We Roof Philly Blog: Roof Pitfalls
Updated: Apr 27
When considering roof maintenance for your current or future home or investment property, what are some things you need to be weary of? What things might you not consider in the beginning that will become a headache down the road? What issues might lesser skilled or untrustworthy roofers or contractors cause, or what problems might be hiding in plain sight, hastily covered up by a previous owner for sake of a quick sale?
Here, we will discuss a multitude of often unsuspected or rarely considered issues that should be taken into account when considering the maintenance of your current home or future maintenance of a property you are planning to purchase.
To start off, let's discuss something you've possibly never considered from the perspective of a roofer--how high is your roof? Here, you can see roofers having to improvise to reach a particularly tall roof, and while they got the job done, you can imagine that the additional difficulties were reflected in the labor cost of the job, as the taller the roof, the longer it will take and the more difficult it will be to haul materials up and down, not to mention what special equipment may be needed to reach that far up. This also means that you personally will likely never be able to assess the condition of your roof, unless you have a 40-foot ladder lying around to get yourself up there.
That's not to say that homes with high roofs should be avoided, but keep in mind that their maintenance will be a little more involved and possibly a tad more expensive.
It's great to have trees on your property. They can provide shade from the sun, help with cooling costs, and can add property value, in addition to simply being nice to look at.
But unfortunately, they're not always nice to your roof. While trees can protect your roof from some UV damage, they can also cause a host of problems. It's no surprise that a branch falling on your roof during an intense storm can cause damage, but even small debris, like leaves and twigs, can build up over time and spell out big problems for your roof.
Whether the tree is in your yard or your neighbor's, having one around means you need to perform regular maintenance on your roof, or the falling debris can trap water, prevent drainage, and accelerate the degradation of your roof system, which will cost you time and money down the road.
Leaking from Capping
Something you may not realize a company like We Roof Philly will be happy to expertly address for you is your window capping, as seen in the before and after images above. As we mentioned in our common roofing issues post, leaks in the home aren't always coming directly from your roof. In some cases, leaking might be due to damaged or aged window capping.
If the capping around the windows in your current or future property are starting to look worn like the picture on the left, you can expect a much greater chance of reduced weather proofing, which can quickly lead to water getting inside your home.
Trusted roofers like those at We Roof Philly can perform a leak test and help you deduce where exactly leaks are coming from in your home, which means they might surprise you by ruling out your roof and pointing, instead, to your capping.
Window capping isn't usually the first thing home owners or potential investors think about when it comes to keeping their property dry and insulated, but it's a feature you'll regret overlooking once water starts to work its way inside.
Watch the above clip. This is an excellent example of how unaddressed carpentry issues can create big, big problems down the road.
Many untrustworthy roofers or contractors will want to avoid working on the carpentry, including the decking of your roof, because it takes additional expertise, more work, more time, and different materials than what they may have brought to the job. Additionally, many homeowners won't be able to see the problem any more if a new roof system is simply put on top of underlying issues, so roofers who want to cut corners in this manner can often get away with it.
That's why you should always rely on roofers you trust, like those at We Roof Philly. Good roofers will provide images and documentation of roofing issues from top to bottom so that you can make informed decisions about the health of your roof and avoid huge, potentially catastrophic issues like what's shown in the video above.
Here, you can see how We Roof Philly had to address the problems left behind by the previous roofers, but once the new decking was installed and the roof system applied on top, this roof was once again providing the waterproofing and insulation the homeowner expected.
Working with trusted roofers who provide quality work and keep integrity at the forefront of their business model, like those at We Roof Philly, is your first and best defense against shoddy repairs.
There is another side to this coin, though, and it's that tearing your entire roof system off all the way down to the decking (often referred to simply as a tear-off) isn't always necessary.
Untrustworthy roofers and contractors might try to upsell you a tear-off that isn't actually needed, simply because they can charge you more for the additional materials and labor.
So how do you know if your roof actually needs a tear-off? The simple answer is this: when the decking is affected. If your roof has dips and slopes that hold water instead of letting it run off, that's when you know your decking has been damaged or warped, and a tear-off is needed.
It's worth saying again that you should always rely on a trusted roofing company like We Roof Philly that will provide you with pictures of the state of your roof and answer all your questions and address your concerns before getting started so that you know unnecessary, overpriced work isn't being done on your property.
A final and critical thing to keep an eye out for, especially where we're based in Philadelphia, is silvercoating, which can often be applied to roofs immediately before the sale of a property in order to mask imperfections and issues that will become a huge headache for the new owner down the line.
Silvercoating is applied on top of the roof system on flat roofs, and it is meant to aid in protecting the roof from UV rays and to give the roof system longevity.
That being said, there are many things to consider before applying a silvercoating to your roof as well as when you see silvercoating on a property you're thinking of purchasing.
First, even judiciously applied silvercoating will need to be replaced every 3-5 years, which is an added cost to the maintenance of your roof. Additionally, if your roof does take any damage, the silvercoating will need to be removed before any work can be done, which will add to the cost of labor any time you have roofers working on your property.
The most insidious issue with silvercoating, though, is that it is often hastily applied before a sale to mask leaks and other roof issues. Be cautious when encountering silvercoating on a property you're looking to purchase. If it was applied shortly before the house went on the market, there's a good chance its purpose is simply to hide what the sellers don't want you to see until you're the one responsible for repairs.
As you can see, there are a lot of things to consider when assessing future maintenance and repair costs and when trusting someone to work on your home. It helps to be informed of the common issues you might face so that you know what to look out for, what to guard against, and what to anticipate.
Remember that trusted companies like We Roof Philly will provide free estimates as well as keep an open dialogue with customers throughout the entire process as they work on your home. A good roofer has nothing to hide and will be happy to answer your questions and talk you through the issues they find and your options and solutions as they work. It is your right as a customer to be kept informed and shown respect as roofers do their job to keep your home dry, insulated, and safe.