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Roofing

Roofs play a key role in protecting building occupants and interiors from outside weather conditions, primarily moisture. The roof, insulation, and ventilation must all work together to keep the building free of moisture. Roofs also provide protection from the sun. In fact, if designed correctly, roof overhangs can protect the buildings exterior walls from moisture and sun.The concerns regarding moisture, standing water, durability and appearance are different, reflected in the choices of roofing materials.

Maintaining Your Roof

Homeowner maintenance includes cleaning the leaves and debris from the roof’s valleys and gutters. Debris in the valleys can cause water to wick under the shingles and cause damage to the interior of the roof. Clogged rain gutters can cause water to flow back under the shingles on the eaves and cause damage. Whatever the roofing material may be including composition shingle, wood shake, tile or metal. The best way to preserve your roof is to stay off it. Also, seasonal changes in the weather are usually the most destructive forces.

There are two types of roofs—flat and pitched (sloped). Most commercial, industrial, and apartment buildings have flat or slightly sloping roofs. Most houses have pitched roofs. Some roofers work on both types; others specialize. Most flat roofs are covered with several layers of materials. Roofers first put a layer of insulation on the roof deck. Over the insulation, they then spread a coat of molten bitumen, a tarlike substance. Next, they install partially overlapping layers of roofing felt, a fabric saturated in bitumen, over the surface. Roofers use a mop to spread hot bitumen over the surface and under the next layer. This seals the seams and makes the surface watertight. Roofers repeat these steps to build up the desired number of layers, called “plies”. The top layer either is glazed to make a smooth finish or has gravel embedded in the hot bitumen to create a rough surface. An increasing number of flat roofs are covered with a single-ply membrane of waterproof rubber or thermoplastic compounds. Roofers roll these sheets over the roof’s insulation and seal the seams. Adhesive, mechanical fasteners, or stone ballast hold the sheets in place. The building must be of sufficient strength to hold the ballast.

Most residential roofs are covered with shingles. To apply shingles, roofers first lay, cut, and tack 3-foot strips of roofing felt lengthwise over the entire roof. Then, starting from the bottom edge, they staple or nail overlapping rows of shingles to the roof. Workers measure and cut the felt and shingles to fit intersecting roof surfaces and to fit around vent pipes and chimneys. Wherever two roof surfaces intersect, or shingles reach a vent pipe or chimney, roofers cement or nail flashing-strips of metal or shingle over the joints to make them watertight. Finally, roofers cover exposed nailheads with roofing cement or caulking to prevent water leakage. Roofers who use tile, metal shingles, or shakes follow a similar process. Some roofers also waterproof and dampproof masonry and concrete walls and floors. To prepare surfaces for waterproofing, they hammer and chisel away rough spots, or remove them with a rubbing brick, before applying a coat of liquid waterproofing compound. They also may paint or spray surfaces with a waterproofing material, or attach waterproofing membrane to surfaces. When dampproofing, they usually spray a bitumen-based coating on interior or exterior surfaces.

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Todd Johnson
About the author

Todd Johnson has been a home inspector in the Tampa Bay area since 1998. He is extremely detail oriented and takes great satisfaction in his work. Todd understands the importance of the inspection and how much is riding on it; after all, it's YOUR home! Call Todd at Frontline Inspections today at (727) 460-2655