As far as home improvement projects are concerned, roof repair tends to fly under the radar, as the updates are not necessarily obvious. However, it’s also a necessary evil: Typically, the roof of a home should be replaced every 25 to 30 years. Since these repairs represent a sizable investment, it’s important to do the job right.
A solid roof does more than just keep the inhabitants safe—it also increases the energy efficiency and curb appeal of the home. In the long run, it can even increase the value of the property. Here, we’ve compiled a list of roof upgrade ideas that will help extend the life of the new roof.
Roof Repair: Install an Airtight Chimney Cap
If the home is heated (even partially) by a wood stove or fireplace, an airtight chimney cap is a great way to save energy. In cold weather, when the you aren’t using the stove, the warmer air inside the home is able to escape through the open space. Though fireplaces and woodstoves are equipped with dampers to keep the smoke out, the dampers are not airtight. For maximum energy efficiency—and additional protection against critters—a chimney cap is the best bet.
Chimney caps usually come spring-loaded, and easy to operate. A cable attaches to a bracket just inside the fireplace. Give it a tug to open it before lighting the fire. Remember to pull it closed again once you put the fire completely out.
Chimney caps conserve energy; they do not to protect against rain and other precipitation. If this concerns you, additional masonry work might be in order.
Roof Repair: Flashing
The installation of flashing beneath the eaves can be a useful roof addition, particularly in snowy climates that are prone to ice dams. These dams are formed when a ridge of ice builds up along the edge of a roof, preventing the snow melt from draining. When this water builds up, it can saturate through the roof and leak into the home’s interior, resulting in costly structural damage. Flashing helps to prevent this undesirable situation by forming a watertight seal around the eaves.
Since flashing must be installed before the shingles are in place, it’s important to let the roofing contractors know about the addition in advance. Homes with skylights and/or dormer windows may need additional flashing installed on these leak-prone areas.
Roof Repair: Improve Roof Ventilation
When attics don’t receive proper ventilation, the hot air outside becomes trapped in the space, with nowhere to escape except into the rooms on lower floors. Therefore, a poorly ventilated attic leads to an overheated home—something that can be easily avoided if proper steps are taken during the roofing process. Adding proper venting can help homeowners keep their rooms cool during the warmer months. They’ll also lessen or even eliminate the need for air conditioning, which will help save money on energy costs.
Here’s some basic information on the most common types of roof vent:
- Ridge vents—basic ventilation that allows air to circulate beneath the shingles
- Soffit vents—a two-way vent, allowing cooler air to enter the attic while expelling warmer air
- Gable vents—found near the roof peak on exterior walls, allowing for maximum airflow from one end of the house to the other
The roofing contractor can help homeowners decide which types work best for the needs of this particular house.
Roof Repair: Energy Efficient Shingles
The type of shingle used in roofing construction can have a dramatic effect on energy costs. A high-quality shingle resists water to a high degree or highly water-resistant, provides protection from the wind, and keeps the home from becoming overheated. In some cases, an energy efficient roof can save homeowners up to 15 percent on the heating and cooling bills. While these savings depend largely on the construction of the home as well as the climate, every penny saved can be a penny that can go toward other home improvement projects.
Light-colored shingles continue to be an energy efficient choice, as they retain and conduct less heat than their darker counterparts. However, if white or lighter shades don’t work with the aesthetic nature of the home, modern technology has provided homeowners with more appealing options. Reflective shingles—which work by reflecting the heat of the sun, directing it back into the atmosphere rather than drawing it inside the home—come in many assorted colors, from neutral wood tones to slate. Since a properly installed roof will be in place for several decades, you’ll want to choose one that falls in line with your specific tastes.
Roof Repair: Low Maintenance Gutters
Inefficient gutters are more than just a time-consuming nuisance—they’re also prone to clogging, which can give the home a disorganized, cluttered appearance. If the gutters leak, they will more than likely cause more damage to the walls, as well. As long as you’re replacing the roof anyways, you should now take the time to install a set of effective gutters that will require little in the way of outside interference.
You can now find a number of modern gutter with a built in roof attached to them—a foolproof way to discourage leaves and other debris from taking up residence. The curved roofs also promote faster and more efficient water flow by directing the runoff downward. Some brands even manufacture these in designer colors, to better complement the exterior walls and trim. With this type of gutter, there’ll be no need to climb up on an unstable ladder to fish the leaves out of the drain with a stick.
When it comes to maintaining a long-lasting, efficient roof, the old phrase, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Following these steps will help to ensure that the roof upgrade will keep the home dry and secure over the decades to come.