and 20 feet based on the style. It is typically available in both 120 and 240 volt versions with power options between 50 to 135 watts. There are also different width options ranging from 1/2 inch to as much as 3 1/4 inch. Temperature control is needed to adjust to the changing weather conditions. A thermostat can be installed so that if your temperature drops to a selected suggested degree, the device will automatically activate.
Be mindful that while heat tape saves you money by protecting your home from the serious damages of ice dams, it runs off of electricity which can and will translate into a higher electric bill. Typical heat tape burns electricity at 6 to 9 watts per foot per hour. Translate that into 100 feet of heat tape operating all day and night, every day of the week can easily add between $40 and $60 to your monthly bill. A timer is a wise investment to keep the system running efficiently and turning off automatically when it's not needed. Residential audit programs recommend using a timer to run heat tape from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. whenever snow or ice is sitting on your roof.
Photo © www.istockphoto.com/aimintang Gutter heat tape can help prevent ice dams.
Friday October 25, 2013
I can't think of anything a homeowner loves more than saving money. And an easy way for homeowners to save both money and energy is by adding insulation. While the return on your investment of insulation varies with the type of material you choose to use and whether or not you have it professionally installed, proper installation of good insulation is permanent and maintenance-free. You can see the return on your investment in lower fuel bills, increased comfort and year-round energy savings.
Insulation's main function is to resist the flow of heat. This is expressed as an R-value. The higher the R-value, the more resistance to heat flow. Different climates and different locations in your home will require their own unique R-value. Remember to buy insulation according to the R-value you wish to attain, not by total inches.
Beyond the benefits of saving money and keeping the inside of your home a comfortable temperature, keeping your roof an appropriate temperature is equally important to avoid an ice dam nightmare.
While icicles dangling like diamonds from the eaves of your roof may be beautiful, they are a sign of trouble for your home. Icicle formation is often a sign of a serious condition that can have a ripple effect of damage - ruining your roof, the rafters and joists that support the roof, paint on the exterior walls and even the interior finish of your home.
Major ice damming is rarely a natural disaster of freeze-thaw cycles but almost always caused when heat is lost from the house and melts the snow on your roof. Warmth leaks from the interior and passes through a poorly insulated and ventilated attic. The number one way to avoid ice damming is to properly insulate your attic (or ceiling if there is not an attic space above your heated area). Taking the steps to prevent will help you rest easy in your well insulated, ice dam free home.
Some links: Energy.gov Insulation Tips - http://energy.gov/public-services/homes/home-weatherization/insulation
Energy Star Recommended Levels of Insulation - http://www.energystar.gov/?c=home_sealing.hm_improvement_insulation_table
Photo © www.istockphoto.com/BanksPhotos Insulating attic space with expanding foam.
Tuesday October 1, 2013
When you purchase a building or home, new or old, there are some supporting roof components you may not consider until they fail and become a problem. We know we have a roof and most people know about gutters, but there are some other key components of your roof system that you should be familiar with. Knowing what these components are and what their purpose is can assist you in preventing issues before they occur.
Fascia is the vertical finishing edge that is connected to the ends of the rafters, trusses or the area where the gutter is attached to the roof. The primary role of fascia is to cover the ends of the rafters and cover the gaps under the eaves as well as adding to the overall appearance of the roof. Fascia helps protect your building from the elements by ensuring water doesn't enter into the system.
Rotted or deteriorated fascia therefore can allow water to enter into your attic or roof system and can be the cause of roof leak issues. Ensure that all fascia is in place and in good condition.
The soffit area is the exposed surface beneath the overhanging section of a roof eave. Soffit provides a beautiful finished appearance to the eaves and overhangs of your home. It also provides the ventilation you need to remove excess heat and humidity from these places, including the attic. Many newer buildings and homes have soffit installed as a matter of course, but older homes are often without. Take a walk around your home and look under your eaves. If you don't see any soffit vents, you should really consider installation.
Flashings are components used to seal roof system edges, perimeters, penetrations, walls, valleys, drains and any other area where the actual roof covering is interrupted or terminated.
Typically, you'll find flashing around chimneys, vent pipes, walls that square with roofs, and window and door openings. Flashing may be exposed or concealed. For example, sill flashing is concealed under windows and door thresholds to prevent water from entering a wall at those points. Exposed are around any roof penetration and is usually made from stainless steel or copper. The primary function of flashing is to direct water away from the structure and not inside.
Many roof leaks start with a small void in the flashing of a pipe or other roof component. Inspect all of these areas of flashing on your roof to ensure that there are no voids or holes which may allow water to enter your roof system and cause interior damage.
