Roof Inspection and Maintenance | A How-To Guide

Remember your roof. Inspection and maintenance of your roof is key for a safe home. Without the roof, is your house really a home? The comfort of a roof over our heads is a feeling that we’ve all experienced. Our roofs keep us warm in the winter and cool in the summer. But they do more then offer shelter from the elements; our roofs create the feeling of security. Considering all these points, it’s surprising to read about how many people neglect proper care of their roof. Especially considering the amount of money you could save simply by focusing a little more attention to your rood each year. But we’re homeowners too, so we strive for that same feeling of comfort. Which is why we are providing you with this roof inspection and maintenance kit to ensure your roof is effective and your home safe for years to come.

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As a general rule, you usually want to inspect your roof at least once a year. To do this, just follow these guidelines.

Inspection Basics

The first thing you will want to do is inspect your roof from a safe distance. You do not want to just walk up onto your roof since it could be unsafe and could have problems and deficiencies you are unaware of. A great way to do this is inspecting your roof from a distance using binoculars. You can simply climb up on a ladder, or you can lean the ladder against your roof and look over the entire top of your house without actually touching anything. Be sure to check for wear and tear such as cracked caulk, rust spots, buckling, curling, or blistering shingles, and areas that are worn around pipes, chimneys, or skylights. Also, check you gutters and downspouts for colored grit if you have asphalt roof tiles. These granules cover the surface of your roof shingles and protect your home from the sun’s damaging ultra-violet rays. You want to also be aware of black algae stains. They are usually just cosmetic, but if you have large amounts of moss and lichen building up, that could be a sign that your roof is decaying and rotting underneath your shingles.

Once you have looked over your roof, you will want to remove and replace and damaged or missing shingles as soon as you can. Look for nails that have popped out and hammer them back in place, and reseal any metal flashing around skylights, chimneys, or attic vents. Check your plumbing vent pipes for deteriorating flashing. They have a tendency to disintegrate in the sun. Other things to check for are cracks and gaps and that your chimney cap is in place and correctly installed. If you catch these problems early, they are quick and easy to fix. If you let them sit, they will creep up on you and end up costing you much more in the long run.

If you have some experience and you are comfortable working on a roof high above the ground, then you can repair the shingles and caulk flashing by yourself. Buy the shingles and caulk you need and give yourself at least half a day to work fix everything.

Roof Leaks

Initial signs of a roof leak are dark areas on your ceilings(s), peeling paint on the underside of your roof overhangs, damp and moist areas alongside your fireplace, and water stains on pipes that vent your furnace or water heater. If you are inspecting your roof alone and you end up finding warning signs, then bring in a professional to do a professional inspection. You especially want to do this if your roof is old and worn or if there’s been a recent severe storm that you think may have affected your roof somehow.

Leaves on Roof

If your roof is simple and only has one or two peaks on it, then you probably won’t have much, if any, leaf build up on your roof. However, if you have several intersecting surfaces and dormers, or if you have several large, tall trees near and around your home, then you will probably have piles of leaves collecting in your roof valleys or near your chimney(s). If this is the case, then you will want to remove any and all leaves. If you don’t, the leaves will trap moisture against your roof and will slowly disintegrate it. This will also allow wind blown seeds to take root on and underneath your roof.

If your roof is low and gradually sloping, and your home is one-story, then you will probably be able to sweep the leaves off your roof using a soft car-washing brush on a telescoping pole. You can also use a specialty tool such as a roof leaf rake. These usually cost around $20. You can also use a leaf blower, but this usually only works well with dry leaves and you will have to actually get on your roof to blow the leaves off. If the leaves are damp or moist, then you will want to use a hose to spray and wash them off. Do NOT use a pressure washer. They will force water up under your shingles and cause deterioration and rotting.

Overhanging Leaves

Along with the possibility of leaves becoming a problem from nearby trees, animals can also become a problem due to these same trees. Sometimes you will have squirrels and other rodents gnawing on your roof or siding which creates obvious problems. To prevent animal and leaf problems, make sure to trim any trees that surround or hang over your house. Ideally, you will want to trim these trees 10 feet away from your roof. If this isn’t possible, then you can wrap a 2-foot wide sheet metal band around nearby tree trunks about 6-8 feet above the ground. This will prevent squirrels from climbing your trees. If you are trimming your trees, you will probably want to bring in a professional to do it. You can do it yourself, but you will be running the risk of damaging your roof even further.

Ice Dams

If you are experiencing a buildup of ice on your roof, be sure to read our Ice Dam and Snow Damage blog to learn how to prevent and cure ice dams on your roof.

Gutter Cleaning

If you have leaves piling up in your gutters, then your rainwater collection system will become clogged and runoff from your roof will spill over the sides of your house instead of going into your gutters and down the downspouts. This will cause damage to your siding and can also contribute to the flooding of your basement. Even worse, water can buildup inside and underneath your home which will cause rotting, infestations of wood-eating insects, and damage to interior paint.

Experts do not recommend screens or covers to keep leaves out of your gutters. They don’t work and they can actually make the situation even worse. You can simply scoop the leaves out of your gutters wearing gloves, or just hire a professional to come in and do the cleanup. You ideally want to clean your gutters out at least once a year, possibly more if your home has a lot of trees and shrubs around and near it.

Roof Moss

Moss is extremely detrimental to your roof and can shorten the lifespan of your roof many years. Roof shingles underneath moss on your roof will remain soaked because of the moss, so you will be more prone to freeze-thaw damage in the winter. Added moisture will also make your shingles more brittle, make them rot quicker, and could cause infestations of insects or other unwanted life on and underneath your roof. Ceramic tiles or cement can even be cracked by moss. Also, remember that shake roofs are NOT immune to moss damage.

If you need to get rid of moss, you’ll want to start the process in the fall. You start by applying a moss killer intended for roofs. Do NOT use moss killer intended for your lawn. This moss killer has iron in it which will stain your roof. Once springtime rolls around, you can simply use a broom to remove and remaining dead moss. You’ll want to spray the moss killer on your roof again once you’ve cleaned it off initially.

Roof Replacement

If you have an asphalt roof that is 15 years or older, it is probably time to replace your roof. If this is the case, be sure to contact Paragon Certified Restoration and we will do everything in our power to ensure that your roof replacement process is as smooth and seamless as possible.