Waterproofing roofers place on the totem pole

So you’re a roofer?

Often discussing fields of occupation there are times we feel inept. Especially when the grandest question of them enters your life. So “what do you do?”

This question regardless of one’s job can cause discomfort especially within your physical body. Common symptoms such as intense sweating, a lack of eye contact, or worse body odor! It happens and it’s natural. That’s why you have to instill the nerve to say: I work in the roofing industry and I’m damn proud of it. Even after years of trial and error you become cognitive of patterned responses such as “Oh,” “really”, “that’s hard work”, or the common glance away/lost their interest type. Don’t let others perception and ignorance affect your mood.

Seriously, why the discomfort or embarrassment?

Don’t be! Embrace your job! This trade is honorable and necessary. Unless you’re a professional baseball player or work solely outside, do you not need a roof?

Here’s a list of places that don’t need a roof: National Park (I bet there gift shop has one), soccer field (that’s changing before our eyes), Garden, and few others. There’s no doubt you need a roof living in the Midwest. Even the homeless people of the Midwest find shelter in awful conditions. A roof is second nature to us. It’s such a necessity that people neglect its obvious nature. Whether you’re the 1 percent or fighting to make it through the day this product demands your attention. Heck, even the Mennonite uses this product!

Why does one delay their next roof project? Believe it or not it’s common for a home with a tarp to sit as-is for a year or two. It’s astonishing that individuals will avoid getting a watertight system on their home. They say “well, it’s expensive” and I think well yeah! Why wouldn’t it? It protects your family, things, and biggest investment from the elements. How many times have you slept in or even under your Lexus? Nice car, bad roof? Priorities. Yet the homeowner believes the roofer is taking advantage of them and on to the next estimate they go.

Master degree or master at decking (roof decking) that is.

Our society so-often is preached to praise doctors, teachers, and technology careers. This article is not intended to relegate that praise towards our field, but start taking the joy we deserve in our hard work. At the end of the day most/if not all work under a 20-year single-ply roofing membrane or asphalt shingle you installed. So enjoy the moment knowing that you’re the one whom installed that product that allows them to continue performing what they love to do.

What caused this article one may ask. Well, I opened the NRCA Roofing Manual: Steep-slope roof systems 2013 book regarding an installation question on fire-treated insulation. I wanted to make sure it was the best product for a specific structure. Based off my research it wasn’t and there were alternatives. See this NRCA Roofing manual consists of over 2,000 pages of knowledge pertaining to a roof: installation, code, best methods, & breakthroughs. See our field is more than four nails per shingle even if today most believe “I can do his job.” You may be right. However, with WebMD and the Internet I could also, do yours too. So, lets quit competing with other people and start embracing YOU.wa

Letterman loved his roofs.

We believe with David Letterman retiring it’s fitting to showcase a “roofing” video. . The video was filmed on a five story-flat. The noticable roofing product consisted of EPDM (black rubber) and was once installed on almost half of the flat roofs today. However, the innovative product TPO is starting to emerge as the top flat roofing product on the market. However, the roofing product didn’t bother dave. Watch as Dave throws a plethora of objects without fall protection. Oh Dave, thanks for the memories and keeping us roofers up late!

O Big Brother, Where Art Thou? (Roofer’s Edition)

Every construction workers least favorite phrase OSHA OSHA OSHA OSHA  Oh Sh*7!

Big Brother

We have (roofing industry) experienced interesting safety regulations in the last decade. These regulations range from ropes worn, harnesses, when to wear a helmet, and so on. The ongoing regulations are important and demand the attention of every business. Employee safety is the number one concern without a doubt. Yes, it’s a job, but at the end of the day everyone is a human being! However, the matter in which our government is enforcing such rules seem discriminatory towards small and large businesses alike by enforcing economic hurdles?

So what exactly does the “supposed” economic hurdles entail? Well, majority of regulations are primarily for the employer. It’s his responsibility to monitor all aspects of an employees safety whether it be from safety education, product disclosure, industry standards, and reporting job injuries. However, how do you maintain the same rules and accountability for the ma & pa companies as you do for fortune 500 corporations? The cost to hire an outside safety company, hire an additional safety man, or purchase less bothersome safety equipment is exceptionally high. So, should the government provide grants or safety equipment tax credits? That’s a question our industry should raise moving forward.

