Does No Rain Mean No Roof Leaks?

Southern California’s severe drought will eventually bring a bit of chaos that few outside the roofing trade would have ever predicted. The general idea for most people is if I don’t see a leak, I don’t have a leak. Does no rain mean no roof leaks?
On the west coast we’re experiencing a severe drought, which of course means no rain. No rain means no one’s roof is going to leak but what you may not realize is that we’re headed for a real “Armageddon of Leaks” where something like 5 to 10 times the normal amount of leaks are likely to occur. When all the roof leaks happen at the same time the roofing industry is not going to be able to handle them in a timely manner.
By timely manner we mean – get ready to wait months.  Back in 2005-2006 when we had a particularly wet winter, roofers were backed up six months and people calling in for estimates were getting answering machines with messages that broadcast “Sorry, we’re not taking new clients until further notice.”
The reason why is remarkably simple.  First, let’s bear in mind that a leak exists whether there is rain or not.  The rain simply shows you where it is.  Then ask: What causes roof leaks?  Well, all sorts of things can but really. The primary ingredient to roof wear and tear is the good ole sun. And on the west coast, Los Angeles in particular, we have lots of sun, lots of older homes, and years with no appreciable rain.

Roof Leaks are Caused by the Sun

The primary ingredient to roof leaks is the good ole sun!

Most leaks are not going to rear their heads in a minor rain.  Most leaks take a good steady rain to actually show up and this can be for many reasons.  One thing, for example, that prevents a leak from actually showing up is insulation in the attic, which may soak it up.
When Los Angeles gets its first real, serious rain, there is going to be a flood of phone calls the likes of which we’ve never seen.  Thousands, upon thousands of people are going to call all at once, and the roofing industry is not going to be able to handle it.  Roofers are not the power company – an industry that can pull resources from other states even.
So it’s important to get your roof checked now.
At J and J Roofing, for $155.00 we will inspect your roofing system and do minor maintenance.  Or, if there is too much work to do within the scope of a simple roof check-up (which happens often), we’ll just do a free estimate and send it to you – you’ll owe us nothing and there’s no obligation.
Make sure that the next decent rain is not when you discover that your roof leaks!

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What is the Best Replacement for a Shake Roof?

If you have an old wood shake or wood shingle roof and you’re considering replacing it, there are a few things you need to know about the replacement for a Shake Roof.

First of all, most cities won’t allow you to replace it with another real wood roof, particularly since most of the LA areas is considered a high fire zone. So you’ll be obliged to find an alternative.  The most common alternative is your typical asphalt composition shingle. But two other choices are a lightweight concrete tile or an artificial shake (usually a thin, cementious fiber blend or a polymer plastic). Both of latter are very expensive – roughly 2 to 3 times the cost of a composition shingle.

One major cost may be the need to re-sheet your entire deck with plywood, so that it is a solid wood deck, which is required by code.  Chances are your old wood shake/shingle roof was installed over what’s called an open-spaced deck.  Typically it’s composed of 1×6 deck boards spaced about 4-5 inches apart.  This was possible because wood shakes are stiff planks of wood and would overlay these gaps without posing any sort of issue.  However, these gaps don’t work with some more modern materials. More importantly, a solid wood deck is a code requirement almost everywhere I know of and this will generally add costs of around $1.50 a square foot.

The most common and cheapest replacement is the tried and true comp shingle.  If you must have a more genuine look, then the next up in cost would be a lightweight concrete tile but generally, unless you have engineering saying you can have a heavier roof, it must be a truly lightweight tile (6 pounds a square foot or less) and most tiles are not.  Your typical installation costs will vary by region and how complicated and/or steep your roof is and the specific product chosen but a rough chart here can give you some idea.  The tear off will run about $0.40 a square foot, plywood about $1.50 a square foot, composition shingles $3 a square foot, cement tiles about $ a square foot and artificial shakes about $6 a square foot.

A Beautiful Composition Shingle Replaces a Shake Roof

A Beautiful Composition Shingle Replaces a Shake Roof

Composition Shingle to Replace Shake Roof

Composition Shingle to Replace Shake Roo

There are some very nice, higher-end composition shingles that replaces a Shake Roof and cost somewhere in between which are meant to emulate shake and are a very nice alternative to the real deal. But whatever you choose, make sure your roofer gives you some addresses to go out and look at installed product so you can see what it looks like in real life, and not just on a brochure or sample board.

