How Ice & Snow Can Impact Your Roof

snow and ice on home roof
As a homeowner, you may tend to think of your roof as being indestructible. Day after day, it does its job, keeping you warm and dry while the weather rages on outside. Unfortunately, your roof is not indestructible, and some of the more powerful elements can do serious damage over time. You need to understand what it is that can make your roof vulnerable, and what you can do to protect it effectively.

In this case, we are talking about ice and snow, and how they can affect your roof. As you might imagine, the presence of snow and ice can have quite a damaging effect over time, especially if you live here in Maryland and the mid-Atlantic, where these conditions can be quite common during the winter months. So, what can ice and snow do to your roof? Let’s take a look.

Ice Dams

These should be a point of concern for anyone living in a cold weather environment. An ice dam is a buildup of ice at the edge of your roof. When your gutters and downspouts fill up with ice – or a combination of ice and debris – you may not have anywhere for thawing snow to drain when temperatures start to rise. The snow is likely to melt faster than the ice, meaning water will be building up on your roof and it may not be able to escape. In the end, this water could work back up under the shingles, damaging in the inside of your home.

For most homeowners, the prudent course of action when an ice dam forms is to call in a professional for help. Unless you have the right combination of equipment and experience, getting up on a frozen roof is a recipe for disaster. A professional contractor will know how to handle this job safely, and will have the equipment to do so.

Regular Inspections in Warmer Weather

Keeping your roof healthy throughout the winter actually starts during the warmer months. If you can have your roof inspected for any signs of trouble while the weather is nice, basic repairs can be performed before the snow returns. You may not be able to see these problems when standing on the ground looking up at your roof, so calling a professional home roofing contractor to diagnose and potentially repair problems is worth your time and money.

Use a Roof Rake

As mentioned above, it is dangerous to get up on a frozen roof as an average homeowner. However, you can work to protect the condition of your roof in the winter by purchasing a roof rake. This is a product with an extremely long handle that allows you to clear some of the snow off of your roof while standing safely on the ground. Of course, even while doing this job, you need to take care to avoid falling snow, or icicles which may come off the gutters.

By being proactive about the health of your roof, you can be in a much better position to maintain the condition of your home over the long run. Prepare for winter well in advance, call in professional help when necessary, and always be careful when performing any kind of maintenance on your own.

How to Prepare Your Roof for Winter

snow on roof of maryland home
For a roof, winter is the toughest time of year in many parts of the country. If you live in a location that frequently sees winter storms, you should know that your roof is the first line of defense for your home. A healthy, strong roof can go a long way toward keeping that winter weather where it belongs – outside of your house.

But what can you do to make sure your roof is up to the challenge? With winter fast approaching, it is best to act fast. The tips below should help you get ready for the long, cold winter ahead.

Make Sure It Is Clean

One of the easiest things you can do to get your roof ready for the winter is simply to clean it of loose debris that may have built up over the year. Things like leaves and branches can allow mold or mildew to develop if they are left alone while the wet season arrives. Additionally, it is important to check your gutters and downspouts at this time. Those are the pathways used by water to get off of the roof – if they are clogged, the water will have nowhere to go, and it may pool up on the roof, causing serious damage. Of course, you should always exercise great caution when cleaning your roof, or turn the job over to a professional.

Check Around the Edges

If there is anything wrong with your roof, the first sign may come in the form of issues around the edges. Walk the perimeter of your home and look up at the edge of the roof for any signs of trouble. If you do see something that gives you cause for concern, call in a professional who can take a closer look and help you understand what the problem may be – if there is a problem in the first place.

Monitor the Condition of Your Insulation

It is a good idea to check inside the attic of your home to view the condition of your insulation. How does it look? Are there any obvious signs of water making its way into the home? If your insulation is wet, it is almost certain that your roof has sprung a leak in one or more places. With winter approaching, you will want to get this taken care of right away. Don’t just think you can replace the insulation and move on. Rather, it is just as important to address the root cause of the problem so you don’t find yourself right back in the same situation months from now.

