Leaks & Service Repairs

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Reroof Estimates & Inspections

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Category: Residential Roofing

Winter Roofing Concerns: Roof Rat Infestations

You’ve heard of bats in the belfry and skeletons in the closet, but there’s something much scarier and much more likely to be in your home – rats in the roof.

Roof rats, also known as black rats or ship rats, are a common problem in many parts of the United States, but especially in coastal and southern regions such as southeast Virginia. Their populations do particularly well in suburban and urban areas where they can find food and shelter easily and where the climate is mild. In other words – Hampton Roads is their ideal location. But even the Tidewater region can get chilly in the depths of winter, and right now is the time when roof rats and other rodents look for warm places to take up residence.

Since these agile rodents are known for their ability to climb, they can easily access elevated areas such as attics, trees, and sheds. Unfortunately, roof rats can cause significant damage to your roof and home, making it important to understand the signs of an infestation and how to effectively get rid of them.

Identifying Signs of Roof Rats

There are some telltale signs of roof rats that will help you determine if it’s time to take action. Even if you only notice a few of these signs, it’s still worth reaching out to a professional pest service before additional damage is done and even more professionals need to be called in.

Look out for:

  • Droppings: Dark, moist droppings near food sources or around your attic access may indicate a roof rat infestation.
  • Scratching or scurrying sounds: You may hear these in the walls, ceilings, or attic, especially at night.
  • Gnaw marks: Look for holes or gnaw marks on roofing materials, pipes, or electrical wires as well as potential food sources.
  • Nesting materials: Roof rats often use soft materials such as insulation, paper, or cloth to construct their nests. If you find loose material like this mysteriously lying around your house and especially in or near your attic, it may be from a roof rat attempting to transport it to their nest.
  • Unpleasant odors: Roof rats can produce a strong, unpleasant odor, especially when they are present in large numbers.

Roof Rat Damage to Address

If you have any of the signs listed above, then it is important to address the infestation promptly to reduce damage and the risk of disease transmission. Most likely some damage has already been done to your house when they gained access to your attic or other areas, but the longer they stay, the more damage is sure to be done. Here are the main types of damage you should check for:

  • Chewed wires and pipes: Roof rats have sharp teeth and are known to gnaw on electrical wires and pipes, which can lead to short circuits, fires, and leaks.
  • Damaged insulation: Roof rats may nest in insulation and chew through it, reducing its effectiveness and increasing energy costs.
  • Gnawed roofing materials: Roof rats can chew through roofing materials such as shingles and flashing, creating holes that can allow water to enter the attic or home. Their access and movement can also lift shingles and flashing, allowing them to be blown around and water to enter a home.
  • Contaminated food: Roof rats are known carriers of disease, and they can contaminate food stored in pantries and cabinets. Look for droppings or gnawed packaging in your cabinets and pantry and if you see any signs of this, throw the food away immediately and sanitize the area.

Getting Rid of Roof Rats

If you’ve determined you do, in fact, have roof rats – or any other rodents and pests in your attic – there are several things you can do right away to help reduce the damage and eliminate the problem.

  • Remove attractants: Keep food, water, and trash in tightly sealed containers to eliminate sources of food and water for the rats.
  • Remove trees and branches: Roof rats use trees and other structures to climb up and access attics. If you have overhanging limbs near your roofline, it’s an easy way for them to make their way in. Trim back any trees, remove lattices or any other structures that give them an easy entrance.
  • Use traps or bait stations: Place snap traps or bait stations in areas where you have seen rat activity. Be sure to follow safety guidelines and recommendations for the use of traps and bait stations.
  • Hire a professional: If the infestation is severe or if you are unable to effectively manage the problem on your own, consider hiring a pest control professional who has experience with roof rat control.
  • Seal entry points: Do this only AFTER the pests have been removed. If you seal off their access while they are still inside your house, they will just continue to cause damage trying to get back out. Once they are gone, inspect the roof and attic for holes, cracks, and gaps that rats could be using to gain access, and seal these entry points with materials such as steel wool, caulk, or metal flashing.

