Caldwell’s Roofing is a member of the Home Builders Association of Alabama, which advises homeowners to “go with a pro” on whatever project they may be doing. This article will take a look at the importance of professionalism in roofing.
Double Standard for Different Trades?
When it comes to trades like plumbing or electric, people understand the importance of hiring a professional – and not just that – they understand that sub-par work in these fields shouldn’t be allowed. They know that a low-balling “fly-by-nighter” in those trades could result in a burned-down home or water damage reaching to the tens of thousands. Because of that, cities and states require special licensing that is tied to rigorous exams for such contractors. But when it comes to roofing (in many localities), everything goes out the window. Anyone that can pay $100 to a city can obtain a “license” and start roofing, whether they will care to learn the trade properly or not.
Whether or not you like the idea of licensing, something ought to be done to elevate the game of roofers, even if it’s just homeowners being more selective in their choice of a roofer. At present, poor roofing practices cost homeowners, HOAs, and businesses quite a bit in needless repairs. We’ll take a look at an example of a hidden roof leak that caused extensive damage. It was the result of a simple mistake that would have taken the roofer literally five seconds to have done correctly. What could have been corrected about as quick as someone could blink an eye resulted in nearly $1,000 of roof repairs for this housing unit!
A Hidden Roof Leak Finally Becomes “Visible”
Even though the biggest “dip” in the shingles is roughly four feet away from the side wall, the leak actually occurred over at the wall (purple “dot”) and the water wicked its way over and rotted out all the decking underneath (where the black circle is drawn).
Caldwell’s Roofing owner, Brad Caldwell, knew it was going to be a bad leak when he saw the shingles sinking down like they were, but he was shocked by what he found.
By the way, notice in the picture above that “Oriented Strand Board” (“OSB”) was used, as over against true plywood. Now, there’s nothing technically “wrong” with that, since codes often allow it, and it’s the predominant material of choice for roof decking for probably 95% of new homes. Nevertheless, prestigious organizations like the NRCA (National Roofing Contractors Association) highly recommend staying with the tried-and-true plywood for decking. The problem with OSB is that it easily wicks up water, swells up, breaks down, allows shingles to “collapse,” and otherwise fails, when leaks happen. If this roof had used 3/8″ plywood instead of 7/16″ OSB, I really think the damage wouldn’t have been nearly as bad.
Anyway, if you think this roof situation is looking pretty bad, then don’t worry – it gets worse.
The First Law of Engineering – “Water Runs Downhill”
If you think engineering is really hard, it might surprise you to know that it’s mostly the application and logical extension of threads of common sense. In fact, as Brad Caldwell went through engineering college, he was taught that the first “law” of engineering is simply, “water runs downhill.” You keep that in mind, and develop it out to come up with the engineering studies of Hydraulics and Hydrology. It’s pretty much the same in roofing – the most important thing to keep in mind is that water always runs downhill. That’s not to say that that thought doesn’t need to be developed out quite a bit in many different roofing applications and scenarios, but it starts with the basics.
The reason for the leak under consideration was that a roofer violated this rule by lapping a lower course of sidewall flashing over a higher one. What happens is, the water that the sidewall flashing is carrying goes under the flashing at the lapping joint, and goes straight to the decking.
Take a look at the picture below, which was taken above the leak source, looking downwards.
Unprofessional Roofing Can Have Big Ramifications
If you thought the rotted OSB was bad enough, wait until you see the next picture, after having removed it!
Also, check out these pictures of the state of the OSB decking – the underside had microbial growth/fungus growing on it!
Also, check out this close-up of the water damage done to one of the rafters under the roof leak.
Reconstruction – Rebuilding the Roof the Right Way
After getting to the bottom of the problem, it was time to start rebuilding. Caldwell’s Roofing went back with new OSB (to match the other OSB), Tiger Paw™ synthetic, proper step-flashing at the roof/wall transition, and new shingles, carefully matched to the correct brand and color of the previous shingles.
Summary of the Importance of Professionalism in Roofing
As we have seen today, professionalism is nearly as important in the trade of roofing as it is in, say, electrical work. You really put your home at risk by hiring an undisciplined or unqualified roofer. Keep the standard high, and try to do your homework on roofing contractors before hiring them, because no one else is, and unprofessional stuff goes on all the time in this trade.
But there’s more than just rotted wood. Roof leaks can harbor the growth of microbes such as mold, and even fungal growth. Experts have correlated 58% of childhood asthma to poor roofing practices (attics are places for microbial growth, if there is a roof leak or a lack of proper ventilation). So by hiring Anyman Roofer, you could be putting your family’s health at risk.
And shall we close with a final consideration? Unprofessionalism in roofing is costing the well-being of many roofers, as accidents and occasional fatalities occur. Don’t you want to make sure that whoever is on your roof is going to be providing a safe work environment for their workers, such as is set forth by OSHA standards? Once again, it currently devolves upon the homeowner to do their homework if they expect to get a roofer that cares anything about safety.
We hope you will keep Caldwell’s Roofing in mind for your roofing needs. We strive to maintain professional practices and a safe work environment. Call us for any questions – 334.332.7799.