Editor's note: The following is the transcript of an live interview with Al Torrella of Elite Roofing. You can read the interview below or listen to the podcast.
Introduction: Have you ever had a question about your roof and didn't know who to turn to for answers? Are you interested in learning more about one of the most important aspects of your home? Not to fret, the AskARoofer podcast is here for all you home and building owners. Join us as we talk with industry experts, roofing contractors, business owners, and more about all things roofing. And remember, AskARoofer.
Megan Ellsworth: Hello, everyone. Welcome back to the AskARoofer podcast. My name is Megan, and we're so excited to be chatting about all things roof maintenance. We're here with Al Torrella from Elite Roofing. I'm super excited to learn all the things about roof maintenance, Al, so why don't we dive right in and just have you introduce yourself and Elite Roofing.
Al Torrella: Okay. So, hi, I'm Al from Elite Roofing. I'm in the great State of New Jersey in the Hudson County area, right outside of Manhattan. And we have about seven million people who [inaudible 00:01:04] service, so it's hectic, matter of fact. I've been doing this about 40... This is my 40th year doing roofing. I started in 1983 with my father. I went to college and I was a scientist, I was a teacher, and I got talking to doing roofing with my old man because he had a heart attack, and then I ended up starting helping him. And then, lo and behold, this is what I'm doing now for the rest of my life until I retire.
But I've been doing this for so long, it's second nature at this point. I could do roofing in my sleep like most roofers can. And I'm very good at roof diagnostics. I'm very good at finding problems. I'm very good at all general questions. I've been through the mill because I have my own house and my own problems, and I've experienced it firsthand. And I deal with about 3,000 people a year.
Megan Ellsworth: Wow.
Al Torrella: Yeah. 3,000 people a year, only 365 days a year. You could start seeing the numbers. And no matter where I go in the world, everybody has a roof. And I'm always looking at different roofs no matter where I go in the world, and picking out problems that people don't normally see. And it's just like, because you get, this is how it is. So, I think our topic today is regular roof maintenance. Is that what we're talking about?
Megan Ellsworth: Yes.
Al Torrella: Okay. All right. So, I mostly handle the inner cities as you just heard. And in the inner cities, most people don't have shingle roofs, they have flat roofs. And what do we do with flat roofs? There's a couple of systems that we do. We do torch down bitumen, we do EPDM, and we do TPO. Those are the main. The newest one that we're doing is liquid, Siplast, Kemper, all the high end jobs.
So, normally people call us when one, they're buying their house. Very important that people call a roofer before they buy a house. And the reason being, in the inner cities, people don't know that, a lot of these other people out there, they put illegal amounts of roofing on the building. And I don't know what your code is, but our code in New Jersey is two layers. And then after two layers, the roof must be ripped off.
A lot of architects, they'll go, "Oh, you can can just go put a board over that and put another roof over that." That's wrong. There's too much weight on the roof and the structure's not designed to hold that much weight and it actually makes the roof, the joists heavier. And then, you have problems in the winter time. Because not only do you got to think about the roof in a regular sunny day, you got to think about the roof in harsh days. Wind, rain, and then snow.
And then snow, I say snow because you could have three inches of snow or you could have a foot of snow, or three feet of snow. And when snow gets wet, I think it's 12 pounds per cubic foot when it's wet. So, you're talking about hundreds of thousands of pounds on somebody's roof. Beside if you have, and I seen it in Jersey City, they have one inch, they have two inches, they got three inches. And the most we ever saw was 14 inches thick.
Megan Ellsworth: Wow.
Al Torrella: Incredible. It's nuts. And then, how many layers are in one inch layer of roofing? It's bituminous. We figured it out, it's about eight layers per inch. So, if you have two inches, they have 16 layers on their roof. And if it's a regular 20 by 50 house, which is 10 squares, one inches thick, they got, so 1,000 times eight, you got 8,000 pounds where there should only be 2,000 pounds. So, they're way overweight.
