Unintended consequences – Renos that make ice dams.

That is a curious result that happens.  Someone finally invests some serious money in upgrading their kitchen (or bathroom), installing beautiful cabinetry, gorgeous ceiling lights, and finally get the attractive and bright kitchen (or comfortable bathroom) that they always wanted.  The following winter, an ice dam forms.  The following year, the ice dam gets worse and the ceiling starts to leak after every thaw.  What’s going on?

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Stripping is a good thing. Really.

Roof stripping, that is.  This is the process of getting rid of the old roof covering material, down to the deck.  In the process, if done correctly, you’ll learn a lot of things about what worked on your roof and what didn’t.  As all things that are good for you, there are costs and inconveniences involved, aspects which are exploited by those contractors who don’t have your best interests at heart.

What are some of the typical reasons you’re given why leaving your old roof on and going over is/are acceptable?  They include:

  • You’re saving money.
  • It’s more ecological (no landfill waste!).
  • It’s more secure.
  • It provides another layer of protection to your roof.
  • It’s recommended by the manufacturer.
  • There’s much less residual mess to clean up.

So many great reasons why you should just leave the old roof on, and go over!  And yet, pretty much all of these are false, based on the homeowner’s lack of knowledge of how the roof system is supposed to work, and compounded by the contractor’s desire to get the job done as fast as possible, get paid, and move on.  If you are presented with the suggestion that leaving your old roof on is an acceptable strategy, there are a number of things you should be aware of before you agree to this.

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Getting three quotes is not enough…

When you look up various web sites advocating consumer help or protection, you often get the advice to ask for three quotes.  The idea is that by getting these quotes, you are protecting yourself from contractors that are going to overcharge you, or from contractors who are undercharging because they are unqualified.  This is excellent advice, but it usually doesn’t go far enough.  As always, the really important stuff is in the details (the fine print).  Let’s examine the issues.

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Frost in Attic

Frost can be beautiful.  One of the benefits of poorly insulated windows, at least for small children, is the beautiful lace shapes that form – so delicate and yet so enchanting.

Despite this beauty, there are plenty of places where in a home you do NOT want to see frost forming.  Certainly, when found on windows, it is a clear sign that the window is not very good at insulating.  Another place where you don’t want to see frost, is inside your attic.

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You’re mad -your roofer didn’t do the job

You were happy to have the roof done a few years ago and you were delighted when the roofer told you he saved you money.  Except that now your gyproc is showing signs of water damage, and the last roof lasted 15 years without any leaks in that location.  What should you do?

The quick answer is:

  1. Diagnose the problem
  2. Identify the probable cause
  3. Assemble your evidence
  4. Notify the party responsible in writing
  5. Give adequate time for the party responsible to respond and correct
  6. If no acceptable solution is reached, escalate

The long form of the answer follows below.  (Disclaimer:  I am not giving legal advice in this post.  The following discussion is only one of the ways such issues can be resolved, and there may be other mechanisms available to you that are not covered in this post).

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Condensation

Condensation plays the same role in “modern” roofing practice as “bad spirits” did in medieval times.  If something went wrong, you blamed the bad spirits.  Nowadays, if a roofing system is not working, it’s due to “condensation”.  So let’s get into it and understand what condensation is, when can it appear in a roof system, and what corrective action you can and should take if condensation is really the cause of an apparent leakage.

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Metal roofing – the green solution for your house.  Or is it?

Compared to (most) asphalt shingle roofs, (most) metal roofs last much longer and perform much better, as long as they are properly installed.

Metal roofs are considered to be more ecological than asphalt roofs, as their longevity usually means that the metal roof is the last roof the home will need.  This longevity also means that fewer manufacturing resources are needed to produce this roof, compared to the resources needed for asphalt shingles over the life of the house.

However, this longevity of product may not be enjoyed by the homeowners, if the installation was not properly done.  Even if the installers followed the manufacturer’s recommended installation practice, a roof may fail prematurely IF the roof covering was not properly integrated with the rest of the house structure.

So let’s look at what “should” be taken into account when considering a roofing solution.

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