Tag: Pennslyvania Roofing

  • Zombie Roofs: Reasons Roofing Issues are Ignored

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    courtesy of salon.com

    With TV hits like The Walking Dead,  people seem to be smitten with zombies. But, it's no longer fun when the zombie is your roof, slowly draining your resources, time and money.

    What turns a roof into a zombie, and how do you prevent it?  FacilitiesNet  provides some insightful tips on how roofing failures get ignored and how to resolve the issue.

    Why are zombie roofs ignored?

    One of the main problems is denial...

    A zombie roof may still be a young one — failures at five years or less are not unknown. The financial decision-makers believe there is no way a five-year-old roof should need replacement.

    Another is that you may not know the roof has underlying issues because it isn't showing any "symptoms" yet.

    And the last reason you may not know your roof is a zombie is because it's been fixed so many times, you're not sure how it actually is:

    It's the one that has been patched, re-covered, coated and otherwise layered so much that the actual state of the roof is unknown...

    How to uncover a zombie roof

    Roofs that have outlived their welcome will show various signs. The most prominent tell-tale sign is an economic one:

    Determine what the cost would be for a new roof on a facility and divide that by the number of years a roof is likely to last, generally 15 to 20. This number is the yearly cost of a roof. Add up all of the repair charges and the cost of repairing interior damage to the building and contents. If the first is less than the second, you have a zombie.

    Incidentally, if you have to justify the cost of a roof replacement to another party, going through this exercise is a powerful argument in favor of a new roof. When the building owner or asset manager realizes it is costing more to keep the zombie in place than it would to replace it, it can help change their mind about trying to eke just one more year out of it.

    Exterior Specialties of PA is here to help with all of your roofing repairs, roofing installation and roofing maintenance needs. Call us today at (215) 453-9180 for your FREE estimate.

  • Spring Home Maintenance Checklist

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    Courtesy of House Logic

    It's March! You know what that means, right? It's almost spring and with the spring comes the dreaded spring maintenance and cleaning.  But, just because these chores aren't exciting doesn't mean they have to be miserable.

    To make your spring list easier to handle, here is a spring home maintenance checklist, courtesy of House Logic, to help you figure out when plan your maintenance and keep you from leaving it all until the last minute.  That way, you can keep your home in tip-top shape and enjoy the nice weather.

    Spring Home Maintenance Checklist

    Inspect your roof and chimney for winter damage. Shingles may need repair after a rough winter. Look for loose chimney bricks and mortar, rotting boards if you have a wooden chimney box, or rust if you have a chimney with metal parts and flashing. Inside the house, check your skylights to make sure there are no stains that indicate water leakage. If you suspect a problem, call a roofing contractor or a chimney sweep certified by the Chimney Safety Institute of America for an estimate for repairs. Minor roof repairs run from $100 to $350.

    Examine siding for signs of winter damage. Check for loose or rotting boards and replace; inspect the areas where siding meets windows and doors and caulk any gaps. Give your siding an annual cleaning using soap and water, a brush, and a garden hose. Also, make sure your house number hasn’t been damaged or obscured by dirt and is easily visible to emergency personnel.

    Schedule your spring air conditioning service. Get ready for the air conditioning season with your spring tune-up. If your system wasn’t running well last season, be sure to tell your contractor, and make sure he performs actual repairs if necessary rather than simply adding refrigerant. Follow your contractor as he works to get an idea of the maintenance checklist he uses and ask questions about what he’s doing. Your contractor’s checklist should include inspecting thermostats and controls, checking the refrigerant level, tightening connections, lubricating moving parts, checking the condensate drain, and cleaning the coils and blower. Expect to pay $50–$100 for a tune-up. Meanwhile, make sure your air filters are changed and vacuum out your floor registers.

    If duct cleaning is part of your scheduled service, make sure you aren’t charged extra for it. Some contractors may try to convince you to let them apply antifungal/antibacterial chemicals to the interior surfaces of the ducts; this isn’t usually necessary and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says research has not yet confirmed its effectiveness or potential to be harmful. Any chemicals you add to your ducts will likely become airborne, so exercise caution.

