how bad is my roof?
August 20, 2007 4:47 PM   Subscribe

How bad is my roof?

Hi folks, I finally decided to go on up and have a close look at my roof in the attic. I knew full well that the old shingles, which have begun to lift slightly are in need of replacement. I also knew there was a bad hail storm last year just before i bought the place, but the owner wouldn't get the insurance co to fix it cause he was in a hurry to move and sell. I did get him to give me $600 cash, which was good! Anyway, i knew there was some cracking up there in the wood, and a couple spots even where wood at been really cracked, either from age, the last roofing job 12 years ago, hail, dry wood or a combination of all of that. Anyway, during the winter i got a little bit of water running down the side of my brick furnace chimney and showing up in the i knew the time was coming to fix! during heavy rain today i went up to look again to see how things are doing, looked dry, but i pushed gently on one busted area (stupid thing to do) and a little drip developed. At first i thought i caused it but pulled insulation away on the floor showed it has been dripping for a bit in the heavy rains of late. Very slow drip, never came through the ceiling and appears to evaporate before causing any real trouble (except in winter, apparently, when it begins to drip down the roof).

SO i'm going to bite the bullet and get this roof redone, I know I need new shingles, but i wonder how much worse this will be. Clearly, the area around the chimney is pretty rotted, and soft, looks like bad flashing etc have caused some leaking up ther over the years, need new sheathing there. then, in a few other area the old dry wood appears to have little cracks in it in various places. Not all of it, not even most of it, just pieces of sheathing here and there with cracks. Also, there are some slight cracks in a few rafters, it looks like just dryness and age. I have included photos.

What i am really wondering is how bad this is, i wonder if he's going to want to pull every piece of sheathing with even small cracks, and the same with rafters with tiny cracks. I understand the bad bad wood has to go.

I don't have much cash, and luckily my house is very very small, and my house is tiny! Roof sq footage is 900. Thank heavens!

So can anyone look at these pics, let me know the kind of costs they charge for replacing wood up there? Or do they just put flat particle board down over top? I really hope i don't have to spend too too much!

Also: he says he can come and do an estimate from the outside, even though I told him there is some bad wood. I want a few estimates so I don't want someone up there doing the kind of testing that would cause further damage. How do they estimate from the outside? He even said i don't need to be home!

i couldn't figure out how to make these links hot, so i'll paste them in, these are the pics
posted by Salvatorparadise to Home & Garden (15 answers total)
your roof is not constructed like a british roof, as far as i can tell (or a chilean one), so perhaps i should shut up, but i think you are looking at the wrong thing. what you showed is the inside of the roof, which is the support, but is not what makes the roof waterproof. cracks in that wood should not matter, but soft/rotten wood needs to be replaced. what is more important for stopping leaks is whatever is on the outside. given that the internal structure is so robust i guess the outside is minimal - but there must be something out there...

what you say about the person quoting you a price confirms this, but you should be very clear if there is soft/rotten wood inside, because they do need to look inside for that.

does that make sense? you are confusing what holds the roof up (the wood) with what makes it waterproof (which may be some felting, or tiles, or even wooden shingles, which you mention - but even if so, the photos do not show shingles, they show whatever the shingles are fastened on to, as far as i can tell).

but, as i said, i do not understand the details of why this roof is constructed as it is, so hopefully someone else will comment.
posted by andrew cooke at 5:12 PM on August 20, 2007

Dude, that link button is your friend.

Anyhow -- not much of that needs replacing, IMHO. Some of your arrows are just pointing at little cracks which are perfectly normal, especially the ones in the rafters. No. 9 looks like that board might be kind of punky, which wouldn't hold the nails they put through the shingles. All the rest look OK to me.

A lot of times, they can put up new shingles right over the old ones. I'd have them do that, unless there's already three layers there. If there are a few spots where the wood is soft (pocket knife goes right through it), possibly you could just screw some plywood up against it, so the roofing nails have got something to hold on to. (Make sure the screws don't go through the other side.) If there are a lot of punky spots, you'd have to remove all the roofing and re-cover it with plywood or OSB (oriented strand board -- not particleboard).

Put some buckets up there in the meantime to keep from further soaking your insulation and causing other damage.
posted by beagle at 5:12 PM on August 20, 2007

OH! There's the link button, sorry guys! yeah, i know hardly a thing about this roof stuff, some of that wood that's come right through needs a little help but hopefully it'll all be OK!
posted by Salvatorparadise at 5:15 PM on August 20, 2007

You've got a little water damage there (the black mold splotches) as well. Combined with your leaks, it past time for a new roof. Waiting will just make what is trivial damage now worse later.

You want the roofer to i) remove the old shingles ii) resheathe the roof --- this means cover the roof in 4'x8' sheets of wood, usually aspenite iii) shingle. Be certain that the contractor will remove the old shingles. This is usually a given, but you never know.

When he's done, you'll have another layer of wood on top of the old and new shingles on that. You should not have the old shingles on the roof at all. That's cheaper but may cause problems for you later.

