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When thinking of roofing, you often simply assume that the old roof will be torn off and a new set of shingles installed. In historic building roof repair there is a lot more to the job than you would think. In order to maintain the original design, materials, and styles of historic buildings, hiring a professional with a working knowledge of historic roof restoration is imperative.
Roofing Materials Through Time
In the U.S., historic building roof repair is often a challenge because of the different roofing materials that have been used over the years, which have included:
- Tile roofs
- Flat rectangular tiles applied with mortar
- Sheet metal
- Wood shingles
- Sheet iron
- Corrugated iron
- Galvanized zinc
- Tin roofing
- Terne plate
All of these materials can be found on historic buildings, depending on their location and age, and they will affect how the roof repair is handled.
Cause of Failure
Determining the reason for a leak is the first step in achieving a repair without changing the original roofing. Whether the metal is rusted and needs to be patched, or the wood shingles need to be replaced are one consideration.
However, when the failure is due to support systems such as gutters or downspouts, flashing, or roof fasteners and clips, a knowledgeable restoration roofer will be able to not only repair the damage, but help prevent further problems by changing specific materials for more compatible components, without taking away from the original roof.
More than simply looking at the roof, a professional will research documents and the building in order to restore the structure without damaging the historical accuracy. Many times historical buildings have been altered with additions, or different roof lines, when various things were added. Knowing what is original, what is new, and what has been restored to original helps the restoration roofer know what needs to be done.
Replace or Repair
Unfortunately, there are times when the original roofing cannot be repaired, which is when the professional restoration roofer will begin to take steps to procure historically accurate materials to fix the problem. If a wood shingle can’t be patched or sealed, then many times a whole new wood shingle is made by hand to replace it. Keeping the roof and roofing materials historically accurate is a huge part of maintaining the historical integrity of a building.
Knowledge of Historical Craft Practices
While the right material is important when performing a restoration roofing job, it is also imperative that the roofer understands the craft practices that were popular at the time. There is no chance of finding a hand split wooden shingle commercially today that will match a rustic handmade shingle from the early 20th century. In these instances, restoration projects have to locate a modern craftsman to reproduce specific details.
When you see a historic building that has been restored or preserved, you may not think much about the roof, but, in fact, the roofing is a major aspect in maintaining the historical integrity of the entire building. Historic roof restoration is a highly specialized job that requires not only knowledge, but a passion for detail and the history involved in each project.
No one wants to deal with a leaky roof, but one commercial roof repair might be more necessary than others. When a roof leaks, it is not just the roof that suffers the damage. In part, this is because what you see inside the structure is the result of the leak rather than the source of it. This makes it hard to tell what else might be damaged. The damage is going to vary with the details of the structure itself, as well as the style of roofing on the building.
Direct the Water
While some might see a leaky roof as an inconvenience, it can cause a lot of damage inside a structure. If you aren’t trained in roofing repairs, it’s best to not even go on the roof. Just be sure to put something in place to manage where the water ends up. If you happen to have ceiling tiles or another type of ceiling that involves material that’s easy to remove, take the affected pieces down.
Taking the tiles down is not just a matter of preventing them from getting wet. Water takes the path of least resistance, always following the laws of gravity. By removing the ceiling tiles, you eliminate them from the path and may be able to see where the leak really is originating. This is because the water is no longer traveling over the tiles, but falling directly to the floor.
Understand the Risks
Water damage is not just unsightly, it’s dangerous. In historic buildings, it can destroy materials that have been in place for centuries. To get from the top of the roof to the floor of a structure, the water may have to travel through insulation, decking, framing, and other materials. On top of water damage and material destruction, there is the potential for mold and mildew to form.
Mold spores circulate through the air and thrive in damp environments. Because they circulate through the air, they can be dangerous to humans and other living things that might inhale them. An ongoing leak poses some of the highest levels of potential for mold to form because there is a constantly wet area. Even if it doesn’t rain, dew and other water in the environment can find its way to the leak.
Take Immediate Action
There are a few phone numbers that every property owner should have on hand. This makes it easier to get things done in an emergency, when you may not be thinking clearly. The number for an emergency roof repair company is a must. Don’t assume that every roofing company offers the same level of treatment, either. Some only do new construction and others only work on residential properties.
Those who work on commercial roofs or historical buildings know that tending to a leak takes top priority for these types of buildings. In fact, it may be a good idea to call them before there is a leak, just to find out about a proper maintenance schedule and to provide information about your particular roof so they have these details in case of an emergency.
For more information call us at Pfister Roofing at 1-800-376-2207 or visit us at www.pfisterroofing.com!
If you’re a property owner, sooner or later you’re going to have to fix or replace your commercial roof. The average roof lasts about 20 years, and insurers are more stringent than ever about making sure their customers have up-to-date roofs. Keeping your roof in good repair will ensure you don’t face hassles from your insurer, and will also help you avoid expensive water and other damage to your building.
If you’re thinking about hiring a professional commercial roof installation and repair company to do the work, be sure you know these basics about commercial roof maintenance:
Consider your options – If your facility is an older building, you have a lot more options for roofing materials than the original builder of your facility did. There are a variety of other materials you can use for your commercial or industrial roof. Consider your needs and your budget, and choose accordingly.
- Prevention is the best cure – Regular inspection and maintenance of your commercial roof will help you catch problems early and correct them before they become more extensive and expensive. While climbing up the ladder during hot summer days or during the chill of winter is no one’s idea of a good time, it’s a worthwhile investment to go up and have a look around a few times a year, particularly after bad storms or weather events. Spotting smaller issues and fixing them now is much better than letting water damage accumulate over time.
