Leaks & Service Repairs

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Reroof Estimates & Inspections

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Tag: solar panel roof leak

Why Good Flashing Is Critical for Your Roof

When we talk about roofing repairs and replacements, people typically just think about shingles or other types of exterior roofing materials like metal, cedar shake or clay tile.

But there are many critical pieces that go into a good, solid roofing system, and one of them is flashing. Flashing is more important than people think, and improperly installed, damaged or missing flashing is one of the most common causes of roof leaks.

What is flashing?
When a roof plane meets a vertical surface, shingles and other roofing materials can’t be used to protect those parts of the roof. Instead, flashing is installed around vertical roof features to direct water away from these critical areas. Roof flashing is a thin metal material that comes in large sheets and is cut, molded and layered to fit where it is needed. It may also be made out of a plastic membrane for some applications or you may see PVC used at penetrations as pipe collars, sleeves and other fittings that function as flashing.

How does flashing work?
Without flashing, water could penetrate between the crevice of say, a shingle and a chimney. Flashing ensures that the water runs back over the roofing material, down the roof plane and off the house, hopefully into a clear and clean gutter. Other areas where flashing may be used includes vents, skylights, dormers, and sometimes even between the edge of the roofline and a gutter system.

What is flashing made of?
The materials used for flashing has changed over the years, from lead-coated materials to safer and more durable types of metals. This includes aluminum, copper and galvanized steel. Depending on the building codes where you live, a roofing contractor may have to use a specific material. While we typically use aluminum flashing on residential installs, the material itself is dependent on the specific roof and situation.

When should I replace or repair flashing?
If your home is experiencing a leak, and it does not appear to be from missing shingles, punctures or other damage, it may be time to check the flashing. Check the areas we discussed above to see if any of these issues have occurred:

  • Holes, dents or bending
  • Corrosion or rusting
  • Missing nails or loose nails
  • Loose or missing flashing

If you spot any of these issues, it’s time to call in a qualified roofing professional. Replacing flashing yourself is dangerous and if done incorrectly, can cause even more damage to your roof and ultimately the interior of your home.

When having your roof replaced, it’s a good idea to have the flashing replaced at the same time. Some areas may be able to be reused, but to ensure a watertight seal and a lifespan equivalent to your new roof material, full replacement is likely worth the minimal extra investment. Your existing roof flashing materials may also not be up to current code, in which case a roofing contractor will be obligated to replace it. Alternatively, it’s very possible that when you are experiencing a leak caused by flashing that only the flashing will need to be replaced, and that a full roof replacement is not necessary.

If you are having issues with your roof’s flashing, or have a leak you haven’t been able to identify the cause of, give Andrews Roofing a Call. We are experienced in the specific issues Hampton Roads homeowners encounter, especially during storm season. Contact us today.

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Common Roofing Issues from Solar Panels

As energy costs increase, many homeowners are looking for alternative energy solutions for their own homes, but these solutions can often cause more problems than they’re worth.

For many homeowners, the most practical alternative energy solution is solar panels, which are usually installed on roofs in order to be exposed to the most sunlight and to be out of the way. The problem is that most roofs are not designed to be energy conductors, and without proper planning and installation, this investment may end up costing a whole lot more than you bargained for. If you’re considering solar panels, here are several things to keep in mind.

Roof Leaks

Solar panels, by nature, disrupt the flow of water along your roof, which can create leakage issues over time. If panels are installed incorrectly, leakage can also occur around the areas where the panels were bolted in and attached to the roof. Even if they are installed correctly, adding multiple panels to your roof necessitates more penetrative points, all of which create more susceptibility to leaking. This means more frequent inspections of your roof and more maintenance over time to prevent those connection points from becoming compromised.

Roof Age

Roofs do not last forever, and neither do solar panels. The current solar panel products on the market have an estimated lifespan of 25 to 30 years. This is a similar lifespan to traditional architectural shingles. If your roof is already a few years old, putting solar panels on top of it means that somewhere down the line the roof is going to need replacing before the solar panels will. Having the panels removed and reinstalled on top of the cost of a new roof may negate any energy savings. If you’re set on solar panels, the best time to install them is shortly after replacing your roof.

Roof Strength

Solar panels weigh about 40 lbs each, and that does not include the weight of the metal brackets used to attach them. Add all of this up and that’s a heavy additional load for your roof to be bearing. Most roofs are not designed to bear this type of additional weight, so reinforcement or replacement may be necessary before installing. A structural engineer and licensed contractor can consult on the viability of your current roof hosting solar panels. Most legitimate solar panel installation companies will not install on roofs that do not meet the structural requirements.

Roof Nests

Solar panels create the perfect living conditions for animals looking to nest safely away from ground predators, but in a weather proof environment. The space between the bottom of a solar panel and the top of your roof is prime real estate for birds, bugs and squirrels. These nests can cause damage to both the roofing material and the solar panels and reduce their performance. If you do install solar panels, it will be critical to visually inspect them regularly to ensure you don’t have any unwanted tenants. If you do spot a nest, you’ll need to call a pest or wildlife removal company. Do not attempt to remove these yourself.

Roof Warranties

One of the most important things to research before having solar panels installed is whether their installation will void any warranties your current roof may have. Often your roof has two warranties: a labor warranty from the company who installed the roof and then a manufacturer warranty from the company who made the roofing materials used. Check with both companies to see what their policy is for adding solar panels to your roof before voiding a valuable warranty that could cost you thousands in repair costs down the line.

Solar panels can be a good option for energy savings for some homeowners, but it’s not a decision to make lightly and without research. Weigh all the options before moving forward, speak to a licensed roofing contractor if you have specific questions and talk to other homeowners who have had them installed. Andrews Roofing has been providing roof repairs and replacements to the Hampton Roads region for decades, and we’ve seen first-hand the wide variety of issues that can arise from roof installations such as solar panels, satellite dishes and more. Contact us today with your roofing needs and questions.

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