Top 10 Roofing Problems, and How to Solve Them

Water will always find the point of weakness, wherever it lies. So, it’s no surprise that water leaks are one of the biggest issues that affect roofs. It’s one of the biggest roofing issues for homeowners, especially in the Portland area.

Sometimes it’s the wear-and-tear of time, and sometimes it’s a faulty installation due to lack of experience.

Whatever the reason, there’s almost always a fix. Sometimes it’s an easy one, but sometimes it can mean bigger repairs. Either way, fixing the roofing problems early can help you get the maximum lifespan out of your roof and save you money. Putting off needed repairs can be costlier in the long run.

In this series on roofing problems, we’ll present the ten most common roofing problems we see time and time again, and how you can solve them.

Specifically, we’ll discuss:

  1. Incorrectly nailed-in shingles
  2. Incorrectly installed flashing
  3. Incorrect overhang of shingles
  4. Hiring a roofer with no insurance or credentials
  5. Not having an ice dam
  6. Not inspecting your roof
  7. Lack of ventilation
  8. Incorrectly aligned shingles
  9. Repairing your roof with unsafe DIY fixes
  10. Letting your gutters get out of control

Stay tuned, in the coming weeks, for the next installments in our series on roof problems.

Other posts in the Roofing Problems series:

Your Roof and Energy Savings – What’s the Link?

Insulate your roof and choose the right materials for an energy-efficient home

With energy prices on the rise, and with the cold climate creating more demand for record natural gas consumption, it’s a good idea to turn your problem-solving skills close to home and see where you can make significant energy savings.

A great place to start is your roof.

A poorly insulated roof can leave you cranking up the air conditioning (and the resulting bills) in the summer, while leaking badly-needed heat (and money from your wallet!) in the winter.

In fact, insulation and roofing materials can play a large part in energy savings. Find out how!

Insulation and energy savings

There are many ways to make your roof more energy-efficient, and they’re easier than you think.

The single biggest change you can make is the insulation of your roof and attic. Most people are horrified when they find out how much heat they’re losing through their roof, attic, and walls – but this is something that can be fixed.

Your roofing insulation can have a huge effect on how much warmth leaks away from your home in the winter. You can reduce your energy costs by making sure your roof and attic are well insulated, especially if your home is a little older.

What kind of insulation you choose will depend on the type of roof you have. For example, pitched roofs have more insulation options than flat ones, but there are solutions for all kinds of roofs. Some choose to insulate the area under the roof, which includes the loft, while others will insulate immediately above the ceiling of the top floor, which is slightly easier to install.

If you already have insulated your roof, it’s worth checking the depth of the insulation, as the recommended depth has been increased over the years, and perhaps add a little more. Check that the loft hatch is insulated, too. Pipes can also be insulated (but not cables), and so can the side of tanks (but not the underside).

The type of roofing insulation is important, so let a professional guide you in your choice of materials.

 ‘Cool’ and ‘Dark’ roofs

Have you ever seen pictures or postcards of the houses in the Greek islands and their striking white roofs? These are traditionally covered in a layer of white plaster, and it’s not just for looks. These white roofs are highly reflective, meaning that they reflect the heat of the sun away from the roof, keeping the house cool.

It’s a technique used across the world. In the southern U.S., for example, many homes have adopted this strategy of using ‘cool’ roofs to keep the energy cost of air conditioning low.

But if you’re in a cold region, a ‘dark’ roof makes much more sense. Dark roofs will absorb heat, while white roofs reflect it. What kind of roof you should get depends on your location!

In the southern U.S., for example, the summer ‘cooling’ season is much longer than the heating season of winter. So it makes sense in that climate to use a cool roof or cooling-roof paint.

In Portland and in colder climates, however, the cooling season is much shorter than the winter heating season. So you’d want the roof to keep in and absorb heat, not reflect it away.

This is where it may make more sense to install dark roofs, which absorb heat (just like a black T-shirt you’d wear in summer!) Black or dark shingles are a good choice for heat absorption and can help melt thin layers of snow on the roof.

