Roofs-Keeping Us and Our Homes Dry

​This is the first in a series of articles on Building Components and the maintenance required to the maximize their life. The reason to get the maximum life out of any component is to keep the monthly contribution as low as possible while still contributing enough to properly, proactively and professionally maintaining the property so as to keep property values up and reduce or eliminate surprises.

Living in the Pacific Northwest, roofing and other water intrusion issues are the number one source of problems and therefore expenses for Association’s and Strata Councils. If maintenance is not proactive you will be left to respond quickly in the event of a leak. If you haven’t already experienced an emergency from a roof leak you will discover the hard way that the roof repairs and subsequent damage repairs can cost 10 times what the non-emergency maintenance work would have cost.

Roofing can be divided into two basic categories – sloped and flat (low slope). Sloped or pitched roofs are commonly used on low rise buildings such as townhouses. Townhouses evolved out of the single family detached style as developers pushed more units per acre onto properties. The most common type of sloped roofing is composite or asphalt shingles. Earlier versions of these shingles used asphalt coated paper and granules. As paper is an organic product, once the asphalt coating has oxidized and been worn away from water erosion, the wood fibers that make up the paper deteriorate and break down. The roofing manufacturers improved on this by substituting fiberglass mat for the paper. Modern shingles are now available in grades offering 25 year to lifetime warranties. We usually recommend that Associations and Stratas upgrade their roofing when replacing it as the original developer usually installs roofing that is usually a basic entry level shingle. The cost increase to install a product that can last twice as long is usually only about 30% more.

In addition to the different grades of shingles that are available, there are two basic styles. The predominant one now is self-sealing, which has an adhesive strip on the top or bottom which seals the shingle to the next upper course or row of shingles. It is activated by the heat of the sun. If roofing or reroofing outside of the hot summer months, these self-sealing strips do not work and must be sealed with asphalt plastic cement. The other type that is still available but used less is a three tab shingle that is interlocked during installation to provide roofing that is more resistant to wind uplift, which can rip shingles off the roof during storms.