So, a lot of people don't really realize that. And then when they buy the house, they have a problem, and then they call people like us and then we tell them, you have the illegal amount of roofing on you, because we do a core sample. And then nobody knows. And then they end up getting a bill for 30, $40,000 because you have to rip off the roof, because their houses are old. Let's just be real, in our area, they were built in the 1910s, 1920s. I got houses from Jefferson, that Jefferson lived in, in Washington Park. And all these famous people lived in... They're old houses, they have the old plank, and you can't go to the old plank anymore because it's like Swiss cheese. You have to put another layer of plywood on the top of that to reinforce that so the roof is stable so you don't have to deal with those problems and stuff like that.
So, it's very important that you do core samples and they know what they're into before they really buy a house. It's really the main thing. And then, they can adjust accordingly to when they're buying the house and when they're negotiating. It's very important.
The same on the other end, if say you're middle income, lower income and you buy a house, and you need a lot of work, and there's a lot of layers of roofing on there already. These people don't have money to really do the right job. So, we're doing roof maintenance like you guys are talking about. And then what is roof maintenance? Roof maintenance is when you go on a flat roof and you make sure the penetrations have flashing, the edging has flashing, the drains have flashing, anything that can have [inaudible 00:06:26] of penetration or protrusion has to have flashing around it.
And then, we also look for open seams, siding that can be attached. Because anytime anybody has a leak in their house, they'll call you no matter what. And nine out of 10 times, it's not a roofing problem, it's a window problem or a siding problem. And it runs down at the end, and they're always blaming the poor roofer all the time. Where it's not the roofer's fault, it's siding problems or window problems. And you got to deal with this. And if you're a new roofer and a new thing, you don't know how to deal with that. And that's how people really go out of business, because they don't know how to deal with it and they don't act accordingly.
So, when you're doing the inspection and stuff like that, it ain't just a roof that you're looking at, it's the whole bigger picture. And a lot of times now with the rising temperatures that we're having and stuff like that, and the large amounts of rainfall that we're getting in the urban centers, it's like living... So, Jersey's like living in Florida now. No longer do we live in Jersey, we live in Florida, we can plant a palm tree outside and it lives 10 months out of the year and you're good to go. So now, we have that Florida weather. And what is encompassing the Florida weather that we have all the time, is a massive amount of rainfall. And those 100-year storms are not a 100-year storms no more, they're every five years. And those big thunderstorms are every year, and you always have them. They come down in one inch drops, you see them. Your gutters fill right up the capacity. Sometimes they overflow.
So, what do you got to do? You got to make sure two times in a year, springtime when the pollen falls, you get on your roof, you clean out your gutters, and make sure your roof is free of all the pollen. And then, once in the fall, you get on your roof and you make sure all the leaves that fall on your roof, you clean them all off, and they clean out the gutters and make sure they don't have any leaves and stuff on their roof.
Because the bad thing is, if you have leaves on the roof, they go in, they get washed into the gutter, and then they get frozen in the wintertime. And then, it's when you get ice dams, and ice dams make the roof back up with water, and that's when you get leaks. Really nothing to do with the roofer. The roof's just letting go [inaudible 00:08:31]. But if you don't have clear drainage, then you have problems. You have a lot of ice dams. A lot of people, they don't really think about these things. So, we have to worry about that.
And then, the other thing we have to really worry about and people don't really realize is, on the side of your house where your siding meets your roof is an area where they put the joist to the brick and stuff like that. It's called a fascia board. And a lot of people, they put the siding and then they put it level, and they put the metal to it and the J channel comes to it. Well, when the wind hits that, it gets underneath the J channel, and it runs down the siding behind everything. And then when it freezes, it pops siding out, it pops stucco out. It has a lot of problems. So, it's designed wrong.
So, I work with a lot of builders and architects, and stuff like that. We're doing one right now on Myrtle Avenue with a lady. And the architect didn't design for all those things, because he don't know, he's an architect. He's not really going to see the roof 10 years later, because they do brand new houses. They don't think about the long-term. Where our job is to think about the long-term solutions and to minimize those problems and stuff like that. So, we have to worry about fascia, has to be built out always past the siding. And then the metal you put, has to always counter flash the J channel or the siding you do. So, when you have wind-driven rain, it hits the fascia, it runs down and it hits the outside of the siding and it stays on the outside of your building and not on the inside of your building.
