It can be argued that the roof is the most important part of your house. It shields you from rain, snow, hail and sleet and deflects damaging UV rays. In exchange for protecting you from harm, your roof takes a beating. It’s vulnerable to the elements, and it must remain watertight to safeguard the rest of your home’s structure.
Adequate design and proper installation are the first steps in making sure that your roof does its job well, but maintenance is crucial for helping it last as long as possible. Even though you can’t see the top of your house very well, you need to be aware of potential problems and perform proper maintenance on your roof.
According to U.S. News, this is how long you can expect your roof to last with the right maintenance:
• Slate, copper and tile – 50 or more years
• Wood shake – 30 years
• Fiber cement shingles – 25 years
• Asphalt shingles – 20 years
Maintenance for All Types of Roofing
We will discuss maintenance tips for specific types of roofing later in this article. However, there are some guidelines that you should follow no matter what your roof is made of.
Keep Your Roof Free of Debris
Leaves, trash and pine straw can accumulate on top of your house. This can be more of an issue after a storm. Also, detritus may gather around projections on your roof, such as a chimney or dryer vent.
When material piles up on your roof, it can absorb water, causing the roof underneath it to rot. As debris collects on tile roofing, it can become unsightly and contribute to mold and mildew growth. It can also make water back up into your home, leading to interior damage.
Clear debris using a leaf blower, your hands or a soft brush or broom. Be gentle when working with asphalt tiles because they are especially prone to damage.
Inspect the Roof for Lichen, Moss, Mildew and Algae
Although eco-friendly “green” roofs are a popular trend, most people don’t want plants growing on their roofing materials. Moss and algae can weaken asphalt shingles, making them more likely to blow off in a storm. This growth can also make any type of roof slippery, creating a hazard when you or a professional gets up there for an inspection.
Check the Flashing
Flashing is vital for weatherproofing your roof. It protects the valleys and intersections where opposing surfaces meet. It’s typically found at the shingle line and around chimneys, skylights, dormer windows and vent pipes. Although it’s usually made from metal, flashing can be composed of rubber or plastic. Inspect it for cracks, openings, algae and moss.
Examine the Tiles
Whatever they’re made of, roof tiles should not be cracked, chipped or loose. Damaged and missing shingles usually need to be replaced. Loose shingles should be properly re-affixed.
Inspect the Gutters
The gutters provide proper drainage so that water doesn’t build up and affect the roof or its underlayment. Depending on how much debris collects on your roof, you should check the gutters every three to six months.
Remove any leaves, pine straw or dirt that has collected in the gutters and downspouts. Ensure that gutters are properly secured so that they don’t damage your siding. Once the large objects have been removed from the gutter, wash out the rest of the dirt with a garden hose.
Trim Overgrown Trees
Trees that hang above the roof could damage your home if they break in a storm. You should never allow limbs to touch the roof. Trim any vegetation that scrapes against your house.
Maintenance Tips for Asphalt and Composite Shingle Roofing
Asphalt shingles that are made with copper particles will prevent mold and algae from growing. If you have regular asphalt shingles, however, you might want to clean them from time to time. Dead algae can appear as black streaks and can be cleaned with a chemical cleaner that’s approved for the specific type of shingle that you have.
Never use a pressure washer on an asphalt roof. If you inspect the roof and notice that most of the granules are missing from the shingles, it’s probably time for a new roof. Otherwise, you can secure loose shingles with roofing cement. Replace damaged or missing shingles with new ones.
Tile Roofing Maintenance
Although tile roofs are among the most durable, they can crack from foot pressure and fallen tree branches. Clay tiles can become brittle and fragile from exposure to the elements. Sealed terracotta and cement tiles are more resilient than clay.
You might be able to clean debris from the roof and gutters from the side of the home without walking on the tiles. Tile roofs can be cleaned with an indirect spray from a pressure washer and a mild detergent. If they’re not cleaned regularly, they can become slick from unattractive mold and algae growth.
Having a tile roof inspected by a professional is probably the best option. Certified roofing inspectors understand how to walk on the roof without damaging it. They’re also trained to find small chips and hairline cracks. These tiles should be replaced right away because the damage can become worse in severe weather.
Maintenance Advice For Metal Roofs
Some of the biggest problems found when inspecting metal roofs are loose fasteners, deflected panels, corrosion and deteriorated seams. A professional that is familiar with your type of roof will be able to check for gaps and make sure that the sealant is in good shape.
Wood Roof Maintenance Tips
Wood shakes must be cleaned regularly to prevent fungi, such as mold and mildew, from infesting them. This allows the shingles to maintain adequate ventilation and dry properly. Cedar and redwood roofs should not be stained or sealed. They rely on air circulation to maintain their hardiness.
Because wood is a natural, porous material, these shakes may develop slight curling. However, if warping is excessive, you might need to replace the deteriorated shingles.
No matter what type of roofing you have, don’t delay repairs. Neglecting seemingly insignificant issues can lead to major problems and expensive repairs down the road.