Your roofing contractor can discuss the best options with you.

Choosing the right roof color

The color of your roof is important to the overall look of your house, of course, and there are many options of colors in the ‘dark’ category. Look for dark blue or green, deep charcoal, or black, which add flair and elegance to most houses.

Changing the color of your shingles will not just affect the look of your home; it’ll also affect your energy efficiency: it’s a balancing act between aesthetic curb appeal and energy savings.

With the help of your roofing contractor, you can choose the right roofing material, whether it’s asphalt, metal, wood, concrete or tile. Some may cost more than others, but they’ll save you money on energy efficiency in the long run.

Contact a professional

Of course, energy savings is far more complex than simply adding insulation or changing the color of a roof. It’s very much tied in with climate, energy costs, and your roof system design. If you’re reroofing your home, spending a little more now on the right roofing materials can save you a lot on energy bills later.

Keith Green Construction can help you find the right roofing solution and options to make your roof more energy efficient, from attic insulation and roofing inspections to recovering and leak repairs.

Plant a green roof­

Have a green thumb (and a bigger budget)? Consider installing a green roof on your home and making your roof a garden.

Get inspired by creative green roofs that not only provide a haven in an urban environment but also offer energy conservation and lend a helping hand to the environment.

Know your Roofing Lingo – Commonly Used Terms You Ought to Know

Roofing lingo can sometimes feel like a foreign language – but don’t let that put you off getting work done on your roof.

Know how to speak ‘roofing’, and get to know these commonly used terms like the pros.

1. Flashing

The roofer isn’t being inappropriate, but rather is talking about the really important waterproof materials used to coat projections on a roof, such as chimneys, joints, and vents, and seal any part of the roof’s surface that’s interrupted.

Flashing could be corrosion-resistant rubber, metal, plastic, or other materials. It does the crucial job of weather-proofing your roof. There are different types of flashing. Base flashing, for example, is the is the waterproofing of the area where the roof meets the wall.

2. Eaves

When a roofer refers to the eaves of the roof, he (or she) is talking about the lower edge of the roof that extends beyond the house, where the gutters are placed.

Eaves can be decorative and give the house a particular architectural style, but they have a much more important function: to protect the house from the elements by providing an overhang. This way, rain doesn’t fall directly onto the walls. Eave vents are also sometimes placed to provide fresh air into the attic or top floors. 

3. Ridges

Just as sharp as the edge of the mountain, the ridge is the highest point of the roof, where the two sloping planes of the roof meet.

A ridge beam, is the topmost supporting beam, while ridge shingles cover and protect the roof.

Sometimes a vent is placed on the ridge to circulate the air in the attic and around the roof elements to avoid condensation. (By contrast, the rake is the part of the roof from ridge to the eaves.)

4. Decking/Roof sheathing 

It sounds like somewhere you’d like to relax, but it really isn’t.

Roofers may talk about the decking or the roof sheathing: the base structure of the roof covering. Usually this is made of wood, and laid out large, flat surfaces that are nailed to the roof. The shingles are installed on it.

5. Shingles

Thankfully, the roofer isn’t diseased but is pointing out something about the overlapping, rectangular roof covering material that you see on the roof.

Shingles can be made of several types of materials, but commonly they’re made of asphalt, either standard thickness or laminated. There are more luxurious materials like slate or wood shingles, and it’s worth having a discussion about how long each will last when you’re talking to your roofer.

6. Blister, buckling, blow-offs, and cupping

They’re as nasty as they sound.

Blisters are the air pockets that bubble up on the surface of the shingles. 

Blow-offs are the shingles literally blown off the roof deck by the wind or a storm.

Buckling creates wrinkles and a rippling effect on the shingle, and cupping is the curl of the shingle at the corners.

These faults can happen as a result of trapped moisture, a manufacturing issue or faulty installation

7. Rafters

It sounds as if you may be out at sea, but rafters are slopping wooden or metal beams that support the roof below the deck. The roof decking is nailed to the rafters.

8. Roof Slope and Pitch

The real pros will tell you there’s a difference (though they’re commonly used interchangeably now).