Megan Ellsworth: What is involved in a roofing system?
Al Torrella: So, let's take a basic roofing system that most people in this area have. So most people in this area, there's two kinds of systems I've seen out there. There is the traditional modified bit system, which is a torch down rubber or peel and stick. And what that encompasses is a... So, let's do brand new construction. It will be brand new construction, which is plywood and you put a base down, and then you put your cap down. And then you'll get a 10-year warranty, and the roof can last up to 20 years or more if you maintenance the roof. Or use a other system which is like an EPDM down, where you have an insulation board and then you put your EPDM on top of that. And you either have peel and stick or it's glued down.
So, the bad thing about EPDM people don't realize, it's only a one system, it's only a single ply. That's the bad. And EPDM, people don't realize we're in the inner cities here. When they do fireworks in the inner cities, and the fireworks go off and the things come up and they hit the EPDM roof, they land on the rubber, it actually burns through the rubber to the insulation, and the house will go on fire.
So, I was at a job about a year ago, and they were on the roofing hole bulking a couple of guys, and they were smoking and stuff like that. And the fireworks went off outside, and the shell landed on the roof and it stayed there, and it was like, you know how... And it burned through the EPDM, and it slowly ignited the ISO board over time, because remember it's just, it's burning but you don't see it. It's dark. And it slowly but surely the insulation caught on fire, and then four o'clock in the morning you have a three alarm fire because your roof's on fire and nobody knows why.
So again, I love EPDM, don't get me wrong, but in where we live, if you're in Chicago or Philadelphia, or New York or Brooklyn, or most major cities, when you have all the kids throwing fireworks off, I'm still a fan of the old system of torch down because it has the granules on top. And if the fireworks land on top of it, your house's not going on fire. It's just people go, "Oh, you still do that?" Well, they don't think about the big picture. Again, this is the big picture. You know what I'm saying? You got to think about the big picture.
Now, another type of system that we're doing now, which is starting to catch momentum as the technology advances, those systems that we've talked about, the EPDM, TPO, bitumen, they're going to be totally changing that system, and we're going to go into, the future is all liquids. And what do I mean by liquids? So, they have silicone. I did silicone 15 years ago, and I'm not a big fan of silicone anymore because there's no reinforcing membrane to it. So, I was putting reinforcing membrane 15 years ago to silicones when people weren't even thinking about, they weren't asking about it, and doing it. Because I figured, when you put a reinforcing mat and then you put your silicone products to it, it will last longer. And I have roofs out there that have this system that are still around today. Most silicone systems fail because they don't tell you that underneath they still have the expansion contraction system. And when it is expanding, the silicone will expand with it, and then it will crack open and then you'll get leaks.
So, the newer systems always have to have, if you're going to do a liquid system, they should have a reinforcing fleece with it. So, if you're going to do a Siplast or a Kemper, which is the Mercedes-Benz of liquid, you're buying that stuff, it's $15 every foot. And if you got a 10 square house at $15 for the buy it, you're looking at $15,000 just for the material literally, but it comes out gorgeous. And you get a 20 year NDL from Kemper or Siplast, or something like that, what you want. But it comes out gorgeous. Siplast is cheaper to Kemper, but it's still a gorgeous system.
And as the technology gets more and more advanced, you want to do more liquids in the future. I see the future of roofing where the roofer like me just goes there. And you need a system where you have... Because the weather's always in climate. You don't have always great days to work, and you got to take advantage of every day that you have out there. Today's nice out there, you should be out there roofing and trying to get as much done as possible, because tomorrow to next Tuesday it's going to rain every single day. So, that's seven days now that we're going to have, that we can't do nothing. I can't do any roofing in those way. I can't rip anybody's roof. I'm not taking a chance on ripping off Mrs. Schnortzky's roof because she needs it done, because what happens if it rains when we're ripping it off? I'm responsible. And you got to think about that. I don't need the lawsuit or hundreds of thousands of dollars in damage over a roof.
And I tell people, it's just a roof, it's not a big deal. No one's going to die if we don't do it today. It'll get done. We still have plenty of time to do it.
