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Roofing Question

When should I replace my gutters and skylights?

I am replacing my cedar shake shingle roof to a Camelot GAF roof. The gutters and skylight windows are 23 years old, and I'm wondering if it would be a good idea to replace them now along with the roof.

Wheaton, IL

Your question is excellent, but I'm not sure that there is one answer that fits all situations. Replacing the gutters on a home, and any skylights that may be installed, at the same time as the shingles can be a good idea if the roofing contractor is capable of doing all the work. The theory is that if they are already on the jobsite and have all of their equipment set up, the homeowner might get a bit of a price break over having contractors make three separate trips to their home. In addition to the potential discount, any disruption to family life required by the renovations is all within the same time period.

The reality is that while just about all roofing contractors can install skylights, the same can't be said about gutters and downspouts. Siding contractors are often set up to install gutters, but it's fairly rare to find a roofing contractor with the required equipment - especially if you want seamless gutters. However, having a gutter contractor show up during the same time period your roof is being replaced can still keep disruption to your family life at a minimum.

As to whether now is the time to replace your skylights, there are two schools of thought. Skylights are notorious for leaking due to being installed improperly. If your units have been leak free all these years, you may not want to disturb a good thing. Let the roofing contractor install new flashing, but leave the skylights in place and they may be fine for many more years. On the other hand, there have been many innovations during the past 23 years and there's no doubt that new skylights would be much more energy efficient than your old units. And the roofer is right there, so popping out the old units and installing the new should be no big deal. If you decide to replace them, just make sure you have a commitment from the contractor to return if they happen to leak.

You can normally tell when gutters and downspouts need to be replaced as they will start to sag, leak at seams and connections, or depending on the material, begin to rust. If any of these conditions are apparent, I recommend installing a new roof drainage system. Leaving the old gutters in place when they aren't performing properly could eventually lead to a wet basement. And if your roofer can do gutters, you may be able to get a price break.

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Roofing vs. Reroofing

Roofing vs. Reroofing

If you come to find out that your roof has been damaged and needs to be fixed then there are two main approaches you can take. You can either decide to make a roof repair or replace the entire roof. Roof repairs will generally save you time and money, but in most cases a new roof is the best option. As a general rule of thumb, if the existing roof on is only one layer and there are no problems with the roof deck, a new roof is not necessary.

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