Christmas Edition: A Guide To Chimneys

While modern furnaces have more or less rendered fireplaces redundant, a wood burning furnace or a really nice hearth still hold a great deal of aesthetic value. If you’re trying to make your home warmer or cozier, there are few things as beneficial as adding a fireplace. Furthermore, if you have young children who are expecting Santa Clause this Christmas, how can you expect the gift giving saint to deliver the goods without a chimney?

In this special Christmas edition of the Pro Roofers’ blog, we’re going to take a look at fireplace and chimney design, both classic and modern. Whether you want a slick, functional, gas fireplace with a prefab metal chimney, or a good old fashioned wood burning masonry fireplace with a brick chimney, we’ve got the info you need. As the premier professional roofing company in Toronto, we’ve constructed, demolished and repaired about any type of chimney you can imagine, so trust us – we know chimneys.   

Types of Fireplace and Chimney:

Masonry: If you want a real deal, classic fireplace, masonry is definitely the way to go – however, a proper brick fireplace requires a good deal of commitment. For one thing, it will take up quite a lot of space in your home and require regular cleaning and maintenance. These types of fireplaces are also incredibly heavy, so installing them can be a real pain. Once your fireplace is installed, however, heat will radiate out through the stone throughout the entire house, creating a good deal of warmth in those nasty winter months. Another benefit to a masonry fireplace is that it adds to the value of your property. If you ever decide to sell, a functional brick fireplace will be a huge perk. The brick chimneys can be somewhat difficult to maintain, especially if they were installed earlier in the 20th century. If you have any issues with a dilapidated chimney or need our roof repair services for any other reasons, call us immediately.  

Prefabricated: Prefab fireplaces are constructed from light metal, they take up less space than masonry fireplaces and are easier to integrate with custom home design. They are typically paired with metal prefab chimneys which are less visually pleasing than brick ones. Prefab fireplaces turn on at the press of a button, so if you like building a fire this is not a good option. If you’re looking for an easy, cheap, flexible option, however, a prefab fireplace is perfect.

Wood Burning Stove: Believe it or not, some cottage style homes in Toronto are still heated by wood burning stoves. With the increase in cost of power, it’s actually a fairly economical – if labour intensive – method of heating a house. Wood burning stoves can attach to either a masonry chimney, or a prefab. From an aesthetic perspective, they are extremely rustic and attractive.

Whether you heat your home with a traditional furnace or a cozy fireplace this Christmas, we hope you manage to keep the cold out. If you want to learn more about Professional Roofers and the services we offer, read these roofing FAQs and check back next month for more Pro Roofers blog posts. Merry Christmas!

Avoid A Roofing Catastrophe This Christmas

Christmas time is all about relaxing with your family in a warm house, drinking eggnog, building a fire and opening presents. Typically, it’s also about skiing, sledding and building a quinzee. Hopefully, if you performed autumn roof maintenance, your roof will be up to the task of keeping the snow and ice on the outside of your house. If on the other hand, you were so caught up in back-to-school season that your roof went uninspected, the wear and tear of winter storms could erode your roof and make for a chilly winter – if you find yourself in this situation, call Professional Roofers immediately.

The last thing you want when you’re trying to impress the in-laws is a nasty draft blowing through the house. If you don’t have great insulation and you haven’t had your roof serviced in awhile, this could be a real problem. Since guest bedrooms are often located in gabled dormers – which typically jut out on the front of a house – the draft could be especially bad in that room. If your in-laws end up with pneumonia, that’s seriously bad news.

Even if you’ve never even thought about your roof and landed on this page because you’re experiencing a last minute emergency, fret not, you’re in the right place! Our company is a longstanding independent business that provides quality service at a fair price point – check out these testimonials from past clients if you’re still not sure! The truth is, even if your roof is being ravaged by winter storms, unless it’s more than twenty years old, there’s a good chance it just needs a bit of tender love and care. So if you’ve got snow in your attic and wind blowing through your bedroom, don’t freak out, just pick up the phone and give us a call.

Once you’ve had your roof properly inspected and patched, the best possible thing you can do is install insulation. Not only does this help keep out the cold, it also helps keep out the heat and – most importantly – the moisture in the summertime. Between keeping a fire going in the living room and installing proper insulation, you can save plenty of cash on your heating and cooling bills in the more extreme months.