So, you need a system where you have the liquid systems where you have fasting cure time, and if when you see it cured, if there's a problem you can cut it out right away and redo it again. And then, you just make a new batch and redo it right away. So, you do the roof, you do the walls, and you got to have your termination. And the better systems they self terminate to the building, but you're paying for that.
Megan Ellsworth: Oh, my.
Al Torrella: Yeah. And then now, we live in the urban jungles, and all the land's taken up already. The last area that people can really use for recreational use is your rooftop.
Megan Ellsworth: So true.
Al Torrella: So, if you got a 50 by 20 area, you got a 1,000 square feet right above you that you could turn into another room for exercise room, entertainment, garden, or a mixture of both where you have your barbecue, you have your friends, you have your pergola, you have your rooftop deck, you have all your little things, and then you have an... And that increases your value. It's like you're increasing your value. You're putting a whole nother built room on your house that wasn't intended, and you're increasing your value.
I tell customers this all the time because we live in this area, that's your last area. Beside your backyard, if you have a backyard, it's a little backyard, but now you have your whole roofing area where you can have that rooftop deck of your dreams. And you've seen in these romantic movies where they're going and she makes her a beautiful rooftop deck with the flowers and the garden. And then you have the view, and the view from a third floor building is great. You have the wind, it's open, you barbecue. It's a nice feeling. And this is the area.
But I think that beside all that, you have to have a good roof before you put any rooftop deck on. Because the worst thing is... And these guys listen to these podcasts, they go, "Wow, that's great idea. I'm going to put top deck on my thing." And they put the cheapest roof down, and they put a rooftop deck on top of it. And then, these people have problems [inaudible 00:17:23] on inside because they didn't do... They want to do everything cheap on the roof. And you can't be cheap on the roof because that's where all your problems are going to come from.
When you make scuppers going through the wall, I make them out of copper. People don't make copper anymore. People don't even think about it. They want to use this thin metal and it's going to be good. It's not good. So when I do something, it's going to last, like a copper scupper when I go through a parapet wall to do a flat roof, it's going to last a 100 years. Now, the roofing may not last a 100 years but that scupper box will.
Megan Ellsworth: What does ventilation look like for these houses with the flat roofs, and why is it so important?
Al Torrella: Okay, so ventilation's always important in a roofing system. Your plywood underneath have a certain air flow. And in a flat roof you need to have two vents, one in the front and one in the back. So air is drawn in, goes underneath the structure and then comes out again.
Lauren White: We've talked a little bit about different times to know when you might need a new roof. Part of the maintenance is getting a roof inspection. So, how often should people get a roof inspection, and what all does that involve?
Al Torrella: You should have somebody come once a year, believe it or not, to do the... I do it for my customers. Every roof that we do, I write in the warranty that you have to have a roof inspection at least once a year. And I found that if we do that, it makes a minor problem be able to be fixed right away instead of it turning into a major problem. Because things happen, rainstorms, hail. A tree bridge can hit the roof and puncture a hole in it, and from a little hole you'll get major damage if you leave it unchecked. Bi-yearly's usually good, or at least once a year you should go on your roof and check the conditions of your roof.
And if you're a homeowner, you really don't know what the hell you're looking at, truthfully. It's watch one of these videos, I guess. A roof always has signs of what's going on upstairs. You'll see stains, you'll see this, you'll see that. The roof's always giving you signs of what's really going on. My job is to interpret the signs and then tell people in layman's terms what's really going on with their job.
But a roof inspection you should do at least once a year if not more. Twice a year, I said is always the best. Once in the fall and once in the spring. Those two times you could always get... It's like, what? It's six month difference. You'll catch it within those six months, something going wrong. Because again, if you have a storm, a tree branch hits your roof, big hail comes down, hits your roof, you'll see the indentations, it can crack them. If it's shingles, it'll crack the shingles. So, a roof inspection should be done at least once a year if not more, twice a year. And a professional really knows how to really diagnose a problem.
