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"I was told I need a new roof. Can my OLD roof be fixed?

Posted on 6 January, 2014 at 9:50
In a previous article written here, I stated some reasons why most roofing companies will refuse to offer warranties for repairs performed by their employees. Not so surprisingly, most inspectors and salesmen (usually one and the same) from those same companies are taught and pressured to sell a new roof job to every potential customer, even when only simple repairs are needed. In fact, in most cases, they are offered lucrative incentives to do just that. How do I know? After working my way up in one of the largest Roofing companies in Phoenix, I became an Inspector/salesman for them and later, held the same position for another similar company.
This second company however, did things a little differently than most I'd known of. Being a family owned and run company, they valued their overall integrity a little more, which extended to the sales staff. While we were still encouraged to sell potential clients a new roof whenever possible, those of us with years of repair experience were allowed to perform minor repairs, if we were sure that was all that was needed. The catch - or several catches were - the one who sold the repair would have to perform or oversee and guarantee each repair. In doing so, we'd split the profits after material costs. I saw this as a win-win for myself, the customer and the company. But as you might imagine, most salesmen were reluctant to give up the higher incentives of new roofs- not to mention the air conditioned, non-physical work they'd grown accustomed to, to get back out and actually work on another roof. Especially there, during Phoenix's summers.
Looking back, I learned many valuable lessons from those years that have served me well since. Not only did I gain a much more keen awareness as to what is and isn't repairable, I also came to understand how much such information is appreciated by most customers, whether or not they can afford the full replacement cost of a new roof. Now, enough about me - Let's talk about your roof.
The easiest types of roof to determine whether full replacement is needed or not are asphalt shingle roofs. The manufacturers make it rather simple by the fairly accurate lifespan estimates of their products. Most conventional shingles have a pre-determined span of either 20 or 30 years. Only in rare cases of wind, hail damage or other catastrophe would I recommend replacement over a repair job before that time span is up.
Flat and Tile roofs are another matter entirely. I've done repairs on countless ones of each type where the homeowner's been told by other contractors that a full replacement is needed only to find, that's not the case.
For flat roofs, there are several obvious signs that will determine if it can be repaired or not- and a visual inspection isn't always the most reliable. I've seen many flat roofs where the coating is worn and flaking, giving the appearance that a new roof is in order. Yet if the integrity of the roof base hasn't been compromised, power-washing, repairing and coating will usually add many years to its life. However, I have also seen a number of roofs that look perfectly fine by appearance only to find on further inspection that the whole thing needs replacing. A repair I did on one of these in East Tucson 4 years ago, to my regret, is still under warranty by me for another year. In that case, the roof leaked in a couple areas, which we repaired. The rest of the roof looked to be in good shape except for the somewhat worn coating. So we did a 5yr coating on it. I did notice at the time, a kind of "crunchy" sound and feel as we walked on the roof. I knew this meant that the bottom layers of this built-up roof had been compromised and were starting to break apart, but I thought it could be salvaged for one more stretch (plus, the elderly homeowner on a fixed income couldn't afford the replacement cost). My mistake has now cost me a couple trips back there during the past 2yrs, as new leaks have sprung up in new locations. We've repaired, double coated and even triple coated some areas. Even so, this new elderly friend will need to have her entire roof stripped and replaced once my warranty is up next year.
Another sign to look for on flat roofs are "soft spots", where water has permeated and damaged the plywood beneath. If those soft spots are limited to one or several small areas, especially around scuppers, roof drains or evaporative coolers, that's a fairly common occurrence and can be spot repaired by a qualified professional. If however, you notice soft spots thru-out your roof, that's a sign of a more serious problem and your roof may need to be fully stripped to expose the plywood sheathing's condition. One last, visible sign that a new roof may be in order is if your flat roof has been worn down to the point where the fiberglass fibers are jutting out. In those cases, re-coating is only a very short term solution.
On Tile roofs - as I've noted on other articles here - the underlayment is the primary cause of concern. Once most of these underlayments are exposed to the elements over a period of time due to wind shifted, cracked or broken tiles, the underlayment will break down and deteriorate, allowing rainwater to pass thru joints in the plywood beneath. In fact, lower grade underlayments used by some contractors are actually just a type of asphalt soaked cardboard!  Even so, with very rare exceptions, I don't generally see the need to replace underlayments of an entire house that's less than 40 years old. In most cases, valleys, hips, roof-to-wall flashings, skylights and end tiles tend to be the most problematic areas. Field tiles are usually only compromised if shifted, broken or affected by those other problems listed above.
In each of the listed scenarios, many minor leaks will not even be visible inside your house, especially here in the desert. That's because often the rainwater can be absorbed into the wood and insulation before reaching the drywall, then dry quickly until the next rainfall, leaving you with the false sense that no problem exists.
I take pride in knowing that I can honestly assess most roof problems without feeling the need to run the cost up by selling customers more than they need. I still attend every new training session offered my manufacturers on new products as well as new processes. As you read above, I still make mistakes from time to time but I own up to each and make good on every one of them. I also make sure the men working for me are fully qualified and willing to do the same. In fact, each is more like a partner, sharing the rewards and the risks as well.
If you'd like a truly honest assessment as to whether your roof needs replacement or can simply be fixed, please don't hesitate to call. My promise is to never pressure you into doing something you don't want - Or need!

Categories: Roof Repair Tips

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This happens to a certain extent with the convection area, as well as to a certain extent during this process about radiation light -- I think these are going to prevent mounting even more solar equipment upon the roof.

We have a flat roof and it is more expensive in repairing than pitched roofs. Flat roofs are hard to maintain compared to others because it collects more debris. But this roof has an advantage and it is safer to walk here. Just remember that the flat roofs requires also a little slope for the water to drain. Our flat roof last for ten years to completely be replaced by a new one. With proper repair and maintenance, flat roofs will last longer.
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