Claims can be made over faulty shingles

Inspector's Eye

July 21, 2002|By Dean Uhler

In response to a previous column about warranties for asphalt roofing shingle and class action lawsuit settlements, particularly one involving GAF Roofing Materials Corp., a number of homeowners have written asking how they can find out whether they are eligible to make claims.

GAF, the nation's largest manufacturer of shingles, was accused in the late 1990s of manufacturing, distributing and falsely advertising defective roofing shingles to builders and property owners. The plaintiffs alleged that the shingles prematurely cracked and otherwise deteriorated when exposed to moisture, humidity and other normal climatic conditions. The settlement was reached in September 1998.

Listed below are steps to follow if you think you might have a claim.

Some or all of these determinations require specialized knowledge that will be outside the knowledge of most homeowners. In addition, getting a close look at the shingles on the roof to gather information that is necessary might be too dangerous to attempt. Roofing companies, roof consultants and home inspectors can be hired to gather this information for you. Expect to pay for the work on an hourly basis.

First, determine the age of your roof. If the roof is more than 20 years old, the shingles will be beyond coverage unless they are upgrades. Most standard three-tab shingles will not have extended warranties, and advanced deterioration would be considered normal when they reach 15 to 20 years old.

Determine whether there is a relevant problem with your shingles. Here are some of the signs:

Missing (torn off) shingles

Cracked, torn or split shingles

Cupping and curling shingles

Streaking (discoloration) of the roof from algae infestation

Next, look for details of improper installation that might disqualify the roof from coverage. If such defects exist and the roof is within the installation warranty period from the roofer who installed it (typically one to five years), you might have a claim with the installer. Such defects include:

Improper fastener (nail or staple) pattern

Overdriven, underdriven or crooked fasteners

Nail pops

Excessive layers of roofing (more than two is generally excessive).

Roofs with inadequate attic ventilation

Missing underlayment (e.g., asphalt felt) under the shingles

Next, determine what company manufactured the shingles.

This is easy if you have documentation provided when the roof was installed. If you cannot determine what company manufactured the shingles, you will have to hire a roofer, roof consultant or home inspector to look at the roof. Identifying the manufacturer is a specialized task, so be sure to ask whether this can be done before scheduling the inspection.

Finally, determine whether the shingles are within the warranty coverage period or are covered by the terms of a class action lawsuit settlement. The applicable warranty can be obtained by contacting the manufacturer.

Information on class action settlements can be obtained by going to www.gaf.com/settlement or by calling 800-414-4370.

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