What should a roof inspection cost? There's a whole debate about that. It depends on if you got to do a core sample. Are you doing pictures? Are you doing drone pictures, are you doing infrared pictures? Are you doing a moisture meter? What are you doing with this inspection? Because you can go crazy with inspections. I just did one, we had to do an infrared, the drone, the thermal thing, and then the moisture meter, and you got to do hours of... You don't need to spend $1,500 on an inspection, but normal inspections cost $150. I would say a normal inspection, if you have a regular guy, you're in a regular suburbs, and you just want to do a quick check over. And in an inspection you should at least get your gutters cleaned out for the $150, because the guy could at least do that for you.
Now, if you need other things, your flashings need to be done, or your other stuff needs to be done, he should be able to tell you at that point, and then that's when you get those other items done. If you need your flashings done, or silver coating, or a seam's open, or a chimney cap needs to be done, or there's squirrels coming through, there's a hole or bumblebee, whatever the case is, that's when you should take care of it, after... So, inspection is very important.
There's not a lot of roofers these days that are good. The industry has been going, because a lot of people go on board with computers now, and everything that kind of work. There's a lot less roofers out there than there was in the day. It's a dying trade. Nobody wants to do heavy brute force work anymore, and it's hot out in the summertime. I'm going to tell you straight out, if it's 90 degrees out there, it's a 100 degrees on the roof. It's hot. There's no air conditioning. It's hot.
Lauren White: Yeah. And you've mentioned core samples a couple times. Can you tell us what the purpose of a core sample is?
Al Torrella: Okay. Because we live in the urban jungle over here, and if the building's a 120 years old, most of the time they never rip the roof off like I said. And you're getting a re-roof, a re-roof, a re-roof, a re-roof, a re-roof. Every ten years doing a re-roof. In a 120 years, you got 12 layers up there or more because sometimes a roofer will do a buildup here or there in certain areas where it's holding water, because flat roofs hold water. So, you don't want the roof to be too thick. Okay? Because again, it's problems for the structure. It's a roof, not a battleship. So, you got to be careful. So, you need to do a core sample.
I would tell people if they're buying a home, an older home, where it's a flat roof, you should do a core sample to know how many layers are there. And now, this is the most important thing that people don't tell you. I've been in situations where I did a core sample and I hit plywood, and it was two inches thick and then I hit plywood. When we ripped the roof off and we got to the plywood, under the plywood was eight more inches of roof. That's when I had to forklift the roof, I told you. So me, doing it so long, I think I know it all. I learned something very valuable that day. Because now I have to go back and tell the customer, "Mrs. Jones, you have eight more inches of roof underneath you. We have to charge you more money." And this is when they're fighting. They want to fight you and you should have known. And how am I going to know? I did a core sample.
So now, when I do a core sample, actually in this area, I tell the guys go through the deck and make sure there's no more roofing underneath. And thankfully I'm doing that now, because I went to another one right now where I did a core sample and we found out the whole roof, it was holding water in the middle, it was weird. And we found out that they put a whole new sleepers... We call them sleepers, like angles underneath the framing on... So they had a roof done... It was the original decking and then they had the roofing all done, and then they put sleepers on top of that and a whole new roofing system on top of that.
So, I went through it and I found a space. This deck where it was two more inches of roofing underneath that, it's a good customer of mine. And we were supposed to do the job, and now the price had to changed because not only we got to rip off the roof, but now I got to take off his sleepers that were done wrong because they're pitched wrong. And I got to rip the other roof underneath it to get to the original deck to do the tapering system the correct way.
So, as you're going along... This is for other roofers and stuff like that, as you're going along, you should always do a core sample and you should always go through the decking, because the time you think, "Oh, I know it's okay to..." That's when you get it the worst. You get train ahead of you. So, you really want to do a course here. It's very important. And you're doing it as long as I have, you're going to find situations where it's absolutely needed and your price really changes. And then, you can be more informing to the customer. Because that's the worst thing you could do is to a customer, that they think they're spending $25,000 and then you rip the roof off and say when you rip up the two inches, now you're off eight more inches and now you got to fix a deck that's shot. And not only was it when it shot that deck was it 12 inches deck, they needed Joyce and they needed... And it all [inaudible 00:25:59], it's just a nightmare.
