3/12 pitch roof in Rolling Meadows IL; What type of roof?


My home is located in Rolling Meadows, IL. It is a ranch with a 3/12 pitch. Another feature of the home is a large stone chimney (Wisconsin style) coming out of the center of the roof.

We had our roof replaced 4 years ago with Architecture shingles and it has leaked ever since. The leaks occur when snow sits on the roof or during very heavy rains. The contractor is now out of business. (no surprise there)

I am now looking to do another tear off, but this time want to do it right. I get conflicting statements from roofers on a 3/12 pitch roof…some say shingles others say tar and ballast or gravel.

Here’s the questions:

  1. What types of roofing should I use? Shingles or something else?

  2. What type of venting should I use? We had a ridge vent; when it rained hard sideways this would let in leaks. Very possible it was installed incorrectly. We currently have no to little venting since I had to have the ridge vent covered before the winter. This has helped but I know we need venting.

  3. ALso does anyone recommend hot wire in the gutters? This seemed to also help this winter…We are still getting leaks however.

Home is 1800 square feet. I plan on replacing this spring. Getting lots of estimates need advice from the audience here in this forum.

Thanks I am desperate to stop the leaking and the insanity.

look into a good modified bitumin or single ply system. they are pricey but worth the money. your roof is borderline slope/flat. there are various types of venting available also.wires in the gutters are ok.
do you have cathedral ceilings?this will make a difference on the vent issue. the modified can come in colors to match the house also.
is the center chimney brick or stone? this too will effect flashings and terminations of the roof as well.
photos would be a help here also.

We are from the Toronto Ontario area and on a 3/12 pitch I always use a modified bitumen system. I would never consider putting shingles on a roof with 3/12. With most of the single ply membranes you may have a problem with sliding snow damaging eavesthrough, property etc.

You can put shingles on a 3/12 and make it not leak but you shouldn’t. I would do either torch applied modified bitumen or “peel and stick” GAF Liberty or Certainteed Flintastic. I’d stay away from tar and balast myself, some of the old timers like it but it’s antiquated, fuggly and a pain to repair. Single ply is iffy… I’d do 3 layer mod bit if it was my roof.

post pics please.

i have shingled hundreds of 3/12 with no problems. its all in the details.


I am trying to post images(Pictures) through the IMG button, I download the images but don’t see them appear. Once I figure this out you will see the pictures.

I was just told by a roofer today that I have between a 3/12 and a 2/12 pitch on most parts of my home. The dormer in the front is OK at 4/12 pitch. Thanks for everyone’s replies. One side of home (the left) has a small attic space. The other side with the dormer is vaulted ceilings.

you have a low slope in an ice climate.
best to go with modified, but if other
houses in your neighborhood have shingles,
then you should be ok to with shingles.


Yes, shingles can be installed, but when a low slope, which is within the range from the manufacturers causes concern, special precautions must be taken.

If you choose to install shingles again, you should have the entire roof deck covered with Grace Ice and Water Shield.

Many inferior brands of ridge vent do leak. I use the Shingle Vent II and am out of the Carpentersville/Dundee/Elgin/Algonquin area and we have identical weather, and since I switched to this brand and properly nail it in place with 2 1/2" to 3" nails, I have not had one single complaint. The Snow Country version by GAF is very similar to the Shingle
Vent II.

Prior to 1991, I also used 2 other brands, Cobra Ridge Vent and Roll Vent, and each one had 2 instances of leakage.

Cosmetically, shingles will look much nicer, but when using architecturals, they vent is supposed to be caulked in place over the laminated up and down sections for a proper seal.

The ventilation is the key to preventing the impact from snow melt turning into an ice dam.

The heat tapes? Ask your local fire depertment about them. Most brands that would be supplied for a home owner are not worth it, and they will melt a pattern through the asphalt shingles.


A two-layer “peel and stick” is going to be the most economical while doing the best job (i.e. sealing your roof). Shingles are an option, but on a 3/12 in Toronto I would cover the entire roof with ice and water shield (preferably Grace).

Depends on the ceiling/attic.

If you have ceiling/insulation/roofdeck all in one compact assembly, then I would definitely have to say polyurea would be the best bet.

I say this because we can install a single sprayed-in-place membrane seamlessly and encapsulate the etire roof without a single break, seam, weld, weak link in the system.