If you’re building a new house or it’s come to the point where you need to replace your old roof, give us a call today and consult with our experts on what materials to use. Asphalt shingles were invented over a hundred years ago, and while they are still the most popular material for constructing a roof, they are not necessarily the best. At Pro Roofers, we specialize in flat roofs, which facilitate more space in your home and are crafted from weatherproof membranes that last a long, long time and are easy to maintain. Roll roofing is also a strategy – one that we’ve covered in depth on the blog – that can give your flat roof an extra layer of strength and protection. Additionally, metal roofs are great for deterring precipitation and are also excellent for durability.

Whatever your concerns this Christmas season, whether it’s overdue maintenance or a last minute emergency, we’ve got your back. Call Professional Roofers today to find out more.

Mouse Proof You Roof With Vent Guards!

The winter is upon us, and you’re not the only one who is settling in for a long, cold, cozy season. Mice are busy through the late summer and fall gathering food to store in whatever structure they can find to protect them from the elements – and this structure may well end up being your house! Mice are tiny little creatures that can fit through many little holes that offer entry point to your home: weep vents; gaps between building materials; window frames and doors; HVAC and utility lines, and of course, roofing vents.

If mice get into your home through a lower entry point, chances are that you’ll see them scurrying around your kitchen or living room. In this case, you’ll probably invest in some mouse traps or humane contraptions that keep the critters alive but allow you to get rid of them. If you live in a shared student house, you may end up keeping them around as pets to save money, but we wouldn’t advise this course of action – mice are dirty and can quickly deteriorate many aspects of your home!

While there are different methods to deal with the lower entry points, at Professional Roofers we’re mostly concerned with mouse proofing your roofing vents, where mice will often get into your attic and make a home for themselves. The problem with having mice in your attic is that you may not know they’re there until they’ve been there for months. Mouse patter is extremely quiet (hence the saying: quiet as a mouse), so you won’t hear them, and since you may not spend a ton of time in your storage attic, you may not notice the droppings and chewed up wires for a long time.

Our expert roof repair services cover a broad spectrum of work, and our talented staff is always ready to install a vent cover when they come around. In general, roof ventilation is extremely important: it prevents ice dams from forming in the wintertime (a topic that we discussed in a separate post this month), as well as mold from growing in the muggy summer months. If you have ridge vents or attic vents installed this winter, it’s no trouble to add on some vent covers while you’re at it.

The longer you wait, the better chance there is that debris and perhaps the materials for a bird’s nest may build up in your vents, or even the ventilation holes in your eaves. By installing vent covers and nailing in hardware cloth early, you nip the problem in the bud. Once you have mice hiding out in the attic, its like guerrilla warfare; keeping them out to begin with is easier. Furthermore, once you have mice, other, larger animals that feed on mice may smell their nest and try and muscle their way in to feast on the little rodents – it’s a slippery slope!

Our flat roof repair experts will happily install state of the art vents in your weatherproof membrane and help you feel a sense of security by installing quality guards designed to protect your home against the rodent invasion. Don’t let your attic become a habitat for rodents, keep it clean and well ventilated with the help of Pro Roofers!

Roofing Style Guide: Spotlight On The Annex

Last month on the Pro Roofers blog, we looked at roofs and general style on the east end of the city of Toronto, where we are based. We looked not only at roofs, but at design in general, as well as the overall mood of the neighbourhoods that make up the east. Today, we’re going to talk about another one of our favourite neighbourhoods: The Annex. Many consider The Annex to be the heart of Toronto, and it’s hard to argue otherwise. First of all, it’s central location surrounding Bloor and Bathurst makes it a solid candidate. Secondly, its funky vibe, overall friendliness and a large quantity of trees and Victorian gables on the houses all give it a specific Toronto energy that cannot be emulated.

As we have been your expert roofing company in the GTA for many years, we’ve worked in pretty much every neighbourhood you can imagine. It constantly amazes us that there are little unexplored nooks of the city that we always end up in. However, neighbourhoods like the Annex are old friends that we have become intimately familiar with.