And I ended up fighting with the guy, and he's calling me a rip-off. I have x-ray vision, I can see through the deck [inaudible 00:26:12] like that. I'm a regular person like everybody else. How am I going to know that? I don't know that the guy had... You know how many roofs 12 inches is? If it's eight by 12, what is that? A 108, something like that. He's got a 108 layers on his roof. What?
Megan Ellsworth: That's insane.
Al Torrella: That's insane. That was the most insane one I ever went through. Another one I did, it was in apartment buildings all around, and there was an air shaft on the first floor. And it was a five story apartment building all the way around. And one of the apartment buildings, they took it down to the ground. And the other owner goes, "You never get to it." You couldn't get down to the sheet, because it was a two square roof inside the air shaft down there. You could never get to it. You always re-roof it. You could never rip it. It was no way.
He goes to me, he goes, "Al, I want to rip the roof off now because it's time." Okay. That roof was 10 inches thick. There was so many layers that you couldn't rip it out. Now, your machines can only cut two and a half inches thick at a time. I swear, it took two and a half days to rip the roof off. It was just, you could only rip so much and it was all... With the machines, you're trying to get it up, and it came off in two and a half inch sections. And every section you had water between it, all the time leaking water. It was ugh.
So again, core samples are so important before you're doing it. And this is when I was very young when I was working for my father at the time. Because this is what? Because I didn't know, I was a kid. I was 20 something years. I didn't really know what the [inaudible 00:27:59] I was doing. But it was back then you don't know, but you learn the hard way. And we ended up eating a lot of that too. Because again, you write in the contract, I'll rip the roof off down to the deck. Well, you don't know the deck is 12 inches deck, so you get screwed. So, this is what I have in my contract, every certain amount of layers or certain amount of inches that we have to... There's a certain amount of charge going into, it's called unforeseen stuff. It's very important. I just updated my contract. Actually all the parts, all the legal stuff in back of the contracts [inaudible 00:28:36] 12 pages thick now. So, you got to be very careful if you're a contractor.
And now I'm fighting against people that have no insurance. They have no workman's comp, and they're giving prices half the amount of money, and you're getting, it's just... And people, "Oh, the guy got insurance." Well, when you do the thing on the computer and you look them up, they have no insurance, no nothing. And that's why it's half the price, Mrs. Jones. So, if you still want to go with them, that's fine. But if they fall off the roof, somebody gets hurt, they're going to own your house. That's on them, on the owner. They should have looked. Have you seen that episode of Shameless, when he fell off the roof, and he ended up suing her for $50,000 or something like that? It was on Shameless. I love that show. Everybody, [inaudible 00:29:26].
Megan Ellsworth: That just goes to show that if you're a home or building owner, before you buy anything, you should really have some inspection, especially a roof inspection.
Lauren White: Say it comes time for a homeowner to get their roof replaced. Is there anything else that should be replaced around the same time, like siding or gutters, or is it a standalone project, the roof?
Al Torrella: So, if you're going to do the roof, you really should do all that stuff with the roof in there. You should do the gutters, and you should do... Obviously, all the flashing's got to be done. Again, the fascia board on the outside. Although people leave the fascia board, they never do it. I see it's a 100 years old. There's bees in it, it's rotted. Think it's going to last forever. It all should be done. This is why my contract [inaudible 00:30:20] are so high, because I'm really doing all of those things, and I have them all itemized. I don't write just one price at the top. I itemize every single thing that I'm doing. And people go, "Wow, your estimate is so detailed and so broken down." Because yeah, I've been through the ring, I do all these things. And if you don't want to do this, it's fine, a part of it. I'm not going to say no to the job because they don't want to do the fascia or something like that. But if it leaks through the fascia, I told you. It's in there. You know what I'm saying? So, yeah.
So, you really should do, if you're going to do the roof, you should do the gutters. On flat roofs, you should put plywood. Don't go with the old deck. Don't leave the old deck. And people know us so well in this area. I try to have a standard, and I'm trying to train the next generation of roofers, because I can't do this forever. I'm getting older and I'm getting tired, and it's wearing on me. And I try to train the next generation... And that's my goal. And when everybody looks at me and I tell them, "This is my goal." I don't have no children. I'm not going to hand it to anybody. I want to train somebody to take over what I'm doing over here. But they got to have, it's got to be not only you got to be good at roofing, but you got to be good at business, and then financing. Running a roofing company is not... It's hard.
