You keep on top of preventative maintenance for your health, your car, and even your kids’ homework—but what about keeping that literal roof over your head in top shape? Sure, Spring cleaning has you sweeping behind the fridge and winter prep might have you checking to see if the water pipes are in good shape, but when’s the last time you had the roof inspected? Roof maintenance is two-fold: One you can do yourself (if only with a pair of binoculars), but this should be complemented with an expert inspection at routine intervals.
When looking at a roof yourself, keep an eye out for uneven surfaces in the decking and cracked caulking. Are any of the shingles curling, buckling or blistering? Are there even some missing shingles? Look at the rubber part of the pipe vents and see if they look worn down or split open. Any damage to chimney caps should be addressed, and if you notice moss or lichen, that can be a sign of decay. Black algae may seem like a cosmetic fix that doesn’t necessarily need immediate attention, but it’s an excellent food source for moss, which can remove granules from the shingle exposing the asphalt to the sun’s rays.
When Action is Necessary
For homeowners with colored grit found in places like the gutters, that’s a red flag. It might look like sand, but it means the roof is being exposed to dangerous UV rays. It might be that the roof’s service life is about to expire, and acting quickly may give you a few more years. Any shingles with issues require immediate replacement, and there are some things a handy DIYer can do him or herself, such as nailing back in loose shingles, but for the most part it’s best to leave things to a pro.
In an ideal world, roofs are expertly inspected annually, preferably in the autumn before the wind, rain and snow sets in. Otherwise, it’s recommended to have a new roof inspected after the first five years, then at 10 years, 13, 15, 17, and every year after that. Handymen are truly “handy” for small fixes and can save you a few dollars, but there’s no substitute for a professional, licensed roofer who carries liability insurance and workers compensation on their employees.
What’s This Going to Cost?
Many reputable roofers offer free or low cost inspections, but the actual repairs will certainly have a price. Shingle replacements are usually under $250, common skylight and chimney repairs are under $500, and repairs to flashing are typically under $25 per foot. And if you have moss? That’s best removed in the autumn with a moss killer designed specifically for roofs (don’t use one for lawns, as you’ll suddenly have a green roof).
Dead moss can then be removed in the spring, right in time for your annual spring cleaning activities. You can hire a roofer or do this yourself, but keep in mind that it can take a few hours to sweep and clean a roof, which can be a back-breaking task for a larger home– especially with a steeper roofline.
The Sky is Leaking
By the time a roof is actively leaking, it’s probably been damaged for quite awhile. That’s why it’s paramount to keep up with regular inspections. Telltale signs can include dark spots on the ceiling interior, peeling paint near roof overhangs, damp areas by the fireplace, and water stains on the pipes.
Don’t wait until it’s too late. Roof replacement can be extremely expensive, and it’s always better to keep up with maintenance rather than waiting for the worst to happen.