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Inspecting Inside the House for Signs of a Leaky Roof

Now is the time to inspect inside your home for signs of a leaky roof. Although, this is also important to do after the next big rain, you should inspect the interior of the house to verify that you have not forgotten or overlooked any evident problems.  You are looking for signs of water damage or leaking, dark spots or trails.

Begin by thoroughly walking around the inside your home with the lights on and a flashlight and check your ceilings and walls for discoloration.  Don’t forget to check inside closets. You want to pay particular attention to inside the water heater closet, over tubs, sinks, your stove, furnace, etc.  These may have vent pipes that go out through the roof. The ventilation piping will have flashings sealed with mastic or tar which can be one of the most common sources for a roof leak.

Checking for Leaky Roof Signs

Then check around the chimney – your chimney has a metal flashing, also a metal cricket or saddle or cricket that often leaks.  Usually seals will need to be sealed every few years over the life of a roof.  Of course, skylights are a frequent leak source and sometimes it’s the skylight itself or it could be the skylight flashing that connects the skylight box, or curb, to the roof.  Skylights have a rubber gasket between the lens and the skylight frame and they often will last only 10 years.

If you have an open beam or cathedral ceiling area with exposed wood (meaning, you don’t have an attic or crawlspace over this room) often there is very little sign except faint drip lines unless you happen to catch the water dripping during the rain.  If you hold the light at the right angle you can usually see these.

Did you find any of these signs of a leaky roof? If so, call J and J Roofing now – before the rains start. You can get a free roof repair estimate.

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You Should Know it’s Coming, The Rain Will Arrive – Do You Have Roof Leaks?

Do you have roof leaks? This past year, 2013, was the driest year in Los Angeles (downtown) since 1877. No doubt it was awfully dry at your house too. Only 3.6 in inches of rain fell at the National Weather Service station which is at USC. This was about half an inch less than was recorded in 1953 and 1947.

If we are talking to you about roofing, why are we bringing up the lack of rain? Because, the way that homeowners in Southern California tend to handle their roof leaks, is jumping right onto this problem when it rains.

But, if it just rained, you can’t get a roofer to come right out – because every other homeowner who has leaks is also calling! Chances are that you know if you might have some leaks. And there are ways to check before the rains come.

First, you need to inspect your roof both inside and out. Begin by walking around to inspect the eaves of your roof (the part of a roof that meets or overhangs the walls of a building.) Look for any peeling paint or dry rot. If you’re not sure that it is dry rot, use a screwdriver to poke at it. You will know it’s dry rot if it goes in easily. Then most likely a roof leak.

Roof Leaks can be Found by Inspecting Eaves

Next, you need to check out your roof.  You need to inspect the roofing material, such as tile, slate, wood shakes, shingles, or even flat roofing such as torchdown or hot tar. Check to see if it has come loose, is blistering, curling or starting to flare up.  This is particularly important if you’ve had a good windstorm. You can even use binoculars if you are not up for climbing up on the roof.

When you find a potential problem, call J and J Roofing before the rains come for a free roof repair estimate. And read our next blog to see where to look inside your home for the signs of a roof leak.

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Why Hire a Professional Roofer for your Roof Repair?

Are you a DIY guy (or gal)? The past decade has created a whole new age of “Do It Yourself” guys and gals. Just open up Google, ask the DYI genie how to fix your broken ABC and viola! you have step-by-step instructions to fix your broken ABC!  So why not hire a professional roofer?

In many cases you can save hundreds if not thousands of dollars. From fixing a leaking pipe to replacing your broken lock and the many, many error messages on your computer… But, pulling out the ladder and climbing one or two stories to inspect and repair a roof is a DIY that actually must be left to the professionals.

Why? Climbing up and standing on a sloping roof, one or two stories above the ground could be considered one of the more dangerous activities a DIY can get himself into. If that does not dissuade you, consider what might happen if the repair goes wrong – rain will likely pour into your home, possible assault from pesky rats, mice, squirrels, and all their friends.

1. You probably don’t know how to carry out roof repairs properly:

Matt Glass Professional Roofer

Matt Glass, Professional Roofer

That isn’t a value judgment. Most people don’t know very much about roofing materials or emergency roof repairs. You may be able to spot a damaged shingle, or a missing one, but there may be a roof problem that you can’t see, something underneath that a professional would know to look for. If you tackle the fixing of a leaky shingle roof, for example, you may simply be covering up a bigger problem that will only be obvious later on. If that’s so, the sad fact is it will cost you a lot more in the long run.