Photo © Jurin Roofing Services, Inc. Fascia and soffit on roof system.
Photo © Jurin Roofing Services, Inc. Roof pipe flashing.
Monday September 30, 2013
Choosing a roofing material can be an overwhelming task due to the variety of options available to us. If you're in the market for a new roof system there are a few things to keep in mind when making your final decision.
If you're forced to replace your roof and are on a limited budget, asphalt shingles are going to be your best bet. They come in a wide variety of colors are easy to install and a good fit for almost any climate. About 80% of homes in America choose asphalt shingles for these reasons.
Take into consideration the average temperature of the area you live in when choosing your roof. The color can actually affect your energy bills. The temperature in your attic can be affected by as much as 20-40 degrees with the right color roof. Light color roof systems are better at reflecting the heat of the sun to keep the space below cooler. The darker colors are still efficient but also help in melting snow load in the winter and keeping a more comfortable temperate in the cold months. So typically if you live in the south consider a light color where dark works better in northern climates.
Matching your roof to other elements of your home will immediately add value to your property. If your home is brick, stone or has a colored siding, take the time to coordinate the color roof. The roof is an investment that you'll have for a long time so choosing something neutral is a safe bet to keep your home's curb appeal for years to come as well as ensuring a good resale value.
Home Association Rules
If you live in a neighborhood with an association, check to see if any color is acceptable or if there are restrictions or roof colors or material types.
Eco-Friendly Roof Products
Explore all the options that are on the market today for a residential roof. There are numerous eco-friendly alternatives that have longevity, durability and price points you might find surprising.
Photo © www.istockphoto.com/chandlerphoto Roof gable and rooster weather vain.
Monday September 30, 2013
We've all heard the horror stories about nightmare contractors and projects gone wrong and cases like these happen far too often. Roofing contractors not keeping their schedule, not enough workers to do the job and customers left with half a roof or roof repair.
How about the contractor that doesn't get the necessary permits? The municipality finds out after the fact and the homeowner is left with all the related fees and the fines. Or even worse the shady contractor that takes the money and runs. Never to show up to do the work after being paid either a deposit or the entire cost of the project. There are countless versions of contractor nightmares. So what can you do to avoid your project becoming a "Contractor Nightmare?"
Always Get Multiple Bids from Multiple Contractors
No matter what project you are considering hiring a contractor to perform, whether it's a roof replacement or a new deck, always get three separate bids from three separate contractors. This way you can compare the bids to see if they all fall in line price-wise. If one bid is much higher or extremely lower than the others than you know they either missed something, are padding the bid amount or are just bad with math! Whatever the reason that should be your "red flag" that something with that bid isn't right.
Also insist that your contractor gives you a written scope of work detailing what they will be doing and what materials they will be using. If they are unwilling to put their proposal in writing and share with you how they will perform the work beware. You should also ask for at least three references of past clients.
Research Local Licensing Requirements and Ensure You Contractor is in Compliance
Many states and municipalities require that contractors are licensed to perform the work. For example, the State of Pennsylvania requires residential and home improvement contractors to be registered with the Attorney General's office to help protect consumers from contractor fraud. In the State of Florida contractors must receive certain amounts of education and pass stringent exams in order to be licensed as contractors.
Research your state or call your municipality. As they say, knowledge is power and in the case of hiring a contractor these are words to live by.
Require a Certificate of Insurance from Your Contractor
Before you sign any contracts for any work, require your contractor to supply you with a certificate of insurance. Insurance is a key element of a professional contractor.
It is paramount that your contractor carries the proper insurance lines such as general liability, automobile and worker's compensation along with proper limits ensuring the contractor can financially cover any problems or issues resulting from the project. Without this coverage the burden could fall on your homeowner's policy.
By following these basic guidelines before your project you can rest assured that you have chosen a professional contractor that will perform the work as you expect.
Photo © www.istockphoto.com/Feverpitched Choosing a good contractor can be a daunting task.
Monday September 30, 2013
Fall is here. Time for hayrides, pumpkin carving and raking the lawn. At least the first two sound fun! Something many of us are not thinking about while we're looking at the ground raking is our roof maintenance.
It is recommended to have a licensed roofing contractor inspect your roof annually - at a minimum. This is generally done in either autumn or spring to prepare for the upcoming season and repair any roof damage caused by the previous season. While that may not be in your budget this year, there are some things you can do yourself. Here are four simple tips to checking your roof over for the upcoming winter months.
- Really take the time to check your shingles. That view from the ground just isn't cutting it. Get up on the roof and check them. It's important to look for shingles that are peeling, missing or losing their grain. Without the grain, asphalt shingles become brittle and begin to crack - just begging water to come in. If you find this damage, repair or replace them.
