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The Dangers of Counterfeit Shingles and How to Avoid Them

Every aspiring homeowner dreams of the day that they can move into their new home and make it their own. They’ve saved for years, getting ready for one of the biggest investments of their lifetime. They do the research, put the time into looking at several homes, and even hire a home inspector, because that’s the smart thing to do. Everything looks good, the purchase goes through, and everything seems fine.

Fast forward a couple of years, and suddenly the roof is leaking. You crawl into the attic to have a look around to see whether you can tell where the leak is coming from, but all you manage to do is find several other areas where the shingles are failing, never really finding the source of any of the leaks. You’re really not sure what’s happening, because the roof had just been replaced three months before you moved in, and both the real estate agent and home inspector insisted you would get a good 12 to 15 years out of the roof.

Snowy house in winter
So what gives?

Odds are, your home had cheap, knock off Chinese shingles installed, and there wasn’t anything anyone could have done to inform you before you bought the house. Only the roofing contractor that installed the roof truly knows which product was installed, but they’re long gone. Odds are the previous homeowner who had the roof installed was duped into thinking the roof they were having installed was legitimate. At the end of the day however, you’re the one stuck with the leaky roof that isn’t going to last the 12 years you were told.

Chinese Counterfeit Shingles are Entering North America

It turns out that there is a loophole in the legislation that regulates the products that are used in home construction. While there are rules that require new homes be built with Canadian Standards Association (CSA) standards, renovation products do not have the same requirements. Combined with shady roofing companies that have no problems selling substandard and dangerous knock-offs, Chinese counterfeit construction products are being sold at an alarming rate.

So who is to blame for this? It all starts with the lack of accurate legislation that would stop these products from being imported. While it’s unlikely that even the law would stop all of these products from entering Canada and the United States, it would severely mitigate their propagation. Additionally, roofers that willingly sell these products to unknowing homeowners are also to blame, looking to find whatever competitive advantage they can to undercut the competition. Lastly, consumers that are willing to buy the lowest priced materials are generating a market for these counterfeit products.

The Main Problem With Counterfeit Shingles

So why is this such an issue. There are two main reasons. First, the health risks associated with using these cheap roofing shingles. The imports arriving from China often contain toxic, hazardous or even poisonous materials. Knowing that you have such things directly above you should worry homeowners.

The second reason is money. Having an inferior product on your home, protecting you from the elements is not the route you want to go. A roof is an investment. It has a very important job to do. If you try to save money to get the absolute cheapest option, sure, you may save a few bucks up front, but you’ll need to replace that roof much sooner than you would need to if you went with a product that was CSA approved and installed by a reputable roofing company. Not only will you need to replace the roof much sooner, but there is also a much greater likelihood that the roof will fail in some manner before you have a chance to replace it, which could lead to water damage or other sorts of issues that will end up costing you money that you would not have needed to spend otherwise.

How to Spot Counterfeit Shingles?

So you’ve decided that going with the cheapest brand is just not for you. Good on you! You’ve decided that the health and safety of your family comes first, and you’re willing to pay more to make sure that the right materials are used and that the job gets done correctly. But what do you look for and how do you know you’re getting the real deal? Here are some things to consider:

  • The weight of cheap knockoffs is considerably less than real, certified roofing shingles. CSA approved bundles will weigh approximately 80 pounds whereas the counterfeits will weigh closer to 50 pounds a bundle.
  • Inspect the shingles. Legitimate roofers will allow you to inspect the product. Look at the bundle they come in. Are they stamped with CSA approved markings? Are they manufactured by a local or North American company?
  • How does the price compare to other roofing companies that offer the same shingle? Watch for heavy discounts marketed as “End of Season” sales or “Overstock”. Try to determine the average price of the product you’re considering from several roofers to determine whether the product is real or if it’s the cheap dangerous stuff.

If the North American consumer refuses to purchase these inferior products, the market for them will shrink and roofing companies will stop using them. Keep in mind however that there are still reputable roofing contractors that refuse to use these off brand products. Try to find one that you can trust. Talk to your friends and family that have had their roofs changed and ask them what their experience was like, and if it was a good one, who they hired to replace their roof.

In the meantime, we can also let our government know that we refuse to allow these cheap products to infiltrate our homes. Contact the government about this at 1-800-889-9768 or use their contact page located at https://www.ontario.ca/contact