There’s an old saying; “every roof is tight while it’s dry.” It could be that you will put off repairing your roof during a dry summer, for example. Then one day it rains and you discover you have a leaky roof. This is not the best time to repair a leaky roof as you will probably do everything wrong. A roof leak should be examined carefully, and repaired properly.

2. You may end up using the wrong roofing materials:
You probably decide to do your own roofing maintenance or roof repairs in the expectation that it will cost a lot less and save your money. With this in mind, you will probably choose roofing materials that are not up to the job, or ones that will deteriorate quickly. This usually ends up being a false saving as it often actually costs you more eventually.

Another common problem with inexperienced DIY roofers is using the wrong roofing sealant, or using it in the wrong place. Around your chimney stacks, for example, you need mortar to calk and seal. Sealants can’t stand up to high temperatures and as a result they fail if you use them as a sealant around a chimney stack.

3. You will most likely miss spotting some of the important damaged roof areas:
This is simply down to inexperience. A professional roofer can spot thing you will miss, simply because he has been doing the job for decades, most likely. he can spot flashing problems a mile away, and damaged roof shingles with his eyes closed (well, nearly). He’s forgotten more than you will ever know about drainage and gutters, the problems with low sloped roofs, and steep sloped roofs, and all the different types of roofing there are too. He knows how your house works, and that’s why he’s a professional and you are not.

4. You may seriously injure yourself:
Every year the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports hundred of accidents that result in death that involve high ladders and heights. On top of that there are also thousands of injuries sustained, some very serious indeed. Roofing companies employ professionals who have been trained in the use of high ladders, and who are familiar with working high up. A man who spends all week working at the office, then decides to climb 50 feet up to the top of his roof on Saturday to do a bit of roofing maintenance, is really asking for trouble. Working on a roof can be dangerous.

You most likely do not have the right equipment for the job. There are times when a ladder is right for the job, but at other times you may need scaffolding. Do you have the right size and type of ladder? Do you know what it is? Do you have the right protective work clothes, and the right kind of boots for your safety? Most DIY enthusiasts don’t. Often they get away with it, but sadly, sometimes they don’t.

5. Professional roof repair contractors will do a better job than you will:
Unless you have a lot of experience in roof repairs, this will be the case. You buy peace of mind when you get the services of an experienced, professional roofing company. You will know they have done the job properly, and that’s what makes roofing companies worth every penny they get.

And that, my readers, is why you should hire a professional roofer for your roof repair.

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How to Negotiate with a Roofer

That dreaded time has come. You need to replace your roof. Now you should know how to negotiate with a roofer. First of all, roofing is fairly different from most other trades, and certainly different from a general contractor. A GC will tell you what things cost because his pay, which is usually a percentage of the overall costs, is predicated on that in the first place. Other service trades often charge for a visit, whereas roofers don’t (unless it’s something specific, like an inspection for a property purchase). So, asking a roofer to break down his material and labor is probably not going to happen and, in any case, it is fairly pointless. It’s not going to really help you negotiate.

If you want  to negotiate with a roofer to lower his price, first start by getting 3-4 reputable roofing companies to bid the exact same thing. Make sure they all have the same sort of insurance (if only one guy has general liability for instance, his price is probably going to be higher). If their prices are all about the same, then you’re probably dealing with a fairly bottom line figure. It’s a very competitive industry so, roofers will often send out their best price. If the prices were 8000, 7800, and 7750, then ask all three of them if they will do it for around 7400.

One of them may bite on that figure, or, you’ll at least get them to tell you what their bottom dollar is. If you start too close to their original figure, you don’t leave a lot of room to negotiate and anyway, you won’t know how low they could have gone if you only ask for 200 off.

If you particularly like one of the roofers, then let them in on it. Tell him you’ve got three bids, you’re budget is really 7400, and you’re asking all three if they can do it but you wanted to give him first shot at it. If he can do it, or, if he’s really that slow, he might take it, especially if you’re nice.

Don’t be surprised if they all say “I gave you my best price.” It really is possible, especially in the summer. In the middle of winter, it’s probably not his bottom dollar, but, you cannot expect him to come down too much either. In the winter, you’ll only be able to get them to knock off about 2% or so. In the summer, you might get 5% but the more important point is that the starting figure you’ll get in the summer is already going to be 5-10% lower than the winter price.

Don’t try to strong arm you’re contractor. This really doesn’t work, at least, it doesn’t work with me at all. However, if you’re honest, up front about what you can do, and especially if you indicate that you like us and want us to do the job – we really will give you our best shot (why wouldn’t we?).  It may not work out, someone may undercut is by too much, but there will be no hard feelings.

