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Asphalt’s primary purpose in roofing shingles is to serve as a waterproofing agent.  Asphalt also holds the granules in place and adds to the overall strength of the roofing shingle.  The best asphalt will stay flexible and will not dry out or become hard or brittle for the expected life of the roofing shingle. 
 
There are three major categories of Asphalt Roofing Shingles available in the market:
 
Strip Asphalt Roofing Shingles (3 - Tab)
Strip asphalt roofing shingles are single-layered asphalt roofing shingles typically designed to look like slate.  Strip roofing shingles are usually the lightest weight asphalt roofing shingles available in the market.  Built on a tough fiber glass base, each shingle provides resistance to blow-off and tearing.  Strip roofing shingles are used primarily by home builders manufacturing economy priced homes or purchased by homeowners as replacement roofing shingles for homes that already have strip shingles on the roof.  
 Dimensional Asphalt Roofing Shingles
Dimensional asphalt roofing shingles are manufactured as multi-layered products and provide a thicker and richer appearance on the roof (a multi-dimensional look).  Dimensional roofing shingles typically are heavier weight than strip roofing shingles and usually have improved warranty protections, which can range from 20-years to Lifetime.  
Premium Asphalt Roofing Shingles
Premium asphalt roofing shingles are usually described as laminated shingles that have a differentiated appearance or functionality from traditional dimensional asphalt roofing shingles.  These products may have designs that mimic “old-world” roofing shingles, like natural slate or natural shake roofing shingles. Premium asphalt roofing shingles might also have important functional improvements such as Impact Resistance or Solar Reflectivity that can possibly extend the life of the roofing system or provide lower energy costs.  

Q. I received several estimates to replace my asphalt shingle roof system and the prices vary greatly.

A. If one estimate seems much lower than the others and it sounds too good to be true, it probably is. Many fly-by-night contractors' below-cost bids seem attractive, but these contractors often are uninsured and perform substandard work. If an estimate is confusing, ask the contractor to break down the estimate into items/terms you can understand. It is most impotant to have good flashing work, Lee Sheet Metal & Roofing is one of few roofers left who still solder. 

Q. What is the difference beteween manufacturer warranties and labor warranties?

A. Before answering the question, a clarification needs to be made about the different warranties you will come across during your roofing project. First, there will be the asphalt shingle manufacturer's warranty. In general, this warranty covers defects in the manufacture of the shingle. The period of coverage can range from 20 years to a lifetime. Please read NRCA's consumer advisory bulletin addressing roofing warrantiesfor more information. Once the project is complete, be sure the contractor provides you with a certificate for your records.

Second, the roofing contractor will provide you with a warranty on his workmanship. Typically, this will cover installation and related issues. The warranty should contain what items are covered and what will void them. Many contractors offer one year or two years of coverage; however, there is no industry standard. Lee Sheet Metal & Roofing gives up to 10 year warranties on all warmanship.

Q. At what temperature is it too cold to install asphalt shingles?

A. There are no specific temperature guidelines regarding when it is too cold to install asphalt shingles. Asphalt shingles do become brittle in cold temperatures, with fiberglass shingles more likely to break than organic shingles. Breakage can be minimized or eliminated if the shingles are stored in a warm area and loaded onto the roof a few bundles at a time. Another concern is that the self-sealing strips will not seal or bond sufficiently in cold temperatures. Hand-tabbing (the application of quarter-size dabs of adhesive to the underside of shingles) is recommended if the building is located in an area prone to high winds. This will help prevent the shingles from blowing off the roof until warmer weather arrives and the sealing strips can set properly.

Q. Only the underlayment has been installed on my roof and it rained last night. Now, the underlayment is wrinkled. Does it have to be replaced?

A. If the wrinkling isn't severe enough to affect the shingle installation (i.e., the wrinkling won't telegraph through the shingles and they won't appear buckled or wavy once installed), the underlayment probably can remain in place. The effects of wrinkling also will be minimized by using heavier weight shingles.

Q. What is the best asphalt shingle to use on my roof?

A. Asphalt shingle material performance depends of the quality, quantity and compatibility of asphalt fillers, reinforcements and surface granules. There are two kinds of asphalt shingles (based on the type of reinforcement mat used); fiberglass and organic. Fiberglass shingles are more fire- and moisture-resistant than organic shingles. Organic shingles have good wind resistance, high tear strength and can be installed in colder temperatures.

Asphalt shingles should be in compliance with American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) standards and applicable building codes. Fiberglass shingles should meet ASTM D 3462, "Standard Specification for Asphalt Shingles Made from Glass Felt and Surfaced with Mineral Granules," and organic shingles should meet ASTM D 225, "Standard Specification for Asphalt Shingles (Organic Felt) and Surfaced with Mineral Granules."

Consumers also should keep in mind a roofing warranty's length should not be the primary criterion in the selection of a roofing product or roof system because the warranty does not necessarily provide assurance of satisfactory roof system performance. See NRCA's consumer advisory bulletin addressing roofing warranties for more information.

Q. I want to use melting pellets to melt the snow on my roof. Will it harm the asphalt shingles?

A. Generally, chemical melting compounds do not reduce the overall expected service life span of asphalt shingles. Staining may occur until all the residue is washed away. Calcium or magnesium chloride pellets are less harsh and stain less than sodium chloride.

Q. How do I clean algae and moss from my asphalt shingle roof?

A. Use a mild solution of chlorine bleach and water or mild detergent gently applied with a sponge or hand-held sprayer and rinse thoroughly. Do not use a power washer or high concentrations of bleach, and do not scrub the shingle surface. The Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association also offers cleaning recommendations.

 

Q. How can ice dams be reduced or removed?

A. Remove as much snow as possible, but call a professional roofing contractor if your roof is steep, the snow is deep or the ice is thick. NRCA does not recommend using ice picks or shovels (or any tool with sharp edges) because there is a chance of damaging roof coverings and flashings. NRCA also does not recommend hosing down a roof with water or use of a hot air gun. Electric heat cables generally have limited effectiveness.

 

Q. My contractor suggested installing a ridge vent on my roof and I already have two single static vents. Do I really need a ridge vent?

A. NRCA suggests the amount of attic ventilation be balanced between the eaves and ridge. The intent of a balanced ventilation system is to provide nearly equivalent amounts of ventilation area at the eave/soffit and at or near the ridge. For a balanced ventilation system to function properly, approximately one-half of the ventilation area must be at or near the ridge.

Proper attic ventilation is one of the least understood concepts in residential roofing. To learn more, read "Principles of Attic Ventilation" an article by Mark Graham, NRCA Associate Executive Director of Technical Services, that appeared in NRCA's magazine, Professional Roofing or see Technical Bulletin 98-2.

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