Paying attention to the condition of your roof over time is the best way to make sure it can handle the harsh winter months. It is easy to take your roof for granted, but this part of your home can degrade just like anything else. With some simple attention and perhaps a little bit of repair or maintenance, you can brave the cold winter elements knowing that your home is ready for the challenge.

All About Metal Roofing: The Benefits & the Myths

home with metal roof
When building a home, or any other kind of structure around Maryland, you always have to think about roofing. The decision of which roofing material you will choose is one of the most important choices throughout the entire construction process. The right roofing material for one building may be all wrong for another, based on factors like our local climate, building style, etc.

In this article, we are going to be discussing some of the benefits and myths related to metal roofing. While metal is a great choice as a roofing material, it will not be right in every circumstance. Read on for a quick education on this impressive product.

Benefit – A Great Investment

It is true that you will typically need to spend more money upfront when installing a metal roof as compared to other options. However, that investment is usually going to pay off in the long run. There is a good chance your new metal roof will last a lifetime, which means avoiding another large expense down the line. Also, a metal roof can add to your home’s value, and it may even get you a break on your insurance.

Myth – It Is Heavy

This is a confusing myth, as the opposite is actually true. Metal roofing is quite a bit lighter than many of the other products on the market, such as concrete tiles or asphalt shingles. If you have been discounting the possibility of a metal roof due to weight, you can cross that point off your list of concerns right away.

Benefit – It Is Strong

If you would like to set your worries aside when it comes to storms and other issues which may damage a roof, metal is a great pick. A metal roof will be able to stand up to just about anything Mother Nature can bring along, and it is designed to last for the long run.

Myth – They Rust

This is also not true. While there may have been metal roof rusting issues in the past, modern products get around this possibility through the use of zinc coating. As long as you buy a quality product from a respected dealer, you should have no issues at all with regard to rust.

Benefit – Environmentally Friendly

You can do a favor for the earth when you choose metal roofing. There are a number of reasons why a metal roof is considered environmentally friendly, including the fact that it can be recycled and won’t be filling up landfills at any point in the future. Also, this type of roof is efficient, meaning you may have to run your appliances less to heat or cool your home.

Myth – It Is Loud

This might be the most common myth of all, but it too is one that shouldn’t be believed. Your metal roof will be installed on top of sheathing, just like any other roof material you may select. That means the roof will likely sound just all other roof options, and it may even be a little quieter, depending on the exact type of metal roofing you choose.

Four Commonly Used Home Roofing Designs

maryland home roof
If you are in the process of planning a new home, you will have to confront the topic of the roof at some point along the way. It should go without saying that the roof is one of the most important components of a house. Without a solid roof design, the rest of the effort that has gone into building the house will be wasted. In this article, we are going to look at four of the commonly used residential roof designs you will want to consider during the planning phase.

Gable Roof

This is probably what you picture first when you think of a roof. Basically, a gable roof is an upside-down ‘V’. However, since the pitch of the roof can be varied within a gable design, this option is actually capable of creating many different looks. One of the best features of a gable roof is its ability to deflect water away from the home. The relatively steep slopes of the roof mean that rain and snow will likely be gone in a hurry. On the downside, this kind of roof doesn’t always hold up well when faced with high winds. Geography will play a big part in determining whether or not a gable roof makes sense for your project.

Hip Roof

If you want to add some architectural interest to your roof, you may want to consider the hip roof option. This kind of roof has four sloping sides which come together at the hip. On larger homes, it is common to see multiple hips integrated into a single, complex roof layout. Strength and durability are selling points of this type of roof. In addition to their toughness, many people find them to be visually appealing. If there is a downside here, it is the cost. This is a complicated design, and therefore a complicated and expensive installation.

