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Is your roof weatherproof?

Make sure your shingles are in top shape for the rainy season

Posted: December 5, 2008 10:37 p.m.
Updated: December 6, 2008 4:55 a.m.

Daniel Jones of Daniel Roofing & Construction inspects and replaces shingles on the roof of a Mint Canyon home.

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So, OK, maybe this story catches you a little late. With the bit of rain we had just before Thanksgiving, you may have found out the hard way that your roof needs attention. Our best intentions here at The Signal were to warn you about this after those high winds we had, and before the first rains came. Best laid plans.

But those rains weren't all that heavy, so you could still potentially have a problem in a downpour, even if you didn't have a leak with the last storm.

Did the winds damage your roof? Has time taken its toll? Were you hit by blue ice falling from an airplane? Meteor? Who knows?

Now is a good time to get your roof inspected to prevent damaging leaks later this winter. Daniel Jones, owner of Daniel Roofing & Construction, said, "Estimates are free. You might as well get your roof checked."

Wind and weather
Jones is a local resident who has been roofing in the Santa Clarita Valley for 23 years. That he has become an expert at it sort of snuck up on him. "This was supposed to be a summer job for me after I graduated Saugus High School in 1985. I've been doing it ever since," he said.

Jones felt that the winds that ripped through the SCV recently may have damaged the roofs of many homes - unbeknownst to the homeowners. During a roof repair job done just before Thanksgiving, on a home out in Mint Canyon, he showed me proof.

The home in question had old asphalt shingles, which had buckled up in one location where water getting under them had warped the plywood below. The evidence to the homeowner was a stain on his ceiling. The obvious leak in the roof was what brought Jones out to inspect, but other problems were noted.

Most likely as a result of wind, more than one small section of shingles had been displaced. The locations where they were displaced from offered potential entry points for water. As part of his full service, Jones and crew replaced and patched up these spots - and re-sealed areas where metal flashing needed attention, such as at the base of the chimney.

Jones explained the extra attention. "The advantage of being a small company is I get to oversee the workmanship. The guy that took the test and got the license is actually the guy on the roof doing the work," he said. And then he added, "God checks my work every time it rains."

Though a casual look at the humped-up asphalt shingles where the leak occurred would indicate a problem underneath, from the inside of the house, a stain in the ceiling was the only evidence water had leaked in. Jones said a stain the size of a quarter is probably the result of at least a gallon of water entering the roof. "It soaks the rafters, insulation, plywood or the drywall absorbs it before it will enter your ceiling," he said.

Small leak, big hole
To repair the leak in the roof, Jones and crew first removed a large section of asphalt shingles surrounding it. Then they removed the underlying asphalt-impregnated "paper" above the plywood.

Jones noted that the paper, or "felt," as some people call it, is the true waterproofing of a roof. The shingles are really there to protect the paper from sunlight and other damage. This paper isn't very flexible and can crack when older homes move and shift. A new synthetic underlayment is a flexible alternative.

Next, the crew cut out a large section of plywood, which included the corner of the wood where the water had warped it.

After that, Jones moved aside the attic insulation and pointed out where the stain in the ceiling was visible from above. At less than 10 inches in diameter, it seemed insignificant when compared to the huge hole now gaping in the roof. But the idea is to ensure that the leak is repaired. No halfway fixes are allowed.

"I guarantee all my work. If the wind blows off what I put on, or if it leaks, I come back and fix it for free," Jones said.

After putting in new plywood, synthetic underlayment was put down and the edges sealed. Then new asphalt shingles were carefully put in place.

"Installation is where the difference is made," Jones said. And he noted of repairs and complete re-roofings, "I install them right. I don't want to buy them."

All of this work would cost the Mint Canyon homeowner only about $350. "Usually when the Santa Anas kick up, this is pretty typical," Jones said - of the repair and replacement of displaced shingles. Of course the size of the repair and the roofing material required can increase cost significantly.

Then Jones offered a very helpful tip. "Most homeowners insurance won't cover water damage. But they will pay for wind damage." So why not get a free inspection to find out if you have wind damage, which will be covered by insurance, before water damage occurs that won't be covered?

Shingles, shakes & tiles
While asphalt shingles are more susceptible to damage by wind than heavier tiles, there are differences in asphalt shingles. Jones said three-tab asphalt singles are only rated for maximum winds of 60 mph. "We have 80 mph gusts out here," he said. Also, depending on the amount of asphalt in them, shingles come with 20-, 30-, 40- or 50 year warranties.

Tiles, Jones noted, don't get much wind damage, but the tiles can slip or get broken. This exposes the paper underneath to the elements. "If you have slipped or broken tiles, definitely get it fixed before it leads to a bigger leak."

Concrete tiles, he said, actually absorb water, especially when the glaze on top begins to wear off. "So the paper is where the waterproofing comes in."

Wooden shingles and the thicker shakes are more likely to catch fire than tiles or asphalt shingles, and Jones said shakes are one of the most expensive roofing materials - more expensive than tiles. "They haven't installed them (shakes) out here in 20 years." Of wooden shingles he said, "They only let you lay shingles if you're well outside the map of the fire area."

Regarding danger from wind-driven brush fires, Jones explained that there is a danger with any type of roof, even those covered with tiles. The burning debris gets blown under the tiles and into the gable vents and attic vents.

Choosing a roofer
When it comes time for a roof inspection, you not only want a free one, you want to utilize a reputable roofing contractor who will do any necessary work correctly. "Ask for references," Jones said. "Hire a local roofer to do it so that, if you ever have a problem, you know where they live. Quality control is the main thing that separates."

For a free roof inspection call Daniel Roofing & Construction at (661) 298-9349. Visit www.roofingscv.com for more information.

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