TIPS FOR MAINTAINING YOUR ROOF
Homeowners rarely consider the possibility of roof damage until such problems already take root. In many such cases, the problem will have already spread to the point where no roof repair work could possibly rectify matters.
When issues such as roof leaks appear in several spots throughout a house, a roof replacement will generally be your only option. Situations like these can usually be avoided if you do a roof inspection at least twice each year. With each inspection, you can catch potential problems early in their development and take advantage of roof maintenance opportunities.
To stem the spread of damage across your shingles, you need to establish a roof maintenance routine and to carry out a series of steps at specific times each year. For starters, you will need to do a biannual inspection of the roof to look for potential problem issues such as missing shingles, exposed fasteners, loose flashing, accumulated granules, damaged drip edges and sagging gutters.
Roofs Can Last up to 25 Years With Proper Maintenance
A roof can last more than double the length of a typical residential occupancy if proper steps are taken to maintain the integrity of the shingles and flashing. To make this possible, however, you need to consider the various factors that could inflict damage on a roof. From blocked gutters to falling leaves, issues such as water buildup and isolated impacts can have damaging effects on the shingles as well as the protective metal barriers underneath and along the edges.
Problematic factors could even be rooted in what might otherwise seem like benign features. For example, the growth of moss or algae on your roof can ultimately inhibit the flow and drainage of water. The encroaching presence of tree branches can pose a threat to your roof. Local weather patterns will also impact the state of your shingles. As summers get hotter and winters grow colder and increasingly more severe, the necessity for roofing maintenance is now more important than ever.
The Importance of Roof Maintenance
A roof is the most important feature on a house. While the doors, walls and windows keep the insides safe and insulated, the roof protects the interior from rain and the elements. For all these reasons and more, a home is never really a home without a solid roof.
Due to the importance of your roof, it is crucial to perform maintenance on a periodic basis throughout the time you occupy a given residence. Even though the roof will have been built to withstand the elements for as long as possible, damage can and will occur as inclement weather and the ravages of age take their toll.
With roofing maintenance, you can catch damage early and keep roof repairs down to small, isolated areas. Roof inspections and maintenance can also help you stretch out a roof to its full life expectancy and even beyond. If you do the job well and responsibly, you might never even need to replace the roof during the time that you occupy your home.
Roof Maintenance Can Save You Money in the Long Run
Roof maintenance can spare you from numerous problems during a given year. If you perform an inspection of your roof during springtime, you can catch any problems that may have taken root over the preceding winter.
If you do spot a problem, you can rectify the matter and prevent it from expanding in the months ahead. Otherwise, you might face an even worse problem during the upcoming fall and winter seasons. For example, a minor issue with worn caulking could expand into a full-blown leak during the following winter.
Regular roof maintenance can also add value to your home. If you intend to place your home back on the market within the next few years, potential buyers will note the care that has gone into the roof when they come to look at your property. As such, your house could end up selling for more thanks to the inspections and upkeep that you perform on a periodic basis for as long as you remain at the same address.
Inspecting the Roof
On a biannual basis, inspect your roof to ensure that the shingles are intact and that everything, in general, is clean and free of leaks or corrosion. As you run your eyes side to side and up and down the roof, look for issues such as missing shingles, buckling flashing, drip edge damage and other abnormalities. The sooner you catch these problems, the easier it becomes to uproot the issue before the damage spirals out of hand and leads to costly expenses.
The harshest times for a roof are during the fall and winter months when roofs are subject to an onslaught of foliage and inclement weather patterns. The impact of fallen branches, pinecones and other elemental factors can also leave damaging impacts on your roof.
It is wise to inspect your roof during late fall after the leaves have mostly fallen but before the snow hits. The presence of foliage deposits along the edge of the roof and the buildup of leaves in the gutters are both problem signs that should be rectified before winter takes hold.
Once the winter has passed, perform another roof inspection in the spring to ensure that everything is intact and free of leaks or buildup.
Repair Seals, Joints and Flashing
In order to maintain a solid, leak-free roof, it is crucial the flashing remains free of rust, corrosion or damage. Underneath the shingles, the flashing serves as the protective barrier that keeps rain and other elements from penetrating your roof.
If the shingles in a given spot become chipped or cracked, the metal flashing may be exposed to undue volumes of rain, hail and snow in the wintertime. This can be very unhealthy to the surface of the flashing because rust could ultimately take root. Once this happens, the rust could spread and form holes along the most corroded spots of the flashing surface. After the holes have formed, your attic is liable to leak.
Water can also penetrate a roof along the seals and joints. If the protective barriers become damaged, water can slide through small cracks on the roof and ultimately leak into your attic. Inspect the flashing, seals and joints on a biannual basis to ensure that they are intact, fully covered and free of corrosive buildup.
Clean the Gutters
One of the worst things that can happen to a roof is the buildup of rainwater and foliage in the drainage system. When gutters become clogged, the roof is robbed of its ability to properly drain rainwater and assorted passing elements. A problem such as this can effectively leave a roof saddled.