    Check kids’ outdoor play areas. “Swingsets tend to get funky over the winter,” Gladstone says. “Tighten bolts and make sure things are still properly put together and safe to use.” Make sure no sharp edges or splinters are sticking up, and clean off any mold growth with a household-strength 1:9 solution of bleach and water.

    Check your GFCIs. A ground fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) protects you from deadly electrical shocks by shutting off the power anytime even a minimal disturbance in current is detected. They’re the electrical outlets with two buttons in the middle (“test” and “reset”) that should be present anywhere water and electricity can mix: kitchens, bathrooms, basements, garages, and the exterior of the house. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commissionrecommends monthly testing, which you’re likely to remember if you incorporate it into your spring routine.

    To test a GFCI, plug a small appliance (a radio, for example) into each of your GFCIs. Press the test button, which should click and shut off the radio. The reset button should pop out; when you press reset, the radio should come back on.

    If the radio doesn’t go off when you press the test button, either the GFCI itself has failed and should be replaced, or the outlet is wired incorrectly and should be repaired. If the reset button doesn’t pop out, or if pressing it doesn’t restore power to the radio, the GFCI has failed and should be replaced. These distinctions can help you tell an electrician what the problem is—neither job is one you should attempt yourself if you don’t have ample experience with electrical repair.

    Pay a visit to the attic. During a spring rain, check for visible leaks, water stains, discolored insulation, and rotting or moldy joists and roof decking. If detected, call a handyman or roofing contractor for an estimate for repairs. If you have areas of rot or mold exceeding 10 sq. ft., call an indoor air quality inspector or mold remediation company for advice. If you have an attic fan, make sure it’s running properly and that the protective screen hasn’t been blocked by bird nests or debris.

    Clean dirty windows. This is a good task for the end of summer, when it’s still nice outside. Clean windows allow more solar energy into the house in the cooler months to come, which will help you save on your heating bill. For streak-free glass, use an eco-friendly solution of one part vinegar to eight parts water, with a few squirts of dish soap; apply to window with a sponge or soft mitt, scrubbing any tough spots. Rinse with clean water and then squeegee the surface dry.

    Exterior Specialties of PA is here to help with all of your spring maintenance checklist tasks.  Whether it's gutter repair, siding installation, or roofing repair, we've got you covered.  Call us today at (215) 453-9180 for your FREE estimate!

  • Dark vs. Light Roof Shingles

    Courtesy of Familyhandyman.com

    Courtesy of Familyhandyman.com

    There is not debating whether or not lighter colored roof shingles save on cooling costs for homes.  Lighter shingles help keep your attic temperatures down. However, when it comes to whether light roof shingles last longer than dark roof shingles, there is no definitive answer.

    According to Family Handyman:

    One major shingle manufacturer I spoke with said its tests showed no difference. Its position is that a properly ventilated attic provides enough cooling to offset the increased heat retention of dark shingles.

    But some studies dispute that. They claim that since heat always increases molecular activity, and since dark shingles always run hotter, the heat factor alone dictates a shorter life for dark shingles. Yet another study suggests that the sun's UV rays play a much bigger role in shingle degradation than heat.

    In a nutshell though, most experts agree that the most important thing when it comes to roof systems (and the longevity of its shingles) is proper attic ventilation.  So, make sure you have enough roof soffit vents and you should be fine, unless you want to save money on cooling costs, and then you can also pick the lighter colored roof shingles.

    Exterior Specialties of PA is here to help with all of your roof shingles, roof repair, roof installation and roof maintenance needs. Call us today at 215-453-9180 for your FREE estimate!

  • New Year's Resolutions for Your Home

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    Now that 2013 is almost here, discussion about New Year's resolutions and top-10 lists are right around the corner.  While you probably have more personal resolutions,  you can make the same type of resolutions for your home.

    Here is a list of New Year's resolutions, courtesy of House Logic, that are based on the top 10 resolutions gathered by Time magazine.

