As roofs are the most important part of our home's weatherproofing, a leaking roof can cause incalculable damage in a relatively short period of time. Unfortunately, once a leak has sprung it's often difficult to get a roofer out to make simple repairs. Roof replacement is more their game, and it's a higher cost job as well. However, understanding the reasons behind a roofers' reluctance to make repairs can better position you to procure the repair services of a competent roofer.
Never Pressure a Contractor to Make a Quick Roof Repair Diagnosis
Obviously, a roofer makes more money doing a replacement than he or she does doing simple repairs. But this isn't the main reason roofers avoid repair work. Roofing repair work is often a thankless task. It can take a good chunk of time to make a diagnosis, yet homeowners tend to discount the value of this time as they don't see any finished "work." With pressure from the homeowner, the roofer may feel rushed to make a quick diagnosis. For best results, always indicate to the roofer that you understand the importance of an accurate diagnosis and don't wish to rush it.
When Roofs Fail In One Way, They May Soon Fail In Others
Another reason roofers are hesitant to repair is that if the homeowner sees a leak three months after the initial repairs were completed, the homeowner may feel owed additional repairs for freeeven if the new leak is unrelated to the old one.
Often a roofer must choose between irritating his customer or doing work for freethe proverbial rock and a hard place. So reassure the roofer that you won't hold him accountable for things for which he isn't responsible. Many roof repairs are necessitated by falling trees, high winds and other fits of Mother Nature.
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Be Aware that Installation Problems Don't Show Up Immediately
Just because your roof has never leaked before does not mean the original installation went smoothly. In fact, roofs most commonly fail because some aspect of the original installation was done poorly. Problems caused by poor installation often don't show up for five or ten years. By the time there's a leak, the home has changed hands or the homeowner has no longer has any recollection of who installed the roof.
Then there are the lucky few homeowners whose roofs fail simply because the materials have surpassed their useful life. If your roof is starting to leak and is 15 years old or older, there is a good chance that you'll need a new roof soon.
David Hollies is a remodeling industry educator and consultant. He is also the founder of Washington D.C.-based Home Connections, Inc.