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Frequently Asked Roofing Questions

Where necessary we have offered a brief answer to certain questions here with links to more in depth information available elsewhere.

Roof Cost and Contractor Related.

  1. How much does it cost to replace a roof?
  2. Can I replace missing and damaged tiles or shingles without calling a roofing contractor?
  3. How do I choose the right roofing contractor?

Roofing Materials

  1. What are the pros and cons of asphalt shingles?

Roof Project Related

  1. Can my roof be repaired?
  2. Should I have my old roof removed before the new one is installed?
  3. How long does it take to replace a roof?
  4. Should I get my chimney looked at before I have roof work done?
  5. Do I need a permit to have my roof replaced?
  6. Do my solar panels have to be removed to install the new roof?

Roofing Maintenance

  1. What can I do about mildew on my roof?
  2. What kind of preventative maintenance can I do for my roof?
  3. How often should I clean my roof gutters?


How much does it cost to replace a roof?
There is no simple answer to how much the bottom line will be for your roofing project. A bid from your contractor should be based on square footage, the pitch of roof, accessibility, type of roofing material needed, 1- or 2-story home, removal of old roof (if necessary), roof permit and city license, and labor. The average cost to replace a roof runs from approximately $2.000.00 to $12,000.00 depending on the size of the roof and the quality of the workmanship and materials.

Can I replace missing and damaged tiles or shingles without calling a roofing contractor?
It is always recommended that you use a professional, but in case of an emergency, it is possible for you to replace a shingle or broken tile yourself.

  • Composition shingles:
    For composition shingles, roofing cement can be used to repair torn or curled shingles. Stabilize repaired shingles with nails or a heavy board until the cement has dried.

    To replace a composition shingle, carefully lift the shingle above the missing shingle, then trim and place the new shingle underneath so that it doesn't catch on any edges (it may be necessary to remove excess staples or nails). Carefully nail the new shingle into place.
  • Wood shingles or shakes:
    For wood shingles, repairs are best done with an aluminum piece that can be slid under the shingle. This should protect the exposed area, while not being visible from below.

    To replace a wood shingle requires a special tool, a shingle ripper, to slip under the shingle and hook and cut the nail. The nail can also be cut with a hacksaw, but is difficult to do. Slip the new shingle into position, but leave it �� inch longer than the other shingles. Then nail it into place right below the end of the overlapping shingle above. Finally, with a block of wood against the shingle butt, drive it up the last �� inch to bend the nails under the shingle above.
  • Tiles:
    To replace a tile, remove all of the broken pieces, then gently lift the tiles and slide the new tile into place until it hooks over the batten.

How can I choose the righ roofing contractor?
Be sure to get detailed quotes from at least two but preferably three different contractors. Once you have three quotes sit down and compare the estimates paying special attention to the materials used and the labor costs. Just as important be sure to talk to people who have previously used these contractors. Ask if they had any complaints, if they cleaned up nicely, if they finished on time, kept to the contract etc. Any roofing business relies on referrals, so find out what you can, and choose what suits you best.

What are the pros and cons of Asphalt Shingles?
Asphalt shingles (composition) are the most popular of roofing materials. They offer a home good protection, and they come in a variety of shapes, styles and colors. While not as long lasting as tile or slate asphalt shingles typically protect your house in the 20 to 40 years range depending on the quality of material and installation and are relatively easy to repair. The quality of shingles also affects how long the manufacturers warranty will be. With shorter life expectancies, asphalt shingles also have shorter warranties.

Can my roof be repaired?
It's usually best to have an experienced roofer inspect your roof when deciding whether to repair or replace your roof. However, you (and the contractor) should do an inside roof inspection and an outside inspection as well. Look for signs that the roof is failing such as stains on the ceiling, paint that is peeling, shingles that are missing in several locations, etc�� You also need to take into consideration the age of the roof. Are your ’20 year’ asphalt shingles more than 15 years old or were they installed just a few years ago. If the roof is well within it's lifespan and you aren't seeing other warning signs chances are good you can simply repair and/or replace those shingles that are causing a problem.

Should I have my old roof removed before the new one is installed?
Should you remove your current roof before installing another? Although the advantages to leaving your old shingles are obvious (cheaper, less labor, faster), unless the initial roof is a single, problem-free layer, you could be setting yourself up for trouble.

You should discuss removing the old roof with your contractor if any of the following are true:

  1. Inspecting your roof shows it is in bad shape--shingles are curled, mossy, split, etc.
  2. The decking is sagging, rotting or deteriorating.
  3. The new roof is of a lighter material than the original roof. If you put lightweight shingles over heavyweight shingles, all of the old bumps and ridges from the original roof will still show.
  4. Your roof already has more than one layer
  5. You live in a climate where ice dams are possible. (i.e., the average January temperature is below freezing) and the old roof has no ice or water protection membrane.

Generally speaking , experts estimate that the life of your new roof will be cut by as much as 20% if it is installed on top of the existing roof.

How long does it take to replace a roof?
Replacing a roof, whether on a commercial or residential building, is a labor-intensive project and, depending on the type of roof, could take anywhere from a few days to 2 or more weeks. The time involved is substantially affected by the weather, as well. Wind, snow, rain, or even just the threat of one of these and will slow the process considerably. Also see what to expect form roof project.

For built-up roofs, removing and replacing the roof will probably proceed at a rate of approximately 1,500 square feet per day. For single-ply roofs, the rate is closer to 2,000 to 4,000 square feet per day. Careful planning and close project management can reduce some of the delays caused by bad weather.

Should I have my chimney looked at before I have roof work done?
If the chimney requires any maintenance or repair, the best time to work on it is before a new roof is installed. Coordinate the chimney mason with the roofing contractor and yourself to make sure all chimney flashing and chimney repairs are completed properly before the new roof is installed.

Do I need a permit to have my roof replaced?
You should check with your local city government but almost assuredly you will. Pricing for a permit will vary from area to area. Some will be a flat fee whereas others may be based on the size or value of the project. If you are having the roof replaced by a contractor they will typically take care of the permit for you but it is important to confirm that with the company. If they do not take care of the permit and/or you are replacing the roof yourself you will need to talk to city development services.

Do my solar panels have to be removed to install the new roof?
Although there are rare exceptions to the rule, most solar panels are either bolted to or mounted on the existing roofing material and must be removed before a new roof can be installed. Because solar panels are charged using a type of antifreeze, they will have to be removed and reinstalled by a licensed plumber who can insure that the job is accomplished properly.

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