JB SORIA Roof & Building Repair
|Posted on 19 August, 2013 at 12:02||comments (138)|
In 1982, Bob Moore- the owner of the large roofing company I was working for in Phoenix- asked me to accompany him for a few days as he investigated new customers' problems with their existing roofs. We'd literally get hundreds of calls per week so there was never a shortage of these requests. Out of the many homes we visited during those few days, 3 are memorable to me to this day.
The 1st had a Mission tiled roof with several issues. After setting our ladder near the most obvious place to ascend, Bob pointed out to me a long vertical line of tiles that were either cracked or broken. He told me that when tiles are damaged from wind, hail or other natural occurrences, the damage is always fairly random. With straight line damage like this, it had to have been caused by an unqualified individual walking up there. Since the owner was an elderly widow and I was too old to believe in Santa Claus, the culprit was most likely another "Roofer" who'd inspected her roof previously.
The 2nd roof I remember from this time was a flat, "Santa Fe" style roof we inspected. The owner showed us the 3 leaking areas from below and told us he'd had other roofers out to repair them over the years. Each one stopped the leak, but only for a very short time. Climbing onto the roof over the parapet walls, it was obvious that each of the leaks were at different "Scupper" points. Also obvious to us was that previous repairmen had simply applied one patch over another, numerous times to the point where the scupper openings were about 1/3 of their original size, creating a dam that made it impossible for rainwater to fully drain. So the roof would continue leaking up to a week after the rain ended.
The 3rd memorable roof was a wind damaged, asphalt shingled roof. We could see that other missing shingles had been replaced after previous storms, because of the different shades of shingles in those patched areas. The problem was, the newly damaged or missing shingles were all just above or beside those older patches. Whoever replaced those ones failed to reseal all the ones he'd loosened overlapping the new ones he installed. Later winds caught those old weakened ones and blew them off as well.
The common thread in each of those 3 cases was unqualified repairmen making elementary mistakes, actually worsening the problems of each roof!
When I started my own business many years later, I supplemented my income by working part-time as a salesman and estimator for another large AZ company. It was made clear to me at the outset that "We don't sell repair work!" Even if only minor repairs were justified, they couldn't or wouldn't warranty any work unless an entirely new roof was installed. The reason why is simple.
As one can imagine, roofing is hard, hot and sometimes dangerous work. But fairly minimal skills are needed for new roofing work- the staple of all large companies. Because of these factors and the relatively low pay, employee turnover rates can be quite high and adequate training is usually insufficient. And that's for new roofs. Proper training for repair work is either non-existent or workers are left to learn on the fly. The owners or even supervisors of most large companies can't be there to oversee the actions of their workers on these low profit repair jobs. Even with somewhat experienced repairmen, call backs can be frequent and low-profit can turn to no-profit or losses in a hurry!
I was very fortunate to have had a mentor who not only took time to train me personally, but had the resources to send me to numerous workshops and seminars through the years, sponsored mostly by major suppliers and roof product manufacturers. Over time I was certified by GAF Corp. for low-slope and steep slope, APP torch certified, receive mold certification from IICRC, as well as other certificates and many countless hours learning from other experts and by my own experience. While I have met a few other local experts in the field, more often I've run into many others who attempt repairs but lack the training to do so adequately.
I'm not overly confident to think I'll never have call backs, especially with the most difficult cases. But I Am confident enough in my training and experience to warranty every repair I do - Or let you know honestly if yours is one of the few cases where a repair is just not possible and full replacement is needed.
My estimates are always free and I never use high pressure tactics. If you want an honest assessment and a quality repair job done right and reasonably, please don't hesitate to call or contact me.
|Posted on 28 July, 2013 at 10:46||comments (42)|
I realize its not as popular a debate as say, politics, guns or sports - But for those of you struggling with which materials are right for you to re-roof your patio, porch, garage or other flat surface roof, this is one debate that may affect you personally for a long time. And one not so easy to decide.
The truth is, its also a topic heavily debated even among very experienced professionals. In fact, two of my own installers with over 12 years of experience each, have opposite opinions of which they prefer! Fortunately, my experience trumps theirs, so I (along with the customer) have the final say. As with most debates, each side has their unique benefits and drawbacks. I'll list just a few of the most common processes of each along with some pluses and minuses that will hopefully help you determine which you can best live with.
Opinions vary widely, so please keep in mind that these are just my educated opinions, based on my 35 years of experience.
Also, if you are re-roofing an existing building- with very few exceptions- you should plan on stripping off the existing materials down to the bare wood. No low-slope product is warranted if installed over previous roof layers.
HOT ROOFS: Although there are several types of hot roofs available, I'll focus only on the two most common applications for residential and smaller commercial buildings.