     

    1. Lose weight (cut energy use)
    2. Quit smoking (purify indoor air)
    3. Get out of debt (budget for improvements)
    4. Learn something new (educate yourself on home finances)
    5. Get organized (de-clutter)
    6. Volunteer (support your community)
    7. Drink less (curb home water use)
    8. Spend more time with the family (share home improvement projects)
    9. Get fit (exercise your DIY skills)
    10. Be less stressed (use maintenance-free materials)

    Exterior Specialties of PA is here to help with all of your pennsylvania roofing, siding, gutter repair and window needs. Call us today at 215-453-9180 for your FREE estimate.

     

  • Power-Assisted Roof Vents Can Boost Energy Efficiency

    Courtesy of House Logic

    While Soffit and exhaust roof vents can protect your home (and especially your attic) from heat buildup, there are other ways that may be more effective.  According to House Logic, "A power-assisted roof vent uses a motorized fan to suck hot air out of your attic, keeping your house cooler and drier while reducing potential problems such as rot, mold, and ice dams."

    Check out the benefits and costs of roof vents in this helpful article from House Logic:

    Power up your attic ventilation

    Power-assisted roof vents work even in still air and ensure vigorous ventilation. They relieve heat buildup in the attic, where temperatures can reach 150 degrees or more in summer. Reducing attic heat buildup prevents trapped, hot air from warming ceilings and radiating back into your living areas—a problem that also is avoided with proper attic insulation.

    Mount power-assisted roof vents near the roof peak on the back slope of the roof, where they are less visible from the street, or high on a gable end wall.

    Typically, a single power-assisted roof vent will service an average-sized home.

    Costs for power-assisted roof vents

    Power-assisted roof vents cost between $70 and $300, plus labor to install, and $2 or $3 a month to operate. For another $90 to $150, you can include an optional humidistat and thermostat, which turn on the fan when excessive humidity and/or temperatures are detected inside your attic space.

    If your attic lacks electrical wiring, it may be necessary to have a licensed electrician run a circuit or line extension to power the fan. Depending on the complexity of the project, figure on paying $50 to $100 per hour for a job that may take 2 to 4 hours.

    Going solar

    Solar-powered roof vents have zero operating costs and sell for $350 to $600. Some are eligible for state tax incentives and local utility rebates.

    Some builders complain that solar-powered roof vents may not work properly when it’s cloudy, and that these types of vents don’t pull enough air.

    Drawbacks of power-assisted roof vents

    While roof vents definitely remove hot air from attics, their effect on air conditioning needs is disputed.

    Some experts believe that because power-assisted roof vents evacuate hot air, they create negative pressures inside the home, drawing in hot outside air and increasing the load on existing air conditioning systems. However, this potential problem typically is avoided with the addition of adequate soffit vents, which allow fresh air into the attic.

    Another concern is that a roof vent adds another penetration through roofing materials, and that the vibrations caused by the motorized fan made lead to the failure of caulks and sealants, increasing the risk of water leaks.

    Exterior Specialties of PA is here to assist with all of your roof vent installation, roofing installation, roofing installation and roofing maintenance needs.  Call us today at (215) 773-9181 for your FREE estimate.

     

     

  • Preparing Your Home for Winter

    Courtesy of Yahoo! Homes

    When cold weather hits, it's important to bundle up your home.  Here are some tips via Yahoo! Homes to prepare your house for the winter and keep your home cozy:

    Windows and doors

    If you've ever worn a thin shirt when cold winds were whipping around outdoors, you know that you're going to get sick if you don't cover up with a jacket. The same is true for your home. If we think of your home's exterior as clothing, windows and doors are like a thin shirt; they are sensitive areas that can easily be affected by the cold and cause the entire house to suffer.

    Sealing your doors and windows can be the best solution to preventing cold weather damages to your home. Doors and windows that have problems with air leaks can cause wood rot, increase energy bills, and be a catalyst for mold and mildew growth. How do you know if your home has air leaks? Turn off your heating system, close all the doors and windows tight, and turn on an air vent in the kitchen or bathroom; then light an incense stick and waft the smoke around the inside of your suspect windows and doors. Where the smoke from the incense begins to blow, you've got an air leak. Solve this problem by sealing the exterior and interior of the window or door frame with a paintable or appropriately colored latex caulk.

