Your roof has made it through a summer of blazing heat, autumn rain and now it’s to think about the winter snow. The best way to keep your roof in good shape is by hiring a professional to assess it and then to install a new roof, if required. Keep in mind that replacing a roof is a worthy investment even if the warranty on your current roof is still in effect.
If you yourself are comfortable on your roof and understand all of the safety requirements of being up there, then there are things you can identify through a simple roof inspection before you call in the professionals. Here are a few of them.
Missing or damaged shingles
Sometimes one of the best ways to get the most out of your roof is to keep an eye out for individual shingles or shakes that may be damaged. Your roof is only as good as the weakest shingle. Finding damaged ones and seeing to their replacement can help to minimize a more costly project later on, should the elements find a way through your roof and into your home.
If you are in the process of buying new shingles, it’s a good idea to order a few extra for this very purpose. You never know when a replacement of individual shingles may be needed.
Cracks and gaps
A properly sealed roof is vital to how effective it’s going to be, particularly when things get colder and rainier. One weak point to inspect on your roof is anywhere there are gaps. Most gaps occur around chimneys, vents, dormer windows, and flashing.
Sometimes, a crack or gap means that the vents and housing around them need to be replaced entirely. Other times, it’s a simple caulking job. If you can’t assess this on your own, it’s a good idea to make a note of the problem areas and add this to the list to submit to the contractor of your choice. If you can’t single out what is required to seal a crack or gap, then they certainly will.
Another factor that may affect the health of your roof aside from weather is wildlife. We share our environment with animals, some of whom seek to build nests on parts of our roofs or to simply use our roofs as highways. Often this can result in damage, especially when those “animal highways” also include – how to put it – comfort stations. Bird poop is particularly noxious and acidic, wearing away at the integrity of the shingles. Claws, however small, can also have long-term consequences on our roofs.
When you’re on your roof, make note of the tell-tale signs of animal traffic. See to the trimming of tree branches that might serve as “on ramps” to your roof. Give your chimneys a peek too, just to make sure it isn’t blocked by nesting materials. Also, look for signs that there have been attempts at entry into your home through your roof. Animals know winter is on its way, too! Some animals can burrow right through a roof in order to set up in your attic. If this is the case, another call to make would be your city’s wildlife control department.
Persistent debris and growth
Another less dramatic issue is the presence of moss and leaves on your roof. While this can be quite unsightly, the real issue revolves around the moisture leaves and moss lock in on the surface of shingles. Since moss uses shallow root systems to utilize damp conditions to sustain itself and fallen leaves hold on to water, both should be removed to reduce moisture from your roof.
Depending on the extent of the debris or the growth of moss, this may also be a job for a professional. Otherwise, the strategy of trimming back branches applies once again to reduce wet, fallen leaves as well as the shade that moss thrives off of.
Clogged downspouts and gutters
Fallen leaves are also a big source of clogs and lack of drainage on your roof. Leaves get everywhere including into gutters and downspouts which in turn interferes with drainage and the ability to keep out the elements. This makes cleaning your gutters and downspouts of leaves one of the most important fall tasks when it comes to maintaining your roof.
Depending on the extent of the issue, this may be a good time to call a professional as well. Keep in mind is that leaves will fall over a range of time and not on the same day. Consider the optimal time to get the job done and plan the project schedule accordingly.
Best line of defense
Your roof really is a symbol for your home and it provides the first practical line of defense against the elements. Conducting a cursory inspection at this time of year is a great way to protect your investment.
Here’s another thing about your roof that can’t be said enough; it can be dangerous up there. A good deal of the time hiring a professional from the get-go can be the best way to mitigate the risks of being on a sometimes uneven and slippery surface high off the ground. Safety should always be your first priority. That’s a line of defense all of its own.
Rob Jones is the Editor-In-Chief of the BuildDirect blog. Autumn is his favorite time of year. Well, mid-August to Halloween, at least. Sumautumn?