It’s hard to exaggerate the importance of the roof to the overall structure of your home, but homeowners may not take the necessary time to keep it in optimal condition. When you realize all of the problems that can be caused by neglecting the roof, the importance of this becomes clear.
The roof protects your entire home from the elements. Everyday exposure to sun, wind, rain, and other wear and tear slowly ages the roof membrane until its service life ends. Other environmental threats include termites, carpenter ants, and other wildlife, as well as temperature extremes. Climate extremities can hasten aging, but careful maintenance can maximize the life of your roof.
The average asphalt shingle roof lasts about 20 years with proper care. Cement shingles last a few years longer, and a slate or tile roof can last as long as 50 years. Every extra year you can squeeze out of the roof is that much more money that can be saved for other purposes.
Replacing a roof is a big job, and one to postpone as long as possible. At the same time, a roof that leaks can cause all sorts of damage to other parts of the home as well. Water seeping under the shingles will eventually cause the roof to rot and allow water to damage ceilings and walls inside. A small leak in the roof can cause major damage over time, including the creation of cracks and weakness in the foundation, which can be painfully expensive to repair.
With the cost of roof replacement ranging upwards from $20,000, preventative maintenance is well worth the trouble. While no roof lasts forever, good maintenance can buy you years, while neglecting your roof can cut its life in half. The key to good maintenance is simply effective monitoring.
No matter what the age of a roof, it should be closely inspected once a year. Even if you haven’t noticed any leaks, check for loose shingles, cracks, and damage. This should include a look at gutters and downspouts as well. These should be thoroughly cleaned at least once a year to prevent water backing up and damaging the roof and trim.
Here are some safety tips to keep in mind if you plan to inspect and clean your roof yourself:
- Use a sturdy ladder, and work with a partner
- Wear work gloves and protective eyewear
- Wear rubber-soled shoes
- Be aware of power lines
- Don’t work in wet weather
Once you’re safely aloft, keep your eyes peeled for these potential troublemakers:
- Moss, fungus, or algae – these can indicate a moisture problem and will also contribute to the deterioration of the roof material. Scrub them off with a long-handled brush.
- Debris, like leaves or sticks – Remove these with a broom, taking care to avoid damaging the gutters at the roof’s edge.
- Overhanging trees – these may fall in a storm, drop fruit, or act as a convenient “bridge” to let animal pests climb onto your roof. It’s best to keep these trimmed back.
- Large bird populations – Birds living among the pipes or chimney can cause hazardous blockages, and droppings are very acidic, which can be damaging to shingles.
- Loose, cracked, curled, blistered, or missing shingles – replace these immediately to avoid more expensive repairs later.
- Rot or insect infestation in the wood –these will likely need professional attention.
- Check for bends, holes, or loose caulk around the flashing in the area of the chimney, vents, and exhaust pipes or traces of rust in any metal pieces.
It’s important to also pay attention to the gutters and downspouts, since those keep water from collecting on the roof. Also, take a look at the roof from the inside to check for dark patches, streaks, wood rot, dampness, dripping water, or mold.
The roof should be inspected at least annually. Ideally, you should check it over before the beginning of winter and then again when the weather becomes milder.
There’s no substitute for preventative measures like these. They will extend the life of your roof and help you to avoid costly damage in the meantime. Like all maintenance, caring for your roof takes time. It’s just one of the considerations for complete home maintenance, and should be one part of a comprehensive maintenance plan.
Homeowners rely on Glasshouse to take the worry out of home maintenance. By providing regularly scheduled inspections of your home’s roof and all of the other important systems and components, our managers ensure that small issues don’t become major problems.
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