    Roofing

    From ice dams to snow mounds, winter weather can severely affect a shingle roof that is unprepared against the cold. If your shingle roof is more than eight years old, you should have it inspected by a professional shingle repair expert during the fall before the cold has a chance to affect it. Damaged shingles, poor attic ventilation, and decaying sealants can all create roof leaks that might not become visible until severe and costly damages have already taken place.

    Exterior walls, soffit, and fascia

    Gutters, soffit, siding, and fascia are all exterior elements of a home that are affected by wet and cold winters. Be sure to have your gutters cleaned thoroughly to prevent roof leaks or ice dams. Soffit and fascia should be given the once over and repaired when damages are visible. Soffit damages can increase heating bills and allow cold air to enter the attic, ensuring ice dams and damaged roof shingles. Don't forget to check your siding and have a professional painter seal and paint any damaged siding areas to prevent rot, mold, and high energy bills.

    Exterior Specialties of PA is here to help with all of your window repair, siding repair and roof repair needs. Call us today at (215) 773-9181 for your FREE estimate!

  • Roof and Gutter Winter Maintenance Checklist

    Courtesy of Stacy Gold/Getty Images via Houselogic

    It's very easy to keep putting off those home fall chores, but once winter hits, it's dangerous and almost impossible to get them done.  Here is a checklist of things to do (or, to be safe, have a professional do) before the winter weather hits, courtesy of Yahoo! Homes.

    1. Cleaning Gutters

    The first step in roof and gutter maintenance is to have the gutters cleaned out. You can do this yourself or hire a professional, but either way make sure this is taken care of late in autumn. Since leaves, acorns, and other detritus can accumulate throughout the fall, you don't want to take care of this too early and still have problems later on.

    Hiring a professional will set you back between $75 and $300, depending on the size of your home and the number of stories. The DIY approach is free unless you have to buy the materials required: ladder, bucket or pail, leaf scooper, and broom. The good news is that most people can clean out their gutters in just a few hours one weekend afternoon.

    2. Installing Gutter Covers

    Roof and gutter maintenance are always required at inopportune times. Kids are headed back to school, the holidays are fast approaching, and you don't have time to get up on the roof as often as you'd like. Gutter covers or guards are a convenient solution.

    Simply put, a gutter cover slows or stops the accumulation of debris in your gutters. They filter the leaves and dirt from the water so you don't have to clean them out as often. If you plan to do it yourself, set aside an entire weekend for the job. The process is time-consuming, and you might need to take frequent breaks.

    Again, you can find DIY materials at your local home improvement store. Gutter guards vary in price, but range from $3 to $6 per three-foot length of guard. Wider covers (five inches or so) cost more than narrower options (about three inches). It will be more expensive to hire a contractor, but the guards will be higher quality and will last longer.

    3. Trimming Trees

    Tree limbs that seem stable through the summer and fall might not be safe once they are burdened with a few pounds of snow. Winter maintenance requires trimming of all tree branches that could potentially damage the roof.

    Tree trimming prices vary depending on where you live, the height of the trees, and the complexity of the job. Get quotes from several different contractors, and look for quotes between $200 and $600.

    4. Repairing Leaks

    The final step in winter maintenance is roof repair. Any leaks, ventilation issues, or insulation deficiencies should be handled prior to the onset of winter. Look for stains on walls, missing roof shingles, and moisture accumulation around gaskets, gutters, downspouts, ridge caps, and dormers.

    Many contractors offer free inspections for those who are uncertain as to whether or not they have a leak. Remember that roofing contractors are busiest this time of year, though, so make sure to call well in advance.

    Exterior Specialties of PA is here to help with all of your gutter installation, gutter repair, gutter maintenance, roof repair and roof maintenance needs. Call us today at (215) 773-9181 for your FREE estimate!

     

  • Preventing Ice Dams

    Courtesy of HouseLogic

    The winter is probably one of the roughest times for your roof.  And, while icicles can get you in the holiday spirit, they could be a sign of some costly roof issues.