Most roofing contractors are just that, contractors, and they don’t have a background in sales and rarely employ any sort of “sales” techniques. A good roofer will usually tell you honestly what he needs to make in order for the job to be worth his while.

The only thing you need to be sure of yourself is that you’re in the right ballpark. If you like a roofer, and he seems honest and he is insisting that what you’re asking for is really too low, then just make sure you’ve got solid numbers from other roofers before you tell him “sorry, it’s not low enough.” I’ve seen some pretty unfortunate things happen when a person who really wanted to hire me ended up hiring someone else, after I insisted to that person that there is no way the other roofer could honestly do the job for that amount. I found out later (when the homeowner called me and begged me to finish the job) that the whole deal went south right in the middle of the job and they ended up in court. The roofer had mis-measured, it was a high dollar job, and he walked out in the middle of the job rather than face the greater loss of finishing it up.

Last but not least, you can ask the roofers for their measurements (in an effort to be sure everyone is bidding the right amount) but don’t be surprised if they avoid giving them to you. It’s not that they don’t want to help you but they came out for free to give you the estimate, and their not in the business of helping you help another (probably inexperienced) roofer get his proposal squared away and correct.

Bottom line, use these steps in order to effectively negotiate with a roofer.

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Roofing Inspection DIY Checklist

Use this as a roofing inspection checklist.  The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) recommends you do a roof inspection at least two times a year — spring and fall. The best place to begin is inside your house — grab a flashlight and make a trip to the attic.

Do-It-Yourself Roofing Inspection - attic.

Check the Attic Thoroughly


Here are four things to look for on the inside:

  • Places where the roof deck is sagging
  • Signs of water damage or leaking
  • Dark spots and trails
  • Outside light showing through the roof.



Exterior check
When you take a look at the exterior of the roof, pay attention to such things as damaged flashing, missing shingles, curling, blistering, buckling, rotting and algae growth (which occurs most often in humid climates and appears as dark or greenish stains).

What to check on the outside:

  • Visually inspect your roof for cracked, torn, bald or missing shingles.
  • Scan the roof for loose material or wear around chimneys, vents, pipes or other penetrations.
  • Watch out for an excessive amount of shingle granules (they look like large grains of sand) in the gutters — this is a sign of advanced wear.
  • Check for signs of moisture, rot or mold. Note that wet spots may not be directly under your faulty shingle; water can travel down to its lowest spot before it drips. Mold, fungi and bacteria can grow quickly — within 24 to 48 hours of a water-related problem.
  • Examine the drainage, and make sure gutters and downspouts are securely attached. Also ensure all drains are open and allow water to exit, and all gutters and downspouts are free of debris.
  • Check that all bath, kitchen and dryer vents go entirely outside of your home, not just into the attic space.
Do-It-Yourself Roofing Inspection - Dry Rot

Dry Rot

It is extremely important to contact a professional if for any reason you believe your roof is in need of replacement or repair. And remember that early detection by regular inspections is by far the best plan to avoid expensive repairs.

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Do-It-Yourself Roofing Inspection

OK, DIY people. Here’s some info about inspecting a roof. The rains are here. Why wait to notice a big leak and call after a 2-inch rain? Take some time and make sure your roof will make it through the season.  Not sure you need to? Read on…

Do-It-Yourself Roofing Inspection - Worn Out Flat Roof

Worn Out Flat Roof

An interior inspection can be instrumental in deciding whether or not to go with a new roof. Deteriorated decking or decking that sags between the rafters (sometimes visible during an exterior inspection) is a sure sign that superficial repairs such as replacing a few shingles will not suffice. If both the decking and rafters are badly damaged it is time to consider a new roof.

Re-roofing (placing a new roof over the existing one) when there is extensive damage to rafters and/or decking can lead to major future problems, even roof collapse in areas with heavy snow. Signs of leaking found in the attic indicated by dark spots in the wood are another common problem especially around vents, chimneys, and other holes in the roof. Spots found in the wood should be tested to determine whether they are a result of old problems that have been fixed or newer ones in need of repair.

These are only a few of the problems which can occur. It is extremely important to contact a professional if for any reason you believe your roof is in need of replacement or repair. Also, check the link below for more detailed information about roofing inspection. And remember that early detection by regular inspections is by far the best plan to avoid expensive repairs.

Look for Bad Tiles

How often do you look at your roof? If you’re like me, you run in and out of the house, shuttle the kids back and forth, and glance up at the roofline only occasionally as you back out of the driveway. But inspecting your roof regularly and making little fixes as needed can prevent some costly repairs down the road — and keep those raindrops from falling on your head. There’s another benefit, too: Keeping your roof in good condition will also be a big plus if you decide to sell your home.