1. Built-up Roof. For many decades, this was THE standard used for new flat roof installations. Its a process still commonly used today, though mostly in larger commercial and multi-unit residential buildings. But many roofers still swear by this as being the best process, even on relatively small areas.
We've all seen the hot tar kettle trailers being pulled down the road or beside some building emitting the smelly, hot tar fumes. This hot tar is used to fuse the base sheet, 3-5 layers of felt and the smooth or mineral-surfaces cap sheets together.
Some of the Benefits of this roof are;
Excellent track record- This process has endured over 150 years with great results;
Durability- Built-ups are designed to last 15-25 yrs and, coated regularly, can last even longer;
Cost Efficiency- Although the initial investment can be high, the cost over time will usually be much lower than most other roof types.
Redundancy- All this means is that each of the multiple layers underneath provide added protection, should the layer above begin to break down.
There are some Drawbacks to this type roof, some are obvious. Here are a few;
Cost-The initial cost of these are usually higher than the other common processes, especially in smaller areas. But as noted above, if you factor in the years of service, that cost is reduced;
Inconvenience- Obviously, you'll have to put up with the mess, cumbersome nature and smell created by this process.
Maintenance & Breakdown-With these roofs, it's extremely important to inspect the roof periodically! Leaves, bird feces and other debris left to accumulate can break down and form acids which eat away at the asphalt. Low spots or pooling areas also need to be addressed as soon as they're noticed.
Poor Installation-This is one of the most common negative factors in these roofs. As you can imagine, most educated people wouldn't dream of doing this hard, dirty, low-paying work for a living. As a result, many companies are left with a workforce of less than the brightest individuals. Mistakes are routinely found but not always caught. Also, each climate and region requires different grades of asphalt and other materials. That's why its so important to know the history of the company you employ.
2. Torch-Down Roofs. These types of roofs became very popular during the early 90's, especially in our desert regions where where heavy, continuous rain isn't an expected concern. It's a process still commonly preferred by qualified professionals. Different grades are available, from a standard 10 year warranted to the 15 year "Rubber-backed" material offered by some manufacturers. Some of the Benefits of these roofs are;
Short-term Cost Efficiency- While still higher than the cost of cold-process roofing, the cost over time is still a bit lower over its 10-12 year expected lifespan.
Clean Installation- Because the adhesive qualities are built into the backs of these materials, even when heated, fumes are usually barely perceptible from the ground. Edges and corners have a much more consistent & neater appearance than built-ups. roofs.
Maintenance- If the surface on which its installed is fairly true, maintenance of these roofs is usually relatively minor.
A few of the torch-down roof's Drawbacks are;
Inability to withstand heavy, continuous rain- For some reason, most of us have found the overlapping seams' adhesives tend to break down during extended rainstorms. If gutters are used, its also imperative to keep them free of blockages so water doesn't back into the edge seams.
Installation nightmares- Obviously, a blow-torch near any wood or plywood surface can be a hazardous combination. These should be installed only by very qualified and very experienced individuals.
COLD PROCESS ROOFS: As with the hot roofs, there are several types of cold available. Again, I'm only going to focus on the most common.
1. Self-Adhered ("Peel & Stick"). These gained popularity during the mid-90's, with tales of hot roof contractors starting fires and the escalating insurance premiums that followed. The process of a self-stick roofing sounds much easier than it is and can be, if your slope is at least 1/2" per foot and guidelines are carefully followed- The two most important being the underlayment nail pattern and using a min. 18"- 100lb industrial roller to complete the cap sheet application. Benefits are obvious;
Ease of installation- A properly trained contractor can install these materials fairly quickly so labor costs offset the higher material costs.
Durability- If properly installed, these warranties equal torch-down products.
Maintenance- Also virtually the same as torch-down (see above).
Some of the Drawbacks of this product;
Specific Installation Conditions- Weather conditions need to be just right- moderate to warm- for proper adhesion to occur. Also, substrate surfaces need to be true and free of divots, high or low spots, in order for the roller to function properly.
Inability to withstand sustained rains- As with the torch-down products (see above), these seams can be problematic in areas with high rainfall totals.
2. Cold-Process Rolled Roofing. I don't want to spend much time on this process as its the most seldom used by professionals. This is the least costly process but also the one with the shortest lifespan of all flat applications. Installation can be performed a couple different ways: One with cold-process liquid used between the #30 underlayment and the cap sheet or the other with just plastic or the better, modified cement on all edges and laps. A few tips for these installations are;
Base sheet (felt) needs to be thoroughly nailed- Not just stapled;
Cap Sheet lengths should not exceed 12', with alternating vertical seams and lap end to end at least 4";
NO NAILS on the cap sheet, to allow for natural contraction and expansion;
All laps and edges need complete adhesion, but not so much cement that it reverses the slope in these areas.