- Check for any moss or mold that may have formed on the shingles. It may even be in between the shingles. You can purchase a solution specifically for roof moss and mold, spray it on and use a broom to remove. Voila! An easy one but remember to never use a power washer to clean your roof. It can cause the protective layer to come up eliminating the UV protection.
- While you're up on the roof, repair any damaged flashing. Flashing is the material installed between your roof and any wall, such as your chimney or skylight. It is meant to keep leaks out but snow and strong winds can make roof flashings loose. Tighten them up and make sure they are not cracked. This is a very common place for snow to melt and create roof leaks.
- Everyone's favorite chore - cleaning the gutters! Be sure your gutters and downspouts are secure and clean. We all know how time consuming and annoying this task is - so hire a professional to do it if you really can't bear the thought of doing it yourself. This one is really important.
Photo © www.istockphoto.com/maunger Gutter cleaning.
Saturday August 31, 2013
Anyone who is involved in the construction industry or do-it-yourself roof projects, no matter how slight, has undoubtedly heard these acronyms being thrown around. With the new IgCC Green Building Code bringing major changes to building codes and guidelines it more important to understand how the different agencies affect building standards and how they are involved in setting construction guidelines and codes as well as standards for energy efficiency and "green" building concepts.
ASHRAE - American Society of Heating, Refrigerating, and Air-Conditioning Engineers
ASHRAE is an association comprised of engineers who develop standards for building systems, energy efficiency, indoor air quality and sustainability within the industry. ASHRAE however does not develop "building codes" per say. ASHRAE instead sets "standards and practices" from which ICC tends to follow as a guide in the development of their I-Codes.
ICC - International Code Council
ICC is an association of construction industry based members that develop standards used in the design, build, and compliance process to ensure safe, sustainable and affordable construction, referred to as I-Codes. These codes are part of the ICC's extensive library of publications which includes IECC (International Energy Conservation Code) and IEBC (International Existing Building Code). The ICC codes are generally based on the ASHRAE standards and guidelines.
LEED - Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design
LEED, is a voluntary program established by the United States Green Building Council (USGBC) in 1993 to promote sustainable building practices. The LEED program is based on a ratings system that measures the sustainability and energy efficiency of buildings. Buildings receive points based on satisfying certain requirements which are geared toward different methods of green building practices. A building can then be "LEED Certified" giving the building owner certain benefits such as increased value, liability reduction, energy savings as well as the possibility of tax credits and other incentives.
IgCC is a model code developed by the International Code Council (ICC) in conjunction with other organizations such as AIA, ASHRAE and the USGBC. It is intended to serve as a baseline for local jurisdictions wishing to adopt "green" code requirements defining the sustainability of buildings and building sites.
These new codes address building energy conservation, water efficiency, building owner responsibilities, site impacts, building waste, and materials. In a lot of ways the IgCC codes follow the LEED standards, so if you are familiar with LEED you should already have a good idea of what the IgCC is all about.
The main difference between the LEED standards and IgCC is that the IgCC contains mandatory provisions unlike LEED which is strictly voluntary.
Have you installed any LEED initiatives in your home or building?
Photo © www.istockphoto.com/menonsstocks Construction books.
Wednesday August 14, 2013
Roofing systems are a favorite place for algae and other organic growth to take hold. This growth looks unsightly and can eventually harm the life expectancy of your roof system. It can reduce the curb appeal of your home and can raise concerns for potential buyers if you attempt to sell your home or your building. If you know that certain portions of your building are prone to this type of growth, it is best to take precautionary steps to prevent the growth from beginning.
There are various steps that can be taken to prevent the growth from occurring. It is first important to understand where these areas of growth can occur. The areas that are most prone to algae growth are areas of the building which do not receive direct sunlight and which do not dry out quickly after rainfall. It is recommended that you look at your building or home during various times of the day and pay attention to the patterns of sunlight exposure to see if there are areas of the roof which may be prone to this type of growth.
Once you have located areas of concern, you will need to determine if these areas already have growth occurring. If organic growth such as algae is already present, it is best to remove these areas of growth with a mild algaecide. Be certain that any type of cleaner used complies with government regulations and that it does not filter into your well if you have a well on your property. Be careful to use a method which does not harm the shingles or other type of roof system while attempting to remove the algae growth.
After removing the algae, you will need to incorporate a zinc strip or other type of algae preventative measure into your roof system. Zinc strips allow rainfall to wash over the strips and wash across the roof system helping to prevent algae growth from beginning.
Have you experienced algae growth on your roof system? How did you eliminate it?
Photo © www.istockphoto.com/pipedreams Moss growth on roof.