Knowing your roof’s pitch and slope will help you and your roofer decide on what products are best to use.

The slope is angle of the incline created by two roof planes, and it’s usually written or spoken about as a ratio of inches per foot to talk about the vertical rise versus the horizontal run. (A 4:12 slope means that the roof rises 4 inches ‘up’ for every 12 inches ‘across’.)

The pitch is also used to determine the incline of a roof, but is a little different. It’s usually expressed as a fraction of the rise to the span (horizontal length of the building), like 1/6.

9. Reroofing and Recovering

What it says on the tin. But while reroofing means completely replacing the roof, recovering means simply overlaying a new roofing system over a roof.

Nesting is a way of reroofing with a second layer of shingles installed on an existing roof deck. This can be done when the shingles are cupping or buckling, as a way to avoid reroofing the entire structure.

So should you reroof or recover your roof? Let us help you decide.

10. Square

In this instance, it’s cool to be square. That’s the measurement most roofers will use in their proposals for costing, based on roof size: one square is 100 square feet (10 x 10 feet).

Feeling more confident now about starting a conversation about roofs? At Keith Green Construction, we’ll blast through the lingo and speak in plain language. Give it a try, and contact us for a quote.

How to Choose a Quality Roofing Contractor (whiteboard video)

Whether you want to repair your roof or entirely replace it, it’s important to get the job done right.

That means finding a qualified roofing contractor you can trust. Here are 8 simple tips to help you choose a quality roofing contractor.

select a roofing contractor with business cards

1. Know who you’re dealing with

Look for a contractor with a registered business name, who works from a company vehicle and can provide a business card.

select a quality roofing contractor

2. Inspect credentials & licensing

Look for a contractor with a track record of quality. Make sure he has an Oregon CCB license number.

select a roofing contractor with coverage

3. Coverage is key.

A contractor should carry worker’s compensation, general liability insurance and be bonded. Request a copy of the company’s insurance certificates.

4. Shop around for best value.

Obtain competitive bids from several contractors for comparison, but don’t automatically accept the lowest bid: you often get exactly what you pay for.

dont pay roofing contractor upfront

5. Don’t pay cash up front.

Contractors will often require a partial down payment when the contract is signed. But a reputable contractor will never require full payment and doesn’t ask for it in cash.

roofing contractor references

6. Ask for references.

Your contractor should be able to give you a list of completed projects including the names and telephone numbers of previous clients. Take the time to make some phone calls and find out what people think of your contractor.

roofing contractor agreement

7. Get It in writing.

A reputable roofing professional will provide you with a written contract that clearly spells out the job and pricing details. Both you AND the contractor should sign the contract.

roofing contractor warranty

8. Expect assurances.

A reputable contractor will provide you with a written workmanship warranty and written product warranty information after the job is complete.

Looking for a roofing contractor you can trust in and around Portland, Oregon? Look no further. Keith Green Construction is here to help. Contact us today.

Choosing a Roof Color

Once you’ve decided to invest in a new roof, the next decision you’ll need to make will be which color to choose.

That’s a major decision, considering that your roof color choice will impact your curb appeal, and won’t change for many years.

Selecting the perfect roof color may seem overwhelming at first, but with some planning and guidance from your local roofing expert at Keith Green Construction, you can create a harmonious color scheme that will make you happy for years to come.

Here are the top three criteria to consider when making your roof color decision: the architectural style of your home, your landscaping and other exterior home design, and your commitment to energy efficiency.

The Architectural Style of your Home

The following are three examples which demonstrate how the style of your home often dictates the ideal roof color.

This home demands a roof color that will add a dramatic flair to the Tudor style with its modern twist. The black roof color is a great complement to the intense, dark gray stucco.

This ranch style home, with its distinctive wood and stone features, has a brown, multi-hued roof color which adds to its rustic feel.

On the other hand, this modern Craftsman benefits from a uniform roof color in a gray tone which enhances its beige siding.


The Colors and Style of your Outdoor Design Elements

If your house exterior is brick or stone, choose a roof color that works with these materials. It’s also a good idea to examine the colors of your gutters, eaves and downpipes, which can point you to the right color scheme.