One thing we’ve noticed about roofs in the Annex over the years is that they are often highly stylized and super colourful. One trick that we’ve noticed is that homeowners will often paint the bargeboard, soffit and fascia a vibrant colour like purple or orange to give their house a cool high-light. While we are primarily concerned with the functionality and lifespan of a roof, we also appreciate how a roof looks from an aesthetic point of view, and we think that painting the bargeboard an interesting colour is always a great way to add character to your home’s exterior.

Another characteristic look that is prevalent in The Annex is the bay and gable design that is also popular in the Cabbagetown neighbourhood. Often you will see houses that have been sectioned off in semi-detached units over the years, but have maintained a consistency of style throughout these changes. It’s nice to see the beauty of these structures keeping their consistency as the neighbourhood experiences change.

As with pretty much every neighbourhood in Toronto, you will also see a fair share of flat roofs. Flat roofs are practical and facilitate extra space in the home, so with many modern structures this is the clear design choice. Weatherproof membrane also typically lasts longer than asphalt shingles, so there are other reasons why flat roofs are slowly starting to edge out more traditional pitched roofs. At Pro Roofers, we specialize in flat roof repairs – whether or not you live in The Annex, if you need help fixing your roof in Toronto, give us a call.

Finally, we’ve noticed that The Annex is home to couple of houses with Spanish Colonial style roofing tiles. This is not often a style that we see in Canada, and it provides and interesting accent in a neighbourhood that is already very diverse in terms of design and architectural style. If you haven’t visited The Annex in a while, consider taking a walk next weekend, and if you need maintenance performed on your roof, contact us today to speak with one of our representatives.

Do Heating Cables Really Prevent Ice Dams?

Once again, winter is upon us and we are faced with another season of snow build-up and potential ice-dams. Hopefully you’ve performed fall maintenance and your roof is up to the task of protecting your home, however, unless you have functional ridge vents and soffit vents to prevent the snow from melting and trickling down to freeze on cold spots, you may need a quick fix like heating cables to prevent these dams from forming. If you don’t have ventilation or heating cables, you may experience a leak and significant damage to your roof that will not become apparent until the spring. If serious ice dams form on your home, it would be prudent to contact roofers you can trust to remedy the situation, otherwise you could be looking at a significant problem down the line.

Ice dams form like this: once a thick slab of snow is covering your roof, some of it may melt from the warmth of the house. The liquid from the melted snow trickles down, but it doesn’t flow right off the roof, instead it will typically refreeze when it hits a cold spot; most likely the metal gutter. This dam can create a significant block of frozen matter – an elemental force to be reckoned with.

Most people think that having snow on their roof is bad, and would want it to melt off and drain away, but actually the whole process is counter-intuitive. You want cold air to circulate and make sure that the snow on your roof is evenly distributed. Unless there is an incredible amount of snow on your roof, the snow itself will not cause any problems. It’s only once the snow melts and becomes unevenly dispersed – freezing in blocks as it rolls off your house – that you’re in trouble.

If you happen to have a flat roof, ice dams can still form, since your roof has a subtle slant designed to drain off rain water. We can fix your flat roof issues if an excessive amount of ice is collecting, either by removing the ice, or by installing heating cables or increasing ventilation.

If you go the route of heating cables, you need to be extremely meticulous when installing them. Remember: heat causes ice dams in the first place, so if you are using heat to solve the problem you need to guide the melting water over the drip edge of the roof, rather than allowing it to get trapped at the gutter. Some roofers even advise against using heating cables, since there is such a high chance that they will backfire and make the problem worse.

Hiring one of our experts to install the heating cables may be your best bet, if you pay attention and take our advice, then next time around you might be able to install them yourself. We take care of your roof problems so you don’t have to, but we’re also happy to share our methods so that you can be more involved with the maintenance of your own roof. Furthermore, if it gets to a point where dams have built up and heating cables won’t do you any good, we have ways of manually removing the ice so that your roof won’t suffer further damage.

