Seven Terrible Habits Of Highly Ineffective Roofers
How to Make Sure You’re Getting
A True Roofing Professional
The one thing we’re most proud of at RoofSmart is our commitment to our values. When we work on a roofing project, we don’t cut corners to save money or go home early, we don’t take advantage of clients for an extra buck, and we never ever sacrifice quality. But some roofers can fall into terrible habits. Whether it’s poor training or a focus on speed before quality, it’s not what being a Meticulous Roofing Nerd looks like.
Here are a quick seven bad habits that many roofers suffer from, plus advice on finding the right roofing contractor for your project.
Watch Out For Roofers With These Terrible Habits
Roofers are always hot and tired by the end of the day. They are trying to get the job done and go home. With this mindset, mistakes can escape notice, and loose procedures can fall apart.
Watch out for these seven signs of bad roofing, and never be afraid to ask questions—a legit contractor won’t mind you asking.
1) Poor Communication
Not communicating with the homeowner is a common problem with many roofers. Not communicating with their crews is another one. This happens way too much.
For example, they’ll say that the job will take a day and it takes two weeks instead. So you don’t know whether the crew is coming or going, or even when they will be finished.
This is why, at RoofSmart, we always keep a high level of communication with you and with our employees. It helps us avoid costly miscommunications and keeps everyone on the same page.
2) Inadequate Training
This one happens a lot too. There are certain rules that have to be followed to ensure that your roof will last as long as possible.
For example, having a bad pattern where a seam runs down the roof will cause phantom leaks. Having your overlaps too narrow or not cutting “dog ears” in the valleys will do the same thing. And not using starter strips under the first row of shingles and gable edges will let high winds easily rip your shingles off.
And that’s not counting running into uncommon problems on the roof. Great training turns hammer swingers into pros who can adapt.
At RoofSmart, we take the time to train our roofers alongside some of the best installers in the business. They can’t even pick up a nail gun until we know they are properly trained—and even then, they’re still in training! Always be learning. It’s part of our name to be Smart, it’s part of our culture to be Meticulous Roofing Nerds. We take this stuff very seriously.
3) Inadequate Materials
Ice and Water Shield is a roll of material made from self-adhering rubber bitumen that goes on before the shingles on a roof. It’s often laid down over the roof’s eaves in areas with a high possibility of accumulating snow loads, and around penetrations like skylights, pipe boots and vents on a roof.
We’ve witnessed more than once damage from roofers because they didn’t use enough ice and water shield after they applied the underlayment, or skipped it altogether. The two main reasons for this lack are poor planning and cost-cutting.
What this does is leave the areas of the roof with poor protection. Then, when the rain breaks the shingle’s outer barrier it penetrates the decking, it wicks straight into the wood decking.
This wicking can cause severe damage that won’t show until it’s too late. In the winter, ice dams can form on your roof, causing the water to back up under the shingles and blam! You’re hit!
We never get in a hurry at RoofSmart because it can ruin a quality roof installation. We make sure that everything is covered, every square inch of the roof meets or exceeds code, and we leave your roof looking and performing like professionals did the job.
4) Reusing Flashing
Investing in a new roof or a roof restoration is a significant investment for any homeowner, and flashing protects that investment at the joints of a roof.
Flashing is a thin piece of sheet metal or other material that prevents water from entering through a joint or angle. Without flashing, you may as well not have a roof because your home is exposed to the very water it’s designed to keep out.
To ensure the integrity of the roof and home for the longest time possible (and comply with code), installing new roofing components is always the preferred route. Roofers tend to cheat and take shortcuts with old flashing because it’s conveniently bent to shape. Plus, it’s already there. Who cares if it’s rusted out, right!?
At RoofSmart, we understand that everything has a lifespan. The integrity of reused flashing is not the same as new flashing because of the constant weather changes it’s been through over the years.
So, your reused flashing will rip, tear, dent, ding, and get penetrated more easily than new flashing. We always replace flashing on new installations and replacement roofing jobs (unless it’s basically impossible, some masonry is better left alone).
To us, it’s just a respect thing.
5) Messy Yards
This is one of the most common problems with roofing crews. When they finish for the day, they are tired and ready to go home, and guess what gets half-heartedly finished? You guessed it. The clean-up.
The problem with this is, for one, you’re supposed to clean up your mess. It’s bad business to leave trash and debris behind on a job. And two, the nails are a big deal… Roofing nails are the worst because they often stick straight down or straight up, and pose a danger to everyone in the area if not picked up.
At RoofSmart, we make a huge effort to never leave nails in the beds and the grass around the house. We understand that you may have children or yard maintenance workers who will have to walk there, and we don’t want nails left behind on our jobs.
Keeping the work area neat is an everyday responsibility. One that we take seriously.
6) Half-Hearted Inspections
Another bad habit of roofing contractors is not inspecting for existing damage or problem areas when they bid on a project. Most roofing salesmen come from used cars and insurance and had never even been on a roof. They look around and assume if everything looks OK, then it’s OK – but it seldom is. They just put it back the way they found it, but with new stuff. Papering over the old problems.
At RoofSmart, we’re different. We climb ladders and check the entire roof from above and below. We check the penetrations and flashing. We check the attic for signs of water damage, mold, or mildew.
There’s nothing worse than explaining to a homeowner that you’ve underestimated the job. That’s why we make sure to try hard to get it right the first time. Every time.
7) It’s Not My Job
Every shingle manufacturer requires that roofs have enough ventilation. It could be due to the “gray area” between chapter 8 and chapter 9 of the building codes, and they think, “Well, it’s not technically the roof….”
The problem with this is that when a roof is poorly ventilated, the roof overheats and “cooks.” This bakes the shingles and they dry out prematurely, then the asphalt starts to crack and the granules start to fall off at a rapid pace. This becomes a big, wet blanket as the shingle saturates with water. This can cause areas of standing moisture, which invites mold and, eventually, wood rot that will cut your roof’s lifespan in half.
Roofing contractors should always ensure that the roof has adequate ventilation, even if they think it’s not their job. Simply put, roofers are standing right there during the only time that you can easily address your ventilation issues. To leave it unattended is just not very nice (and it almost certainly voids your warranty).
How Seattle Homeowners Can Tell
Quality Contractors Before Hiring
It’s one thing to not know about bad roofing habits and quite another to allow the homeowners of the Seattle community to accept shoddy work. Now that we’ve told you what to watch for during your roofing project, the final step is to help you spot less-than-stellar roofing companies before you let them touch your roof.
Here are some questions you should be asking prospective roofers and what you should expect in answer:
- How do you train your installers? – If they took a test once in their lives and called it good, but don’t have a year-round training program in place, run away!
- Do you use subcontractors? This adds questions to the quality of work. Who are the contractors? How are they trained? Who is responsible for mistakes? Try to find a contractor that only uses true employees to avoid complications with your new roof. Communication breaks down with a subcontractor involved.
- Where do you use starter shingles and ice & water shield? – Never hurts to ask, and starter shingles are what keep your shingles from being pulled up when the wind blows. If they don’t say “Yes,” then you need to say, “No thanks.”
- Which flashings will you reuse? – If they are the type of roofing contractor that reuses flashing, then corner cutting is part of their SOP.
- What kind of warranty do you offer? Few roofers offer 50-year warranties like we do, but the least you should accept is a 25-year workmanship warranty. But beware, warranties are often misleading. Don’t rely on the “headlines” alone! This article explains it in more detail.
If you need a roofing project done in the Seattle area and want it done by true professionals, call us at RoofSmart to schedule your free assessment.