Manufacturer may fix damaged roof shingles

Inspector's Eye

May 26, 2002|By Dean Uhler

If you have noticed splits, tears or cracks in the asphalt shingle roof on your house, you probably know the roof is at or near the end of its reliable life. But it may not be just an old roof - it may be failing before its time, and it may be eligible for repair or replacement by the manufacturer.

An asphalt shingle roof I inspected recently on a 14-year-old home in Glen Arm had a number of split shingles at scattered locations. Most of the splits ran from top to bottom on the exposed portion of the shingles. These were fiberglass shingles, with a laminated pattern - an upgrade over standard three-tab shingles.

The issue for my client, the homebuyer, was how to proceed in light of the defect in the roof. Although the roof had no evidence of leakage at that time, concealed leakage could not be ruled out, especially a slight leak. Also, the splits are likely to become more severe and, possibly, more numerous as the roof ages.

The defect was a type that I've seen many times in past years, and which may be eligible for repair by the manufacturer. To protect the homebuyer from foreseeable roof problems, and to pursue the possibility of repair by the manufacturer, it was recommended that the homebuyer ask to have an experienced roofer take a look at the roof to evaluate the defect, determine the manufacturer of the shingles and give advice on what action to take.

Certain brands of asphalt shingles manufactured in the past 30 years were prone to premature failure, often by cracking, splitting or tearing. This, of course, resulted in lawsuits against manufacturers. At least one manufacturer of asphalt shingles, GAF Materials Corp., committed to repair or replace affected roofs.

GAF is a major producer of roofing products. The company agreed in 1999 to replace certain lines of its shingles if the shingles fail during the warranty period.

To make a claim under that settlement, a roof does not have to be actively leaking; it merely needs to be damaged. For fiberglass shingles, damage is defined as cracking, tearing or splitting of the fiberglass mat. In my experience, that would mean that there are cracks, tears or splits through the full thickness of the shingle.

A significant feature of that settlement is that compensation is made for both labor and materials, whereas manufacturers' warranties normally cover only materials. But, as with warranty claims, the compensation is pro-rated - reduced in proportion to the time elapsed in the warranty period. For fiberglass shingles covered by the settlement, warranties ranged from 20 to 40 years.

Finally, you don't have to be the original owner of the roof to make a claim. However, subsequent owners have less time in which to make a claim - seven years - and receive a smaller compensation. After the roof is 2 years old, the amount that a "subsequent owner" can receive decreases by 15 percent per year, and drops to zero after the seventh year.

Because of the decreased compensation for subsequent owners, a defect discovered during the sale of a home should be investigated to determine whether the shingles are covered by the settlement, and whether the homeowner is their original owner.

If the original owner can contract for repair of the roof and make the claim before transferring title, everyone benefits. Under the terms of the GAF settlement, claims made by homeowners in the process of selling their house receive priority in the claims process.

Baltimore Sun Articles
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.