Repairing Roof Rat Damage

As we said, if they’ve gotten into your home, damage has likely already been done. But if they’ve taken up residence for a while or if you’re noticing leaks, electrical issues or higher energy bills, then it’s definitely time to make some repairs. These types of repairs should always be done by a professional. If you’ve called in a pest service to remove the rats, they may be able to let you know what type of damage they observed, otherwise you’ll want to get up into your attic and take a look around.

  • Roofing: For any damage done to your roof deck, sheathing, flashing, shingles or attic ventilation, you should reach out to a qualified roofing contractor.
  • Electrical: If wires have been gnawed at or chewed through, contact a licensed electrician immediately – this can cause fires and other major issues.
  • HVAC: If ductwork has been chewed through or your air handler has internal damage, call your HVAC company and have them inspect the unit and make any necessary repairs.
  • Structural: In extreme cases, roof rats may have compromised some structural aspects of your home such as roof rafters and floor joists in the attic or framing in the walls. In these cases, a licensed general contractor is the best professional to reach out to for a solution.

Andrews Roofing Can Help

If you suspect you have roof rats, contact Andrews Roofing today. As a locally owned and operated company, we have decades of experience dealing with the very specific issues homeowners in Hampton Roads may have. We can help you identify if roof rats are the cause of the problem and provide estimates for any repair work that needs to be done. Don’t give roof rats free rent – call us today!

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Under the Same Roof: How to Repair and Replace Shared Roofing Structures

If you live in a townhouse, condo or rowhouse situation in which you share a roof with your neighbors, you likely have legitimate concerns about ever having to repair or replace it.

A shared roof can pose unique challenges for homeowners living beneath them, especially when there are no condo or homeowner associations to manage the decision making. If your home has a shared roof, here are a few things to keep in mind.

Get to Know Your Neighbors
For many reasons, it’s a good idea to get to know your neighbors. But it’s particularly important if you share walls, fences, roofs, yards, etc. The better you know your neighbors, the more likely you are to have an amicable discussion about repairs and replacements when the time comes. You’ll also be more aware of their specific situation and whether they are ready and willing to invest money in their home.

It’s also a good idea to have frank conversations with your neighbors about where they stand on shared repairs so no one is taken by surprise when something comes up. These conversations are easier to have when there isn’t an emergency or dire need so people don’t feel pressured to make a decision.

Get Ahead of the Problem
An ounce of maintenance is worth a pound of repair. Talk to your neighbors about having your roof professionally inspected every few years, and work together to ensure the roof is maintained from the outside, keeping gutters clear and debris removed. Each of you should also be checking your attic spaces to check for moisture, leaks or ventilation issues, and keeping each other informed of what you find.

This is more important than you’d think, but we’ve personally seen neighbors suing neighbors because one person’s roof was causing a leak on the other homeowner’s side due to disrepair. Nipping these issues in the bud early can prevent a lot of headache and cost down the line.

Work Together
If and when the time comes for a roofing replacement, it is possible to work together with your neighbors to come to a solution. We have replaced roofs for multiple owners under the same roof who worked together to find the right contractor, material, color and installation schedule that worked for all of them. Don’t assume this is an impossibility. Give your neighbors the benefit of the doubt that they also want to make sure their home is well maintained and protected.

The first and most important thing to do is to discuss your budget and what each homeowner is reasonably willing and able to spend on the project. The next step is to decide who will be in charge of certain responsibilities. For instance, will one person be in charge of collecting all the estimates, or should each neighbor schedule and report back on a single estimate? Will one person be responsible for cutting the check and getting payment from everyone else, or will the contractor accept equal payments from each person directly? Does someone need to finance their portion? If so, then they may need to work directly with the contractor to set up a payment plan, while everyone else can pay their share in cash.

Finally, it’s critical to be flexible. Not everyone is going to agree on every single thing, whether it’s budget, contractor, material or color. Talk about your non-negotiables and try to find some common ground to reach a solution that meets everyone’s top needs. But don’t go into the situation assuming you will get every single thing you want on your checklist.

