To keep problems at a minimum, inspect your roof at least twice a year, making repairs to the roof system as needed, to guarantee the roof will live its intended lifetime of 15+ years.
Put a reminder on your calendar to look closely at the roof once in the spring and once in the fall to prepare it for the harsher summer and winter weather.
Inspection: Before purchasing a new-to-you home, hire a home inspector qualified to review the roof’s condition. You’ll want to know of any deficiencies that might need to be repaired or watched out for in the next few years or next decades. This might give you an idea of proactive things you can do to keep the roof in great condition.
Foliage: Keep nearby large trees neatly trimmed or cut back to prevent large limbs from damaging your roof. You may need to hire a company to help with the tree trimming, depending on its size and location to the house. Clean your yard of fallen leaves and debris to stop them from ending up on your roof or in your gutters.
Gutters: To prevent drainage issues and puddling of water, remove loose debris and leaves that gather in the gutters. While you’re cleaning the gutters, check the condition of all sections and make note of any portions that need to be repaired or replaced. This is an activity that can be done twice a year, spring and fall, to proactively keep your home’s exterior in excellent condition.
Ventilation: When inspecting gutters, you can also do a visual examination of the top ridge vent or exhaust cap on the roof. This is the triangular top piece that sits on the peak of each roof section. The ridge vent allows the attic space to release hot air and moisture. Verify the vent is not curling or damaged. Some homes also have a gable vent on the vertical side of a roof that may be square, octagon, round, or half-round in shape. Remove any debris or bird’s nests in this space.
Insulation: Verify there is sufficient insulation and a vapor retarder on the floor of the attic. The wood roof sheathing or deck above should also be insulated, leaving a 1” gap on all sides. This allows attic airflow and keeps your home operating with less temperature fluctuations. Blown in or sprayed insulation tends to perform better than batt style sheets of insulation because they cover any gaps and provide a thicker layer of insulation and protection against heat loss.
Leaks: After strong storms, visit your attic to confirm there are no visible water stains or leaks that will harm the living space below. Any light peering through the attic roof might be a sign that the sheathing or shingles may be loose or damaged.
Algae: Although more common in humid and shady locations, streaking on the shingles can be caused by fungus, mold, or algae. The spores slowly degrade the shingles, which decreases the integrity of the roofing material and could shorten the longevity of the roof and lead to other problems. Installing zinc strips along the roof ridge can defend the shingles from acquiring a spore invasion.
Shingles: Annually study the shingles for damage and make repairs as needed. Shingles may noticeably come loose or blown away from a storm or strong wind, display curling edges or torn tabs, and experience general wear from being in the elements daily.
Safety: When working on a roof yourself, be sure to take all safety precautions to protect yourself from injury. Use an appropriate ladder anchored on solid ground. Have three points of contact with the ladder, usually 2 feet and a hand, for stability. Wear rubber sole shoes, and have a partner spot you when you’re using the ladder and on the roof.
Choosing Contractors: Some roofing tasks are best left to a professional. Contact two to three roofing contractors to get the best pricing on your project, and weigh customer reviews and the company’s reputation to help you decide which quote is best for your situation. Money and time spent doing the job right today can save you time and money in the future.
Semi-annual spring and fall inspections of the roof and all its components will allow your roof to perform to its fullest potential and hopefully live up to or exceed its expected lifecycle.