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attic fan on roof

What’s the Best Temperature for Attic Fans?

At what temperature should I set my attic power vent fans to keep my attic cool? I live in a hot and humid climate, where temperatures are often in the 90s. The roof gets full exposure to the sun throughout the day.

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Attic ventilators generally turn on between 90 and 110 degrees Fahrenheit.  That said, attic fans are not the best choice for cooling attics, especially if you have central air conditioning.  The reason is that attic fans depressurize attics and can rob air conditioned air from the main body of the house, greatly decreasing efficiency.  It essentially pulls that cooled air through cracks and crevices in the attic floor, and also through holes that allow for wires and pipes.
A much better cooling option is continuous ridge and soffit venting.  Basically, you cut a slot in the top ridge of the roof and put a vent right over it.  As the wind blows over the roof, it depressurizes the ridge and sucks the moist warm air from the attic.  Everything you want to vent from the attic gets sucked out of that ridge through the depressurization that happens through the normal wind cycle.

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ridge vent

Rotating Roof Vent vs. Ridge Vent: Which is Best?

I am looking for some feedback on (1) the use of rotating vents versus standard flat low lying vents (2)the placement of these if used together -- things to avoid, (3) best locations for placement on roof of a normal roof on a bungalow

Our Answer

The most effective attic ventilation happens with continuous soffit and ridge vents. Air will enter the attic at the ridge, run up under the roof sheathing where it carts heat away in summer and moisture away in winter, and exit at the ridge. This 24/7 attic ventilation solution is far more effective than any other type of mechanical or passive ventilation solution.

Make sure that both the ridge and soffit vents are wide open and not blocked. For soffits, perforated soffit material is best. Just make sure no insulation is blocking the air flow from the insiode. For ridge vents, look at those sold by Air Vent, Inc. See:http://www.airvent.com/. They have a baffle design that speeds up depressurization.

Important: once this system is installed, block all other vents including gable vents as that will prevent turbulence that interferes with the air flow pattern you will have created.

I've had a persistent leak for two years and can't find the source. It comes in where the wall meets the ceiling. I've caulked all around, had the flashing around all the penetrations inspected, and recently had siding and gutters replaced, during which we inspected the flashing and added a better drip edge, all to no avail. My contractor tells me the roof pitch may just be too shallow for shingles to work well. He estimates it at 2/12.

I had the roof replaced in 2003 because it leaking then, which at the time I attributed to skylights that I had removed. I just found the original contract for the earlier roof replacement, and it records the pitch as 3/12 (actually it says 3/5 in 12 but I assume that is referring to a steeper part of the roof that was also involved in that project.) That contractor never told me that shingles might not be the best choice.

My questions are:

Does it sound likely to you that replacing the shingles with a material more suitable for a low-pitch roof could resolve the leak?

Do I have any case for asking the original contractor to do the work or cover the cost of another company doing it? (It has caused considerable interior damage as well.)

Our Answer

Michael, Asphalt shingles can be installed when the roof pitch is 3/12 or greater so you are definitely at that border line area. To help prevent leaks though, I typically recommend that Ice & Water Shield be installed across the entire roof (not just the roof edge) when the slope is so shallow. In fact in areas that are subject to extreme weather like the hurricane coast, for example, we recommend the same thing.

So in answer to your first question, replacing the roof may help but only if you add an additional layer of Ice and Water Shield under the asphalt shingles.

Going after the original contractor will be difficult. Assuming the contractor won’t accept responsibility and you need to sue, you may need to hire and expert witness to testify that the job was done wrong (assuming it was) as well as an attorney. This costs may exceed the cost of the roof replacement.

The best thing might be to do some testing to try and narrow down the exact source of the leak. One way to do this might be to use a garden hose to run water down the roof right over the leak area to see if you can pinpoint the spot that leaks. You might also consider hiring a professional home inspector to help you diagnose the cause of the roof leak. For a relatively small fee, these folks can give you an expert opinion and may help you save time by getting to the root of the problem quickly.