Again, keep in mind that the above are my educated opinions and this is not meant to be a comprehensive study of every or any low-slope roof process. But I hope it does help some to understand the products just a little better while making a better informed decision on what's right for you.
Please feel free to Email me with any specific questions you may have regarding your particular situation.
|Posted on 22 July, 2013 at 12:34||comments (39)|
For you non-Spanish speakers, I won't attempt to translate this crude term into English. But trust me- its not good (I'm Mexican-American so no offense intended)
WARRANTIES: The typical lifespan of shingles used on most residential buildings ranges between 20 and 30 years. Standard 3-tab shingles include a manufacturer's warranty of 20-25 years, while the heavier Architectural type shingles offer warranties between 30-50 years- the 30 year being the most common. However, if you've ever taken the time to fully read all the fine print within each manufacturer's written warranty, you'll notice a litany of "Exclusions" hidden within. For example, one of the largest manufacturer's official "Limited Warranty" page contains 12 specific exclusions, each of which is written broadly enough as to exclude just about any claim they deem fit. The biggest determining factor in shingle warranty claims is how closely the installer follows the manufacturer's installation guidelines- which are subject to change according to the local environmental conditions. This is why it is so important that the installer be very familiar with these guidelines as well as local conditions. If problems arise later, any deviations from either can surely trap the homeowner into one of these dreaded exclusions. However, even the best installation can't always prevent problems.
WIND DAMAGE: By far, the most common factor in shingle's premature failure is the wind. And of course, wind damage is one of the "Catch-22" exclusions found in roof material warranties. I live and work in Tucson, Arizona, which is not considered a "High Wind Zone" by national standards. But for anyone that's lived here for any length of time, we know otherwise! Local wind gusts- especially during our summer monsoon season- have been known to surpass 100mph! Not to mention the powerful micro-bursts that accompany these storms. Shingle guidelines outline specific nailing patterns in high wind zones. Yet because we aren't labeled as a "high wind zone", these guidelines are rarely followed here. That leaves the manufacturer in the clear when shingle damage occurs during these inevitable storms. Often times, the damage left behind can be relatively minor, easily repaired by a good do-it yourselfer. If that's you, I've included a link to one of the best step-by-step guides I've found to these repairs, written by Merle Henkenius:
Other times, these strong winds leave much more damage in their wake, exposing large swaths of underlayment (felt) and even wood sheathing to the elements. In these cases, it can be very critical to have repairs made as quickly as possible! Everyone knows that leaks are a certainty if wood is left exposed on a roof. What most people don't realize however, is that exposed felt covering that wood, is almost just as likely to leak. That's because the felt required beneath shingled roofs is the very minimum thickness required of any roof surface. The reason is - unlike tile and other roof surfaces - rainwater is never expected to penetrate or pass beneath shingles- in theory. In shingle applications, the underlayment's job is to prevent the wood sheathing from sucking the oils from the shingles, thus drying them out prematurely. These felts aren't meant to be watertight or exposed to the elements. Covering these areas as quickly as possible can save you thousands in additional repair costs.
QUALIFIED REPAIRMEN: Its also critical to have only a qualified, experienced technician doing your repairs. I've been to many homes where previous repairmen have used the wrong type, wrong size, wrong nailing pattern, wrong underlayment or wrong adhesive materials to make repairs.
Doing this for over 35 years has given me great insight into some of the schemes, unprofessionalism and downright ignorance of other roof "repairmen". But I've also come across some very good, qualified repairman - some of whom now work for me. I offer free and honest evaluations of your shingle roof problems. If you choose to call someone else, please make sure he's qualified in this field and not interested in selling you more than is required in your particular situation.
|Posted on 20 July, 2013 at 15:50||comments (86)|
An award winning French architect, designer and urban planner named Le Corbusier is said to be the pioneer of of flat roofs in modern architecture. But even one of his most famous building designs- the Villa Savoye - began leaking almost immediately after its completion. Mr. Corbusier only avoided a lawsuit when the German Army invaded France and he fled the country (He then brought his ideas to the U.S.).
Here in the Southwest, flat roofs have been a common sight since the Hohokams and Incas roamed the land. I sometimes theorize, they made so many clay pots to partly catch rainwater from their leaky roofs.
Flat and Santa Fe style roofs remain a popular feature in Arizona's design/architecture community. They are versatile, efficient, space saving and look great within the desert landscape. But as with most good ideas, the devil is in the details.
The two most important aspects in keeping a flat roof problem free are "Slope" and "Drainage".