If you live in an area with snow and ice in the winter, you may need to have a 3' wide strip of waterproof membrane on the bottom edges of the roof. This goes ontop of the sheathing but under the shingles. It prevents ice dams on the edges of the roof from causing leaks. It's newish but required by many building codes now.

You roofer can estimate without you being there because all he needs to see is the roof area. The rest of the work, removal, resheathing, new shingles is done outside.

Get some additional quotations to check if he's reasonable. I usually try to have three, if I don't know the guy. Don't be afraid to ask to see other houses he's done too.
posted by bonehead at 6:18 PM on August 20, 2007

beagle: normally I'd agree about just shingling over top of the old, but Sp has significant hail damage there: he needs the structure of new sheathing, not just new shingles.
posted by bonehead at 6:22 PM on August 20, 2007

thanks guys, so if they're going to strip shingles, resheath then reshingle, what should i be looking at on a 900 sq ft. roof? i just want a ballpark to make sure i'm not getting taken, i'm always very worried about that!
posted by Salvatorparadise at 6:36 PM on August 20, 2007

also, i don't have any money at the moment, and i was hoping to wait till spring on this....

So, will it get terrible if i just catch the little (very little) drip in the bucket until then...i 'spose this should happen now and it'll be the credit card making this happen!

thanks again
posted by Salvatorparadise at 6:47 PM on August 20, 2007

You have to look at in terms of protecting your investment. If the roof develops more leaks over the winter (quite likely due to the freeze/thaw cycle) the resulting damage could end up costing more than the new roof.

I have seen large tarps nailed over roofs for emergency purposes, if your roof is small you might consider that as an interim solution.
posted by davey_darling at 6:57 PM on August 20, 2007

I did a 1000 sq ft house about 10 years ago. It was different in that the sheathing was plywood not plank (as yours seems to be), cost was in the $3k range (done by a good carpenter who did a quick and quality job).

Looking at your photos, I'm thinking that it doesn't need to have the sheathing ripped off and replaced, perhaps a few planks......

You might want to get a couple of quotes on the job, and make sure at least one of them is a local independent. The last roof I did (very complex cedar shakes) ranged from $6k to $16k, depending on who I talked to.... I went with the $6k job from a local (who used to be a kid in my scout troop years ago) and was very pleased with the results...

shop around! but get quality work done.
posted by HuronBob at 7:26 PM on August 20, 2007

I had a 1K ft2 roof done 2 years ago. A 30-year roof, complete tear-off (several layers to dispose of), plus new gutters cost me about $10K. I may have been a sucker, but that's what I paid.
posted by mumkin at 9:54 PM on August 20, 2007

Your roof is not good, but you knew that. Could it last the winter? Do you get lots of snowfall? It could probably still withstand that but I'm saying that having looked at ten pictures and being entirely ignorant of other things I might notice, that you have not, so take what I've said with a cup of salt...
You've got some planks with rot, and rot is equivalent to structural death. To replace them, it will be recommended to take off all the shingle. Rot can breed if you just sister the weak

(slightly off-topic and probably mentioned in another askMeFi somewhere else)
When it comes time to get a price, get as many bids as you can, maybe as many as a dozen, no less than four. Pick the contractor you like who's bid is close to the median (different builders will tell you you need different things done, so take that into consideration).
posted by From Bklyn at 4:48 AM on August 21, 2007

As for shingling over top, it’s not the best practice; it’s done, in some instances, but you’re best off removing it – that way you can better assess the condition of the substrate.

Don’t add another layer of wood on top of the substrate – it will not help the leaks. Leaks are from the shingles and flashing degradation. Do replace any substrate (boards) that are water damaged or cracked to the point they do not hold nails. The roofer will probably not be able to give a firm estimate for how many boards need work until he begins. (andrew cooke has it described in spades) The solution to that problem is to ask for a unit price for replacement of the boards at $____ per linear foot. Then you have a good way to make fair payment when work is complete.

Flashing at perpendicular surfaces (chimney) should be completely re-worked. I’m not sure if you will need to add the waterproof membrane that bonehead mentions. Your roofer will be a good guide. It’s always a good idea, but if you’re into cost savings, this could be an option. We had roofs without this for many, many years that withstood water infiltration.

I have no idea of the cost for roofing in your area. Get three estimates – always. Of course, you know this, but it's worth repeating: It’s always best to get recommendations from others who are satisfied with the roofer’s work.
posted by mightshould at 5:33 AM on August 21, 2007

Those cracks aren't much to worry about. Most of the load on your roof is transferred to the trusses. The boards are just something to nail shingles to. As for the rot, a good test is to stick them with an ice pick. If you get deep penetration, then there's trouble.

If possible, just get another layer of shingles. You can have two layers on before you have to tear off, not three.

If you're really strapped for cash, you can put down another layer of shingles in a weekend if you get a couple of friends to help. It's not rocket science, just check out one of your standard books from Home Depot.
posted by electroboy at 7:43 PM on August 21, 2007

If you do decide to re-shingle yourself, study proper step-flashing techniques. This is one of the key locations for leaks to develop in roofs.
posted by mightshould at 5:33 AM on August 22, 2007

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