Gutters can become clogged if dirt is allowed to accumulate over too long a period. One of the worst culprits is foliage, which will sometimes mount along certain spots in a gutter during autumn. The more leafy trees that stand near your home, the more probable this problem could be during a given year.
A drainage system can also be problematic if the gutters become bent and lose their ability to drain water properly. If your house was fitted with a low-quality roof drain, the gutters might corrode if the paint comes off the metal. Once corroded, the metal could gradually lose shape. Drainage issues can also result from clogs in the holes through which water would normally stream to the ground.
To ensure that your gutters do not become clogged to the detriment of your roof, inspect the gutter tracts on a biannual basis, preferably during the late-fall and early spring seasons.
Review the Surrounding of Your Home for Trees That Should Be Trimmed or Removed
A related issue to the point about gutters is the presence of trees around your home. If trees are situated too close to any side of your property, the branches could extend over your roof and expose the shingles to numerous droplets. During fall and winter, a hovering branch is liable to expose your roof to falling leaves and pinecones. Branches can also provide rodents with access to your roof.
Ideally, any trees on your property should be rooted a minimum of six feet away from every side of your house. This way, overgrown branches are less likely to pose a direct threat to your roof. That said, branches should be trimmed back to certain lengths on residential properties, as longer branches can pose a danger when inclement weather hits. If a branch is severed from the trunk of a nearby tree, strong wind gusts could thrust that branch at your rooftop or possibly one of your windows.
Use Caulk on Trouble Spots
Over time, the caulking that seals off the joints between your roof and chimney can ultimately erode and cause gaps to form. Without this sealant in place, water along these edges can slip through to the inside. A similar effect is possible along the edges of the flashing and between the roof and the air vents into your home.
As with the caulk that seals the gaps between your window panes and frames, the caulk on your roof is meant to serve as a barrier against the passage of water through some of the thinnest yet most vulnerable potential openings. Even though the roof itself might be tightly fitted along all sides of the chimney and vents, it does not mean that water won’t slip through without the extra protective barrier of caulk. Fortunately, caulking is relatively easy to remove and replace.
If the caulking has eroded along any spot, remove the old caulk and replace it with a new application. Make sure the spot is clean before you apply the new caulk. Check for signs of rotted caulk along the other joints of the roof. Remove and reapply the caulk if necessary.
Inspect the Roofing Insulation
Even though insulation is typically more associated with walls than roofs, the insulation that lines the interior roof inside your attic is important to the overall function of the roof. In addition to keeping your interior warm and insulated regardless of outside temperatures, the insulation can also help keep your roof structurally sound.
Insulation stabilizes the temperature of your home throughout the various warming and cooling cycles of each passing year. In doing so, insulation protects your roof from the physical expansions and contractions that building materials undergo between the extremes of summer and winter. Thanks to the presence of insulation, your roof is less likely to warp as the seasons change.
The presence of insulation can also stop snow along the outside from melting and then freezing on your roof, thus preventing further damage. To ensure maximum protection for your roof, the insulation should be inspected annually for signs of wear or saturation.
What to Avoid When Doing DIY Roof Maintenance
As you go about inspecting your roof, try to avoid walking directly over the rooftop. Instead, take a ladder and inspect the roof from along the edges. If necessary, take a pair of binoculars to get a closer look at the edges along the shingles, chimney, gutters, air vents and flashing.
Walks on the roof should be reserved for when maintenance must be performed along a given area. Otherwise, the force of your feet could potentially cause a shingle to chip or crack and ultimately lead to more serious issues down the line. Walking along a rooftop can also be dangerous unless you have experience balancing at 45-degree angles.
When it comes to cleaning your roof, refrain from using power-wash methods. The force of a power wash can cause damage to shingles and ultimately cause bits of cedar to crack or split, which will leave the underlying roof more vulnerable to leaks. While it is important to remove algae and moss from the shingles, a power wash could ultimately do more damage than good.
When to Get a Professional
When you follow the basic spring roof tips and also do annual fall inspections, your roof will likely remain in good shape with basic maintenance, barring the advent of a hurricane, earthquake or fire. Sometimes, however, roof repair and maintenance work is necessary, whether the problem stems from the ravages of age or from a rough winter season. Beyond the simpler tasks like branch trimming and gutter clearing, it is generally best to leave roof work to a professional.
When you hire a roofing professional to inspect your roof, any looming problem that might be present will be identified. After all, roofing professionals inspect countless roofs year after year and know how to spot even the tiniest yet consequential problems that are often missed by the average homeowner. A professional roofer will also have vast experience with every imaginable form of roofing maintenance and can therefore guarantee that your roof will be fixed to the best of standards.
For homeowners in and around Lancaster, P.A., the Exterior Company, Inc. is the most trusted name in roofing maintenance, repair and installation work. As a full-service restoration company with a strict adherence to building codes, we build roofs to the highest standards. Contact us for your roof, gutter and exterior needs.