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USDA Rural Development Loan Failed to Identify Shoddy Contractor’s Work

Hi, I live in Athens, TN. My brother is a stroke victim. he had 3 strokes and double brain surgery. He cannot walk, or use his left arm. He is on SSD. About 1 year and a half ago, my disabled brother had a leak in his roof, that completely collapsed his bathroom ceiling. It was above the bathtub, and black mold was everywhere. He ended up getting in touch with the USDA, and took out a loan to fix the roof, and remodel that bathroom, making it a handicap friendly bathroom. The case worker for the USDA in Chattanooga told him to get 3 estimates. She gave him a list of contractors, and he called 2 of them, and she said the estimate was too high. The other contractors on the list wouldn't come out because we live to far from them. So, he got a referral from a man who does charity work for poor people. He knew a man who was the head honcho at the Mormon Church here, and this mans son worked on houses. we got the sons phone number. He came out and gave my brother an estimate, and his case manager approved it. The guy had his 2 young workers put the roof on, while he did the bathroom. He did electrical work and plumbing in the bath, and electrical in other areas of the house. When he was done, they set up and appt. for the case manager to come out and look over the work and approve it. If she approves it, and my brother approves it, than the contractor gets paid. They both approved it, but nobody went on the roof. I feel the case worker should have gone on the roof or had the City Bldg. Inspector come out and inspect it. She didn't. He got a 1 year warranty on the work, and the contractor was paid and on his way. There was 2 things he was supposed to come back and finish. A new faucet in the kitchen, and his workers left a gap in his wall between the molding around the front door and the wall. The cased worker took pictures. He never came back to finish it. My brother tried calling him many times, but his phone was disconnected. A year later, his roof starts leaking into the bathroom. the case worker says it is between the homeowner, my brother, and the contractor and washed her hands of the mess. I called everyone I could and found out that the contractor was supposed to be licensed to do any plumbing or electric, no matter how small the cost. In Tennessee you do not have to be licensed to put a roof on unless it is over 25K. We thought he was licensed, but the USDA knew he wasn't. My brother borrowed 14K to have this work done. Since we couldn't call this contractor, I went to his house, with tape recorder in hand. he said he would come out and fix everything. He took down our phone numbers and said he would call the next day. he didn't. A month went buy, the ceiling in the bathroom is sagging and has black mold on it, and we had to do something. I went to Angie's List and hired a top knotch licensed roofer to fix the leak. He was shocked at the shoddy roof job the last contractors workers had done. he said it is the worst he has seen in 40 years of roofing. he took pics of all the problems, gave us an estimate to fix the leak, and we hired him. He came to work 2 days ago, and while working on the roof, came across so many problems, that he could not believe the USDA signed off on it. My brother has mental problems and was just going by what his case worker said. I thought she was checking all this stuff out, but she wasn't. It cost $475.00 to fix the leak, but the roof needs to be replaced. In the meantime, my brother, who's SSD income is $790.00 a month, has to pay the USDA $45.00 a month for the loan. he pays for half, the USDA pays the other half. Now, the USDA got ripped off by this guy too, in my eyes. My concern is for my brother. How can he get part of the loan forgiven, so he can hire the new roofer to put a new roof on correctly and how can we get our $475.00 back from the con artist. Even though it was a 1 year warranty, the warranty SHOULD be for a roof that was installed properly. Since it wasn't, wouldn't that make the warranty null and void. What do we do???? Can the original roofer be arrested? Small claims court would be OK, if he shows up. I don't know what to do, and my brother is in tears. Please help me. Thankyou

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Juliana, I'm so sorry to hear of your troubles with contractors.  Suffice to say, I have heard this all before.  I'm afraid that anything I told you to do right now would be too little too late. It does seem that the loan officer should bear some responsibility for missing the defects. At the bear minimum, they should have insisted that a building permit be taken out so that proper inspectors would have been made.

I think you are on the right track using a contractor from Angie's List.  Keep in mind that even though the roof may have not been properly installed, many times a roof can be repaired an maintained leak free without a complete replacement.

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New Construction Roof Makes Noise

The roof of my 2013-built single-family house makes loud squeaking/creaking noise on windy days. The problem started in one room and expanded to another. It's getting louder over time. The builder says "It is my belief that the noise you are hearing is caused by the wind coming through the two homes, almost creating a natural breezeway and getting behind the siding, causing it to tap against the exterior walls. This is a natural occurrence." However, my neighbors (all in new houses by the same national builder) do not have this problem.

The noise is very annoying, life disturbing, and makes me worried of the safety of MY whole family. Sometimes I hearing tapping sound too. What could be the reason for a brand new home to have such A problem? Is it possiblY due to a natural breezeway, like the builder claims? What should we do?