Last Resort: Go It Alone
It is possible in some cases to have a single portion of a shared roof repaired or replaced if you cannot get your neighbors on board for a full reroofing. It is by no means ideal, and it’s important to note that it can impact warranties and workmanship guarantees. But, if your roof is damaged or at the end of its life, you’re better off doing something now and avoiding further damage than waiting for all your neighbors to get on the same page.

If you have a shared roof situation and need an estimate, advice or inspection, give Andrews Roofing a call. We’ve worked with families in the Hampton Roads region for decades and we know this area’s specific types of housing scenarios so we can give you the best solution to your roofing problem. Contact us today.

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Four New Year’s Roofing Resolutions

It’s the beginning of a new year, and that means it’s time for resolutions.
Most New Year’s resolutions revolve around self-improvement, but the truth is, you’re great just the way you are. So instead, we suggest making some home-improvement resolutions that don’t require a scale, a short-lived gym membership, or eventual self-loathing. Here are a few that can improve not just your home, but your enjoyment of it as well.

Monthly Inspections
This resolution is easy to implement, only takes a few minutes and can help save your home from preventable damage. Once a month, do a visual inspection of the exterior of your home. Add it to your calendar, set a reminder on your phone, or whatever you use to keep track of recurring tasks.

From the outside of your house, walk the perimeter and look for any holes or damage to siding, loose flashing, loose or missing shingles, brittle or broken shingles, moisture around your foundation, debris that may have landed on your roof, mildew or algae buildup or anything else that seems out of place or damaged. From the inside, peek into your attic and make sure all the rafters and roof decking are dry, that the ventilation is working properly and that insulation is in place. Take a look out any windows that may give you a view of dormers or roofing valleys that aren’t visible from the ground.

If you spot any damage, take photos – especially if you believe the damage requires an insurance claim – and call in a licensed contractor to have a second look and give an estimate for repairs. Your visual inspection should only take a few minutes but could save you thousands of dollars and lots of headaches down the road. As they say in medicine, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

Gutter Cleaning
Your monthly visual inspection may give you an idea of when your gutters need to be cleaned out, but you also may not be able to see all the debris in your gutters from the safety of the ground (which is the only place we recommend doing an inspection yourself). In Hampton Roads, the amount of foliage and storm debris increases the likelihood of needing a good gutter cleaning. While many websites and professionals will say cleaning your gutters twice a year is fine, we recommend once per season if you live in Southeast Virginia.

This year, resolve to have a professional gutter cleaning service come to your house every three months. You can schedule these cleanings in advance, so you don’t even have to think about it once you’ve made the initial call. The great thing about having a professional gutter cleaning is that it can reduce the likelihood of roof damage from water that builds up and pushes up under your roofing material when gutters are overfilled with debris. It also means there are professional eyes on your roof several times a year. A good cleaning company will alert you if they see any damage, debris or signs of aging that you should know about – all without you ever having to climb a ladder.

Make the Repairs
Maybe you already know your roof is in need of repairs. Perhaps you’ve seen the shingles fly off during a storm, or you can hear flashing or loose gutters banging around on a windy night. If so, then the new year is the perfect time to resolve to finally have it fixed.

Taking care of these types of repairs extends the life of your roof, saving you money and protecting your investment. A simple repair may have a small upfront cost, but in the long term it will be well worth it. Make sure to call in a professional, licensed roofing contractor to make the repairs. It may also be the case that the damage that needs to be repaired is under warranty, in which case you may not even have to pay out of pocket. If you think this is the case, find your original paperwork and reach out to the manufacturer or installer to make a claim.

New Year, New Roof
Lastly, if you know it’s time, then make this the year that you finally get that old roof replaced. Living under a roof that is past its recommended life span is just asking for trouble and interior damage that will not be covered by insurance. In the Tidewater region, the majority of residential roofs are asphalt shingles, which typically have a lifespan of 20-30 years. So, if your home was built before 1993 or if your home’s roof hasn’t been replaced since then, it’s likely time to make this a priority.