These two traditional homes have roof colors which are based on the colors found in the brick and stone. The hints of browns and beiges in the exterior material influence the roof color.

In this case, the majority of the house is made of light gray siding, with all functional features (gutters, eaves, etc.) that blend in in white. The roof color is a darker shade of gray which complements all existing architectural features.


Traditional Landscape by Whitney Lyons

Your Commitment to Energy Efficiency

One thing to keep in mind, is choosing the right-colored roof has the additional benefit of resulting in significant energy savings.

Opt for a lighter roof color if you live in a warm climate, to save energy by reflecting light and heat rather than absorbing it. By the same token, a dark roof will keep you cozy at a lower cost when you live in colder climate.

This Craftsman home demonstrates how aesthetics and energy efficiency do not have to be mutually exclusive!

Victorian Exterior by  Siemasko + Verbridge

If you are still in doubt, we encourage you to consult with our team at Keith Green Construction. We can guide you based on all three criteria as well as our knowledge and experience in our field.

Getting Out of Hot Water: Finding and Fixing Leaks in your Roof

You may have heard the famous Benjamin Franklin quote, “A small leak will sink a great ship”, and it’s the same for your house. Leaking roofs can cause havoc in your home and destroy your furniture.

If you’re lucky, you’ll have spotted damaged or missing shingles or tiles, or noticed water marks on the ceiling long before water makes its way through your roof and into your home.

Regardless of the type of roof you have, flat or pitched, at some stage during your roof’s lifetime you’re likely to experience a leak if you don’t annually inspect it.

Fixing the leak isn’t actually the hardest part, but finding it can be! The reason leaks are so hard to find on a roof is because water can seep in from damaged areas on the roof, such as worn or broken shingles or loose nails, and trickle down to another point before it drips down to your ceiling.

If water is seeping into your home, check for roof leaks as soon as you can to prevent further damage. Need an urgent roof repair? Call emergency roof repair professionals available 24/7.

Roof Leaks: the Usual Suspects

Water leaks may not come from the roof itself. Water can seep in from air condition or plumbing leaks, drains or scuppers, or even from pest infestation. Blocked gutters can make it look like the roof is damaged. Before you try taking your roof apart, make sure that’s where the water is actually seeping in from.

Some parts of the roof are more prone to leaks, so start your search there. Flashings at chimneys, air conditions on the roof, skylights, dormer vents and roof protrusions often turn out to be the source of the problem.

If you want to avoid making an emergency call to roofing specialists, safeguard your roof with regular roof maintenance and inspections.

Finding the Leak

Step 1: A Visual Inspection of the Roof

Standing on the ground, start by looking for the obvious roof leak. Look for:

• exposed roofing tacks
• cracked asphalt or shakes
• ice dams
• broken or damaged shingles
• water stains or discolorations
• holes
• popped nails
• fallen branches

Many of these can be easily fixed, like replacing a shingle, but if you see uneven ridge lines or sagging rafters, this could be a more serious structural problem, and you’ll need to call in the professionals.

Step 2: Checking the Attic for Roof Leaks

If you had no luck with the visual inspection, examine the attic, if you have access to it. Look for wet frames, soft spots or water marks, and examine the ridge, sheathing and rafters. Water flows downhill, so work your way up if you see a drip.

If nothing turns up, switch off the lights and look for holes that let the daylight through.

Lastly, examine the underside of the roof nails that are badly placed in the framing member, causing condensation and frost in cold weather.

If you find a hole, gently run a bit of wire through so you can find it easily from the roof.

Step 3: Getting the Ladder Out: Up on the Roof

The attic didn’t yield any results? You may have to check the roof itself.

Walking on the roof or standing on the eaves can cause damage and can be very dangerous. If you’re not comfortable going up on the roof, or if you don’t have the right equipment, call the roofing contractors – it’s no small task, and sometimes it takes professionals to do it right – and do it safely!