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A couple of things come to mind: First, I find it unlikely that your builder is qualified to make such a structural analysis.  He's essentially commenting on the impact of wind and weather on a structure, which is something only a licensed structural engineer or licensed architect has the education to back up. 
I recommend a few things: Document your concerns to the builder in writing. Second, request the builder hire the structural engineer or licensed architect of your choice to inspect your property and provide a written report as to the cause and cure - if required - of the problem you're experiencing.  Third, send the letter to your homeowners warranty company, documenting the problem, the history, and the dates observed so they can begin a claim against the warranty (should that become necessary).  Last, consult an attorney for additional actions you may need to take to protect yourself.  Roofs that are properly constructed don't creak to the extent you're describing.  The fact that yours is making noise is likely an indication of a bigger problem you want to avoid.   

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Ice Damnig on North Side of Roof

How can I prevent ice damning on the north side of my home?

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Name Brands of Windows, Siding and Roofing

We're overhauling our house.  I want name brand stuff.  My wife thinks lesser-known brands are worth the savings.  What do you think? Who makes best replacement windows, vinyl siding, and architectural shingles?

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How to Repair a Leaking Corrugated Steel Roof

I have a corrugated steel roof that was damaged in a hail storm.  The seams came apart in places.  I was wondering if I should replace the roof with something else or can the seams be fixed?

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Can I Paint Asphalt Shingles?

I have heard that they make a paint specifically for asphalt shingles, which they guarantee for 15 to 25 years. Is this a mistake when thinking of re-sale? I've seen various web sites for this stuff, looks OK but I do not want to spend hundreds of dollars, only to find out I've created a ridiculous looking disaster. I am a do-it-yourself homeowner. My roof looks fine to the average person, but I know it is time for a new roof. Roof paint..good idea or bad?

Our Answer

For twenty years, I was a professional home inspector. Every few months, I'd pull up to a house, typically in a retirement community, look at roof and think, "That looks good!" Then I'd look at it a second time and think, "Something's not right." In all these instances, I'd find out the roof had recently been painted - and typically, a less than reputable contractor had sold painting services to people in retirement communities.
These contractors claimed roof paint could make the roof look better, which it did...for a short period of time. It did not add longevity to the roof, as some had been promised.
Roof paint is advisable only on flat roofs, and for reflective purposes. Some flat roofs, especially those made of layers of built-up tar, use paint called fibrous aluminum as a top coat. Its purpose is to reflect UV rays. Typically, though, on roofs that aren't flat, shingles should never be painted. They aren't designed to be painted. You can ensure a long roof life in other ways, though - like properly installing and properly ventilating your attic. Overheating speeds up the deterioration of a roof, because the hotter the asphalt gets, the more protective oils come out of them, and they become less water-resistant. Painting shingles is unnecessary and often associated with rip-off contractors. And if you're thinking of replacing your roof: Unless your roof is badly deteriorated - and it doesn't sound like it is - you're not going to get the return on investment that makes replacing it worthwhile. Instead, if you plan to sell anytime soon, I recommend disclosing the age of the roof to prospective buyers, thereby taking it off the table for negotiations. Then, use that money you would've spent on the new roof on storage, organization, paint, and other corrective efforts that make your house attractive for sale - and will provide financial returns.

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Roofing Mold/Mildew

I saw a product in my local hardware store called 'Wet and Forget', that claimed to remove the mold/stain on shingled roofs. Is this product effective in doing that? The stain has been on the roof for a few years. Can you suggest an effective way to remove the mold/mildew stains/ Thanks

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Why Do You Only Recommend ASHI Home Inspectors?

Why do you only mention ASHI? There are several other home inspector societies out there that are the same as ASHI and quite frankly, some are even better. IE: they require stricter standards for the inspectors! There is nothing wrong with ASHI, but having always believed this is a nuetral based information site, I am surprised there is no mention of others, or at least a mention that there are others? Locally, several of the "good old boy" home inspectors are ASHI members, they don't comply with hardly any of thier standards, these guys are in and out of a 2500 sq/ft home in minutes, no attics, crawl, or any other detailed areas are inspected. More of a "need this just to satisfy the bank" kind of inspections. There is no one at ASHI or any of the other societies for that matter that are following inspectors around to assure they are doing a thorought job. I recommend to people to get online and look for ratings, such as Homeadvisor or Angies list provide. Also, ask for references from past clients, etc.. Caveat Emptor!