Winter Is Coming: Preparing Your Roof For Inclement Weather

Here in our fair city of Toronto, it is often said that autumn is the most beautiful season; the season in which the GTA really comes into its own. The weather is still pleasant, the trees turn that golden mixture of yellow and orange and bicycling around the city is a joy (just look out for those dreaded wet leaves). Working as full-time roofers in Toronto and the GTA, we really appreciate working outdoors at this time of year. While we’ve talked a lot about summer maintenance here on the blog, it’s time to shift our attention to another important matter: preparing your roof for the onslaught of winter.

The main thing to think about here is the fact that your roof will be largely inaccessible (or at least, increasingly inaccessible) during the winter months. As we’ve stressed here on the blog before: we discourage you from going up on your roof during the winter months to clear snow or patch fractures; the snow disperses itself evenly across the roof and poses no threat. If you have a serious problem with your roof, do the smart thing and enlist our professional roof repair services in Toronto – the last thing you want is a broken arm from slipping off your roof.

An important thing to keep an eye on throughout the fall season is the buildup of leaves in your gutters that could potentially block your spouts and allow water to cause damage to your shingles, soffit and fascia. If you happen to have a flat roof and you’re confident in your ability to navigate it, you can clear leaves out of those gutters and sweep away debris. Obviously it’s a pain to constantly do this: we suggest gutter screens and guards as a protective measure to allow your spouts and gutters to function properly. If there is a more serious problem, call us to perform flat roof repairs and perhaps even install a treatment that can prevent moss and mildew from eroding your shingles and causing leaks.    

Next on our checklist is the extremely important matter of insulation. Wood fiber is an extremely common basic option composed of wood mixed with binding fibers and potentially impregnated with asphalt. There is an option to have this material treated to resist moisture, which is great for preventing mold. Polystyrene, cellular glass and gypsum board are other options that you can look at to figure out what will work best for your home. You certainly want to make sure that your home is retaining as much heat as possible, but also keep in mind the importance of ventilation – standing air can create a sour acrid smell (that terrible smell you sometimes get in basements and attics) due to wood rot and mold. Again, the purpose of this post is to prepare you for winter, so you may want to take these matters into account before you batten down the hatches.

To recap: clearing debris off of your roof and making sure the gutters and downspouts are functioning properly is paramount to good roof maintenance – especially in our moist, cool climate. Insulation is another issue that is important, but some people forget about insulation because it is hidden from sight. If you are unsure about your roof this autumn, call us up and we’ll be happy to come perform an inspection! 

A Roof Enthusiast’s Guide To The East End Of Toronto

While we love to work all over the city of Toronto, there are certain neighbourhoods that have a certain magic to them, a certain je ne sais quoi. While we’ve operated for many years in Toronto’s bustling and fast-growing west end, we’ve noticed something the past couple of years: as the west end of the city begins to reach a saturation point, the east end real estate market has caught fire. With a large number of housing contractors doing extensive renovations and straight-up gutting houses in order to modernize them, there’s been a lot of action in the east. As Toronto roofing experts with a solid reputation, we’ve been called in on so many jobs out towards the Beaches, it seems like we go there almost every day!

A lot of these jobs are flat-roof installations on brand new structures, and we always relish the opportunity to install weather-proof flat roof membranes at just the right angle to facilitate a run-off of precipitation like water off a duck’s back. At the same time, with many young families moving into these houses, we’ve also found ourselves out that way performing standard roof maintenance, roof-repairs and even the odd emergency roof repair (especially with all of the storms we experienced this past summer). We don’t mean to play favourites though – if you need help to repair your flat roof anywhere in Toronto, don’t hesitate to give us a call, night or day.

Visiting the east has given us a chance to really appreciate all the different types of houses that intermingle out that way, from modern flat roof houses, to classic old A-frames with weathered asphalt shingles and bay and gable houses reminiscent of Victorian design.

Here’s a breakdown of some of the neighbourhoods out east and what we love about them:

Leslieville

This Strip of Queen East just east of Riverside has been on the up and up for many years now. It’s home to a lot of incredible restaurants and shops and the residential streets seem to have maintained a fairly classic Toronto vibe. Many of the houses in Leslieville have been renovated or restored, but you rarely see a tear down that’s been completely rebuilt. Up towards the Danforth, we see big fancy modern houses that have been erected more recently, which are nice as well – but we have a soft spot in our hearts for the quaint historical houses in Leslieville.