    According to HouseLogic, "Often lurking behind that thick ridge of ice on your roof is a pool of melted water, hence the term ice dam. That accumulated water can work its way under roof shingles and into the home, causing significant damage to ceilings, walls, and floors. Additionally, the sheer weight of the ice dam often causes gutters and downspouts to pull away from the house, sometimes bringing the fascia boards with them."

    So, preventing these from happening in the first place may help prevent costly repairs.

    According to Claire Wilkinson of the Insurance Information Institute via HouseLogic, "Over the five-year period leading up to 2007, water damage and freezing accounted for the second largest share of homeowner insurance claims, according to Claire Wilkinson of the Insurance Information Institute. The average homeowner claim for such damages was $5,531."

    Here are some preventative measures you can take, courtesy of HouseLogic:

    Preventing ice dams

    Homeowners can’t control the weather, but they can do something about heat loss. “The main goal is to keep heat from reaching the roof, thus preventing snow melt in the first place,” explains Doug Bruell, president of Cleveland’s 25-year-old North Coast Insulation. Proper insulation and ventilation of the attic space is intended to keep the roof surface at or near outdoor temperatures.

    Typical steps include insulating the attic floor and installing soffit, gable and/or ridge vents to expel heat. Folding attic stairways and recessed light fixtures also need to be insulated. “All penetrations into the attic from the heated living space need to be addressed,” adds Bruell. Homeowners can expect to pay $800 to $1,500 to insulate the attic, plus another $300 to $600 for the installation of vents.

    The process is a bit more involved for homes with finished attics, says Bruell. To facilitate sufficient cold air flow from soffit vent to ridge vent, baffles or tubes are installed between the ceiling insulation and the underside of the roof. This might involve opening up the ceiling.

    Insulation means savings

    According to the U.S. Department of Energy, adding insulation to an unheated attic will have a greater impact on energy consumption than placing it anywhere else in the house. A properly insulated and ventilated attic not only reduces winter heating bills, it will trim summer cooling bills by expelling heat buildup. You can expect to save 10% to 50% on your heating and cooling bills.

    In addition, you may qualify for a federal tax credit of up to $500.

    Deicing alternatives

    In theory, roof rakes, brooms, and other long-handled devices can be used to remove snow before it has a chance to melt. In practice, however, the scheme is difficult to pull off, considering that most homeowners can’t reach all areas of the roof.

    Electrically-heated deicing cables, which install along eave lines to inhibit water freeze, are only moderately effective, says Bruell. “These heat cables often just back up the problem, forcing the dams to form higher up the roof.” In addition to the purchase price ($150 to $300), and installation ($300 to $500), these cables require electricity to run. They also can shorten the life of roof shingles.

    Ice dam removal

    Homeowners suffering the effects of an ice dam—or those who fear a leak is imminent—can hire a roofing company to remove the ice buildup. Rather than employ hammers, chisels, and salt, which can damage the roof and gutters, technicians will steam away the ice and remove any remaining snow. Expect to pay around $500 or more for the service. It goes without saying that do-it-yourself removal can be dangerous when it involves ladders, heavy ice, and slippery roofs.

    Exterior Specialties of PA is here to help with all of your roofing repair, gutter repair, gutter installation and roofing installation needs. Call us today at (215) 773-9181 for your FREE estimate!

     

  • When to Remove Excess Snow From Your Roof

    Courtesy of HouseLogic

    Before the winter starts, it's best to have a game plan for what to do when it looks like you have excess snow on your roof.  And, according to House Logic, "Calling in a professional to remove ice and snow from your roof is the smartest — and safest — option."

    How to tell is you have too much snow on your roof?

    The most important factor in whether or not you have too much snow on your roof it not how much appears to be on the roof, but how much that snow weighs, according to HouseLogic.

    That’s because wet snow is considerably heavier than dry, fluffy snow. In fact, 6 inches of wet snow is equal to the weight of about 38 inches of dry snow.

    The good news is that residential roofs are required by building codes to withstand the heaviest snows for that particular part of the country.

    It's pretty easy to tell if it's wet or dry snow just by shoveling a bit of it in your driveway.  Wet snow will be much heavier by the shovelfull than dry snow.

