Your home’s roof is a critical component of your home’s construction. It keeps out the weather and protects your home from hail, and windblown debris.
In the greater Charleston area, there are many different types of roofing materials used.
Asphalt shingle roofing
Asphalt shingles are the most widely used roofing material in the Lowcountry. According to Wikipedia, “Asphalt shingles are an American invention first used in 1901.” These strips of base material have an asphalt coating top and bottom. The top surface of the shingle is sprinkled with granules of either “slate, schist, quartz, vitrified brick, stone, or ceramic.” The back of the shingles is treated with a substance to prevent sticking prior to installation. Shingles are engineered to be resistant to UV light and to hold up in high winds. Architectural or dimensional shingles are layered, thicker, and have a more visually interesting profile. Frequently they have a life expectancy of 30 years, depending on the manufacturer’s warranty.
Common in the 1700s and still in use across the world and in Charleston today are ceramic pantile shingles. Many people associate them with Spanish or Italian style architecture. They are common in Great Britain and South Carolina, coastal Georgia, and Florida. Some people may call them a Florida style roof. The Powder Magazine, one of the oldest buildings in Charleston, still sports pantile shingles. Pantiles resemble a pipe that has been cut in half lengthwise. According to online sources, a pantile is “S-shaped in appearance and is single lap, meaning that the end of the tile laps only the course immediately below.” Modern pantiles are made of clay or concrete. While expensive, tile roofs, when well cared for, may outlast the building on which they are installed. They are said to provide superior insulation and be very resistant to damage from hail and windblown debris.
Metal roofs are another roofing type in use for new homes in Charleston. Long used across historic Charleston, according to the Metal Roofing Alliance, today’s metal roofs are made of “steel or aluminum. Copper, zinc and titanium are also used in specialized architectural applications for homes.” The Alliance also says, “...metal roofs provide energy savings, beauty, and protection for your home that can last a lifetime. Residential metal roofs are available in a wide variety of design to complement any style home. Offered in a rainbow of colors, your metal roof can be a traditional vertical seam profile, or be manufactured to resemble wood shake, slate, shingles or clay tiles.” Metal roofs must not be allowed to be dented to to have any standing water on them. They are durable and help insulate a home and generally do not require much maintenance.
Regular and ongoing maintenance for your roof
According to National Home Warranty, there are a number of seasonal and annual tasks which you, the owner, must do in order to care for your roof. Each of these tasks should be performed at the beginning of every new season or after a hail storm or hurricane.
The warranty service also advises, “After severe storms, do a visual inspection of the roof for damages. Notify your insurance company if you find pieces of shingles, or loose roofing tiles in the yard, or if the shingle edges have lifted or roof tiles have become damaged or displaced on the roof.”
In the case of asphalt shingled roofs, National Home Warranty notes, “The shingles on your roof do not require any maintenance except to ensure they are kept clear of debris and are intact. The less foot traffic on your roof the less likely it is that problems will occur.”
Roof maintenance tasks
- At the start of each new season, check the roof for loose shingles, tiles or shakes. Make sure roof vents are in good condition and are not blocked with debris.
- Seasonally, remove debris (leaves, twigs, etc.) Depending on your homeowner's warranty, failure to do this may invalidate your warranty.
- Maintain the gutters and downspouts in clean condition free of debris so they are able to quickly drain water from the roof and the building.
- From inside your attic, look to see if any daylight is coming in through the roof or around chimneys (may indicate a leak or hole).
- Inspect the roof visually from the ground if possible (be safety conscious if you have to go on the roof or hire a contractor).
- If a roof leak occurs, try to detect the exact location while it is leaking. If the source of the leak can be spotted and marked it will make the repair job easier when conditions are dry and the repair can be carried out.
Your roof should keep you dry and snug for many years. Regular removal of debris, visual inspection and attention help prevent small problems from becoming big ones. For more details about your home’s roof, consult your owner's warranty and homeowner’s manual provided at your closing.
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