It ain't thinking, he's going to be a roofer. You're going to run a business. You ain't going to survive pal. You need to go to business school, and you need to take business classes, because the taxes alone will kill you. The insurance will kill you. Everybody wants to beat you all the time. The customers want to beat you. And you got to stick to your guns and you got to know what you're doing. You got to know what you're doing. Because when you don't know what you're doing, and you try to fly through it, that's when you get [inaudible 00:32:08] right in the head.
Lauren White: Yeah.
Al Torrella: I think that roofing is very important because it's their first and last thing before water comes in your house and you really got to do the right systems, and you got to really do your research, and you got to get someone that's insured and you got to really... And the best contractor I've seen out there, they do maintenance every year. They do inspections on their jobs. Those are the ones that are going to be around the longest. And you want to be in that group right there. I don't care if you got you and one other guy. You got to start doing that. You got to start thinking ahead. And if you really want to grow, you really got to do those things.
And everybody doesn't want a leak in their ceiling. But sometimes you get these leaks in your ceiling, and they're weird leaks.
They're hard to find. They're not really roofing problems. They happen from other props, siding, windows, if they're connected to other people. I had a guy, he was leaking, and it wasn't even his leak. It was the guy next door. Because he had so many layers, the water was coming in from the fascia, driving through the whole thing, rolling under and then going on his side and leaking. How are you going to find that if you're a roofer? You're not. So, the only way you had to find that was I ripped the roof off, and then we traced back the leak, and lo and behold it's coming from the neighbor. So what did I do? I built a little parapet wall between him and his neighbor, and I put metal on that other guy's side first, then the wood, and then I terminated his side so his leak wouldn't go on his side now, and he wouldn't leak no more.
So, obviously you can't do when... If you did a re-roof, you would never see that. You could never find that. And obviously when you do a ripoff, it's going to be more money, because it's more labor, more everything. But the customer has to get to that point where they're going to have to spend the money to do those sort things because you can't figure it out. A re-roof doesn't always work all the time. So again, it's just, it's doesn't always work.
Megan Ellsworth: Sometimes you have to be an inspector, a little detective, looking for those leaks.
Al Torrella: Even then, sometimes I'm stumped by certain things itself. Got to take the whole picture in. So, that's why we do drone pictures, because I found by doing drone pictures, if you're on the roof doing an inspection, when you're close to it, you don't see the problem. But when you do a drone picture going down, you can see ripples in the roof that you can't see when you're close up to it, and it shows you patterns. The roof is showing you patterns of where the water is coming in, and it's coming in on angles. And we were doing one, and you couldn't see it from being on the roof. There was some ripples in the roof and you couldn't really tell. But once you see the drone picture and you looked at it, it was the front retaining wall that was leaking and then making the roof had ripples in it. And it was like going to the beach and seeing how the ripples are in the sand, that kind of thing. And the only way to see that was from a drone picture.
So, as we get more advanced now, it's getting more detailed. More science is involved with everything, and not just the old way. And if you have to do the coping wall in the front, it's like... And a lot of times these old houses have concrete coping stones on the front of the house. Well, those things leak, people, believe it or not. People don't realize that they leak. The water hits it, the coping stone fills up with water like any other rock will. And it will time release days later. So, Mr. Jones has got this weird leak in the front of his house, four feet back from the front, but it doesn't happen right away. What do you mean, Mr. Jones? "What do you mean why isn't it happening right away?" "Well, it's weird, it's been going on for 16 years," he says to me, "And I got this weird leak going on." "What do you mean?"
So, looking at the roof, roof's fine. He's got problems at the front because the coping stone was actually taking the water and releasing it, drip, drip, until it gets dry again. And so, what do you got to do with those things? Plywood on top of the coping stone, rubberize the top of the coping stone. Do a fascia metal in front of the thing, so you can't get [inaudible 00:36:24] rain. Totally eliminate that whole coping stone problem now.
