Your roof is an important investment. Whether it’s minor repairs or a completely new roof, the contractor you choose will determine the quality of the roof and determine how well it will protect the home in extreme weather conditions. Proper installation is necessary to obtain coverage under the shingle manufacturer’s limited warranty. Therefore, choosing the right roofer is important. We’re going to cover roofing questions to ask your roofer to make sure your roofer is a good choice. Next, we’ll walk you through the process of choosing a roofer more generally.
Questions to ask a roofer
Before you engage with your roofer, there are some very specific questions to ask to make sure they are honest and the best fit for you. To discuss specific questions to ask a roofer, we reached out to Milt Freeman Roofing, vice president of sales and operations for Castle Roofing in Pensacola Florida, Ohio.
Will you check the status of my coverage?
The deck is the thin board of wood that makes up the bottom of the roof. Some roofers bypass the deck, adding new shingles on top of it without regard to whether it is damaged or how long it will last. Others will look at the cover, but may have to add replacement costs to their budget. It is important that you know that the cover will be checked and what it could cost if it needs to be replaced. Otherwise, you may be surprised by a larger than expected bill.
How will my skylights be treated?
Skylights are challenging parts of the roof. Many homeowners struggle with water leaks around their skylight after a new roof installation. You can call the roofer who did the installation to fix these problems, but it’s best not to have them in the first place. It can put your mind at ease knowing how your roofer will treat your skylight and flashings. You may want to ask each roofer you are considering about the skylight, as they may have different opinions on how to handle it.
Which valley installation will you use?
Roof valleys are another key area of vulnerability to leaks, as this is where the most water collects when it rains. “This is typically one of the places, next to the flashing, where leaks occur due to improper installation,” Freeman Roofing said.
He says how to treat pit files has changed over the years, and recommended approaches may vary based on the construction of your home and the region in which you live. However, a good valley installation will include a combination of ice and water guards, flashing, and roof shingles installed according to the manufacturer’s specifications.
In any case, Freeman Roofing recommends asking the contractor what method they use and how it will work.
How will you cover the vents?
Most roofs have ridge vents to allow the roof to breathe and prevent moisture from collecting in the attic. It is also the part of the roof that bears the most wind shear.
“The usual practice was to cut three-tab shingles to use as ridge caps,” Freeman Roofing said. He recommends using ridge cap shingles instead. They do not need to be cut, which means a faster and cleaner installation.
How far will the shingles extend over the drip edge?
When it rains, the water flows down the slope into your gutters. Then some of it clings to the edge of the shingle and can come back up through the bottom of the shingle. Even with a drip edge installed (a strip of aluminum or plastic that protects the edge of the deck), water can still find its way onto the roof deck and cause damage.
To avoid this, the edge of the starter shingle should extend past the drip edge. Until where? “Starter shingles should overhang the eave and rake edge by ¼ to ¾ inch,” Freeman Roofing said. “This allows water to roll off the shingle and into the gutter.” He added that it also reduces the chance of water coming back up through the bottom and seeping into the roof deck.
How many nails are put on each tile?
The correct answer to this question is: “It depends on the specific instructions each manufacturer has for their products,” according to Freeman Roofing. “No two tiles are the same.” FREEMAN ROOFING, for example, recommends four nails on our Architectural and Performance Class shingles to qualify for a limited warranty.
What type of flashing do you recommend?
Areas where the roof joins a structure, such as a chimney or dormer, are especially vulnerable to water ingress. That’s where the flashing comes in. Freeman Roofing said flashing is extremely important. “It’s your main defense against water. The roof is only as good as the flashing.”
While some Pensacola roofing contractors simply do “front mount flashing,” Freeman Roofing says this is often not enough. He recommends the Z flashing for brick or stone siding and the flashing listed set for board siding. These flashings feature channels and curves that are integrated into the siding and help prevent water from entering due to wind uplift. Ask the roofer what flashing they recommend based on the house’s siding material and wind exposure.
How will you seal the coating on the pipe?
Another area often overlooked is the pipe line, where the vent stacks exit the roof. Freeman Roofing says this is an area of particular concern. “Most pipe coating manufacturers don’t offer a warranty,” he said.
Freeman Roofing says that makes it doubly important to make sure the pipe line is properly sealed, with ice and water shields installed around them, because major damage can result if they aren’t.
Lastly, you may end up with some questions about how your roofer handles time and payment.
What will the weather be like when the shingles are installed?
Installing a roof is a fair weather job, but Mother Nature isn’t always cooperative, and sometimes it’s cold and gray on the day of installation. On those days, Kreutzer recommends that you make sure his contractor uses best cold-weather installation practices. This usually means the use of spot adhesives to secure the shingles until adequate adhesion occurs.
“Your roofers need to be aware of the weather conditions,” he said. “On cold and gloomy days they should do a punctual sealing.” Thus, the roof will remain in place until the sun has been able to do its part.
How is the payment managed?
Before working with a roofer, it helps to know what type of schedule and payment methods they accept. Most roofers will ask you to pay a deposit up front. Avoid roofers who ask for much larger deposits than their competition.
When paying the contractor, try to do so in a traceable way and, ideally, by credit card. Credit cards are a good option because you can get your money back if the roofer doesn’t start or finish the job.
It’s a red flag if your roofer only accepts cash. Some roofers accept credit card payments in person; others will ask you to pay online through their billing system. Before making full payment to the roofer, it’s wise to make sure there are no unexpired liens or liens that can be enforced. These rights vary by jurisdiction.