Angie's List: Roofing

April showers bring May flowers, but they could also bring water into your home.

Matt cairns checked out his finished attic after a hard rain and noticed water stains around the skylight.

Cairns knew it was going to be a problem he would have to address, but he didn't expect it to be an urgent roofing repair.

"The next night it rained hard again and I came up here and the spot had gotten way worse,” explains homeowner Matt Cairns. “I was able to just stick my fingers right through the drywall. Then I knew I needed to get some attention on this pretty quickly."

Your roof is your home's number one defense against the elements.

No part plays a bigger role in keeping the elements out, so when a roof requires a repair, there's little time to waste.

Angie Hicks is the creator of Angie’s List and says keeping an eye on your roof is key.

“Inspecting your roof regularly will help you determine if there are leaks from your roof. You want to be sure to check a leak and fix it as quickly as possible because if you don't it can lead to structural damage in your home and also mold which can turn into a costly repair,” she said.

When it comes to your roof and leaks, there are four signs to look out for.

“In a roof inspection you should look for four common problems on your roof,” added Hicks. “Curling shingles, broken shingles, missing flashing, and areas where water may be pooling on your roof."

Justin Vorbroker is a roofing company operations manager.

"Regularly scheduled maintenance is very important on a roof. General roof lifespan can be 25 to 30 years. But you need to get someone out there every 5 years of so just to make sure your roof is ok, you're not missing any shingles you didn't notice or missing any granule loss,” he said.

Though your situation might seem to be one of desperation, avoid settling on the first contractor who comes along and offers to do the job.

"Keep in mind when hiring a roofing contractor you want to have a reputable company, someone who is going to stand behind it,” explains Hicks. “Your roof will last a long time so you don't want someone working on it who is not going to be able to stand behind their work so if you find after a storm someone coming door-to-door say no. Go do your research and hire a company on your own."

Cairns advises receiving several quotes.

"My personal policy is to always get at least two and ideally three quotes, three estimates on what the problem might be. So I brought out another contractor and he actually got up on the roof, he didn't want to just look at the skylight, he wanted to look at the entire roof," he says.

Roofing shingles are manufactured with extra granules, and you'll have granule loss over time.

But if you see more granules than normal under your downspouts after a storm, that is a cause of concern.

Why it's important: A leaking roof can cause serious damage to your home. Failing to address leaks right away can significantly raise the cost of roofing repair . That is because once the water breaks through the roof and gets into the house, it can cause damage to sheathing, rafters and ceilings.

Angie's List, the nation's leading provider of consumer reviews , asked highly rated roofing companies to for insight into roof leaks.

4 Signs to look for:
You can avoid potential damage from the elements by regularly inspecting your roof, especially following a storm. Be on the lookout for the following signs:
1. Curled shingles on the edges of roll roofing.
2. Broken shingles or sections of roll roofing that are missing.
3. Damaged or missing flashing around the edges of the roof or around objects protruding from the roof.
4. Area where water collects in puddles.

Angie's List Tips: Hiring a roofing contractor
• Be patient: Though your situation might seem to be one of desperation, avoid settling on the first contractor who comes along and offers to do the job.
• Avoid out-of-town storm chasers: These roofers travel around the country following the paths of storms looking for homeowners in dire need of repair.
• Are you legit? Ask to see proof of insurance and check the roofer's license with your local building department or licensing agent. If the company only lists a post office box, it's a red flag. Ask for a list of previous customers and visit the work sites to make sure the references are legit.
• Read the contract before signing: The contract should include such items as payment terms, type of materials used, provisions for change orders and a termination clause.

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