El Niño: Is Your Roof Prepared?

Image via TraditionalHome.com
Image via TraditionalHome.com

The weather has been the focus on the news, on social media, at the water cooler and more. Why? Many of us have experienced the opposite weather we are used to in the last couple of months. The Northeast just had the warmest December on record. It was short sleeves instead of Christmas sweaters. The West Coast had a cool holiday, so it was space heaters instead of bathing suits. And, the Northwest is finally seeing snow; while the Southwest is feeling relief from the drought. All of these changes are from El Niño. What other extremes will El Niño bring this year?

El Niño is well known for being highly unpredictable. The one thing we do know is that extreme weather is the new normal. Many still have repairs from the unprecedented winter of 2015 to tackle. Others are hoping to prepare for El Niño’s wrath and other extreme weather.

Where do you start? It’s simple — the roof over your head.

With the recent uptick in severe weather, it is critical to have a roof that is constructed to withstand wind-driven rain, snow, and ice. The good news is that with the right professional and innovations, your roof will stand up against extreme weather.

How do you ensure that your roof is strong and waterproofed? Here are five essential steps:

1. Inspect your roof – Look for potential problems on the roof. Loose or curled shingles, broken or missing tiles all need to be repaired. Inspect the flashing, drainage system, and accessories such as vents and skylights. If you see issues or if it has been awhile since you have had your roof inspected, it is best to bring in a trained roofing professional. Ask them if you need additional reinforcements to your roof’s structure.

2. Help your roofer – You can help your roofer protect potential trouble spots by pointing out areas where leaks have occurred in the past and where snow and ice loads were especially high. Keep in mind that roof wall intersections, chimneys, and skylights are frequently problem spots.

3. Ask your roofer if your roof has underlayments – The complete roof system consists of multiple layers – not just the shingles. Shingles are the exterior layer and they are not enough to keep the water out. What makes the difference and protects your roof from water damage is the roofing underlayment, which is installed underneath the shingles. Roofing underlayments perform many functions in a roofing assembly, but first and foremost, they serve as the last line of defense between homeowners and the damaging effects of water infiltration. Be sure your roofer uses quality waterproofing underlayments. While use of an underlayment is required by building code, there are multiple product types that can be used.

Image provided by author
Image provided by author

4. Need underlayments? Be sure to ask your roofer what type they will use – The answer you want to hear is that your contractor is using self-adhered underlayments, especially at the eaves and at all critical detail areas. Self-adhered membranes come in a roll form and consist of a layer of adhesive and a surface material, usually either a non-skid film or a granular surface.

Not all self-adhered underlayments are the same. There is a wide variation in quality and performance. The name Ice & Water Shield is frequently used generically to refer to self-adhered underlayments. However, there is only one real Ice & Water Shield® and it is the one manufactured by the Cambridge-based Grace Construction Products, who invented the first self-adhered roofing underlayment back in 1978. Premium performance self-adhered underlayments, such as Grace Ice & Water Shield®, seal around the fasteners used to attach the shingles, which helps prevent the water behind an ice dam from leaking into your house. These high-quality self-adhered underlayments stick to the roof deck so that water may not travel under the underlayment and enter the house via a vulnerable roof deck joint. Lastly, best in class self-adhered underlayments seal at overlap areas. Water cannot flow or be blown under un-adhered laps. As a result, self-adhered underlayments provide real waterproofing protection that mechanically-attached alternatives cannot match.

5. Use the Right Products– If repairs are needed, don’t skimp on quality to save a few cents. Much of the damage associated with extreme weather results from water entering the home when roof coverings or siding is blown off. This is why it is imperative that you have a secondary layer of waterproofing protection underneath the shingles and siding. If proper protection measures are not taken, the resulting leaks are the main cause of interior damage, as well as potential causes of rot and mold. Rot and mold can lead to major structural damage and even potential health problems for homeowners.

FEMA has published recommendations for the use of fully-adhered roofing underlayments, such as Grace Ice & Water Shield®, as an enhanced secondary water barrier for homes. In the event roof coverings are blown off or water manages to get underneath your shingles, these underlayments are the key to preventing water infiltration.

With these steps you can go to sleep at night knowing your roof will fight against even an El Niño-seduced Mother Nature.

Author Bio: David Baur is the Product Manager at Grace Residential Building Materials, a leader in commercial and residential building materials. For more tips and information please visit: www.graceresidential.com.