Coxwell & Greenwood

Lots of funky houses populate this stretch that doesn’t have a proper name. If you ever get a chance to walk up Craven road – home to the Craven Road fence – you’ll see a range of modern, Victorian, cottage, coach houses – even one beautiful bungalow with a decidedly Japanese flavour. We appreciate this neighbourhood for its unmatched eclecticism!

The Beaches

A neighbourhood that feels more like its own small town, this lush, upscale neighbourhood with plenty of green space is home to some of the biggest, oldest houses in Toronto, as well as some pretty spiffy townhouses that line the lakeshore down Northern Dancer Boulevard and across the beachfront. Always a joy to visit the beaches.

We hope this post has inspired you to explore the architecture of some of Toronto’s gorgeous east end neighbourhoods. If you need to hire a roof expert in Toronto, we’re at your beck and call, additionally, we can always point you towards a nice neighbourhood to take a stroll in!

Value Added Roofing: Why Repair Is Better Than Replacement

As a family company that offers roof repair services in Toronto, we are driven to save our customers money and deliver the best possible maintenance and repair service at the most affordable price. Why? Because we ourselves know what it means to raise a family in Toronto, where the expenses can pile up from month to month. An expense like having your roof replaced could seriously set you back and cause you to slip into debt; if you’re saving up money to send your kids to university, it’s going to mess with that college fund as well.

The truth is, at some point you’re going to have to get your roof replaced. But with all of the great developments that are happening in the roofing world – weatherproof reflective coating and leak-proof flat-roof membranes, for example – you should be able to squeeze thirty to forty years of life out of your roof.

There are a lot of jokers and hucksters out there who will tell you that you can only get twenty years out of your roof, but if this is the case, then whoever installed your roof did an abysmal job and must have used low-grade materials. As one of the best roofing companies in Toronto and the GTA, we are extremely competitive and upfront when performing an assessment; we believe in providing a value-added service and gaining the trust of our client base, rather than going for the quick cash grab.

If we personally installed your roof, then we will stand by our quality craftsmanship and provide advice and maintenance whenever you need it. We will personally make sure that you get the most out of a roof that was built with quality materials and great care. Value-added means that although you will need to invest a bit of money in your roof for it to perform in an optimal manner each year, you will save money in the long run because it will last a very long time. When winter starts to hit, you will want to ensure that you flashing is solid and that none of your shingles need replacing (if, in fact, you have a shingled roof). If you’re familiar with the concepts of amortization and depreciation, then you will understand why it is better to spread out the cost of maintaining a roof over several years, rather than breaking the bank the materials for a brand new roof, along with the installation cost.

As we stressed in a separate post this month, if you need your roof partially re-shingled, it is extremely wise to get it done before the cold hits. We emphasize this not only because we are averse to frost-bite, but also because shingles get brittle in the cold – for all our care and know-how, a shingle may crack during installation if it’s cold and this will lead to trouble down the line. The last thing you want when you get brand new shingles installed is for them to be compromised immediately. If you have a flat roof, then there is a whole separate checklist that includes a basic roof inspection to make sure the membranes can weather the winter, and we can help with this as well.

Don’t wait until next spring to perform roof maintenance, give us a call and provide yourself with the peace of mind to know your home is well protected through the winter.

Of Summer Storms And Broken Roofs

This summer has, unfortunately, been crazy for rain and thunderstorms in the fair city of Toronto, where Professional Roofers operates. For our family based roof repair services business of modest proportions, it has been an extremely busy time. Between leaks from the rain and the damage from falling trees, we have had a lot of roofs to work on.

Toronto’s slogan is “a city within a park”, which rings true considering how many trees there are lining our streets, valleys, hills and parks. The rainfall has been so intense this year that the bloom is incredible, with lots of dense foliage, bright, beautiful flowers and big, healthy trees. For farmers in the outskirts of Toronto, this has surely been a boon compared to the hot dry spell of last summer.

The downside of all this (in addition to rain spoiling summer weekends) is that the rainstorms have also brought thunder and lightning, which are a hazard for old trees that can fall on electric wires and even worse: your roof!

