The phrase “putting a roof over your head” is rarely taken literally but for homeowners, it can be quite relevant. After all, the right roofing system can save money on energy costs and protect a house from weather damage, while also reducing its environmental footprint.
Any change in season is a good time to evaluate a roof’s performance and repair needs. Making an assessment in late summer or early fall means there is time to tackle projects before the winter weather arrives, and optimal visibility thanks to more sunshine and longer days.
A shingled roof can last more than 20 years, but ensuring its longevity involves maintenance and repair. Keep in mind, spending a few hundred dollars to repair a roof can prolong its life and help avoid bigger repairs down the road. It’s also important to remember when replacing roofing shingles that the material is recyclable. Each year, millions of tons of recyclable shingles are removed in the U.S. and many are sent to landfills.
Here are some tips and tools for a successful and eco-minded roof repair.
Checking for Problems
It can be difficult to tell the difference between a healthy roof and one that is in need of repair, but there are several things to look for. Owens Corning Roofing has a list of roof symptoms for which to check and several of the more common include:
- Missing shingles – Over time, shingles may blow off of a roof. This could be due to improper fastening or high winds, and is more common in coastal areas.
- Algae growth – Dark spots on your roof may look like smoke or residue from your chimney, but those spots likely represent the presence of algae due to humid weather. Algae typically don’t affect a roof’s longevity, just its appearance, and can be removed using a special cleaning solution. Another option is roofing with shingles that are algae-resistant.
- Missing granules – Granules are the top level of asphalt shingles, and erode naturally over time. This occurs more often in hot and dry climates, which can leave the asphalt and/or fiberglass portion of a shingle exposed. In that case, replacing the shingles may be necessary.
- Inspecting the Inside – In the attic, check for leaks, and proper ventilation and insulation, which also play a role in the roof’s lifespan.
In many cases, you can visually inspect the roof for these types of symptoms with a pair of binoculars. However, it’s generally recommended that you contact a roofing professional for an inspection. Professionals have special equipment and understand the safety procedures for inspecting a roof. Home owners should verify ahead of time that a roof inspection is provided at no charge, and ask for a copy of the diagnosis for your records.
Finding the Right Professional
When deciding to invest money in a roof, make sure it’s being done the right way. While do-it-yourself roof repair is possible, keep in mind the risks of standing on top of a two- or three-story house while performing repairs.
If you opt to use a roofing professional, Owens Corning Roofing offers an online search tool that identifies its select network of installers, builders and retail locations by zip code. This database provides professional credentials, company websites and the opportunity to solicit quotes from up to three contractors to compare costs.
The site also indicates if a contractor offers shingle recycling. Home owners may choose to take the Owens Corning Shingle Recycling Pledge, which shows a commitment to reducing the environmental impact of a roofing project and connects home owners to contractors who have taken a similar pledge for industry professionals.
To make sure repairs are done thoroughly, here is a series of questions you can ask any contractor:
- What type of insurance coverage does the contractor have?
- Did the contractor explain the entire roofing system?
- Did the contractor thoroughly inspect your roof?
These types of questions are important, and can help avoid problems down the road that could have been addressed during installation.
Asphalt shingles are still the most popular material used for roofing, and currently make up about 67 percent of the roofing market. Recycling them not only diverts them from landfills, but also provides a new valuable material. Shingles can be recycled into asphalt for pavement, with one normal-sized roof able to generate up to 200 feet of a two-lane highway.
Check out the Shingle Recycling Program initiated by Owens Corning Roofing and Asphalt:
For DIY repairs, be sure to use the Earth911 directory to find out where you can recycle any replaced shingles. For bigger jobs, try to locate a contractor that recycles the shingles they remove.
Homepage image: Roof shingles, Shutterstock
Editor’s Note: Earth911 partners with many industries, manufacturers and organizations to support its Recycling Directory, the largest in the nation, which is provided to consumers at no cost. Owens Corning Roofing and Asphalt is one of these partners.