Having a roof installed is a major and costly home improvement. As you try to understand all that goes into the project, you may wonder: What is a roofing system composed of? What damages signify the need for a roof replacement? This consumer guide will help you understand the components and functions of a premium roofing system and recognize the signs of a potentially failing roof.
Parts of a Roofing System:
Decking – This is usually ½-inch plywood that closes in and reinforces the roof structure. It is what the shingles are nailed onto.
Fascia (roof edge or eaves edge) – All of the boards running along the edge of the roof.
Ridge – The horizontal line at the top of the roof.
Valley – The “V-cut” angle along the junction of two slopes of a roof.
Underlay membrane (underlayment) – This coating, now made with upgraded synthetic felt or peel-and-stick covering, protects the shingles against resin released by the wood decking and protects the decking against bad weather.
Drip edge – This is the molding that covers the edge of the roof and reduces the risk of water infiltration.
Roof vents – These enclosed structures are made of metal or plastic feature openings, ensuring that the attic space is properly ventilated. The most effective vents have four open sides and rise above the roof, which allows them to capture the wind from all directions to produce a suction effect. To achieve full ventilation of the attic, there must be an air inlet at the base of the roof through perforations in the eave soffit.
Eave soffit – Most often made of perforated aluminum, this piece closes off the underside of the eaves.
Flashing (joint covers) – Flashing can be flexible or rigid and is made of galvanized steel, aluminum, or plastic. It is a type of resistant molding that prevents water that flows near roof openings from infiltrating the roof. Flashing is found in valleys and at the bases of chimneys, walls, roof vents, and plumbing vents.
Shingles – Made of fiberglass and asphalt, shingles protect the roof from rain and lend a house character. There are many styles available now: 3-tab, multi-dimensional color, designer series, tile, metal.
Signs of a Faulty Roof:
As your home’s first line of defense against the wrath of Mother Nature, your roof is exposed to an assortment of elements: wind, rain, and damage from debris. All things considered, it’s no surprise that your roof will eventually begin to show signs of wear and tear, and ultimately need to be replaced. But how do you know when it’s time?
You should contact a roofing expert when you notice any of the following warning signs:
Missing Roof Granules
Roofing granules, or shingle granules, help protect your roof’s asphalt coating from damage caused by UV rays and make the roof more fire resistant. As your roof ages, these granules will begin to wear and loosen from the shingles. It’s important to check your gutters for fallen shingle granules and look for discolored, darker sections of your roof, as both suggest an aged roof and the potential need for a replacement.
Interior Ceiling Spots
Water damage is your home’s archnemesis, often leading to costly repairs if left unaddressed. While water damage isn’t always visible, interior ceiling spots or water stains may indicate leakage caused by faults in your roofing system. Water intrusion does not always mean the roof is the issue. Cracks around the window framing and stucco are also common causes of water intrusion. A water test, done by a professional, will verify where the water is traveling from.
As your roof is exposed to reoccurring temperature fluctuations, the roofing underlayment and deck can shift and wrinkle—potentially leading to roof buckling. This can also occur if moisture is trapped under a new roof during installation. Ensuring your attic is properly ventilated and your new roof underlayment is secure will help prevent buckling from occurring.
In order to perform optimally, your roof needs to remain intact. Unfortunately, due to improper fastening or prolonged exposure to high winds, your roof may lose shingles over time. Missing shingles can expose your roof to wind-driven rain and other damaging elements, potentially leading to costly home repairs if not corrected.
Roof blistering is often the result of manufacturing defects with the asphalt coating on your shingles, but can also occur as a result of the natural aging process of your roof. Both of these triggers can expose shingles to moisture. If trapped, this moisture can form blisters on the affected shingles. This is often confused with hail damage.
Flashing is used between the joints of your roof, acting as an additional barrier for vulnerable areas. Damaged flashing can increase the probability of leaks and water damage, making it an important roofing element to check as your system ages. Replacing the faulty flashing and the shingles near the affected area can usually resolve the damage.
As your roof ages, its shingles will start to lose the ability to deflect elements. In some cases, your shingles can actually absorb moisture from humidity and heavy precipitation rather than repel it; this can lead to roof rot. If you’ve noticed that your roof is sagging, has discolored shingles, or is leaking, your roof may have some rotting.
Often the result of inadequate ventilation, careless installation, or a defective product, curling shingles are a sign that your roof system is failing to properly protect your home. To prevent future damage from occurring, it might be a good idea to invest in a roof replacement and consider upgrading your attic’s ventilation system.