Archive for the ‘roofing’ category

Quick Tip #27 – Plumbing Vent? What Plumbing Vent?

August 18th, 2014

All modern plumbing systems in residential construction have a plumbing vent. It doesn’t just vent unwanted odors from the drainage system to the outside; it actually serves an important purpose by supplying air to the system.

The plumbing drainage system in your home is actually called a drainage, waste and vent (DWV) system. When water flows down the piping, an air supply (vent) is needed to allow the water to flow. Think of the vertical pipe as a drinking straw. If you plug the top end of a straw, liquid won’t drain from it.

The DWV system in your home consists of a series of pipes connected to each fixture; they extend above each fixture, and the system terminates at an open pipe that extends through the roof. This piping allows air into the system and prevents unbalanced pressures in the piping.


P016C - Drainage, Waste and Vent (DWV) System_300dpi

The vent also prevents the system from drawing water out of a trap at the fixture with the characteristic “glug-glug-glug” as the drain gasps for air. Plumbing traps should drain smoothly and never “glug” or gasp for air.

If your home has a drain that empties slowly or gurgles as it drains, this may indicate a venting problem. If you flush a toilet and the sink gurgles, there’s definitely a vent problem. Have a plumber check this.

Quick Tip #12 – Is Your Roof Worn Out?

May 7th, 2014

Worn Asphalt ShinglesShould you care about wear and tear to your roof? You betcha. A worn roof at the end of its life span is prone to leaks. You don’t want to deal with damage caused by roof leaks, and you don’t want to worry about mold in your home. Plan for that roof replacement.

In most cases, an asphalt shingle roof lasts about 20 years. The life span depends on the roof’s original quality and the amount of sun exposure. Sunlight breaks down the asphalt base of the shingles and eventually causes shrinkage, curling, granular loss and potential leaks.

Take a look at the illustration; it shows what to look for. You can check your roof from the ground with binoculars or work from the edge of the roof. Check the sunny side — that’s where you will find the most wear.

You can also note the spacing or shrinkage between shingle tabs. Newer roofs will have a tight, clean space about 1/4″ inch wide between shingles. Older roofs will have a gap that increases with age up to about 3/4″ inch when the roof is worn out. Contact a professional if you suspect your roof is worn.

By Tom Feiza, Mr. Fix-It

Roof Leaks Every Time it Rains

May 21st, 2013


I have a roof leak which has ruined the dry wall in one of the rooms. I had a new roof put on by a local company, and spent thousands of dollars trying to get the leak repaired. The roofing folks have visited many times. However, every time it rains, the leak continues. Can you give me any advice?



First, try to have the roofing company address the issue, and inform their insurance company. Water damage that results from the workmanship of a roofing contractor should be covered by them, or their insurance policy.

You’ll need to solve the problem. Look for any penetration through the roof. Often, the roof does not leak; it’s just the holes in the roof. For example, look at the chimney, chimney flashing, valleys, vents, and plumbing vent flashings. If you have a masonry chimney in the area of the leak, the problem could be the chimney.

If you can’t get the contractor to respond, I would contact a home inspector from the American Society of Home Inspectors, or an independent roofing consultant. You can find an ASHI inspector by using the search tool. Quiz the inspector about his background in roofing and roof inspections.


More Insulation … More Savings?

March 1st, 2013


I am building a commercial building with a rubberized flat roof. I want to go to R45 insulation on the roof, but my friends say that after R23 you don’t see a return on your investment. Is that true?

Also, what is the best way to insulate the walls of a commercial building? What is more efficient – an exterior HVAC system, or an interior in a basement? I am looking to save cost for natural gas, so any advice would be greatly appreciated.



I009 - Insulation – Diminishing ReturnIn most cases, an insulation value of R38 is recommended for roof or attic insulation in residential and commercial construction for northern climates. But, the insulation will also depend on the usage of the building, and how warm it will be kept. The wall insulation is dependent on the type of construction and finishes.

A heating, ventilation and air conditioning system is always more efficient if you can keep the complete system (and the ductwork) inside the building’s conditioned air space. Units are much easier to service if they are in the space, and if duct leaks occur, they will leak into the space. Roof-mounted units are often used to save interior space, but are never as efficient.

Contact the folks at Focus on Energy. Check their programs for energy efficient construction. They are residential and commercial experts who have lots of experience with saving energy. They also have rebate programs for energy efficient construction. With our economy, and the increasing cost of energy, it will be a good payback to build an efficient building.


Stains on the Roof From an Old TV Antenna

March 26th, 2010

We have two “stains” on our roof from where we had our TV antenna. The antenna was removed about a year ago. Is there any way to remove these stains?


A TV antenna can cause two types of “stains.” Both types of stains will not damage a typical asphalt shingle roof, and don’t need to be removed. They may be ugly, but it’s not a serious maintenance issue.

RISR_WebsiteA rusty colored, black stain is from rusting metal on the antenna or the fasteners. This type of stain will lighten with time as the weather and sun bleaches out the color. You could try a rust removal chemical like Whink Rust and Iron Stain Remover, but I suggest waiting for the stain to disappear.

The other type of “stain” may be a lack of fungus growing below the metal of the antenna. The zinc coating on the metal becomes an oxide with rainwater, and as it runs down the roof, it stops algae growth. If the stain is a light color, the rest of the roof has algae. The algae can be removed with Jomax or a similar product.

I don’t suggest a homeowner should attempt to clean a roof – it’s just too dangerous. A dry roof is dangerous enough. Adding cleaning solutions, water, and chemicals can make a roof slippery and even more dangerous. Leave the cleaning to professionals.

Asphalt Shingles – Premature Failure

December 23rd, 2009


My CertainTeed 30-year shingles are 9 years old. They are brittle and curling up at the corners. Do I have a recourse?



Yes, there has been a problem with a certain type of CertainTeed brand shingles regarding premature failure. You should contact the original installer and/or CertainTeed for the terms and conditions. They provide some type of credit depending on the specific conditions.