Mansard Roof

This is an option which is not as popular as choices like gable or hip. There are a total of four slopes included on this type of roof, which two on each side of the house. One of the main reasons this roofing option is used is to maximize interior space. Attic space will be maximized in this design as there are no steep slopes to deal with. However, since there is limited slope on the roof, snow can build up quickly (if you live in a snowy area).

Flat Roof

Just as the name sounds, this is a roof which has a flat design. Relatively few residential buildings opt for a flat roof, but it is an option to at least keep on the table. Of course, you won’t be surprised to learn that the simplicity of this kind of roof is a major selling point. They are rather easy to install, and take very little effort to design. Of course, water is going to have a hard time finding its way off of a flat roof, so repairs are common. This is another roofing option that is going to more useful in certain parts of the world than others.

All About That Slate: The History of Slate Roofing

classic slate roof on a house
Nearly everyone would agree that slate is one of the most beautiful materials you can use to cover a roof. But where did this idea come from? At what point did it become possible to use slate as a roofing material? As slate is a natural material – unlike many of the products used for roofing today – you will probably not be surprised to learn that it has a long history as a reliable roofing option. As you are considering your options for the roofing material you are going to use on your own home, it may be interesting to learn a little more about the history of this beautiful rock.

It Goes Way Back

To find the roots of slate roofing, you have to go way back in the history books. More than 700 years, in fact, as there is evidence that slate was used as a roofing material in North Wales, England during the early 14th century. As is often the case when a material is used for a new purpose, it was too expensive for most people to acquire initially. However, it was commonly seen on castles, where the budget would allow for such a high-end product.

Although slate can be dated to many centuries ago as a roofing material, it really didn’t pick up steam until just a couple centuries back. It was actually the Spanish who developed a way for slate to be harvested in a relatively affordable manner, such that it could be used on homes. Spain has carried on a tradition of slate mining, and most of the slate roofs seen in Europe were born somewhere in Spain.

A Natural Fit

So why would slate be chosen as a roofing material, when there are so many rocks in nature to pick from? It comes down to composition. Slate is naturally a good fit for roofing because of the characteristics that it offers. On the one hand, it is breakable, so it can be formed into thin sheets with relative ease. Yet, on the other hand, it is also extremely tough, so it works as a covering for homes and other structures. Where other rocks would be too hard to break, or too soft to provide protection, slate perfectly falls in the middle of those extremes.

Coming to America

In the United States, it was only in the late 1800s when slate roofing would become available to more than just the elites. Much of the slate roofing produced today comes from the state of Vermont. One of the things that separates Vermont – and other Northeast locations – from the rest of the world is the unique colors which are found in the slate throughout that region.

Recently, slate has largely been overtaken by cheaper asphalt shingles in the residential market. However, plenty of homebuyers still love the look and performance offered by slate, even if it does require a greater upfront investment. If you decide to go with slate on your home, you can be sure that you will have a beautiful roof which will stand the test of time.

10 Tips to Help Homeowners Find the Best Roofing Contractor

md home roofer
Is your home in need of a new roof? If so, the first task on your to-do list should be to find the best home roofing contractor. While there are plenty of roofing contractors to consider, you will want to make sure that you settle on one who has demonstrated an ability to do this kind of work. To help you find the right person or team for the job, please review the tips below.

#1 – Start with the BBB

While a good rating with the Better Business Bureau is not a sure sign that you are dealing with a great contractor, it is a good place to start. At PJ’s, we are proud to be recognized with an A+ rating by the BBB of greater Maryland! If the contractor you are considering is in good standing with the BBB, you can feel free to move on to other points.

#2 – Find a Designated Contractor

If a contractor has earned a designation from a manufacturer, you can feel good about that contractor’s ability to handle the job. Those designations are not given out for free, as the company needs to prove that they can meet certain requirements in order to gain this endorsement.

#3 – Safety Matters

You always want to place a priority on safety when anyone is working on your home. Should you find that a specific contractor has a questionable record when it comes to safety, you will be better off going in a different direction.