First, look for corrosion or broken seals on the flashings of anything that protrudes through the roof, such as vents, chimneys or skylights. Next, check the whole surface of the roof with binoculars for holes, rusted areas, worn or loose shingles or dry rot.

If you fail to uncover the leak, there is one more thing you can try before you call in the professionals: a water test with a garden hose.

Slowly, isolate and soak one small area of the roof at a time while a friend looks for the leak in the attic. Start at the bottom of the roof (never go straight up-roof), one small area at a time. If you find the leak, push a wire or nail through so you can identify the area on the roof.

Step 4: Fixing the Leak in your Roof

Now that you’ve found the leak, you’re halfway to staying dry! How you fix the leak will depend on the material and construction of your roof.

Single roofs can often be easier to fix, by replacing or securing curled or missing/damaged shingles. Flat roofs that have a large area of water under the roof will require a professional to fix the problem. If you’re not sure how to proceed, call a professional roofing company who can fix emergency roof repairs and ensure your roof – and your whole home – stay dry!

A Word about Safety

You should never climb onto a roof during a storm, and never on a steeply pitched roof. Ladders can be dangerous and need to be set up properly. You should always wear a safety line and harness if you’re climbing onto a roof or up a ladder. Never work from the ladder – set up a scaffold that will provide a safer platform. Gloves and goggles are recommended for the attic. Avoid stepping on ceiling joins or other delicate surfaces and be careful of any wet plastic. Attics can contain badly insulated electric wires –stay away from these and call an electrician or professional roofer if any are exposed.

Annual Inspections of your Roof

Roofs are the first level of protection for your home, and they need some TLC, too. Did you know that you can have your roof inspected and maintained annually? Before winter, consider hiring experts to examine your roof and provide improvements to add years to your roof!

When is it time to replace or repair your roof? What every homeowner needs to know

ou may have heard the saying, “The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.” This is a sound decision if you’re a homeowner and you want to minimize home improvement costs, especially when it comes to replacing or repairing your roof.

Throughout the year, your roof protects you against the elements and is constantly expanding and contracting, drying up and cracking. With time, it’s normal that your roof deteriorates. If the roof is in need of repair, the line of defense of your home is broken. A faulty roof could lead to damage to your ceiling, walls, insulation, electrical wiring, floors, furniture and more.

[Need emergency roof repairs? Click to hire a pro roofing contractor.]So on the next sunny day, and twice a year after that, inspect your roof to prevent the worst from happening and incurring greater emergency repair costs down the line.

10 things to look for during your roof inspection

So how do you know if it’s time to have your roof repaired or replaced?

First, walk around your home and closely examine the roof for obvious signs of damage, leaks, or aging. You can use binoculars to examine it more carefully. Some people climb onto their roofs for the annual inspection, but it’s best to leave climbing to professionals, who can access your roof safely.

[Not sure how to inspect your roof? Get a pro to do it for you]

Inspect the roof for:

  1. Torn, loose, damaged (or missing!) shingles, shakes or tiles
  2. Shingles that curl up or are cracked
  3. Granules from shingles or pieces of roofing materials in the gutters
  4. Dark areas or signs of water damage visible on the roof surface
  5. Gutters that droop or are blocked
  6. Water leaking from the gutter or the pipe
  7. Signs of mold or moisture
  8. Bird nests or signs of vermin infestation
  9. Plant shoots on the roof or in the gutters
  10. Dark spots or water stains on ceilings inside the house*

Deciding on whether to repair or replace your roof

Now that you’ve taken note of the condition of your roof, you’ll have to decide if you need to repair your roof or replace it entirely. There are costs to consider with either decision.

Many homeowners choose to repair individual damaged shingles, slates or tiles to extend the life of the roof. The downside is that new shingles may not match the color of your current shingles, and you could lose some curb appeal. Ask your contractor to match the shingles as closely as possible if you are choosing to patch up your roof. If parts of the roof need repair, there’s a good chance that it won’t be long until you’ll have to repair (or replace) the rest, too.

It may work out cheaper in the long term to reroof with durable and sustainable roofing  products that will last you a dozen years or more than to patch up bits and pieces over the years. Your roofing contractor will be able to help you to make that decision.