Roof replacements typically happen in the spring and fall, so if you know ahead of time that you will be needing a new roof this year, start vetting roofing companies now during the slower months. Gather several estimates and start researching your options for materials, colors, manufacturers, etc. Once you’ve made your decisions, get on your chosen roofing company’s installation schedule and get the materials ordered. Some materials are taking significantly longer to get in stock because of supply chain issues, so the sooner you can make your decisions and place orders, the better.

At Andrews Roofing we want to wish all of our Hampton Roads neighbors a beautiful, blessed 2023. If you find yourself in need of roofing repairs, replacements or inspections, we would be happy to help you determine the right course of action for your home so that you can enjoy it for many more years to come. Contact us today.

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Don’t Let Christmas Ruin Your Roof

The holidays are here and for many folks that means decorating their homes – inside and out. So many of the classic Christmas movies we all love to watch every year involve some sort of rooftop antics. Whether it’s Santa’s sleigh scraping across a gabled dormer or Clark Griswold stapling strand after strand of lights directly to his shingles, these scenes that fill most people with holiday cheer make roofing professionals cringe! That’s because Christmas and holiday decor can cause real, serious damage to your home’s exterior, and particularly your roof. We don’t mean to be a grinch, but while we love to get in the holiday spirit as much as anyone else, we have a few recommendations to help make sure that Christmas doesn’t ruin your roof (and your holiday cheer) this year.

Inspect Before You Decorate
Before putting any type of decorations directly onto your home’s exterior surfaces, give them a once over. Are any shingles peeling or missing? Are gutters loose anywhere? Are there gaps or holes in siding? Is there debris in any roofing valleys? All of these issues should be dealt with regardless of whether or not you’re decorating, but they can become especially problematic once you add things to them. Debris can blow around and destroy your decorations – especially anything inflatable. Loose shingles can be pulled off if weight is placed directly on them. Loose gutters could even fall off or become more damaged if strung with lights. If your inspection turns up any issues, call in a licensed roofing contractor to fix the issue before decking the halls.

Use Proper Lighting
It’s not uncommon to collect Christmas decor and use the same things for decades on end. But when it comes to exterior lighting, it’s best not to get nostalgic about anything. Outdated or worn string lights and electric decor can cause major damage to your home including fire damage. Additionally, any lighting that isn’t rated for outdoor use can become a liability. Make sure anything that you plug in is UL rated, which is typically listed on the product’s packaging or online description. The UL seal means that a product has been tested by the UL nationally recognized safety and sustainability standards and has been found to be free from a reasonably foreseeable risk of fire and electric shock.

Watch Your Weight
No, not your waistline, although we could probably all stand to keep an eye on that this time of year. We’re talking about weight you place on your roof which isn’t designed to withstand downward pressure and weight over long periods of time. Attaching heavy decorations to the top of your house can cause structural damage to your roof decking and eaves. You can check with a structural engineer or contractor to find out what your roof’s long-term weight bearing capacity is, but you can also use common sense – don’t plop a three-hundred-pound Santa and his sleigh up there and not expect for some issues to occur. Conversely, if you place lightweight decor on your roof, ensure that it is properly secured so it doesn’t come loose and cause damage to other areas of you or your neighbors’ homes.

Most Importantly: Use Proper Fasteners!
We cannot stress enough how much damage can be caused by stapling, nailing or screwing lights and decorations to your home’s roof. Shingles are not self-sealing. Any hole and penetration you put in them will only get bigger and cause more damage over time. If you must have lights along your roofline, there are great products out there that create a professional and clean design without penetrating any exterior materials. Gutter clips and shingle clips (or all-in-on-products) are great alternatives. They are easy to use and well worth the minimal investment, especially considering the cost of the damage nails and screws will eventually cause to your home.

