Understand Your Shingle Roof System

As a homeowner, it’s important to understand the basics of your roof system so you can make an educated decision when it comes to a roof repair or a roof replacement. After all, such decisions affect your pocketbook and comfort for years to come. Use this guide to peel back the layers of your roof for a new perspective.

Understanding Your Shingle Roof

Your shingle roof system consists of multiple layers that provide protection against water penetration, ice dams, and strong winds. That’s on top of — or underneath — your roof’s first line of protection — the shingles.

  • Shingles: Asphalt shingles are available in a multitude of colors and styles, such as architectural shingles, designer series, and cedar shake. Modern asphalt shingles also last longer and are more energy efficient than shingles of the past.
  • Sheathing: Roof sheathing (also called decking) is the base of your roof which roof coverings are nailed to. The sheathing itself is nailed to the rafters. Sheathing is typically made of plywood or OSB (oriented strand board). The thickness of the sheathing generally depends on the degree of your roof’s slope.
  • Underlayment: A felt of synthetic underlayment is applied to the sheathing. The underlayment provides protection against water and ice.
  • Flashing: Your roof’s flashing helps prevent water seepage at roof joints. Flashing is generally manufactured of aluminum or galvanized steel. Your roof may have flashing around the flue, chimney, pipes, skylights, and rooftop vents.
  • Ridge cap: The highest point on your roof is the ridge, Special ridge shingles make up the ridge cap which protect the underlying roof system.
  • Ventilation: If your attic doesn’t have adequate ventilation, ice dams may form on your roof’s eaves when the attic is warmer than freezing outside temperatures. Adequate ventilation also helps keep your energy bills lower.
  • Insulation: The Energy Star program recommends that attics in our Twin Cities region be insulated up to R-60. This is at least one foot of fiberglass insulation and up to 20 inches.

Signs of Roof Problems

Older asphalt roof shingles were generally designed to last approximately 15 to 25 years. If your roof is getting up in years, a professional roof inspection is in order to determine if you need a roof replacement or repair. Some of the common telltale signs to watch for are water spots on ceilings and walls, mold and mildew growth in your attic, and damaged or missing roof shingles.

If you have questions about roof repair or roof replacement regarding your shingle roofing system, please contact us at Midwest Roofing, Siding & Windows for the answers.

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