#4 – Ask for Referrals

If you happen to know anyone in your life who has recently had their roof repaired or replaced, ask them about their experience with the company they selected. Or, even if you don’t know anybody in this category, consider asking neighbors for help if you notice they have had work done.

#5 – Insurance Issues

When filing an insurance claim as part of your roofing project, be sure that the contractor is willing to play by the rules with regard to the insurance policy. If, for example, the contractor says that you don’t need to pay your deductible, you should be suspicious.

#6 – Deal with Your Own Insurance Company

Speaking of insurance, you should be dealing with the insurance company personally, not going through the contractor. Not only is this often illegal, but it also doesn’t make any sense. The claim is a matter between you and the insurance company, so you should be the parties involved.

#7 – Watch for Pressure Tactics

There are too many contractors out there to allow yourself to be pressured into a decision by an overaggressive salesperson. If you aren’t yet comfortable with the terms of the contract for this project, don’t sign anything and don’t give in to pressure.

#8 – Study Up

Before you even contact any contractors about this work, do some research and learn about things like roofing materials. If you know your stuff ahead of time, you will be better prepared to negotiate successfully.

#9 – Always Work with Licensed and Insured Contractors

This one is an easy decision. Anytime you are hiring a company to do any kind of work on your home, you should confirm that the contractor is both licensed and insured. It’s just that simple.

#10 – Get a Warranty

Is the labor going to be covered under warranty, in addition to the roofing materials? Be sure to ask this question, and only work with a home roofing contractor who can offer a warranty on their workmanship.

All You Need to Know About the Three Types of Skylights

house kitchen
If you are looking to bring natural light into a specific room in your home, a skylight may be the way to go. There are many benefits to opting for a skylight, as they can improve lighting, offer natural heating and cooling, and they can even make your room feel larger. Whether you are planning to sell in the near future or you will be living in your home for years to come, the addition of a skylight will add value to your property.

When the time comes to pick a skylight, you will need to sort through three options. The three types of skylights commonly found on the market today are fixed skylights, ventilating skylights, and tubular skylights. Below, please find more information on each of these three possibilities.

What is a Fixed Skylight?

When you picture a skylight in your mind, this is probably what you are seeing. A fixed skylight is the most common option, and it is also one of the best ways to go when seeking additional light. As the name would indicate, a fixed skylight does not open – it is simply a window in the ceiling. You may choose to add a fixed skylight in your attic, or maybe even a stairwell. The installation process for this kind of skylight is relatively simple and straightforward.

Feel the Breeze with a Ventilating Skylight

It should be no surprise that a ventilating skylight is a unit which can be opened to allow air into your home. Frequently these kinds of skylights will be used in areas of the home which are in need of air flow, such as the kitchen and the bathrooms. Of course, since skylights are often out of reach, many modern models are operated with a remote control. Or, you could have your skylight controlled by temperature, as the unit itself will respond to the temperature in the home and open or close accordingly. Picking a ventilating skylight is not going to be the right choice for every situation, but this option may be perfect in certain areas around your house.

Tubular Skylights are an Innovative Option

To bring light down into a relatively compact space, you may want to turn to a tubular skylight. Again here, the name says it all – these units are tubular in shape, as they stretch from the ceiling of the room in question on up to the roof of your home. When installed properly, the effect of a tubular skylight can be impressive. You will be able to light up a room just as you could with electric lights, except all of your switches will be off. As an added bonus, tubular skylights are relatively affordable and they are rather easy to install as well. Although they do not look the part of a ‘traditional’ skylight, they certainly have a lot to offer in the right situation. Before you proceed with a skylight installation, be sure to consider tubular options along with the fixed and ventilating models.

The Benefits of Installing Slate Roofing

maryland home roof
If you are preparing to add a new roof to your home, you have many options available to you in terms of materials. Before you make your final selection, you should at least consider the use of slate. This type of roofing has become quite popular thanks to a number of distinct benefits, some of which are listed below.