We hope all of our neighbors in the Hampton Roads region are celebrating the season with good spirits and lots of safety. All of us at Andrews Roofing want to wish you a wonderful holiday season, a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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Three Key Things to Consider when Finishing Off an Attic

Finishing off an attic is a popular way to squeeze more livable square footage out of an existing home. There are challenges to this type of renovation, however, and a lot of systems within the house should be considered, not the least of which is your roof. Since attics abut your roofing system, it is the most susceptible to poorly designed or constructed finished attics, so always make sure to use an experienced, licensed contractor. While we recommend having a professional do all the associated work for this type of project, here are a few things to consider ahead of time or to make sure your contractor addresses.

Ventilation
The number one most important thing to ensure during a finished attic project is maintaining proper ventilation. When an attic is unfinished, the system has space to breathe, while well-installed insulation and vents keep temperatures optimal to avoid condensation. But when drywall is put up, insulation is moved around and vents are covered, this can affect how the roof reacts to temperature changes. If not done correctly, this can cause condensation to build up between the roof and drywall, causing rot and mold to both surfaces.

If insulation is being reinstalled between the rafters behind the drywall, it’s important that air space is left between the insulation and the roof sheathing. There are special foam baffles that are made specifically for this purpose that should be used. There should also be a plenum (or connected air space) built into the design. You may notice that most finished attic rooms have a flat portion of the ceiling at the top (as opposed to an A-frame ceiling). That area above the flat ceiling is the plenum – it allows air from between rafters to move laterally as necessary in order to reach the roof vents.

If these design details are not incorporated into your project, rot will occur on your roof sheathing, drywall or both. The problem is that once an attic is finished off, it’s very hard to know these issues are happening until it’s too late and rot, mold and mildew have appeared. So be aware and discuss these details with your contractor ahead of time.

HVAC
For many homes, much of the HVAC system’s ductwork lives in their unfinished attic. Whether mounted to the rafters or lying across the floor of the attic (or both), all of it will need to be repositioned and worked around. This may require some creative designing to allow space for ductwork to go above and behind the drywall with enough space for insulation and air flow. This means you may need to call in an HVAC company in addition to your general contractor.

If your new finished space is going to tap into your central air system, then the ductwork will need to be reconfigured by an HVAC specialist. It would be wise to work in access panels for key parts of the HVAC unit so repairs can be done without having to rip out drywall. If you don’t plan on tapping into the main system, consider something like a mini split AC unit that is efficient, can be used when needed, and can help with maintaining reasonable temperatures in the space to help decrease any chance of condensation.

Plumbing
Although less likely, there is a chance that some key plumbing elements are housed in your attic that will also need to be worked around or reconfigured by a licensed plumber. The most common issue arises with homes that have hot water heaters in the attic. Space will need to be carved out for housing it, typically in a small closet so there is still easy access for repairs and replacement.

If you do decide to finish your attic space, discuss all of these concerns with your contractor, and also keep a close eye on your finished room after it’s complete. Check for mold or mildew on drywall and address it as soon as you see it. Make sure the room stays a reasonable temperature and investigate any damp or dank smells that may occur. If you have any concerns that a finished attic space may have caused damage to your roof, please contact Andrews Roofing immediately and we will send an experienced, licensed and insured professional to your home for an inspection and estimate before the issue gets worse.

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Leaks Don’t Always Start at the Roof

When you see water spots on your ceiling or water starts trickling down a wall, it’s common to assume that the cause is a defect or damage to your roof. But just because water is coming from somewhere above you, doesn’t necessarily mean your roof is to blame. Unfortunately, there can be many reasons for water leaks, so before you panic and assume you need a whole new roof, investigate some of these other alternative sources.

HVAC Systems
If you have an air handler system that resides in your attic, take a look at this first. There are myriad reasons why an HVAC unit may be leaking, so don’t dismiss it if it’s not obvious at first glance. First, check your unit’s drain pan. This is a metal pan that collects water and filters it to a drain, removing it from the house. Over time, the exposure to moisture can cause drain pans to rust and degrade, allowing water to leak out of the unit.

Another common cause of HVAC leaks is a clogged condensation drain. Over time, as water flows through this drain line, mold and mildew can build up, causing backups of condensation. If this is the cause of the leak, you will need to have an HVAC professional snake the drain, remove the obstruction and clean the line. Leaks can also be caused by faulty drain pumps or low refrigerant. If your HVAC is older or hasn’t been functioning properly, give this a look first and if you spot any issues, call in an HVAC maintenance company to inspect and repair the unit.