American Dream roofer model

  • Laborer-> Installer -> Contractor -> Superintendent ->Roof Consultant -> Business Owner -> Retire

The ma & pa example:

OSHA please tell an out of the truck, licensed, and insured roofer whose completing a roofing project that he’s a menace to society. In this situation, the man is both the employer and employee, so fine him right? Very unlikely, because the job is too small.  Everyday there’s unsafe projects that are visible roadside, but OSHA couldn’t get a big fine so they drive on by or there’s no childish antics going on (explained later). Many have stated OSHA using the term “understaffed” as the reason for not catching every dangerous roofing vigilant. So, why doesn’t big brother understand that for the roofing industry. If we had the revenue to staff our own safety monitor or purchase that retractable rope, we would. Do you really believe employers want to see their employees fall three-stories?

How we feel at the moment in the roofing industry

How we feel at the moment in the roofing industry

Larger company or established enterprises:
Larger companies often have brand recognition or tool resources to qualify for important projects. Four companies bid for large project and one’s awarded it. Now you have three disgruntled companies and one whose ecstatic. The project starts and located on a busy street. The scope of work takes four weeks. Throughout this timeframe a random “good citizen regarding safety” calls OSHA.  More times than not that call is from a roofing contractor, disgruntled company, or a union issue. How many daily citizens are aware of fall protection policies or care about their neighbors roofing contractor?  OSHA drives by or waits until red flag issues arise and takes photos. A photo is evidence and there’s no disproving a photo (even if he disconnected from his harness to get down the ladder).  Is it not worth a OSHA inspector to sit in a parking lot for 2 weeks awaiting a possible fine on a $200,000 project if it’s a repeat offender? That fine would probably constitute his salary and put money in the bank.

In addition, where does the employees accountability fall? If an employer teaches, showcases, and provides equipment that exceeds the normal regulations, but an employee seen without wearing a rope (WHICH IS EXTREMELY COMMON) for one second and a OSHA officer catches it on the camera then a employer is subjected to a possible fine. Even if that employer is in the process of implementing their new safety protocol. Was Rome built in a day? Did children learn to write in a week? OSHA needs to understand the habitual nature of roofing and laboring. This job is rigorous, physically demanding, and not the ideal occupation for the normal person. Workers are not cutting corners there trying to save themselves four hours and conserver their physical energy. However, instead of being patient they instill a double fine on companies that are repeat offenders. Understand training takes time! Creating a habit takes proper reinforcement from both the government and employer.  EVEN COPS WILL TELL YOU TO SLOW DOWN AND CARRY. 

Questions to ask yourself?

Didn’t that employee choose to risk his life by neglecting use of the rope? The government acknowledges these employers as willful and wanton employers, when in reality the individual decided to neglect his safety.

Procedure Process

OSHA states they’ll listen to the offender and subject a reasonable fine. However, that seem’s extremely subjective? An individual with authority (Often the regional administrator) is in charge administrating that fine based off the “evidence” circumstance, and employers history. There’s no definitive fine cost such as local speeding tickets, reckless driving, or an unbiased jury to hear the offender. The fines are on a scale system then?

We understand members of OSHA are human beings and are well aware of a possible “there having a bad day” situation. Now a company maybe fined from a biased individual who works for the party seeking compensation and their agitated.  No jury only a judge.

Can we get answers?

Where does that money go? Payroll, governmental “policies,” or normal business expenses of OSHA? Shouldn’t that money go to a fund that increases safety programs for the roofing employees. If the awarded money went into an account that subsidized harnesses, laddervators, or hard hats, it makes it easier for ma & pa’s to finance safety services. How about that money goes to the employees who were in danger? The individuals whose lives were at risk should receive a compensation?

Also, how come hiring an outside safety company saves you 15% on your next potential fine? Outsourcing your safety program show cases your concern for the workforce? How about the hours applied in-house to show you as proof of our concern for safety and provide us the 15% discount. Where do you create these financial figures?

We need transparency.

Side thought:

Add in the disengaged worker and ask yourself if the “good citizen regarding safety” or adult tattle-tale (childish antics) call will the prompt the OSHA office to get a repeat offender rather than follow the scheduled list in which their supposedly understaffed for. OF COURSE, OSHA will go after a possible repeat conviction. They can enact a double fine for repeat offenders, so why would they risk losing a potential 100% fine increase?