If you have an attic space then I would suggest polyurea for the same reasons specified above. :slight_smile:

For an attic, I would suggest a raised ventilation system flashed with polyurea. Seamless, efficient, guaranteed.

Sounds like your best bet is a modified bitumen roof system; however, it also sounds like you need to address your chimney flashing and ice-damming in the gutter, in addition to the ventilation. The ventilation is the easy question, depending on your roof and attic configuration, but you have a choice between gravity ventilators, turbine vents, power exhaust vents, and even customized curbed venting. The ice-damming should be addressed with the roofing when the roof is replaced, leaving the primary issue as the chimney flashings. I only think chimney flashings, because you mentioned the chimney was in the center of the roof and is made of stone. Unless there is through-wall type metal flashing or the stone was saw cut for a reglet, your chimney flashing could be a primary concern. Here is where a photo would certainly be helpful.

Now here are some questions for you. Since you stated the chimney is in the middle of the roof, I want to know if you have a simple gabled roof with a ridge down the middle, or is the roof cut-up and contains valleys, hips, ridges, and dormers? If there are valleys, what were the valleys lined with? Did the roofer use a California-cut valley, which certainly would leak with that low of a slope? Were the valleys reinforced with metal? Ice & water shield? What is the condition of the stone chimney? Are there voids in the mortar joints? How is the chimney cap? Is it metal or mortar? Rusted or cracked? Do you have any walls above the roofline?

Man, some photos sure would help. Why don’t you go to photobucket.com or a similar site, and post some photos?

Practically every home constructed in the Carpentersville section known as New Carpentersville, built in the 1960’s has a 4/12 pitch on them.

We have been roofing them for the past 25 years using the Shingle Vent II Ridge Vent with no problems in all that time, with that brand of vent.

You did not state that your chimney was a source of any leak problems, but as Cerebrus mentioned, if it truly an actual stone chimney, they require special attention. We usually use sheet lead for the counter-flashings on those situations.

When you covered up the existing ridge vent, your problem leaks stopped, so that seems to be the main culprit.


I prefer a single ply system. EPDM will last a long time if the crew knows what the hell there doing. You could also shingle a 3 pitch “not lower though” with full coversge of Grace I&W under it. Do not reduce the exposure that is bad advise the is somtimes given.

Yeah, EPDM is alright if you are the one putting it on your own house and you are a professional roofer. I personally wouldn’t trust anybody but myself putting on an EPDM roof on my property, but that is because I know how easy it is to screw one up if you don’t know what you are doing. At least with a built-up roof there is some redundancy that allows you to make a few mistakes and still have a nice roof. Try leaving a void/holiday in your adhesive in a field lap and see what happens, or don’t clean your lap or properly mat it together.

Hey, I’m not knocking EPDM. Hell, I’ve personally installed over one hundred thousand of square feet of the stuff. I’ve also installed a lot of modified bitumen and built-up roofing, and I can tell you from knowledge gained as both a roofer and consultant that modified bitumens are more durable than EPDM.

On a 4/12 pitch roof, don’t you guys think that any type of flat roof will look butt ugly in comparison to the rest of the neighborhood?

I haven’t seen it instaled yet, but IB Roof systems has a membrane with residential shingle prints on the sheets. Some of the photos I have seen look pretty good.


Although im not a big fan of this manufacture this is a neat product and may fit your needs perfectly. Its called illusions by Cooley. Kind of like pvc with shingle designs on it.

cooleygroup.com/cooley/webco … 0/illindex

Designer Colors That Match Your Home
Traditions Classic comes in three designer colors:

Sierra Vista
Stony Ridge
Mountain Spruce

Here is a link to the page that shows the color options and styles.




Only if you have a pig-roofer will it not look good. If you get a granule-surfaced modified bitumen to match the shingles or house color-scheme, and cast granules in the bleed-out, then it should look just fine.

If it is indeed a 2/12 or even a 3/12 pitch I don’t think the roof will be highly visible from ground level.
You can get modified bitumen in colors that may match the surroundings and if installed correctly looks somewhat attractive.
I did a slow slope with modified bitumen a few years ago with a brown cap sheet and the owner was very much pleased with the appearance.
There were two stone chimneys on that roof, we carefully opened the corners of the metal and folded the metal up and did the detail work and then folded the corners back.
I do have some pics here somewhere I can post if requested.