Slope is a common term used to describe how level or in this case, how out-of-level a surface is. This number is obtained by measuring the surface's horizontal inclination vs. its vertical drop. For example, most shingle and tile roofs will drop 3 or 4 inches per every 12" of horizontal space. This is referred to as a 3:12 or 4:12 pitch or slope.
Flat roof is actually a mis-nomer because flat on a roof is never a good thing. The flatter it is, the more likely it is to retain water and leak. Most flat roof slopes range between 1/4:12 to 1.5:12. Obviously, the more pitch the better to keep the surface as clear as possible of standing rainwater. Many designers however, are reluctant to give up their flat design by incorporating the higher pitch ratios. So in order to achieve the better slope while maintaining their flat appearance, the Santa Fe concept became popularized. Santa Fe style roofs are designed to hide the sloped roof behind a "Parapet" wall. All this is, is a level, false wall built around the entire perimeter of the building at a height slightly higher than the highest point of the roof itself. In order to keep the roof drained, "scuppers" are cut into the walls where it meets the lowest points of the roof. Scuppers are pre-formed round or square metal inserts installed in wall cut-outs prior to the roof surface installation. This is where the issue of drainage is most important. Statistics compiled by the Liquid Roofing & Waterproofing Assn. (http://www.lrwa.org.uk/) reveal that up to 90% of all flat roof leaks occur at scuppers and other flashing locations. Maintaining good water drainage is most critical, as ponding water almost always has a tendency of eventually finding its way beneath the surface.
One of the most common repair errors I've found in my many years of investigating these types of leaks are repairs made to cover the problem without cutting away original cracks, buckled material or previous repairs. Although this may remedy the situation in the short term, it usually worsens the problem in the long term. That's because each repair done over another creates a Damming effect, where water ponding is actually increased. A true professional will know that the best way to correct scupper leaks is to actually cut out the buckles and previous repairs, down to the metal flange. This is the only way to identify the scupper and substrate condition and determine whether those need replacement as well.
On a lesser scale, flat roof leaks may also occur in open field areas, around pipe penetrations and along seams- lines where the original roof materials overlap. While many of these problems are fairly visible, many others can remain hidden to the untrained eye. A few lessons I've learned in seminars I've attended over the years;
A nail hole, too small for most people to see, can create a leak of up to 3 gals per hr;
Its possible for a flat roof leak to travel up to 20' before penetrating a building's interior;
On very smooth surfaces, its possible for water to creep uphill, creating leaks in unsuspecting locations.
For these reasons and more, most roofing contractors prefer not to even deal with flat roof problems or refuse to guarantee repairs made by their employees. That's also why most will try their darnedest to sell you a new roof instead.
I realize I'm not the only expert when it comes to flat roof repairs. But I will not sell you a repair unless I can personally guaranty its integrity for a minimum of 2 years!
|Posted on 18 July, 2013 at 10:41||comments (30)|
Most people believe a tile roof to be the longest lasting and most durable of all surfaces. In many cases, that may be true. In theory, a good tile roof should last 40-50 years. That is, if only Mother Nature and humans would just cooperate.
Here is the most common factor which which tends to reduce this life expectancy;
Underlayments - Roofing felt and underlayments are generally measured by tensile strength. For example, shingled roofs usually require the minimum 15lb felt as underlayment. This thin felt is not meant to add protection from rain but as a moisture barrier to protect the wood sheathing beneath from drawing the oils and moisture from the asphalt shingles, thus drying them out.
Tile roofs on the other hand, are required to add protection from the rain and other elements. That is because even with new tile roofs, its expected that up to 5% of the rain water will seep into openings in the tile and reach this underlayment. For this reason, a minimum 40lb underlayment is required beneath the tiles. And most quality Roof Contractors will use nothing less than a 75lb rated material. That is because the 40lb material does not hold up well to the elements. If tiles are broken or displaced by wind, a 40lb surface- which is basically an asphalt coated cardboard- can quickly become weathered, wrinkled, then cracked. I've found this to be the most common cause of tile roof roof leaks. Even without direct exposure to the elements, our extreme desert temperatures will cause this 40lb paper to break down within 15-20 years.
On the other hand, 75lb rated underlayments (the minimum I allow on repairs) and above are fiberglass reinforced, which greatly adds to their durability and life expectancy.
In any case, it is extremely important that broken and displaced tiles are repaired as soon as they are discovered. Equally important, is that you have only qualified personnel performing inspections and subsequent repairs. I've been on many roofs and discovered a line of freshly cracked tiles where an unqualified individual was obviously doing much more harm than good by walking on them.
I offer free roof and underlayment assessments and estimates. But if you choose to use someone else, Please make certain the person walking on your tile roof is qualified to do so!