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Getting Acquainted With Your Roofing System

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When you say roofing system to most homeowners, they think shingles, but a roofing system is combination of a number of different components that serve a number of different functions.

The features work in conjunction with each other to provide protection from the elements, insulation and a watertight seal for your home. There are six different systems that work together to create a warm, dry environment to live in.

The first is the structure of the roof itself. It is comprised of the rafters and the roof decking that support the roofing system from the inside. The rafters are critical to the overall health of the roofing system, if there is wood rot in the rafters it can cause the roofing to sag and that in turn can create breaches in the shingle system that can allow water leaks to trickle into your home. The decking is what the shingles are nailed to and if the structure isn’t meeting manufacturer’s requirements for the shingles to be affixed to any warranties become null and void.

Between the shingles and roof decking is an underlay and its’ purpose is to stop water from accumulating under the shingles. It is a water barrier for the wood underneath that works a shield to prevent ice buildup and heavy rains from penetrating the attic.

Many people believe that asphalt or fiberglass shingles are waterproof, but in actuality they aren’t. But, they are designed in such a way that water will run off them. After many years of exposure, shingles can become worn due expansion and contraction and water damage can occur due to leaks that form, or rain gutters that start to separate from the house due to ice accumulation. The underlay helps prevent damage from occurring because it is a protective layer between your roof and your roofing system.

Many roofing system failures can be attributed to lack of proper ventilation for a roofing system. Adequate ventilation will balance air intake and air exhaust, the intake is located on the overhang and the exhaust is located on the top of the roof. Ventilation will keep moisture from building up in the attic - moisture is a precursor to wood rot – and a reduction of energy costs will be enjoyed due to adequate ventilation and insulation.

Rain gutters work with the shingles to channel water away from the structure to the roofing system’s downspouts that run water away building that will prevent water from pooling around the foundation. The fascia in your roofing system covers the eaves where the rafters end and the soffit is an air return system that allows air to enter the attic through a vent under the rain gutters.

In areas on the roof where there are openings in the shingles like chimneys or skylights there will be termination points that work with the flashings to prevent water from seeping in. It is important that the termination points be water proofed before a new roofing system is installed to provide the flashing with every opportunity provide the watertight seal through the expansion and contraction process that the flashing was designed to work through.

A new roofing system should have good quality shingles but the most important part about good quality shingles is proper installation to reap the maximum value of the shingles you are using.

When installing a new roofing system, the shingle installation begins with a starter strip and it is a pre-cut shingle that is installed at the rain gutters and rake edge, in effect framing out your roofing system.

Once the circumference of the roof is stripped, a ridge shingle is used to cover the main area of the roof up to its’ highest point. When two areas of a roof meet and form an angle a hip shingle is used overlap the sloping point to create a watertight seal at the area.

Knowing your roofing system and meeting its' needs can prevent costly repairs in the long run, so you should inspect your entire roofing system twice a year.

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