For this reason, it is prudent to hire arborists certified by the ISA (International Society of Arboriculture) to prune your trees every few years. This eliminates dead unhealthy branches, which can attract borers and other aggressive species, tax the tree’s energy and – worst of all for you – fall on your house and seriously mess up your roof.

If you didn’t manage to take this precaution, or if you were the victim of a freak accident, we forgive you – sometimes its difficult to predict these things. If you’ve had the branch safely removed and need someone to come over, assess the damage and figure out a plan of attack for getting it fixed quickly, then we’ll be there in a jiffy to help you out. Even if a tree branch that’s not that big falls down on your roof, there’s a decent chance that it will take a few shingles with it, exposing the whole roof to potential water damage. Always better to have Toronto roofing experts come for a consultation if an event of this nature should occur. This leads us to our next subject: water damage and leaks.

With summer drawing to close, the last thing you want is your roof getting all messed up. As we’ve remarked before on this very blog, summer lends itself extremely well to roof maintenance, but once you get into winter with the snow and ice buildup, things can start to get a bit trickier. Especially if there is a thick layer of snow on top of your roof, the last thing you want is a compromised roof that is tough to access.

If a branch takes off some shingles, or if the asphalt shingles have degraded from years of wear and tear, you may start to see signs of leakage. If the weather-proof membrane on your flat roof was installed improperly and you’re starting to see signs of leakage and you need to fix a flat roof in Toronto or the GTA, we are certainly trained to fix that as well.  

To re-iterate: it’s been a wet and stormy summer that has not been easy on roofs, so take this chance to have your roof inspected before we move into mold and then snow season – you’ll save yourself money in the long run.

Of Mildew, Mold & Moss: A Guide To Invasive Roof Flora

As we mentioned on a separate blog post this month, it’s been an incredibly wet and stormy summer here in Toronto, Ontario. This has caused roofs to be threatened not only by falling trees and water, but also by a subtler agent: invasive flora that can grow on your roof, devaluing your property by decreasing the overall aesthetic presentation as well as actually undermining the structural stability of your roof.

If you have to have a flat roof with metal flashing and state of the art weatherproof membranes, this may be less of a problem. For one thing, mildew and mold are repelled by copper and zinc on galvanized sheet metal. When it rains, trace amounts of of copper and zinc are rinsed down the roof, defeating the advance of mildew.

As we also stated in a separate post this month, if you have a flat roof it is incredibly advantageous to apply a reflective, weatherproof layer of roof coating to it. In preparation for the application, you must wash the roof in any case, and once the coating is applied, it is much more difficult for mold to grow, since moisture that accrues cannot penetrate the coating. Of all the roofing companies in Toronto and the GTA, we have the most experience with this, so if you’re thinking of applying reflective coating, contact us.

If you live in Toronto, there’s a pretty good chance that you live in an older house with a pitched roof and asphalt shingles. These types of roofs are much more susceptible to the growth of mold and mildew – it’s simply the downside of living in a gorgeous, historical house. While some types of algae and moss are relatively harmless (some might even say they add a quaint je ne sais quoi to a house), it’s always best to clean them off if you have the opportunity. Asphalt shingles typically have a life span of about 20-30 years in the harsh Canadian climate, and when you need help repairing your roof shingles, or even replacing your roof altogether, mold growth is going to make the job slightly more complicated.

Aside from this strictly “decorative” type of algae, there is certainly flora that can do serious damage to the integrity of your roof as well, opening it up to leaks and other such disasters. Some types of algae will grow in your gutters and downspouts, since they like a damp environment. Algae proliferates through airborne spores, so if there’s moisture on your roof and the wind is blowing, there’s not much you can do to stop it. Metal flashing is a great preventative method, but failing that you may need to remove it yourself, or contact us to come apply a liquid cleaner to kill the mold.

It is extremely important to act quickly, because once the mold eats through the shingles, you’re dealing with more and more problems. First of all, you’ll need to replace the compromised shingles. Secondly, the spores can now spread to the inside of your home, creating unsightly patches in the attic and compromising the air quality and your health. If you have young children, the last thing you want is gross moldy air drifting through the house, since it can be a drain on the immune system. If you have serious mold issues, contact us today to speak to the most experienced roofers in Toronto.