A little water can be a big nightmare for a homeowner when it comes to damaging forces affecting your house. Insidious leaks can go undetected for long periods of time, causing rot, mold, and endangering the structure of your home. A leaky roof will allow water to eventually ruin walls and insulation, possibly collapse ceilings, or short-circuit wiring, creating a fire risk. Stay on top of roof maintenance to help avoid disaster. The first sign of a leaky roof is often water stains in ceilings or walls. Other indicators include visible roof decay, damp areas in cabinets, or damp or moldy insulation.
The typical lifespan of a roof depends on the material used, the craftsmanship, and the severity of weather in your area. Home improvement site Angie’s List offers the following advice for determining if it’s time for replacement:
- Roof age. Most experts agree that a typical roof will last between 20 and 25 years. It also depends on whether the old roof was removed and you only have one layer of shingles, and if it is properly ventilated.
- Shingles curling and buckling. Shingles that are curled or buckling are another sign that you may need a new roof. Look at the roof slopes of your home that get direct sunlight and if you notice the shingles are curling and losing granules; it could mean the shingles are past their life expectancy. There could also be a possibility that the roof is defective. Contact a licensed roofing contractor to see if you could be eligible for reimbursement.
- Deteriorating roof valleys. Valleys are one of the most important areas of your roof. Snow and rain flow through valleys and into gutters. If the valley is compromised, you could be susceptible to roof leaks. If your roof shingles are falling apart or missing, especially in this area, a new roof will be on your horizon.
- Chimney flashing. If your flashing consists of roof cement or tar, it may need to be replaced with a long-term, water-tight fitting, which would be a metal flashing system.
- Shingle granules in the gutters. Look in your gutters to see whether they are filled with shingle granules. Roofs tend to lose more granules toward the end of their life cycle. Inconsistent or a darker color on some parts of the roof are other signs the granules have worn away.
- Daylight through the roof boards. Check your attic to see if there is any daylight coming through the roof boards, which could also be pathways for water. Also check for moisture in the insulation.
The best way to find reputable roofing contractors is by getting recommendations from neighbors, friends, or family who have had positive experiences. Never hire a roofer without checking the company’s license and ensuring it’s in active status by going to www.cslb.ca.gov. You can also see if there have been any actions taken against the license, as well as verify the company has workers compensation insurance to protect its workers when they are at your home.
While most people wait until selling their home to get a roof inspection, consider scheduling one every few years to get ahead of any issues and help avoid costly repairs, and possibly extend the life of your roof.
Avoid a Mechanics Lien
A mechanics lien is a legal claim against, or security interest in, your property that, if unpaid, allows a foreclosure action, forcing the sale of your home to satisfy any project debts. The lien claim is filed in a county recorder’s or clerk-recorder’s office by an unpaid contractor, subcontractor, supplier, or worker. The prime contractor has a direct, contractual agreement with the homeowner. If the contractor isn’t paid, he or she can sue on the contract and/or record a mechanics lien. But subcontractors, workers, and suppliers don’t have a contract with the homeowner. A problem can occur when the homeowner pays the prime contractor for all or some of the work, but the prime contractor fails to pay the laborers, subcontractors, and materials suppliers that were hired to do portions of the job.
Help avoid problems by getting a written contract for all work from the roofing company and make sure it includes:
- A schedule that demonstrates when specific construction activities will begin and end (such as roof tear off, material delivery, or roof installation) and the projected payments that are tied to the contract price of these activities.
- Identification of any subcontractors and workers who may be performing these construction activities. (Check their license, too.)
- Identification of suppliers who are providing materials necessary for the project.
- A “release of lien” clause. The direct (prime) contractor is required to get release signatures for you from the potential lien claimants.
You can also check with your local courthouse to see if the prime contractor has a history of litigation.