Roofing in the “New Economy” (How you can save $$$)

October 14, 2010

If you are like me and most of the rest of the country, lately you have been trying to save money.  I have been trying to bring down my loan balances and build up my cash reserves.  From what I read and experience through friends and customers, you are probably doing the same thing.  Having good credit doesn’t mean that you have to use it!

In my business (roofing if you didn’t know) we have been seeing people spending  money unwisely.  I just talked to a good customer yesterday who had to spend major dollars to replace deteriorated wood beams because roof leaks were not taken care of in a timely fashion.  Their tenant was just putting buckets under the roof leaks, probably for years.  That roof still needed to be replaced, but they could have saved the over $50k bill for a carpenter to do all of that structural wood work.  Roof leaks can and will deteriorate decking and structural members over time.  Once water gets into your insulation, it will no longer do its job the way that it should be done and dollars for heating or cooling will literally go through the roof.  And if water gets into your electrical system it can become a disaster very quickly.

If your roof starts to leak, DO Not ignore it.  If you have tenants, make sure that they know to report any roof leaks right away.  We notice that sometimes they wait until the end of the day, or end of the week  to call them in.  Maybe they won’t call them in at all for some reason or other, like the “only leaks when it rains”.  If you want someone to come out right away then you may have to spend extra to get them out in the evenings or on the weekend.

Of course we have also seen customers who get multiple proposals go with the person who is half of everyone elses quote and you know what happens then.   We generally end up having to fix the mess at more than it would have cost to do it right in the first place.

You can save money just by by being on top of things.  A roof maintenance plan is a good way to do this.    Knowing what is going on with your roof can sometimes prevent major outlays of cash in times like these when we all want to hold onto  as much of it as we can.


Residential Roofing Choices

April 22, 2010


There are many different types of roofing materials that you can find here in Lancaster County and Central Pennsylvania.  These roofing materials can be broken down into two separate areas, flat roofs and sloped roofs.


Single Ply roofs have really become the most popular choice for flat roofs due to their ease of installation and relatively low cost.  There are several types of single ply material and unfortunately they all go by alphabet names.

EPDM– The first and most popular single ply roof in Lancaster and York is EPDM, commonly known as rubber.  The rubber membrane is usually fully adhered to an insulation board which is mechanically fasted to your roof deck.  The membrane comes in various thicknesses (.045, .060, and .090).   I recommend the .060 membrane for most installations.  This comes in white or black, with black being less expensive and more widely used.

TPO– In the last ten years TPO membrane has begun to take some of the flat roof market share.  The TPO membrane is usually white although some manufacturers do have options.  The white membrane is highly reflective and if your roof is visible this is a very good choice.  The seams for these roofs are usually heat welded.

PVC– This material has made quite a comeback after a disastrous start a few decades ago.  One of its great strengths is the resistance to grease and chemicals.   The membrane is usually white and maintains its reflectivity and appearance very well.  These seams are usually heat welded as well.

In the past we used to install a lot of built-up roofing and modified roofing on flat roofs.  We still see a few of them each year.  These systems are asphalt based and have become unpopular in Central Pennsylvania due to the cost and the smoke and fumes often associated with their installation.


There are quite an assortment of choices for sloped roofs.  By far the most common choice is asphalt shingles.  Lately though, metal has really been making inroads into the roofing market in this area.   Here are a few of your choices for sloped roofs.

SHINGLES- There is a wide variety of choices in this category alone.  Shingles range from 25 year type to Lifetime and come in many colors and styles.

METAL- Once again there are a lot of things to choose from just in the metal category.  There are different kinds of metals copper, aluminum, or steel.  Alternate styles also exist, from traditional standing seam to metal shingles.

SLATE- This is one of my all time favorite roofing materials.   I like it for the aesthetics, durability and long life.   Slates come in a variety of sizes, colors and styles.   When installed properly it can outlast virtually any other roofing system.  We have installed many slate roofs in Lancaster and surrounding areas and they are all still in very good shape today.  Slate is often the top choice for universities, churches and upper scale homes.

There are a few other choices for sloped roofs like tile or cedar shingles.  We don’t see them too often in Lancaster County, but we do run into them more often down towards Philadelphia.