I believe the largest issue for safety and the government’s inability to hold employees accountable. OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration) needs to start fining the EMPLOYEES TOO. WHO GETS THE TICKET IF YOU ARE DRIVING A CAR AND IT’S YOUR BOSSES CAR, BUT YOU GET CAUGHT WITHOUT A SEATBELT? YOU. NOT YOUR BOSS. Statistics show that those that don’t wear their seatbelt are more likely to experience severe or deathly consequences. What exactly is the difference?

Rant over

If you were to ask a hundred contractors their thoughts on OSHA you’d receive a hundred different answers. Majority of them would be negative, because there’s very few positive outcomes from such programs. The organization is necessary because roofing is the fourth dangerous occupation in the United States and that specifically warrants oversight. However, oversight should be there to assist and improve the environmental conditions in reasonable techniques. The current model that’s in place does not work nor does it improve the overall state of our industry. Our government continues to do what they do best in hiding the truth behind their rational and allowing the rich get richer. We do our best to abide by current policies, but we need change, not chains.

The sexiest home purchase you could make.

We understand roofs are not exactly bringing sexy back. Seriously, we’ve been in the industry for 30 years and still waiting for a comment such as “the new roof led to my wife.” We understand those comments are reserved for cars, bars, & churches. However, what do both bars & churches have? Roofs!

A roof is a necessity that protects your home and family from the weather. Also, it increases the overall curb appeal of your home, increases the value, and an opportunity to talk with your neighbor (Thank us later). Plus, if you live in the midwest you understand the importance of a quality roof. Office Space

So, why does everyone cut corners in the researching process? It’s common for homeowners to only look at price today. Prices are important, but do we believe that the price directly correlates with the quality and service our project demands?  All items should be considered in the roof search: certifications, product, service process, and price. Each item deserves your time. However, today I want to highlight PRODUCT. There’s absolutely no reason to install a three tab shingle on your home. NO REASON AT ALL. The only time we’ll suggest it is if you’re working on your kids treehouse, but I’d question your dedication to the treehouse. The average difference in cost between architectural & three tab shingles is usually $800 to $1200. So here’s an example to put it in perspective.

Common conversation between car salesman & potential client.  Interested in any upgrades? New stereo, heated & automatic seats, & backdoor camera. All these upgrades can be yours for an additional $17 dollars a month. Potential customer “what’s sixteen more dollars a month?” Customer later purchases upgraded vehicle and throughout the next 5 years of the loan pays $1,000 for the upgrades.

Car with a lot additions

Fact’s to keep in mind:

  • Car is a mode of transportation
  • Average new car is owned for 10 years
  • Average cost of used car (1-3 year old) $15,000
  • Average cost of new car $32,000

Common conversation between roofing salesman & potential client

Interested in architectural shingles? Aesthetically sharp, 130 mph protected, better hail resistance, & weighs fifty percent more than the economical choice. You can have all these product attributes for an additional $17 dollars a month. Potential customer “umm, not sure about that” and I’ll have to discuss it with the spouse.

Fact’s to keep in mind

  • Roof protects everything inside of your home.
  • Average roof last’s between 20 to 40 years
  • A home is the largest financial investment of most adults
  • Average cost of a roof repair often no warranty & only on roof under ten years $1,500
  • Average cost of a new roof $9,000

A lot of homeowners have installed architectural shingles and insurance companies suggest it. We understand architectural shingles have only been around for 40 years whereas three-tab a hundred years, but it’s time to change. The product is thicker, weighs more, and the sealant technology allows it to withstand twice the wind of three-tab. All major manufacturers GAF, Owens Corning, CertainTeed, & TAMKO stock architectural shingles.

The next time you need a new roof PLEASE demand architectural shingles and if you believe it’s not in the budget look at the car in the driveway. Do you have heated seats, advanced CD player, or back up cameras?

Architectural shingle benefits:

Homewood Deck

Three-tab shingle benefits:

  • Classic appearance.
  • Upfront cost is cheaper than architectural
  • Most economical shingle in the market
  • 25-year warranty

If what you don’t flow, might hurt you.

Do I really need gutters? Doesn’t the water run off the shingles into the dirt anyways?