Hot Water Heaters
In an area like Hampton Roads where basements are few and far between, it’s not uncommon for builders to put hot water heaters in an attic. Yes, it means it’s out of the way and isn’t a daily eye sore, but it can become a big problem when (not if) it springs a leak. Hot water heaters are not meant to last forever, and they will eventually fail in one way or another.

If you have a hot water heater in your attic and have detected water spots, mold or mildew on the ceiling or in corners, check it immediately. Even a very small leak can cause major damage to joists, ceilings, insulation, and personal belongings. A licensed plumber will need to be contacted to safely remove and reinstall a new hot water heater if this is the case. You may also want to discuss with them the possibility of moving the hot water heater to a better location or switching to a tankless hot water heater.

Mortar Leaks
Mortar leaks can still cause damage to interior walls and corners as well as foundations, basements and along the length of an interior wall. Mortar joints in cinder block, stone or brick walls can deteriorate over time, allowing water to penetrate either through paths left by mortar gaps or directly through the stone. If your home is older and is brick or stone, take a look around the exterior of your house and see if you can spot any damp spots or visible gaps or missing mortar – especially around the areas where you’ve seen water damage inside. If so, you should contact a licensed contractor or mason to do the necessary repairs before the interior damage becomes worse and causes structural and foundational issues.

Siding leaks
Likewise, if you see stains like the ones described above, but your home is sided with vinyl or aluminum, there could be a similar issue. Openings at the lap joints of vinyl siding, as well as drain openings along the bottom edge of most vinyl siding products, allow the system to breathe and drain off any wind-blown rain that may enter behind the siding. If the house wrap or door or window flashing behind the siding is not properly installed or has sustained damage, the water that should be draining can enter the structure instead. These types of leaks can be slow to show up on the interior and by the time they do, they may have caused extensive wood rot, mold, and insect damage. To avoid this, do regular visual inspections of your home’s siding, looking for any gaps between planks or holes that may have been caused by storm damage or animals.

Burst Pipes
Any plumbing that runs through your walls, ceilings or attic may be the cause of water damage you spot inside your home. Particularly if your home is older and has not had any plumbing material upgrades done to it, deterioration may be occurring. Since most plumbing is hidden away behind walls, many people first detect a plumbing leak by spikes in their water bill. If your bill is suddenly significantly more than usual, it may be time to start a visual inspection of the pipes you are able to see or listen for areas where you may hear trickling or dripping. This is particularly common when you have a bathroom upstairs – toilets, sinks and bathtubs can easily spring slow leaks that over time create large, ugly water stains on the ceiling below. If this is the case, call in a professional plumber as soon as possible to fix the issue.

Window leaks
Old windows or improperly installed windows are common sources of leaks. If the casing around a window has rotted or was installed incorrectly, rainstorms can easily penetrate the exterior of your home. Often you will be able to see water coming in from the window casing, but other times the water collects between the wall and drywall, creating damp spots, mold and mildew. This can mimic the siding and mortar leaks we discussed above, so if you’re not sure what the cause is, call in a licensed contractor to help you determine the best way forward.

Gutters and fascia
Fascia is technically a part of your roof that covers the eaves above your gutter system. However, leaks in these areas are not always caused by the roof itself, but by clogged gutters. When a gutter system is full of debris, water can’t drain properly and will build up, pushing up against the fascia and causing rot. Over time this rot can allow that water buildup into the house, causing leaks that look very much like a true roof leak, with water coming down the sides of the wall or causing wet spots in corners. To avoid this, have your gutters cleaned regularly and the fascia board inspected and replaced if any rot has occurred.

If you investigate these other potential causes and still can’t find the source of the leak, it may be time to call in a qualified roofing professional. At Andrews Roofing, we provide roof inspections and repairs for all types of commercial and residential structures and on any type of roofing material. Don’t let a leak cause additional costly damage to your home. Contact us today.

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