Keeping the Rain Off Maintaining the Roof Over Your Head

 After the four walls of a given structure, the roof is sometimes referred to as  the “fifth plane”—and just like the walls that hold it up, the roof is an all-important structure  that can make or break a building’s performance. New Jersey’s changeable climate, which as we all know ranges from sweltering humid summer  heat to bone-chilling cold in the winter months, often exacerbates trouble  spots. If not properly maintained, even a minor roof problem can lead to costly  repairs. Any New Jersey resident who experienced Superstorm Sandy can tell you,  their roofs can be faced with unprecedented weather conditions.  

 The majority of residential roofs in New Jersey are either “flat” roofs or pitched roofs. “You're talking asphalt shingle in the 80 percent range, if not more. A lot of  contractors are using asphalt now, because they're so reliable,” says Barry Scymanski, general manager of Alpine Roofing in Sparta.  

 Historic areas can cause restrictions on what roof contractors have to build,  for the sake of a block or neighborhood's architectural continuity. “Sometimes you get a condo being built, sometimes they're being built in a  historical district, you're not going to see the asphalt shingle as much.  You're going to go to a historical product like slate, or metal,” says Scymanski.  

 Common Problems

 There can be a lot of variation in life span and performance of flat roofs,  depending on the quality of the original construction. Same goes for repairs. “When searching for a roofing company, it is really an apples-to-apples  comparison,” says Dennis Cohen, vice president of National Roofing Corporation in Long  Island City. Cohen’s company does work in Englewood. “Boards and managers have to do their homework and call references.”  

 Industry experts agree that the majority of problems with flat roofs usually  occur around the drains, pitch boxes, flashing and electrical piping. “Anything that can penetrate the membrane of the roof has to be watched and  inspected,” says Cohen.  

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