I am sure we have all pondered this before while cleaning the rotted clumps of leaves out of our gutters, at least once. This seems like a very reasonable question, especially when considering the extra cost of gutters and the seemingly unnecessary service they provide.

However, this time of the year may be one of the most critical to have a proper functioning gutter system due to the immense amount of melting ice and snow on your roof! Without proper control of the melt-off from your home, the water would be liable to surround your home in a blanket of ice. Although, many of your children may have recently watched Frozen and enjoy this idea, thick ice is backbreaking to get rid of, and even more dangerous to leave sitting.

Ice Gutters

We often underestimate the effect a slip on the ice can mean for us. Hundreds of people every year suffer injury, and re-aggravate prior injuries, simply by walking to their car in the morning. Much of the ice around your home in our Chicago winters in unavoidable, however, large amounts at corners or around downspouts and at the base of massive icicles may mean your gutter system is actually the culprit!

If the gutters are leaking, or overflowing due to lack of cleaning, improper pitch, or inadequate size for steepness of roof, you could be setting yourself up for a potential morning of ice skating! We here at Total Roofing do our best to inform our clients, and all homeowners that maintaining an effective roof system, especially the flow of water, ensures a longer life for your house and hopefully, a safer environment altogether!

Here’s a short video to those do-it-yourself minded people.

99 inches of snow and counting!

The midwest strikes again! Polar Vortex 2.0? What’s the snow mean for roofing?

Every person throughout the construction industry heard rumors regarding the upcoming winter of 2015! Everyone was prepared after the winter of 2014. People upgraded their snow plow systems, stock piled salt, purchased roof rakes, and seeked parking lot contracts. The chance of another polar vortex meant potential jobs. Preparation is often central to a weather haymaker, especially when the weather bible aka “the farmers almanac” predicts a repeat.

Well, the construction industry should be happy to a degree. Because the best economy booster is often Mother Nature. Especially in the roofing industry. Recent years, a brand new industry has evolved such as storm chasers. Individuals so well tuned with insurance fine print that even your “friendly neighbor” cringes. These serviceman are the first to knock after a catastrophic or even minor storms. Masters of door-to-door marketing and extremely competitive in the roofing marketplace. Often they are the first people you see after experiencing damage without picking up your phone. These companies vary in quality, some are great and others unethical, but which industry doesn’t follow suite? What’s this mean? Why don’t we consider snow to be as much as nusicance as hail?

We call our local contractor or the guys driving bright, logo trucks after the latest rain storm or hail. Why, don’t we do the same after a midwestern winter? 20 inches of snow sitting on your roof is damaging to all your products: roofing shingles, deck, underlayment, drywall, insulation, heating bill, and more. The thing about snow too is that it could sit on your roof for awhile, whereas a hail storm comes and goes. A week of water isolated on the top of everything you own is not smart potatoes. Many homeowners would mention “well we have lifetime shingles.” I agree you purchased a quality shingle and it could last 30 years. However, did you research whether the thickness of snow for a prolong period will affect the product? Shingle specs are built off isolated studies and years of “trial & error.” It’s difficult to state whether those studies were put together based off winters that brought forth 20 inces & more, year after year. Weather is key to exterior products existence. Without the harsh weather we could live in the elements and lack appropiate shelter. The snow created plenty of construction products: insulation, ice pelts, ice & water underlayment, synthetics, & metal products that protect to date.

Ultimately we constumer have changed our attitude towards a homes. Recently, our industry has noted weather damage is a good thing, because that’s business for many. However, a loss for a gain is not right. Roofing started as a way to cover one from shelter. Shelter means survival, which means why aren’t we more proactive with things that should eliminate stress inducers than make them the actual stress inducers. The purpose of this post is ultimately to let you know that you NEED TO BE PROACTIVE with your house after this blizzard. Make a checklist of things to fix, change, or improve around the house. Don’t call your insurance because you have issues that could’ve been avoided with proper care and preparation. Take responsibility of your home, unless it’s a house (they are different). Familariize yourself with upcoming products, building codes, and ways to make your house more valuable. The internet is the most powerful learning tool. Mayber you don’t know where to go? Check out our facebook because we often post tips and videos that you could DIY. Give your house love and it becomes a home.

