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Metal roof worth extra cost

(ran HL, HC editions)

Question: I need a new roof again, and I am considering a lifetime metal one this time. I saw them on the most expensive houses on a new-homes tour. Does a shake-style metal roof make sense for someone on a budget?

Answer: A metal roof does cost more to install initially, but, since you will never have to reroof your home again (they come with transferable 50-year to lifetime warranties), metal roofs make long-term economic sense for any home. Since metal roofs are fireproof, you also may get a discount on your insurance.

Another advantage is lower air-conditioning bills and greater comfort. Metal roofs reflect much of the summer sun's heat; asphalt shingles absorb the heat. The sound of rain on the roof is no greater than on a shingle roof.

You have many options in styles. Many people prefer styles that simulate cedar shingles or shakes, tiles or slate. From the ground, they look like any other roof. For a distinctive, elegant look, others prefer a style, like standing seam, that definitely looks like a metal roof.

Installing a metal roof is good for the environment. Each year, billions of pounds of old asphalt shingles end up in landfills. More than half of the materials used for metal residential roofs is recycled. Most aluminum roofing materials are made from recycled soft drink cans.

For the greatest reduction in your summer electric bills, choose an aluminum roof with a new special heat barrier paint. This paint technology was developed by the Army so tanks could escape infrared heat detection.

Since the metal roofing has a formed shake or tile contour, there are many air gaps between it and your old roof. (It can be installed over your old roof without an expensive tear-off.) These gaps allow air to flow through and carry away the intense heat from the afternoon sun.

Some manufacturers offer up to 20 standard colors. To provide an authentic look, some metal roofing has a multilayer paint with sand granules embedded in the final layers. Most use durable Kynar or Hylar finishes.

Since installing tile or slate roofing requires major structural upgrades to support the weight, metal roofing is often the only feasible option. Even the heaviest steel roofing weighs only 5 percent as much as real tile.

The higher material costs of metal roofing is offset by the speed of installation. Much of the contoured metal roofing is formed in large panels. It requires only about 25 panels per 100 square feet of roof to cover.

Write for or download from Update Bulletin No. 782, a buyer's guide to 17 manufacturers of residential aluminum, copper and steel roofing listing styles, colors, finishes, weights, features and installation details. If ordering by mail, please include $3 and a business-size self-addressed envelope and send to James Dulley, St. Petersburg Times, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45244.

Lint in dryer duct

Question: I had to remove the flexible clothes dryer duct to do work, and I noticed that it has a half-inch layer of lint in it. Is this a problem, and, if so, how should I clean it out?

Answer: This is a problem for several reasons. The lint can be a fire hazard, so it definitely should be cleaned out. It also reduces the inside diameter of the duct, so there is more air flow resistance through the dryer.

If is not a long duct, push a wand from a wet/dry vacuum into the duct and suck out the lint. For a long duct (more than 5 feet), you will probably have to pull it loose. Hold it up vertically and shake and tap on the sides.

James Dulley is an engineer. Send questions to James Dulley, the Sensible Home, the St. Petersburg Times, 6906 Royalgreen Drive, Cincinnati, OH 45244.

James Dulley has written a new 208-page book, Earth Friendly Home. The 13 chapters include buyer's guides of 460 manufacturers of alternative energy and Y2K products, 21 low-cost do-it-yourself conservation projects and 10 landscaping projects and plans. Topics include solar, wind, PV, firewood, skylights and windows.

You can order this book directly from James Dulley for $13.95 (including delivery) with a check made payable to James Dulley. Mail to James Dulley, Earth Books, P.O. Box 54987, Cincinnati, OH 45254 or visit to order on-line.

You can tour James Dulley's home on the Internet at and read about the major home improvements he has made. As he tests and adds new products to the home, he will include them on the Web page.