I did one for my best friend in Brooklyn, matter of fact. My best friend, because I'm at a fraternity in college, and he came [inaudible 00:36:36]. His name is Mike, and his mom. And she had this weird leak for 17 years. And he goes, "Nobody could figure this out." Well, it was the coping stones that were leaking. It wasn't the roof. And once I went up there and I plywooded it, and rubberized it, and put the fascia... It all stopped. But nobody think, the roofer doesn't think about those things. Again, just because there's a rock on top of the edge of the wall, doesn't mean it's not going to leak. Of course it's going to leak. You just got to think outside the box.
Megan Ellsworth: So, are there any last words of advice that you have to all of the home and building owners listening to this?
Al Torrella: I would say the most important thing is to do yearly inspections of your roof. Number two, make sure all your gutters are all cleaned out all the time. That's when you inspect. Make sure they're cleaned out, blow them out, get them out, get them all clean so the water flows. And if you don't know something, go into forums, chat rooms, try to find out from as many people as you can. Go to podcast. Try to go to inform yourself, because obviously you have a whole world of knowledge on Google and things like that. It doesn't mean Google's always right. Sometimes they're wrong about certain things. But you can learn so much from the internet these days that you can, you don't know how to do it, go on YouTube and you can learn how to do it. It's like that. But have somebody in your corner that you can always rely to, try to make friends with your local, a good contractor or roofer or something like that, that's been around for a long time, that's got a proven track record.
You want somebody who's got reviews. Google reviews are the best. Yelp, something like that. Very important. You got to read the reviews. And real people write real reviews, and they're long, and they don't talk like certain... They talk like normal people, and they put in all these keywords in these things now, trying to get their thing higher and stuff like that, because it has artificial intelligence now and all this other jazz going on. And we got to be careful that, real people, when they're writing review, you know it's a real person because the way they're writing it.
Go to the place. This is why I have this sign behind me. I tell people, if you want to really want to do the roof and stuff like that, I say, come down and see what you're buying. See the place where they do... Because if you have a problem, Mr. Jones, you can come right here and I'm always in this office and I'll take care of it. You got to be careful. People work out of their house, their garage, their... You got to be careful of those people because they're in and out of business. You want someone that's established, that's got a brick and mortar place that you can go to, that you can have recourse. You don't have no recourse on 1-800-roofer, stuff like that. You don't got no... You don't even know where these people come from. Very important. So, those are my words of wisdom, people.
Megan Ellsworth: Those are good words of wisdom.
Lauren White: Doing the research. Definitely.
Al Torrella: The you'll save yourself a ton of headaches, because most people, they do the roof twice. The first time is they do it the cheap way, because they think they know it all. And then it leaks, and then you can't find that person anymore. And then, they're doing it the way the guy wanted to do it originally, who's more expensive, and then they're doing it that way. So, they're paying twice.
Lauren White: Yeah.
Megan Ellsworth: Yeah.
Al Torrella: That's 40 years right there. That's the whole thing. Why is this guy so much more money? You got to ask yourself why.
Lauren White: Yeah.
Al Torrella: So, very important. Okay, guys.
Lauren White: Yeah. Well, thank you. And ask a roofer.com is also a great place to have your roofing questions answered. Well Al, it's been so great. Thank you so much, and your little companion for the-
Megan Ellsworth: Thank you.
Lauren White: ... for all of your words of wisdom and advice. And look up Elite Roofing for your roofing needs.
Megan Ellsworth: Yeah.
Lauren White: Thank you.
Megan Ellsworth: In the Jersey area.
Lauren White: Yes.
Megan Ellsworth: So everyone, go check out Elite.
Al Torrella: All I try to do is just give people honest, fair evaluations, and I try to be truthful with people and give them exactly what they pay for, because you can't get everything. And if you think you're getting something for free, you're not, you're getting beat somewhere. So, always be careful. All right, guys.
Megan Ellsworth: Absolutely. Thank you so much, Al.
Lauren White: Thank you.
Megan Ellsworth: Thanks for listening to the AskARoofer podcast. Feel free to subscribe and leave a review. Go to askaroofer.com to ask a question.
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