If your car needs an oil change you get it, hair long you cut it, and if you want to play sports you get a physical. Proper prepartion is the key to coming out of the winter 2015 with a few stratches or entering it with a lot of surgeries. Sure, at Total Roofing and Construction we love open-roof surgery, but you shouldn’t. We are here to assist and solve problems not pray for them.

The main concern this winter is ice damming and proper removal. The video below showcases great products that will benefit your roofing system and gutters during the long winter. Take notes and take action. Hope this helps

http://wgntv.com/2015/02/06/mr-fix-it-with-tips-on-removing-ice-dams/#ooid=R1NjQ3czqh7yAqXa-u5fTyouaguzcShw

Time lapse of recent home project

We completed our first YouTube video! We’re excited to start offering visual footage of our workmanship and services. The video showcases a re-roof of a 1600 square foot home. Three professional installers handled all responsibilities of the project. New shingles, ODE, felt, ice & water, & flashing, starter strip, and decking were installed for this new roof. The project took course over 2 days due to the weather.

If you notice anything, please let us know! Question about installation method or product feel free to leave a comment!

Ladder Safety 101

The #1 construction accident is falling from ladders! How do you prevent these? You properly tie down the ladder, place it at an appropriate angle, and use the correct sized ladder. Following those three simple instruction’s will prevent those fall’s more times than none. We hope this video provides you a great perspective on how to correctly tie down a ladder and take precaution. Follow the instructor’s tips!

People die from 4 foot fall’s every year or become seriously injured.  We noticed people are more lackadaisical when it comes to 2 story building. Regardless of how many year’s you roofed or used a ladder take each time as it’s your first. Additionally if you don’t value your life there’s an organization called OSHA that certainly will. They’ll be making nice little call to your employer or you regarding your mishaps.

We’d also recommend having at least one hand on the ladder at all times along with your feet. Use the 3 touch step-ladder method. We understand you’ll have tool’s, the rope to the tie the ladder down, or whatever you’re bringing on your roof with you.

I have 99 problems, but a gutter isn’t one

Ice, tree limbs, snow, squirrels, bird’s, insect’s, and other debris all have one thing in common: gutter damage. The  accumulation of debris (unless you routinely clean your gutters) causes stress which pulls your gutters off the fascia board. Additionally a loose fascia board you may experience premature roof leaking, foundation problems, or even rotting fascia board. The information below may help you fix these problems rather than call a professional, who’ll recommend new ones.

Beautiful copper gutters. These are great features on houses, but cautious of thieves.

Beautiful copper gutters. These are great features on houses, but cautious of thieves.

We are not selling you gutters, but we’re selling you the industries way of quick-fix solutions.  This can save you money!

The first step to updating your current gutter system is thoroughly cleaning them! After cleaning them you’ll identify failing areas.

Items needed: Hammer, roof cement, correct galvanized nails (gutter systems vary), gloves, access to water, and patience.

1st. Clean your gutter’s

2nd. Real life scenario 

After properly setting up your ladder have another person hand you a hose or a bucket of water. You want to hose or empty a bucket of water in two directions: From the roof and directly into the gutter. The two directions provides you a overview of real-life water scenario’s. After identifying the issues you can begin solving the problems.

Ask these questions during step #2:

  • Is the water going away from the house into the gutter?
  • Are the gutter’s guiding the water to the downspout?
  • Is any leaking occurring?

Common problems and fixtures.

Loose Gutters

If the gutter’s hanging loose consider replacing nail heads with new galvanized 5 to 8 inch gutter screws (make you sure you do your research). Please avoid re-nailing the existing nails!  The prior nails already are underperforming. Over time nails lose their structural diameter from weather element’s and climate change. Additionally preemptive rust occurs regardless whether their galvanized.

Leaking Gutters

After re-anchoring the nails, grab a tube of roofing cement. This work’s well to plug holes and fill bad cuts throughout the gutter system. Holes instantly alter the directional flow of the present system. Gutters are only useful if they direct water away from your foundation, but a hole entirely disrupts the process.  You’ll notice these holes after you clean the system. Sometimes a gutter leak occurs where the pieces meet, so investigate all joints.

We hope these repair tips help you out! As any of our DIY tasks we recommend only adults do the quick-fix methods due to using a ladder and working with sharp metal.  If you have any question give us a call at 708-201-7550.