In the past several years the amount of composition roofs put on in the Kansas City area has more than doubled. With this increase comes an increase in the number of composition roof related problems that you should be aware of before installing your own. These problems include, but are not limited to:
- Shingles blowing off when the wind is greater than 40 mph.
- Condensation in attics due to the hot surface temperatures.
- Buckling of shingles due to decking movement in large temp swings.
- Stress cracking of shingles due to large temperature swings.
- Lower than average life expectancy.
Most of these problems are new to builders in our area because we are so used to using wood roofs. In rare instances these problems can be due to application, but most often it is just the nature of the beast.
The Down Low
Shingle manufactures warranty their product for winds up to 110 mph in most cases, and no more than 130 mph for any brand of composition. However, as you might expect, there is the small print that limits that coverage to installation temperatures, roof pitches, and for specific amounts of time. Our experience shows they blow off closer to 40 mph. In the KC area we get this type of wind several times per year.
The good news is that composition manufacturers use the wind registered at KCI to determine the wind for the entire area. Additionally, some manufacturers recommend “extreme caution when applying shingles in temps below 40°F,” while others want the shingles to be hand-sealed in cold or dusty conditions (wouldn’t you love to get a bill for that?). If we went by their recommendations, we wouldn’t install any composition roofs between Oct. 1st and April 1st. Therefore, if the comp roof is installed below 42°F, the wind warranty does not apply until the roof has a chance to seal down in the spring.
All Is Not Lost: Reducing Shingle Blow-Offs
Builders, and homeowners can, however, limit the amount of shingle blow offs by using at least a 50 year (lifetime) shingle if they are using laminated, Timberline-type shingles, or at least a 25 year shingle if they are using three tabs. This will not guarantee against blow offs. However, our experience has shown that the heavier weight shingles blow off less frequently.
If shingles do blow off, don’t panic. There is either felt paper or synthetic felt used as a moisture barrier under the shingles. It’s there specifically for this type of occasion. This barrier will protect the interior of your home for several weeks until the shingles can be replaced. If shingles blow off during your roofing contractor’s warranty period, he should come replace the missing ones at no charge to you.
The Bottom Line
Here’s the thing: shingle blow-offs are a problem neither you nor your installer created, but you are at a greater risk with a composition roof. So you can do yourself, us, and your customer a favor: if you insist on installing a composition roof, use the heavier weights if possible. Also be sure to use a reputable long standing company (like Century Roofing!) to do the installation. Most pick-up truck roofers can’t afford the expense of replacing your roof for you. Just because a roofer has a business card or a county license does not mean he is reputable, only that he knows how to take a rudimentary test and write a check. Look for length of years in business under the same name. Look for a place of business, not his home. If there is a major problem with any type of roof and the manufacturer does not see it as a warranty issue, your roofer needs to have the financial ability to stand by their warranty and replace the roof.