Do-It-Yourself Roofing Inspections are easy. Our next blog will give you the checklist of how to do the inspection.


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New Roof Tax Advantages Explained by a Los Angeles Roof Expert

When you get a new roof for your home, there are some tax advantages and rebates that may apply.

For example, if you’ve lived in your home for a certain amount of time and do a re-roof or other remodel and add value to the home, you may be eligible for tax rebates when you sell the home in the form of capital gains deductions.

When you’re an HOA, you can often obtain a large tax advantage when doing major repairs and certain kinds of new roofing that still fall under the category of repairs, such as a liquid applied resurfacing, roof coatings, etc.  When you do roof repairs, these costs can be deducted in full in the tax year they are conducted within, whereas often with re-roofing those costs have to be amortized over many years (I’ve heard 39!).

Whatever the case may be, whenever you spend money on your dwelling, there are often hidden tax advantages or rebates available and you should always consult your tax professional to find out what programs and rules exist.

There are other new roof rebates that one can be eligible for as well which don’t fall under tax rebates.

For example, when you do a solar system, usually you will want to re-roof for a variety of reasons, unless the roof is less than 10 years old or in spectacular condition.  The Fed will give you 20% of the re-roof cost as part of their solar rebate in the form of a tax deduction.

If you use ultra reflective shingles, you can usually get a rebate, usually about $1.50 per square foot from your power provider or if you do an ultra reflective flat roof, whether it’s a coating, or the roofing product itself is ultra reflective, such as a Coolstar torchdown or capsheet hot tar roof by CertainTeed.  Most manufacturers, such as GAF, APOC, Owens Corning, etc have ultra reflective products as well.

Usually any object that you install which involves energy savings will have some sort of rebate available.  There was a program some time ago in a Los Angeles suburb that would give you substantial rebate ($200) for installing a solar fan.

The only problem is that these programs and rebates come and go, and the rules often change so you’ll need to do your own research with your city or fed government, your power provider, and so on.  Your roofing contractor is unlikely to keep track of all these programs though your solar provider should be up to snuff on their trade since the rebates are such a large part of the deal.Of course, if you need a new roof, you should invest in one for the safety and well-being of your family.

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Roof Replacement – What to Expect

When you’re faced with getting a new roof for your house, there are a few things and terms you should know.  Roof replacement is one of the biggest investments you will make on your property and likely will only be done once in your ownership of the home or building.

Sometimes re-roofing can be a nightmare, but it’s usually quick and relatively painless.  Most roofs should be completed, from start to finish, within four to five days. But once that it is done, if done right, you will not see a roofer again for many years. Make sure to choose an experienced roofer with excellent references and full insurance and licensing.

Tear Off:
When you re-roof your house, the old roof usually has to come off, called a tear-off down to the boards.  Every city has it’s codes on how many roof layers there can be and a good, reputable local roofer can advise you.  If you’ve had many leaks for a long period of time, it’s advisable to get the old roofing off and fix any dry rot.  There’s usually some and in any case you’ll get a better roof if you start fresh.

The roofer will usually tear off into a dump truck and it will be dusty and noisy.  Make sure the roofer has a large, wheeled magnet that he can run around your grass once they are done, to collect nails from your grass.

Wood deck, wood sheathing, deck boards:
The roof is attached to a wood surface and is usually made up of simple 1×8 deck boards or plywood.  Plywood was not broadly used until the 80s so if your house was built before that, it’s likely to be deck boards.  These usually need minor repair before the new roof can be put on.  If you have open beam “cathedral ceiling” areas of your home, you may get debris into your house so prepare for that.

City inspection:
After the roof is torn off and the wood deck is repaired, the roofer will leave the permit attached to the ladder erected to the roof. The following day the city or county inspector will come by, check the wood deck, and sign off the permit giving his ok to cover the roof.

Loading the roof:
Usually this is done by the roofing supplier with a conveyor belt truck.  It’s simple and quick. Once the roof is loaded, it’s usually over pretty quick, within 2 days usually.

There’s usually no reason why you cannot go on with your life at home during this entire operation.  It’s advisable to stay inside, keep windows and doors closed and to take normal precautions on going outside (such as warning them if you’re coming out the door, walking around the side, etc. so they don’t drop anything on your head, but, apart from being somewhat noisy, it’s not generally intrusive to your indoor life.

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