Impressive Longevity

As compared to something like regular shingles, slate roofing is an easy winner when it comes to longevity. In fact, if you put a slate roof on your home, it is a good bet that you will never again need to worry about another roofing project. It is possible that you could have to replace your shingle roof a couple times if you live in your home long enough, but that will not be the case when it comes to slate. This is a material which is often referred to as a ‘lifetime roof’ because of its incredible durability.

Color and Texture Options

One of the great things about using slate for your next roof is the many color and texture options you will have available. As a natural material, there will be a unique look to your slate roof which is not matched identically by any other roof in the world. Even if there are plenty of slate roofs in your very own neighborhood, yours is still going to have its own character and personality. If you are interested in creating a look that is all your own, slate is a great way to go.

Relatively Simple Repairs

Should your slate roof become damaged for some reason, you will be happy to know that repairs to this kind of roof are typically quick and easy. You will want to bring in a qualified professional to carry out the repairs, however, as it is important that they are completed properly. Also, in addition to promptly addressing any repair needs, it is smart to have your roof inspected annually to make sure no small repairs are needed. As viewed from ground level, you may not always be able to see minor issues developing on the roof.

Fireproof

Since they are made of natural stone, slate roofing tiles will not burn. This is nice peace of mind to have as a homeowner, knowing that your roof will not be contributing to the problem in the case of a house fire. Of course, there are still other parts of your home which may burn, so it is important to follow common sense when dealing with any items that could cause a fire.

Insulating Properties

Slate roofing tiles do a good job of insulating the home they are protecting, so you should be able to look forward to lowered energy costs after your roof is complete. Energy efficiency is a prominent topic these days, as more and more people are trying to be as environmentally friendly as possible. With slate installed on your roof, you will be in a great position to operate an efficient home for many years to come.

The Best Roofing Materials for Spring Storms

rain on rooftop
If many parts of the country – including here in Maryland and around the mid-Atlantic – spring means that storm season is here. As the winter weather gives way to warmer patterns, the convergence of the two can lead to nasty storms which offer rain, wind, and even the occasional snow. While many people enjoy the wild weather that comes along with the spring season, it can be hazardous to the health of your house. Specifically, spring storms have the potential to damage your roof. To give your home the best possible chance to survive some difficult conditions, it is important to have the right roofing material in place.

The material used on your roof will go a long way toward determining how well your home fares in a storm. As you consider your own needs, weigh the pros and cons of the three following options.

Metal Roofing

If the ability to stand up to a storm is one of your top concerns, you are certainly going to want to consider metal roofing. Few roofing materials are able to perform as well as metal when faced with howling winds, so you should be able to expect your metal roof to stay firmly in place until the storm has passed. Of course, the roofing needs to be installed properly from the start if it is going to work as intended, so be sure to work with an experienced and licensed roofing company.

Tile Roofing

Also known as slate roofing, tile is more popular in certain parts of the country than others, as it is best in specific environments. The best feature of a tile roof, when faced with a storm, is its weight. Tile roofing is extremely heavy, meaning it takes a major gust to move these tiles out of place. A properly installed slate roof can be expected to do well in high winds, and it will also hold up nicely in a hair storm. So what is the downside? Cost. Slate is expensive to purchase, and it is rather expensive to have installed as well. Choosing tile for your roofing material is a strong option for fighting back against storms, but you will need to be prepared to make a significant investment to add this material to the top of your home.

Shingles

Asphalt shingles are the most popular roofing material in the country, and it is easy to see why. Often the most affordable option, shingles bring a nice combination of performance and low cost. An asphalt shingle roof which is in good condition should hold up nicely when faced with high winds, although any damaged shingles may lift up and fly off the roof. Unlike with some other roofing materials, shingles can typically be replaced one at a time, meaning storm damage may not result in a need to redo the entire roof. As long as storm damage is localized, a roofing company should be able to come out and repair/replace the damaged shingles for a modest price.