What Type of Maintenance Does My Roof Require?
Whether you’ve purchased an older home or just moved into a brand new home, roof maintenance is an important responsibility of homeownership. Since replacing a roof is one of the more expensive repairs a homeowner will encounter, it is very important to be proactive and prolong the life of your roof system. While there are many newer, long-lasting roof products that put an emphasis on low-maintenance living, even these require some level of attention. Plus, when the time does come to replace your roof, knowing what products are available and how to maintain them can potentially save you thousands of dollars.
Keep an eye on the sky – and your roof!
There are maintenance practices – no matter the type of roof – you should employ. First, pay close attention to the weather, especially if you live in an area prone to severe storms like hurricanes or hail. You should perform your own visual inspection both before and after a storm. Walking a rooftop may seem like the sensible way to inspect a roof, but it is a very dangerous. Even among trained construction professionals, falls are the leading cause of jobsite fatalities. For this reason, CertainTeed cautions homeowners to only inspect their roof from the ground by using binoculars for an up-close view, or from the top of a ladder while being mindful of ladder safety practices. Look for shingles that are damaged, loose, or missing – also, do the same for flashing. Flashing is a thin material, typically made of galvanized steel, installed to direct water away from areas where the roof plane meets a vertical surface like a chimney or dormer.
Additionally, you should check your roof ‘from the inside’ by going into your attic space right after wet weather, and looking for signs of leaks. These include water staining on the rafters or roof decking (the wooden sheathing that your shingles are nailed to), wet insulation, or mold growth.
If you spot any trouble signs, contact a local roofing professional for further assessment. No matter the extent of your roof damage, it’s important to leave roof repairs in the hands of professionals.
Let the pros do their job
Set a schedule to have your home professionally inspected for roof damage at least annually – twice a year is ideal. Scheduling an inspection before the start of a severe weather season is a great way to catch issues like loose shingles or failing flashing before they become a major problem. Having your roof inspected after a major storm is just as important, plus post-storm repairs may be covered by your homeowners insurance.
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Keep your roof and gutters clean
Make sure your roof and gutters are clear of debris. While fire is one of the more obvious dangers of built-up twigs and leaves, accumulated debris can also clog gutters and push debris (and ice, if it’s winter) under the edges of your roof. This can lead to the proliferation of moisture, bacteria and pests. Debris also prompts algae growth, which can lead to unsightly, black streaking on the roof the structure of your shingles.
Tree Trimming Is Critical for Branches Overhanging Your Roof
Trimming the tree branches hanging over your roof is likely not on the top of your to-do list. However, since stormy weather can cause tree limbs to fall onto and damage your roof, it is wise to take precautions. Hire a professional tree service to remove limbs that are potential hazards.
Roofing Material-Specific Maintenance
Asphalt shingles are the most common type of residential roofing due to their economy and ease of installation. While generally low-maintenance, asphalt shingles can accumulate algae or moss. Have a professional use a cleaning agent then gently brush away the growth with a soft bristled broom or wide, handheld brush. Do not use a power washer on your asphalt shingle roof, as the high powered spray can easily dislodge the roofing granules that protect your roof system from UV rays and water intrusion.
Metal roofs require almost no maintenance and have a much longer life expectancy than asphalt products. As such, metal roofing requires more of an upfront investment for the homeowner. While the risk of rust does exist, most modern metal roofing products come with a strong, scratch-resistant paint system that is resistant to oxidization. Also, it is important that other metals don’t come in contact with the metal roofing, as this can lead to rapid corrosion through a chemical reaction known as bimetallic (or dissimilar metal) corrosion.
Clay Tile and Slate
Clay tile and slate are both long-lasting and naturally fireproof, but they can crack, especially when walked on during the course of maintenance. If you discover any cracked or broken clay tiles or slate shingles, have them repaired immediately to prevent water infiltration.
Clay and tile are also subject to algae and/or mold growth, although treatments exist to help prevent algae and mold from forming. If your roof requires cleaning, it is best to hire an experienced professional who can do so without damaging or loosening the roofing materials.
Finally, if your roof is barrel tile, make sure the clay plugs at the roofline are intact for fire safety and preventing pest infiltration.
While a well-maintained cedar shake roof can provide years of protection, it requires frequent maintenance. Without proper cleaning, wood shake can form mold or algae that retain moisture and lead to rot. Additionally, wood requires treatments to prevent it from becoming a dry, brittle fire hazard.
Lastly, be sure to look out for woodpeckers, which are known for pecking holes into cedar roofing and siding in their hunt for carpenter bees and other insects. If this is the case, treating the insect infestation problem will make your roof a less-attractive target for woodpeckers.