My favorite part of being a home inspector here in Salem, Oregon is learning CONSTANTLY! For an attentive observer, there are always things to learn about.
A few years ago I was on a roof and the agent asked me how old the roof was. I told her that I couldn’t really tell, but that I guessed that it was maybe 1 or 2 years old. She asked me why didn’t I look at the date stamp on the flashing boot?
………….(•blank-home-inspector-look•) The wha…….?
Yup, every so often even the know-it-all home inspector has something to learn. Right there, stamped for all whom know where to look, is the date that the flashing was made. Of course this is not an exact date of roof installation but it is usually within 6 months.
Pretty neat little trick.
This flashing’s improper installation is pervasive. Despite the fact that there are instructions on every bundle of shingles detailing this as an improper installation.
It must seem like a good deal to put the metal on the top. Maybe it seems like a good thing to cover the edge of the hand-cut shingles that, due to lack of experience, look like a rodent chewed on them.
No matter what the reasoning, putting edge metal on top of the shingles is always wrong. When rain is hitting and running down the top of the shingles, edge metal on top allows water to wick under the metal and access the wood rafter and sheathing. This condition will promote wood rot.
Unfortunately repair of this condition can become significant if the edge flashings have been in place for a few years. Ideally you should replace the shingles that were involved when the metal was nailed down. Although those holes could be filled, you would need to re-fill the holes every few years as the caulking/tar releases its grip. Depending on how long the flashing was installed incorrectly, there will also be sheathing and possibly rafter damage.
The repair of this issue is quickly approaching the exclusive realm of a professional contractor. Although I am a big fan of DIY sometimes the mark of a true craftsman is knowing when to sub out to a qualified professional.
Roofing is one of the few skilled professions where being a licensed contractor is not required if you do it on your own home here in Salem Oregon. Hiring a licensed contractor is definitely encouraged, however a home owner with a little DIY initiative can tackle the job on their own with no distractions (like code enforcement inspections) from the city building department.
A roof shingle system is one of the few things on a home that will wear out. Unlike siding that can be painted and painted and preserved for eons, there is nothing to do about your roof shingles wearing out. There are things to do to extend the roof’s life. Adding ventilation, keeping debris off, treating moss and having a very steep roof will all prolong the life of the roof however even the best ventilated, cleanest, and steepest roof will generally only increase the life of the shingles by 20 years max.
Enter the creative home owner:
One way or another most homeowners will face a roof replacement at some time. Just like most trades you do not have to be a Harvard graduate to install a roofing system. The steps are, overall, very straight forward and logical. The problems most unskilled craftsmen face will be at tricky transitional zones: flashings, valleys, roof-to-wall and the dreaded skylight. It must be a testosterone thing but from what I have seen as a home inspector if problems are encountered they are handled one of two ways: Gallons of roofing tar, or scab-it-in and forget-about-it.
I guess maybe I have seen some roofs that have been replaced by home owners who knew enough to know that they needed some advice. That is what the internet is for as far as I am concerned. Those roofs maybe just flew under my radar mostly because they were done properly. So thank you very much to those homeowners who stopped and asked.