- Replacement or resurfacing – Will you need to completely replace your roof, or can you build over the old roof? Modern building codes allow for only two layers of roofing. More layers than that will put your building at an elevated risk of collapse.
- Will the new roof be completely new, or will it be built over your old one? Building codes today allow for no more than two separate layers of roofing. This is because of building standards, and safety hazards and weight. Roof collapses happen much easier when you are dealing with more than one roof over your head.
- When installing a second layer of roofing it is important to do a moisture scan. Reroofing over an existing wet roof can cause rusting of the deck, cause mold and many other devastating effects to your roof and building.
- Know when to call a professional – While you can do basic roof repairs yourself, it’s worthwhile to call in professional commercial roofers when the damage is more extensive or is longstanding. Professional roofers can do a thorough inspection and perform industry-standard repairs that will ensure your roof is in good shape for years to come.
Pfister Roofing provides full-service commercial roofing services to businesses and organizations in New York, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and Connecticut. In business for three decades, Pfister is a respected provider of specialty roofing services, including installing and maintaining roofs for historical buildings.
For commercial building and historical building owners who are looking to make their buildings more eco-friendly, one viable option is to utilize the natural power of the sun and consider a new commercial roof installation that incorporates solar panels. Solar power has been around for quite awhile, and recent improvements in the technology now provide for several options for tapping into the solar power of the sun.
Basic Types of Solar Power Systems
Before considering solar power for your commercial building or historical building, it is highly recommended you speak with your energy provider or roofer to find out what their abilities are to work with solar power systems.
Some energy providers have developed technologies where it is possible to connect a solar power system with your existing electric system. With this technology, when you have excess solar power it feeds it into the electrical grid and basically causes your power meter to run backwards.
If your energy provider does not offer this option, then they should at least be able to provide a separate device for powering your building from the sun. With this type of system, when you are using solar power, you are not drawing any electricity from the power grid or energy provider. Any excess solar power either has to be stored in rechargeable batteries or is lost.
Solar panels are a common method for being able to harness the sun’s energy to power your historical or commercial building. Solar panels are installed over the existing roofing materials. The main benefit of solar panels is they are able to be angled to maximize the amount of sunlight they get and the energy they can collect. In addition, they are easy to remove for commercial roof maintenance, repair, or installation, and can be relocated elsewhere, even onto the ground.
One of the newest types of solar technologies recently developed are solar shingles. They are similar in size to regular roofing shingles. They are a thin material, which can be incorporated in place of regular roofing shingles. They are less expensive to manufacturer than solar panels. Solar shingles are either made from silicon-based materials, like solar panels, or laminated thin-film materials.
However, you will need more solar shingles installed in order to collect the equivalent amount of energy you would collect with solar panels. Another drawback to solar shingles is your roof has to be angled in the right direction and has to receive maximum exposure to natural sunlight.
In addition, the roofing substrate might need to be upgraded to be able to support higher heat levels, since the solar shingles are absorbing energy from the sun. Further, the roof could require additional air circulation in order to help keep it cooled. Since solar shingles are a relatively new technology, currently there is not much information on their expected lifetime.
To learn more about solar power options, and assistance in choosing the best solution for your historical or commercial building, call the professionals at Pfister Roofing now at 1-973-569-9330.
It can be more beneficial to hire a professional to repair your commercial roof rather than attempting to make the repairs on your own. You have to consider the costs of materials, the time required to make the repairs, the safety risks, and your expertise. Even in cases where you have your own maintenance employees, chances are they are not experts when it comes to commercial roof repair.
The costs for materials will essentially be the same, whether you do the work yourself or hire a professional roofing contractor. The main difference is, if you lack the knowledge to properly repair the roof, you will end up spending more money to eventually hire a contractor to not only fix your mistakes, but also the necessary roof repair.
We have already touched on the subject of experience. Watching “how-to” videos online is not the same as the years of experience and knowledge a professional roofing contractor has, compared to the few hours you spend educating yourself on how to repair a commercial roof. No amount of time spent researching and learning how to repair a roof compares to the skills and knowledge you get with a professional.
Detailed Roof Inspection
Professional contractor know how to properly inspect your roof and identify the current causes for the existing issues requiring repair, as well as recognize other problems that can lead to future roof damage. In addition, roofing contractors have access to a wide range of tools, equipment, and technology, which you probably do not. Can you perform an infrared scan of your roof to find water hiding underneath the roofing materials? A professional roofer can.
Do you want your first roofing project to be working on your commercial roof? Probably not, as experimenting with the extent of your abilities could result in not addressing the problems and could possibly create more. A professional already understands what needs to be done, and the most efficient way to get the work done to correctly repair your roof the first time.
One of the more common accidents related to roof repairs are falling accidents. In order to ensure the safety of roofers, professional contractors have invested their own resources (including insurance) into the right types of safety gear and equipment needed to work on commercial roofs. If you do not have the right safety equipment and gear to do the work yourself, you will only be spending more money to attempt to do the job yourself.
As you can see, hiring a professional roofer to repair your commercial roof is often more beneficial than attempting to do the work yourself. Not only do professionals have access to the equipment, materials, and supplies needed to repair the roof correctly, but also are able to overcome any unforeseen challenges or other issues which may be identified after a detailed roof inspection.
For more information about commercial and historical roof repair, maintenance, and installation services in New Jersey and the Tri-State area, contact the professional roofing experts at Pfister Roofing today at 1-973-569-9330.
In an effort to keep our clients up informed about our industry and business we have put together our latest newsletter for for winter 2016. It’s not just news, get the latest delicious recipe from Opa’s Kitchen. Click here to download our newsletter.