Investing in your roof is certainly an expense, but consider the peace of mind you’ll have from knowing that your roof is strong enough to protect your home and family from harshness of the elements.

When to call in the pros

If you have never inspected your roof for damage, or you see signs of impending leaks, cracks, or wear-and-tear, contact a professional roofing contractor. That single phone call or email could save you thousands before the next big storm hits!


9 Famous Roofs from Around the World

For most of of us, our roof is a symbol of security. While a roof over our heads is a pretty basic need, that doesn’t mean it can’t be beautiful.

Here are nine famous examples of spectacular roofs from around the world, which show that roofs can provide much more than function and security.

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Is your own roof due for an upgrade? Contact us to find out about our Portland roofing solutions.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]

7 Ways to Add Value to Your Home in Portland, Oregon

If you are like most people, your home is one of your biggest assets. Maintaining and renovating your home makes living in it a pleasure. And if you play your cards right, your home improvements will also be reflected in the value of your home when it is time to sell. The challenge is to know where to spend your dollars.

There are several types of remodeling projects that will give you more bang for your buck. Not only will you love the results for yourself, you’ll also recover much of your investment at resale time. According to Henley Wood’s 2014 Costs vs. Value survey data for people living in Portland, Oregon, you should consider the following home improvements to maximize your return on investment and increase the value of your home.

Curb Appeal

A good first impression can definitely boost the value of your home. For instance, according to the survey’s Portland, Oregon data, when you sell your home you can expect to recover:

  • More than 90% of the cost of replacing either your entry door or your garage door.
  • More than 81% of the cost of replacing your windows.

Also consider re-paving your walkway or driveway for an immediate lift, as well as some low-cost cosmetic landscaping.

Basement renovation

How much use are you making of your basement? Invest in remodeling your basement, and you can recover 86% of the costs at resale. Consider proper insulation, drywall and a coat of paint to brighten up the space.

Then, why not transform your basement into a media room, or even a man cave? Remember that adding a bathroom to the basement can significantly boost the value of your basement remodel. This is especially true if you have a separate entry point to your basement, which presents rental income possibilities for future buyers.

Upgrade Kitchens

Our kitchens are the heart of our homes, and where we tend to spend most of our family time. A beautiful upgrade to you kitchen will enhance all of those treasured family moments. The great news is that a kitchen remodel is also likely to significantly boost the value of your home.

According to the survey, if you live in Portland, Oregon, you are likely to recover 78%-82% of your mid-range kitchen remodeling investment at re-sale.

Upgrade Bathrooms

How many of us have inherited dated bathrooms with cheap or even chipped bathroom fixtures? According to the survey, if you remodel your bathroom, you can recoup more than 75% of your investment at sale time.

Consider better lighting, replacing your fixtures, and introducing his and her sinks. Cramped for space? Try adding storage space with a recessed vanity. You may also want to consider some extra perks like a whirlpool tub, steam shower, or heated floors.

Build a Deck or Patio

Building a new deck or patio is a great way to take advantage of those wonderful, summer days. It’s also a great way to increase the value of your home. According to the survey, if you live in Portland, Oregon and build a deck or patio, you can expect to recover 68% to 79% of your investment at sale time.

Keeping Your Home in Top Shape

One of the best ways to reduce the value of your home is not to properly maintain it, so that it deteriorates over time. A leaky roof, for example, can cause extensive damage to the inside of your home. Replacing your roof is a great way to preserve the value of your home and you can expect to recover more than 72% of your investment at sale time.

Low-Cost Improvements

Low-cost improvements such as new rugs and a great paint job can go a long way toward improving the appearance of your home. Just be aware that the unusual paint color you love might be a turn off for future buyers, so consider staying away from bold colors.

Now that you have all the facts, why not set up a renovation plan and budget? You can beautify your living space, while you protect your investment. Just be sure to select a reputable contractor you can trust.


Source: Henley Wood’s 2014 Costs vs. Value survey data for people living in Portland, Oregon