Use reputable roofing company when doing major repairs on your roof

There isn’t enough caulking compound in the world to properly seal an incompetently shingled roof by a “hook and ladder” company offering cut-rate prices.

With this in mind, I advised DIYers in my last column to undertake their own roofing work or to hire a reputable company through references or by contacting the Manitoba Shingling Contractors Association (MSCA) at 204-795-1247.

Since then, I have spoken with a representative of the Canadian Roofing Contractors Association (CRCA) in Ottawa about the need to regulate residential  “slope roofers” (as opposed to commercial “flat roofers”) throughout Canada. The gist of the conversation was that commercial flat roofers are regulated in this country because they work with flammable, polymer-based compounds that require large torches to seal. “In this case, workplace safety is a primary concern,” said a spokeswoman for CRCA, who added that to her knowledge Quebec is the only province that controls slope roofers.

Andrew Herrod, a past president of MSCA and an owner of John Krueger Enterprises Ltd. in Winnipeg, told me in a recent interview that the provincial government is in the process of making residential roofing a designated trade in Manitoba.

“I do not know the details of the government program, but I am pleased that slope roofing will be controlled in the future. We’ve (MSCA) been working hard toward this end for many years,” he said.

One solution would be to implement a system similar to one found in Europe and some southeast Asian countries where contractors engaged in providing services in a particular area of construction cannot be licenced unless they join a designated organization.

Aside from shoddy workmanship and, in some cases, inferior materials, homeowners who hire fly-by-night shingling companies open themselves to a litany of problems, including insurance companies refusing to pay for interior damage, possible liability for accidents or injuries to non-insured roofers and valueless warranties if unscrupulous companies disappear.

Worker safety is another concern as many non-professional operators do not require their employees to wear safety harnesses, hard hats and other equipment required to create a safe workplace.

Moreover, there is no way to know whether fly-by-night companies pay their workers a fair hourly or daily wage, much less adequate overtime compensation.

Leaks due to inadequate workmanship can cause devastation to the interior of a building or home.

Improper flashing installation

One of the most common mistakes inexperienced or careless roofers make is the improper installation of flashing around chimneys.

Brick chimneys require step flashing to seal, counter flashing is required to seal stone chimneys, metal chimneys require adjustable metal flashing; rubber boot flashing is used around vent pipes.  Slapping a thick coat of caulking around chimneys is a short term solution sometimes used by  dishonest roofers to save time.

This sort of sloppy installation is particularly prevalent on metal roofs that need to be properly “boxed” to ensure leaks do not occur.

The most obvious sign that your roof is leaking is a sagging ceiling with a discoloured circle surrounding the main point of the leak.

Another sign is paint flaking away from drywall where an outside wall and ceiling meet. By the time this type of leak becomes apparent, it is likely that a good deal of damage has been caused to the two-by-four or two-by-six wall framing, including the double top plate and studs.

To ascertain the extent of the damage, cut away a section of drywall on which the paint is lifting to expose the wall’s interior. What you will likely find is black mould growing in the damp, warm cavity. In the best scenario, the combination of fungus and bacteria can be sprayed by a licenced company with a chemical to kill the mould and prevent further spread. In the worst case, the wood framing will have deteriorated to the point where it has the consistency of damp humus or flakey paper. As mould spores can be dangerous to your health, the only fix is to remove enough drywall to expose the entire extent of the infestation and remove it completely.

A DIYer can perform this unsavoury task himself, wearing an appropriate mask and rubber gloves, or hire a certified professional to clean out the mould and replace the ruined plates and studs.

We are all tempted to save money, but the practice can come back to bite us when it comes to a choice between hiring a professional or a fly-by-night company to roof our most valuable asset, our home. Of course, as a DIYer you have another choice: do the work yourself.