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Does your roof have several leaks? Are the asphalt shingles starting to break, wrinkle or lift? Does the roof have moisture damage? If so, your roof may be beyond repair, and need to be replaced.

Asphalt shingle roofs are by far the most common type of residential roofing in North America. And for good reason. Shingles are easy to install, require little maintenance and are easy to repair. Fiberglass asphalt shingles are very fire resistant. They have a UL Class A fire resistance rating, which is the highest, although organic asphalt shingles have a UL Class C rating, which is the lowest. Asphalt shingles are also quite attractive, and come in a variety of colors and styles.

Several factors determine price

Asphalt shingles last many years, and are relatively inexpensive, starting at around $ 0.80 per square foot installed – although several factors determine the price, including height of the building, slope of the roof, ease of access to the premises, complexity of the project, the particular type of shingle and geographical location. Use the Cost Estimator to help you estimate the cost of your new roof.

The American Society of Home Inspectors estimates the life expectancy of asphalt shingles at 15-30 years, with the variation due to weather conditions, quality of the installation, quality of the materials (thicker and heavier shingles generally last longer), and level of care and maintenance.

Hot weather shortens shingle life

Local weather is a major factor in wear-acceleration, where hotter climates mean shorter life. For example, a 20-year shingle is only expected to last 12.6 years in Yuma, Arizona, and 14.1 years in Fort Myers, Florida. By contrast, the same asphalt shingle is expected to last 19.7 years in Chicago, 20.7 years in Erie, Pennsylvania, and even longer longer in Alaska.

Tips for choosing a quality roofer

Your roof is your home's most important protection from the elements, and shoddy workmanship can lead to serious damage and expensive repairs. Besides, a new roof is a major investment, often costing thousands of dollars, so you want to make sure the job is done well. However, like painting, roofing is an easy business to get into with little skill or experience, so it pays to do your homework to find an experienced professional.

Here are some tips:

Look for a roofer who's been in business for at least 5 years and has a proven track record.

Check the roofer's availability. Some roofers get booked up for several months, even a year in advance. There's no point wasting your time if you need the job done sooner.

Ask for names and addresses of references. As with any contractor, don't even consider them if they refuse or hesitate.

Go and inspect a few recent jobs. Here's what to look for:

Water gaps (the spaces between individual shingle tabs) that line up perfectly straight as they alternate shingle rows.

Shingles that are trimmed in a clean line along the roof valleys where they overlap the valley flashing (flashing is the protective metal piece that lines the valleys, chimney and eaves).

Tar-free flashing at roof valleys and eaves.

Neatly trimmed shingles that align with the roof's edge.

Call at least two references and ask if they would use the roofer again. Ask if the roof leaked, and if so, did the roofer respond promptly, courteously, and did he charge for the repairs? Did the roofer damage any landscaping? Did he leave nails in the driveway? Did the job come in on budget, and if not, was the extra cost justified?

Verify that the roofer carries at least $ 1 million of liability insurance and worker's compensation coverage.

Once everything checks out, it's time to get an estimate, which should be free. Note the roofer's appearance. Being neat and clean doesn't necessarily mean you'll get a better roofing job, but it does show a certain professionalism.

Things to discuss when getting a quote – and to include in the contract – are:

Will the existing roof be removed or will the new roof be installed over top? Generally, you can have a maximum of two layers of asphalt shingles on a roof. If there are already two layers, they should both come off. Be warned that although you will save a lot of time, mess and expense by not removing the existing roof, it could void the warranty for some shingles. Also, a second layer should not be considered if the existing shingles are damaged or curled.

What type of warranty does the roofer offer to covers leaks, flashing failure and other labor-related defects. You should get at least one year, but two or three is preferable.

What type of shingles will be used? What grade? Get the highest-rated, longest-lasting shingles your budget will allow.

How will trash be disposed of and nails picked up? Make sure they put thick plywood under dumpsters and truck wheels to protect your lawn and driveway.
What is the payment schedule? It should be acceptable to pay one-third up front, then the remaining two-thirds once the roofing job and cleanup are completed to your satisfaction.

Who is responsible for damaged plants or bushes? How will they be protected?

Does the plywood decking beneath the shingles need to be replaced? How much will it cost? Do not pay for replacement if the decking is in good condition. Also have the roofer check pipe boots and roof jacks to see if they need replacing.

Have the roofer (or an HVAC contractor) check if you have proper attic ventilation. Now is the time to install ridge and soffit vents which alleviate excessive heat in the summer and moisture buildup in the winter that can rot wood sheathing.

Follow these tips to help you cover all the bases when hiring a professional roofing contractor to install or replace your asphalt shingle roof

Tips on Repairing Your Roof Leaks

Tips on Repairing Your Roof Leaks