If you need help deciding which roofing material is right for you, feel free to ask me.  I love talking about roofing anytime.

Joe Heidler

Not Just a Slogan!

March 26, 2010

Today we have a guest post by Michael Zeise.   Michael is Commercial Account Executive for J. V. Heidler Co., Inc.

“The best roofers anywhere”, not just a slogan.

I have worked for J.V Heidler for a little over two years now and have had opportunities to visit some of our jobsites while our men were working on our customers’ roofs.

I have always been impressed with what I had seen. They have always seemed to be in control of the projects, and very organized. I have also spoken with many of our customers after we have completed projects and found they were very pleased with the professionalism of our men and the cleanliness of the jobsite after they had left. Also the quality of the job and excellent workmanship were always mentioned.

I am currently having my home roof replaced by our company and am witnessing first hand what I had heard about our crews. The first day when the materials were delivered it was very sunny and clear but very windy.  The first thing that they did was spent time to cover our bushes and garden areas.  I thought that this was very considerate of them.  As soon as the men started removing my old roof, it was clear that the wind would blow debris all over the neighborhood. A decision was made to postpone the project until the wind died down.

On behalf of my wife and my neighbors, I say good choice!

The next day was good weather and they got a lot done. During the tear-off process, as warned prior to start of job, some debris landed around the house. My wife had called me and asked me if they would be cleaning that up. I assured her that they would. By the end of the day, she called me back and told me that they had cleaned up everything and did a great job of it. It is raining today and nothing will be done. I look forward to Monday when work should resume and I know that my home is truly in the hands of the best roofers anywhere. Thanks guys!

Michael can be reached at

What does our facility look like?

March 17, 2010

For those of you who may wonder where we work, here are some quick snapshots of our Lancaster facility.


March 8, 2010

You may be wondering what to look for around the exterior of your home or building now that winter is coming to an end.   Here are a few suggestions that should be fairly easy to spot.

  • Damaged gutters and downspouts- The severe ice and snow in the Lancaster area this winter has left thousands of homes, churches and offices with damaged spouting.
  • Shingles or pieces of roofing material laying in the yard or obviously missing from the roof.  The strong winds that we had just before the heavy snows left many roofs with pieces missing.  This was then buried under feet of snow and is just now becoming visible.  Also you want to looks for cracks in the roof itself.

    Shingles in need of replacement

  • Damage caused by falling ice and snow.  I just looked at my bushes in my front garden this weekend and was amazed at the damage the heavy snow caused.  Lower roof levels may have also taken hits from falling ice sickles, possibly puncturing your roofing.
  • Settlement cracks- Are there any new cracks in the exterior walls that were not there previously?
  • Missing trim and edge pieces-  Look carefully at all of the edges and corners of your building.  Possibly pieces may have come off or come loose.
  • Water stains-  Do you have any new water stains (inside or along exterior walls)?
  • Snow Guards- IF you have snow guards on your roof, were they damaged due to the extremely heavy amounts of snow?  Possibly some are missing or bent over.

Please feel free to add any ideas you may think of that I may have missed.

What’s next?

March 5, 2010

What would you like to hear about?  Spring is on the horizon and I for one am really looking forward to it.  Let me know what you would like me to be writing about.  While you are at it, feel free to put a plug in for your own blog.  I like to read my readers blogs to get a better feel for them.  I also recently learned how to add them to my blog roll!

Our business is really starting to pick up, and I hope that yours is too!


February 17, 2010
  1. COLLAPSE Number one on my list is the possibility of a building collapse.  That darn snow can be heavy and I have been hearing a lot about buildings collapsing, walls being pushed over and people being injured.

    That is a lot of SNOW!

  2. GUTTERS I can’t tell you how many gutters I have seen torn from buildings just on my way from York into Lancaster to work.  They lay mangled next to the building or hanging off of the side.  I have also seen countless gutters that are damaged and will need to be replaced.

