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    How to Prevent Fire Damage to Your Roof


    Your roof is highly susceptible to fire damage. That’s because winds carrying embers can reach it well before wildfires do. To reduce the risk of fire damage to your roof, you should install fire-rated roofing shingles. 

    In general, there are four fire rating classifications: Class A, B, C and unrated. 

    • Class A – Contractors usually recommend homeowners living in wildfire-prone areas install Class A roofing shingles, which have the highest fire resistance.  
    • Class B – Class B roofing shingles can withstand moderate fires with a maximum flame spread of eight feet. 
    • Class C –  Class C roofing shingles provide the bare minimum protection against fire damage.
    • Unrated – You should avoid unrated asphalt shingles that were unable to meet even the minimum requirements for the lowest fire rating. 

    What Are the Most Widely Used Fire-Resistant Roofing Materials? 

    • Asphalt shingles – Asphalt shingles are one of the most popular roofing materials in the country. Shingles with a Class A rating  should be able to withstand fire exposure for roughly two hours. 
    • Metal roofing panels – If you’re looking for a lightweight roof with excellent durability and fire resistance, metal roofing panels are a great choice. 
    • Slate – Slate is naturally fire-resistant and can last 75 to 200 years. However, slate is very heavy, which means your roof’s structure needs to be reinforced before your slate roof is installed. 
    • Concrete and clay tiles – Roof tiles are either made from concrete or clay. Both have a fire resistance rating of Class A. Thanks to their affordability, concrete tiles are more popular than clay tiles. However, clay tiles are arguably worth the extra cost. That’s because they have an average lifespan of 100 years, which is twice as long as the lifespan of concrete riles. 

    To learn more about your roofing options, consult a local roofing company. Since the pros are more familiar with the local climate and building codes, they can make better recommendations. 

    Why Install Fire-Resistant Underlayment? 

    To increase your roofing system’s fire rating, you can install fire-resistant underlayment. In particular, we recommend installing the VersaShield® fire-resistant roof deck protection from GAF, which can improve the fire classification of almost any type of roof. 

    The VersaShield fire-resistant roof deck protection is also a key component of the GAF Lifetime Roofing System. By purchasing a GAF Lifetime Shingle with at least three qualifying GAF accessories and having a GAF-certified contractor install them, you’ll get a lifetime limited warranty on the shingles and accessories. 

    What Are the Other Ways to Reduce the Risk of Fire Damage to Your Roof? 

    In addition to installing fire-resistant roofing shingles, here are some of the ways you can reduce the risk of fire damage: 

    Have the electrical wiring in your home inspected. If your home has been around for a while, we recommend having its electrical wiring inspected. That’s because faulty or deteriorating electrical wiring is a significant safety issue for old homes. 

    Clean your chimney. Creosote is a highly flammable, dark brown substance that builds up in chimneys over time. If it isn’t removed, it may start a fire. 

    Clean your gutters at least twice a year. Leaves and debris that accumulated in your gutters not only increase the risk of roof leaks (by preventing water from flowing to the drains and causing it to overflow), but also the risk of fire damage. If embers make contact with leaves and combustible debris in your gutters, they may ignite and start a small fire. 

    As a general rule, your gutters should be cleaned and inspected at least twice a year. However, if your home is located near foliage, you may need to clean your gutters more frequently. 

    Here’s a tip: if you want to reduce your gutter’s maintenance needs, you can install gutter guards, which prevent leaves and debris from entering and clogging your gutters. Alternatively, you can install seamless gutters. They have fewer gutter joints, which means they have lower maintenance needs (you don’t have to worry about leaves getting stuck in between joints) and less leak-prone (gutter joints are a weak point of your gutter system). 

    Remove leaves and combustible debris from your roof. The same goes for your roof: you should remove leaves and other debris on its surface. 

    Maintain a buffer zone around your home. According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), there should be a buffer zone of at least 30 feet between your home and the surrounding trees and vegetation. This buffer zone can help slow down the spread of flames in the event there’s a fire in your area. 

    Trim overhanging tree limbs near your roof. This not only reduces the amount of combustible foliage near your area, but it keeps your roof from getting damaged. (Overhanging tree branches can scratch the protective coating on metal roofs. Not to mention falling tree branches can cause cracks.) 

    Schedule routine roof inspections. Installing Class A shingles can lower the risk of fire damage, but if gaps open up on your roof due to thermal expansion (the expansion and contraction of roofing materials as a result of abrupt changes in temperature), there’s a chance windblown embers can enter your home. That’s why it’s important to have your roof inspected by a roof repair contractor at least twice a year. Through routine inspections and maintenance, your contractor can fix roofing issues before they affect other parts of your home. 

    Why You Should Always Vet a Roofer Before Hiring One 

    Keep in mind that it’s easy to miss warning signs of roof damage. To make sure your roof repair contractors are qualified for the job, always vet them before hiring them. 

    How can you tell if a contractor is qualified? 

    • Ask how long they’ve been in business – The number of years a contractor has been working in the industry should give you a good idea of their level of expertise. 
    • Ask what kinds of projects they’ve handled – If you need commercial roofing services contractors, ask them about the kinds of projects they’ve handled. Certain types of roofing projects require a higher level of expertise, which is why you need to make sure your roofer has had experience working on specialized roofing projects. 
    • Check their online reviews – Online reviews should give you a good idea of the level of service you can expect from a roofer. Keep in mind that a few negative reviews aren’t necessarily a red flag. After all, miscommunication happens sometimes. 

    If you come across a few negative reviews, focus on the roofer’s response to online complaints. Did the pros take the time to post a response? And if so, was the response done in a professional manner? 

    • Check their certifications – Certifications are proof a contractor has undergone vetting and additional training. 

    Why Hire a Master Elite® Contractor?  

    GAF offers the Master Elite® certification to contractors  to contractors who are properly licensed and adequately insured, have a solid reputation within their local community and are committed to continuing professional training. A Master Elite certification is essentially a vote of confidence from the manufacturer that a roofer won’t compromise on the quality of their workmanship. As such, if you hired a Master Elite contractor, you can rest easy knowing your roof will be installed correctly. 

    Orion Home Improvements LLC, a GAF Master Elite roofing contractor, offers professional residential and commercial roofing services. To request an estimate, call us at (571) 354-0331, or fill out this form

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