No homeowner looks forward to the day they have to replace their roof and considering the cost of hiring roofing contractors to replace a shingle roof, it’s no surprise why. Unfortunately many homeowners are not aware that routine roof maintenance could go a long way in extending the life of their roof and that regular roof maintenance is actually a necessary component of maintaining your roof and home. It’s actually as necessary as mowing your lawn or maintaining any other part of your home but as the old saying goes… “Out of sight; Out of mind…”
When it comes to the roofs over their heads most homeowners only have a few requirements. They want the roof on their home to work right, they want it to last long and they want it to look good. All of this can be accomplished by a homeowner who regularly inspects and maintains his roof.
As a homeowner, if you want to extend the life of your roof one of the easiest and most important things you can do is regularly inspect your roof. Regularly inspecting your roof is even more important when you have trees over your home and roof.
Inspecting your roof is probably nowhere near as difficult as you think but if you don’t feel comfortable climbing on top of your roof you can always contract a roofer to do it for you. The good news is that there are a lot of good roofing companies out there that do free roof inspections. The most important points here are to inspect your roof as soon as possible if you haven’t done so in a while so you can see what the present condition of your roof is and to inspect your roof regularly. When it comes to roof maintenance, preventing problems from occurring and keeping small repairs from turning into huge repair bills should be your main priority.
Before you climb on your roof, it’s important to note that the roofing industry routinely ranks in the top ten for most dangerous occupations in the US. Climbing onto your roof and inspecting it is not something you should take lightly as every year several professional roofers are injured while working on roof tops. Make sure to take all safety precautions when working on your roof and that you are physically capable of doing so without risking injury.
Inspecting Your Roof
As mentioned earlier, roofs with trees overhead pose a particular threat to asphalt roof shingles and may require more regular roof maintenance than those without. This is because the leaves that fall from the trees have a tendency to gather and “bunch up” on various areas of your roof and that can lead to some problems if not taken care of regularly.
Clear Roof of Debris
When inspecting your roof you want to pay particular attention to any leaves or other debris found on your roof. The problem with leaves and debris collecting on your roof is they tend to collect and gather in areas and this collection of debris will eventually start to gather water or moisture which will begin to break down the shingles on your roof. Debris on your roof can also collect in valleys which will eventually prevent the proper flow of water away from your roof and into your roof gutters.
When you get down to it the main problem with debris on your roof is that it doesn’t allow for water to flow away from your roof and into your gutters the way it’s supposed to. Most roofers will tell you that most leaks emanate from openings in the roof like chimneys, joints and vents (parts of your roof that are protected with roof flashing) and those are common areas for debris to collect. Obviously this is all easily taken care of with some routine roof maintenance. Most homeowners can avoid roof leaks and repair bills with some routine roof maintenance and most are shocked to find out that sometimes it’s as simple as clearing your roof of leaves and debris.
Check Your Roof Flashing
Ok if you really want to get serious about your roof inspections and your roof maintenance than you’ll take the time to learn a little about roof flashing and how it works. The sheets of metal that are used by roofers to cover the joints and openings on your roof are referred to as roof flashing and, as mentioned earlier, this is where most leaks occur. If you want to read a good article on roof flashing and how it works check out this article: Extreme How To Roof Flashing. It will give you a basic understanding of how roof flashing works, where you might find it on your roof and give you a better sense of how to inspect the existing flashing on your roof.
For more detailed information on how roofs work and on roof flashing you may want to visit your local library or the local home improvement store. The more you know about roofs and how they work the better off you’ll be at inspecting your own roof. Knowing how to spot problems in your roofs flashing in particular will go a long way in preventing leaks as this is the most common place for leaks to occur.
Check the Condition of Your Roof Shingles
The shingles on your roof are actually what protect your wood roof from rain and extreme weather. Underneath your shingles lies a thick layer of roofing felt which is basically tar paper that is designed to keep your wood roof dry. Essentially these are the only two layers of material protecting your wood roof from the elements. Roofing felt is even more important in areas where there is a lot of wind. High winds can blow off roof shingles and expose your roof and that can pose a huge problem if roofing felt hasn’t been applied.
To inspect your roof shingles you’ll want to examine your entire roof for any roof shingles that may have come loose or that may be missing. You’ll want t to secure the loose shingles with some roofing cement. This is simply done by applying some roofing cement to the underside of the lose shingle. Missing or damaged shingles will have to be replaced as they leave your roof vulnerable to the weather and rain in particular.
For a quick demonstration on how to replace asphalt roofing shingles check out this video on YouTube: How To Repair Roof Shingles. That video should give you a pretty good idea if replacing a roof shingle is something that you can competently do on your own or if you’re better off hiring a professional roofing contractor to do the job for you. In any event, when you have missing or loose shingles, it’s best to replace them as soon as possible or at the very least before the beginning of the bad weather season.
And check the overall condition of the roof shingles on your home as a whole. You can generally tell when roof shingles are starting to go bad because the granules start to fall off easily and the shingle itself may begin to crack and become brittle. If you notice a bunch of granules on your driveway after a heavy rain, it may be time to take a look at the overall condition of the shingles on your roof. If they look dry and brittle and they’re missing a lot of granules, it may be time to replace your existing roof.
Check the Gutters
You may have to routinely clean your gutters out if you have big trees over your roof. It is necessary for your gutters to remain obstruction-free so that water can freely flow off your roof and through your gutters the ways it’s supposed to. Checking the gutters is pretty simple. Just inspect the gutters and the downspouts for any obstructions like debris or leaves that will stop the free flow of water. Remove any debris that you find in your gutters and downspouts.
Clear Overhanging Tree Limbs
Tree limbs that hover close to your roof may seem harmless and for the most part they are but with a stiff wind blowing, there’ no telling how much damage they could cause to your roof. Make sure to trim back any over-hanging tree limbs when you inspect your roof as it will help prevent damage.
Check for Dark or Discolored Streaks
If you see signs of discoloration or dark streaks on your roof, particularly if they’re in a location where they get a lot of shade, you may have a problem with some type of mold or algae. Your best bet here is to hire a professional roofer to investigate how bad your mold problem is. Mold and algae usually grow during periods of high humidity and if you know your area is prone to this type of problem, you can prevent it by installing zinc strips on your roof to prevent mold and algae growth. Remember roof maintenance is basically preventative maintenance.
Check for Existing Leaks
If you want to check for existing leaks you can usually do so by going into your attic with a flashlight and looking for dark spots on the ceiling. This is the part of roof maintenance where you’re trying to prevent a small leak from turning into a huge repair problem/bill. Finding a small leak and repairing it can go a long way in extending the life of your roof and minimizing the amount you spend on repairing your roof.
According to most roofing materials manufacturers the average asphalt shingle roof is designed to last about 15 years. However, how much you spend on repairs and calling roofers out to fix your roof will be dependent on your roof maintenance schedule. Do yourself a favor. Minimize or eliminate the repair bills and extend the life of your roof by regularly inspecting it and maintaining a regular roof maintenance schedule. It’s not unheard of for some homeowners to get as much as 25 to 30 years out of an asphalt shingle roof with minimal repair bills and it’s most likely due to some regular and routine roof maintenance!