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Let's just say it sounds like you have a dog in this hunt, as the saying goes. 
I spent 20+ years as a member the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI).  I believe they are the best means of assuring that a perspective homebuyer is finding someone qualified and confident in home inspections.  In my view, ASHI's standards are among the strictest in the nation, test among the most comprehensive in nation, and that the formation of other organizations is likely a response to the fact that many home inspectors don't want to put out the time and trouble needed to meet ASHI's requirements. 

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Can I Replace a Roof Covered In Solar Panels?

I need to replace my roof, which has solar panels installed for heating my pool. What do I need to watch out for when talking to roofing contractors? The panels have to be removed and then reinstalled upon completion of the roof.

Every roofing contractor reassures me that may not be a problem; however, I'm very skeptical.

Thank you in advance for your assistance.

Our Answer

The skill set for installing solar panels is quite different than the skill set for removing and replacing a roof.  Unless you happen to be dealing with a roofer in the solar energy business, you should hire two separate contractors.  I'd engage a pro in the solar panel business to remove the existing system, store it property, and reinstall it after your roof is done.  Trusting this to the roofers doesn't make sense, or seem fair to the roofers.  Good luck!

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We Need a Smaller Home. Can We Remove Our Second Floor?

Does it ever make sense to make a 2-story house into a 1-story home? We like our location but do not need the room anymore. We need a new roof, so this feels like the right time to make this big change if we're going to do it.

Our Answer

There's no structural reason you can't do this, barring an architect or engineer saying otherwise!  It's more of an economic question.  If you reduce the size of your home, you reduce its value accordingly.  To get a sense of the economic impact, check out the values of single story vs two story homes in your area.  Find homes sold recently that are the size of what your remodeled would be, and determine whether the reduced resale value, combined with the cost of the remodel, makes this project worth it. 
Generally speaking, though, it's unusual to do things that reduce a home's value.  You might be able to come up with some better, financially wiser solutions with the help of Certified Aging-In-Place Specialist (CAPS).    Certified Aging-In-Place Specialists can connect you with designers, builders, and other pros who remodel homes to make them more accessible for aging residents.
If the challenge here is to simply make sections of your house more accessible as you age, there are far less drastic ways to do that.  You can make these changes to your home in ways that actually add value, rather than detract from it.  Consider all options before taking such a drastic step that could result in a major profit hit. 

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How Much Should I Spend on Spray Foam Insulation?

What's the average cost for having spray foam insulation used in my home? It needs to be sprayed under the entire roof of my Cape Cod, in the upstairs walls, and in about half of the first floor walls. 

Our Answer

I'm very partial to Icynene.  I had an excellent experience with the product, and can't imagine recommending another manufacturer.  This was the first winter since I used it in my home, and my utility company tells me my home was among most efficient in the area this winter - which is saying a lot for a house that's more than 100 years old!
There are significant qualitative differences between home manufacturers and foam installers, and done incorrectly, this process could have a very detrimental effect on your home.  If I were you, I'd contact Icynene dealers in my area and let them compete for the job.  Generally speaking, when you get a price from a dealer that's dramatically less than everyone else's, something is being left out, and it's foolish to go with the lowest bid.  So get a sense of the average cost and ask questions of dealers from there.  Good luck!

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Ceiling Leak in 1st Floor Bathroom During Heavy Rain

Today during a heavy rain I disovered that we had a leak.  We had a steady drip of water coming from the furrdown in the powder room.  It only lasted about 20 minutes, but it continued to rain heavily for another hour which I thought was unusual.  Not that I wanted more water in the house.  We'd love some advice on how to repair/diagnose.  Thank you!

Our Answer

Most leaks over bathrooms - even first floor bathrooms in two-story homes - are caused by one thing, and one thing only: Plumbing vent flashing. 
Pipes extending through your roof are flashed using rubber gaskets, with shingles laid overtop to create a watertight seal.  Constant sunlight exposure, though, can cause materials to deteriorate, allowing water to get in.  Once inside, the water follows that pipe through the home, to wherever it ends - which in this case, I'd wager, is your first-floor bathroom.  
Try repairing the plumbing vent flashing by sealing or replacing it and see whether the leaking stops.