Homeowners Guide to Roof Maintenance

Stains and water damage from a neglected roof can cause costly repairs or even structural damage to the building. Additionally, these problems can affect the indoor air quality of the building and pose safety risks for occupants.

Roof Maintenance

Check the shingles for cracks, buckling or discoloration. Also, examine the flashing that lines the penetrations of chimneys, vent pipes or media installations to ensure the seals are intact. Visit https://www.corpuschristiroofingco.com/ to learn more.

At least once a year you should climb up on the roof and do a thorough inspection of the shingles. The shingles shield your home from water damage and if any are missing, cracked or broken, it can let water into the house. If you see any shingle tabs that lift easily, it’s a good sign that the adhesive bond has been compromised and the shingle is starting to fail.

You should also look for signs of poor shingle installation. This might include excessive granules in gutters and downspouts, bare spots on the roof or areas where shingle edges appear to be lifting up. These are all indicators that the shingles need to be replaced.

A properly installed shingle roof is designed to last at least 20 years and it can last even longer. You can extend its life by inspecting and performing regular maintenance.

Besides looking at the condition of the shingles themselves, you should check the flashing (a thin material that is installed to direct rainwater away from areas where the roof plane meets vertical surfaces like chimneys and dormers) for rust or other signs of wear. You should also look at the soffit and eaves for signs of moisture and rot. Inspecting the soffit and eaves is especially important because these areas are the first to show signs of moisture penetration.

In addition, you should also inspect the support structures that hold up pipes and equipment. Make sure there are no sagging elements, deflected hangers or supports digging into the roof membrane. If you notice any of these issues, they should be repaired promptly.

Another thing to watch out for is the growth of moss, algae and lichen on your roof. These organisms are notorious for their unsightly appearance and can cause extensive damage if they remain unchecked. You can prevent their growth by having the roof regularly cleaned and by applying a product that will inhibit the development of these organisms. You should also ensure that the attic has adequate ventilation so hot air and moisture do not build up on the shingles.

Clean the Gutters

Gutters are a vital part of any roof system, channeling water away from the house and helping to prevent structural damage. But as gutters fill with leaves, sticks and other debris, the water’s path is blocked, causing a host of problems. These include algae growth, shingle damage and, if the clogs are severe enough, leaks that can do serious damage to walls, siding and the foundation of the home. Clogged gutters also contribute to ice dams during winter storms, which can cause additional weight on the roof and further damage to the roof materials.

While a regular cleaning can help minimize the amount of debris that builds up, it’s best to do this on a routine basis – at least twice per year or more often in areas with lots of nearby trees. For maximum safety, you should always clean the gutters from the ground, using a long-handled gutter scoop or wet/dry vacuum attachment (which can be found at online retailers and hardware stores). If you choose to climb a ladder, position it on a safe spot with a flat surface and use a spotter to hold the ladder steady as you work.

Start at one end of the gutter and move slowly along it, sweeping the debris into a bucket or trash bag as you go. Once you reach the downspout, direct the water stream of the hose down the gutter and down the downspout to flush out any remaining debris. Repeat this process for all downspouts and gutters to be cleaned, ensuring that the entire gutter system is completely clear and free of obstructions.

It’s also a good idea to inspect the gutter system at this time, looking for any spots that need to be patched or repaired and making sure that all fasteners are secure. If you find any sagging or loose sections, have a professional repair them immediately to reduce the risk of falling debris during a future storm or rainstorm. Also take this opportunity to replace any missing gutter downspout fasteners, using stainless steel screws rated for outdoor use.

Trim Tree Branches

Tree branches that hang too close to a house can damage or even collapse the roof during heavy winds and storms. They also can cause debris to fly off and clog gutters, promote algae growth and allow insects to gain entry points into the home. Trimming large trees on a regular basis minimizes the risk of damage to the roof and the property below.

Pruning more than 25 percent of a tree at one time can stress it and potentially kill it, so it’s important to plan carefully before cutting. Aim to remove dead or damaged branches and to shape the upper limbs for form and function. Overlapping branches can rub together and wear them down prematurely, while weak or crooked branches can pull on the rest of the canopy, leading to breakage.

Start your pruning cuts on the underside of the branch, about a foot and a half from its base. Saw up through the branch halfway, creating a stub where it will fall away from the tree. Move to the top side of the branch, about an inch further out than your first cut and cut down until the branch breaks free of its stub.

After you’ve removed the stub, make a final cut on the outside of the branch collar, the slight swelling and wrinkled area where the branch connects to the trunk or a thicker limb. Avoid cutting flush to the trunk, which can cause bark damage and encourage insect infiltration and rot.

Using clean, sharp tools is essential for proper pruning. Using dull blades can create jagged cuts that are harder to heal and may lead to more damage to the tree. Use hand pruners (a bypass pruner with a curved blade and cust like a pair of scissors or a pair of shears) for small branches and lopping shears, which have a curved cutting head and a scissor-like grip, for larger branches up to 2 inches in diameter. Some shears are designed for a specific branch size and will have a label that indicates what they’re suitable for.

Inspect the Attic

It’s not just the shingles that require routine inspection and care. Leaks and other issues can arise in the attic, too. During an attic inspection, it’s important to look for water stains and musty odors. These are signs of moisture intrusion, which can cause mold and rot. Leaks often occur around roof penetrations such as plumbing vents, dryer vents, bathroom exhausts, attic ventilators, kitchen hood exhausts, and electrical service mast entry points. The flashing that seals these areas should be inspected as well. Flashing is the unsung hero of the roof, preventing leaks by creating a durable barrier between vulnerable joints and penetrations.

An attic inspection should also include checking the condition of the wood framing and joists. Look for sagging, separation or gaps where the rafters meet the ridge boards and check metal truss plates to make sure they are not twisted or rusted. If you find any problems, a home inspector will be able to recommend repairs.

The attic should be inspected on a regular basis, ideally on a biannual basis. This ensures problems are caught and addressed early on before they can get out of hand. The inspection should also include a close examination of the soffit and gable vents. These play an important role in the ventilation of the attic and help to regulate humidity. Look for any obstructions like bird nests, leaves and acorns that can hinder airflow.

In addition to evaluating the health of the attic and roof structure, a thorough attic inspection can reveal valuable information about a home’s history. For example, black or sooty joists can indicate that the attic has had previous fires. Also, the presence of tunnels and wood shavings can suggest that squirrels or raccoons are entering the home through the attic and chewing the wiring or insulation.

The best time to inspect the attic is immediately after a heavy rain. This will give you a good idea of the effectiveness of your roof’s drainage system. It’s also the best time to check for leaks. A leaky roof is more likely to lead to expensive structural damage, so it’s essential that you catch them as soon as possible.