    Damaged Gutter

  3. ROOF LEAKS Your roof will always find the most inopportune time to leak.  It almost never leaks when it is 80 degrees and sunny outside.  Fixing a leak under 20 inches of snow can be next to impossible.  The temperature extremes during this type of weather can make your roof more prone to cracks from expansion and that water up there is just waiting for a place to enter!
  4. VENTS Extreme amounts of snow can cover vents, exhaust fans and roof top equipment.   This can create situations where equipment might not work properly or even  endanger the people inside the building from fumes that were meant to be exhausted.  Snow and ice needs to be cleared away from any of these sensitive areas.

    Buried Roof Top Equipment

  5. ICE DAMS These cause water to back up into the building and create tons of  interior damage.  For more information on Ice Dams check out my last blog post.
    Catastrophe modeler EQECAT Inc. estimates that the two winter storms that raked the mid-Atlantic region earlier this month caused more than $2 billion in insured losses.  EQECAT said the most common sources of monetary losses are a result of roof damage, pipe breakage, and ice dams in eaves causing water to leak into buildings.
  6. ICE SICKLES Threatening Ice Sickles can be a real hazard.   Just this week I heard of several businesses in the Lancaster area that were closed due to the threat of falling ice.  These things can be deadly, some of them are real monsters and must weigh hundreds of pounds.  Trust me, this is not a threat that you want to have hanging over your head.

    Dangerous ICE!

  7. OVERHANGING SNOW Sometimes you can hear a roar or a thunderous groan as tons of snow and ice fall from overhangs and higher roof levels.  Depending on where this falls it can be very damaging or even deadly.

    Don't fall on me!

    Snow Overhang


February 12, 2010

Right now in our area there are huge problems with ice forming on the eaves of buildings.  I just heard that some of our streets in Lancaster have had their sidewalks closed due to “killsickles”.  These ice monstrosities are formed when the roof warms up from the sun or from heat loss inside the living space.  Then water runs down and cools at the overhangs, or eaves.  The water freezes and forms an ice dam.  This backs up water that may be running down the roof, thus providing potential water leakage and damage to the interior of the building.

Ice at Gutter Edge

We recommend on new installations that an ice and water guard membrane be installed to prevent this backed up water from entering the structure.

It can be very dangerous to remove these hanging ice sickles.  They can be extremely heavy and falling from the height of a building can injure or even kill people below.   Some people use heat tapes to prevent the ice dams from forming.  IF it is possible to safely remove snow from the roof edge, be sure to remove it back about 3 feet.  This is very common in Northern areas of the country, but it is rarely an issue here in Lancaster and York.  There are special snow rakes that are used to clean snow from roofs in these Northern areas, but I have never seen one around here.

Overhanging snow danger

It is a good idea to prevent people from walking under these areas.  Use caution tape or warning flags to rope the area off.  Safety is our number one concern.  If in doubt, call an expert.  Please, whatever you do, be SAFE!


February 4, 2010

They are predicting a big snow for the Lancaster area this weekend.  During our last big snow and recent heavy snows in other areas of the country there have been a lot of building collapses.  All of the bread and milk that you get at the store will do you no good if your roof collapses!  IF we receive a significant snowfall, you may want to consider having some of the weight removed from your roof.  This is especially true for flat roofs, as more snow is likely to stay on the flat areas.

To remove the snow you need to be careful not to scrape or puncture the roof itself.  This is obviously more of an issue with single ply membranes.  All of the snow does not have to be removed anyway.  Leaving an inch or two is a good idea.  Just make sure that the areas around the roof drains are clear.

Your roof can be a dangerous place in the best of weather.  Adding snow and ice to the picture can make it treacherous.  Calling a professional contractor is definitely the safest way to go.


January 13, 2010

Sometimes the best way to be “Green” and “Sustainable” is to make the things that you have last longer.  This way you are not filling up landfills with disposal, or wasting new resources with replacement and transportation.  It doesn’t always have to be about utilizing the best, newest, energy conscious systems.

This means that when it comes to the roof on your building, you do not have to wait until it gets replaced to be sustainable.  After the roof is on the building, the best way to make it last longer is through a good Preventive Maintenance Plan.

I could write at length on Preventive Maintenance for roofs, we have been doing it for many, many years, but I found that these articles from “Today’s Facility Manager” do an excellent job.

The Missing Link In Roof Considerations

Lessons in Roof Maintenance

A Roof Should Be An Asset, Not A Liability