    You should also check your local weather forecasts. They should alert you if snow may be excessive.

    How to tell if the snow should be removed

    According to HouseLogic:

    An indication that the accumulated snow load is becoming excessive is when doors on interior walls begin to stick. That signals there’s enough weight on the center structure of the house to distort the door frame.

    Ignore doors on exterior walls but check interior doors leading to second-floor bedrooms, closets, and attics in the center of your home. Also, examine the drywall or plaster around the frames of these doors for visible cracks.

    Homes that are most susceptible to roof cave-ins are those that underwent un-permitted renovations. The improper removal of interior load-bearing walls is often responsible for catastrophic roof collapses.

    What to do if snow is excessive

    According to HouseLogic, "Most home roofs aren’t readily accessible, making the job dangerous for do-it-yourselfers."

    Calling a professional for snow removal is your best option.

    Also, don't expect your roof to be completely snow-free after the contractor comes. According to HouseLogic:

    Don’t expect (or demand) a bone-dry roof at job’s end. The goal is to remove “excessive” weight as opposed to all weight. Plus, any attempt to completely remove the bottom layer of ice will almost always result in irreparable damage to your roofing.

    Exterior Specialties of PA is here to help with all of your roofing maintenance, roofing repair and roofing installation needs.  Call us today at (215) 773-9181 for your FREE estimate.

  • Types of Roofing Insulation

    Courtesy of fsec.ucf.edu

    The insulation a roof has is just as important as the roof itself.  The type of insulation you choose can effect your roofs performance life, but insulation must also fulfill your home's energy and thermal needs.

    Here is an overview of 7 types of roofing insulation, courtesy of FacilitiesNet:

    Wood fiber is an organic insulation board composed of wood, cane, or vegetable fibers mixed with fillers and binders. The insulation can be asphalt impregnated or asphalt coated to enhance moisture resistance. Managers should consider uncoated insulation in applications where the selected roof covering is incompatible with asphalt-based coatings.

    Perlite insulation board is composed of inorganic, expanded silicaceous volcanic glass — perlite — combined with organic fibers and binders. The top surface of the insulation board features an asphalt coating or a proprietary coating formulated to limit adhesive — asphalt — absorption into the insulation during the roof-membrane application.

    Polyisocyanurate is a closed-cell foam plastic insulating core sandwiched between organic or inorganic felt facers, glass-fiber mat facers, or glass-fiber-reinforced aluminum foil facers. A chlorine-free blowing agent expands the foam material, creating the closed-cell structure that gives the insulation its high thermal resistance. Air diffusion into the insulation cell structure results in a slight reduction of thermal resistance, but its insulating efficiency remains higher than other rigid insulation.

    Polystyrene insulation is made two ways: expanded and extruded. Expanded polystyrene consists of the polystyrene polymer impregnated with a foaming agent. The material expands when exposed to heat and is molded into a uniform, closed-cell insulating material. Expanded polystyrene is available in densities of 0.70-3 pounds per cubic foot (pcf). Most roof-covering manufacturers require a minimum density of 1.25 pcf.

    Extruded polystyrene consists of a blended polystyrene polymer heated and run through an extrusion process. The material is exposed to atmospheric conditions, which causes it to expand and create its closed-cell structure. Extruded polystyrene is available in densities of 1.3-2.2 pcf.

    Cellular glass insulation is composed of crushed glass combined with a foaming agent. The components are mixed, placed in a mold, and heated, which melts the glass and decomposes the foaming agent. This process causes the mixture to expand and create uniform, connected closed cells to form the insulating material.

    Gypsum board is a non-structural, non-combustible, water-resistant, treated gypsum core panel. The board is available with a proprietary, non-asphaltic coating on one side to enhance roof-membrane adhesion. Gypsum board typically is used as a cover board over foam-plastic insulations, as a thermal barrier over a steel deck, or as a vapor-retarder substrate.

    Exterior Specialties of PA is here to help with all of your roofing installation, roof repair and roof maintenance means. Call us today at (215) 773-9181 for your FREE estimate!