When was the last time you took a good look at your roof? Unlike the windows and doors, porches and decks, the appearance of the roof is often left to chance. However, a roof is what keeps the people inside warm and dry, and without proper care, that overlooked roof can be the cause of major damage and disruption. Keep your roof in tip-top shape with regular preventive roof maintenance and it will reward you with decades of protection.
At Pacific West Roofing we have been inspecting, repairing, installing, and maintaining roofs since 1980. Along the way we’ve learned what small steps can be done to maintain your roof and prevent big problems. Whether your roof is shingled or metal, shake or tile, residential or commercial, we’ve compiled a checklist to help you ensure you’re doing all you can to give your roof a long life.
A Checklist: 10 Tips For Preventative Roof Maintenance
- Trim branches:
We all love trees, but trees that are too close to a house can cause damage to the roof. Branches that extend over a roof can scratch the roof each time the wind blows lifting, breaking, or even removing shingles. They also become a direct source of debris that can clog gutters. Trees are beautiful, but put some space between them and your home. If you have trees with overhanging branches, have them trimmed and be on the lookout for newly sprouted branches each year.
- Remove moss:
Moss makes a regular appearance in our damp Pacific Northwest climate. It looks great in a forest, but not so nice on a roof. Moss doesn’t just sit on top of the roof it grows between shingles where it can eventually lift the shingles away from the roof. That allows water to seep inside and rot the wood. A good preventative is to sprinkle zinc sulfate granules across the roof each year to inhibit moss growth. But if you do look up and see a carpet of green, call in experts to clean your roof and remove the moss.
- Clean off debris:
Regular roof cleaning can go a long way in extending the life of your roof. Leaves and fir cones in the fall, layers of pollen in the spring, and twigs and branches after any storm can all end up on your roof. A leaf blower or a broom might do the trick for do-it-yourselfers, but sometimes a bit more scrubbing may be involved and professionals should be consulted.
- Clear the gutters:
Clearing gutters is a chore homeowners may choose as a do-it-yourself project and it’s an important part of roof maintenance. Gutters that become blocked by leaves and other debris don’t allow rainwater or ice melt to run properly from your roof. The blockage will begin to decompose and eventually rot leaving a prime location for mold to grow and thrive. Not only will growing mold turn your gutters and likely a bit of your home’s exterior black, mold can cause health issues if it seeps its way inside. Another risk of not doing regular gutter clearing is that the rainwater will overflow and can soak through your shingles causing damage to them and increasing the chance of leaks. If you like hauling out the ladders and examining what’s hiding in the gutters, it is a job you can carefully do, but you can always leave it to the experts.
- Prevent ice dams:
If your roof isn’t properly ventilated and insulated you run the risk of ice dams forming after a heavy snowfall. If warm air is escaping the attic it will melt the snow. As the snow melt moves to colder parts of the roof, like towards your gutters, it refreezes forming ice dams that prevent melting snow from draining off the roof. If an ice dam forms in the gutter it will weigh down the gutter eventually causing it to break away from the roof. A water backup behind the ice dam can become a leak into your attic. Ice dams can be visible from the ground so take a walk around after heavy snow and check your roof for signs of frozen ridges. If you see any, call a professional to get rid of the dam and inspect your attic ventilation and insulation.
- Inspect for attic leaks:
Take a walk through your attic and look for signs of leaks like staining, mold, and mildew on the plywood roof deck or rotting wood. Any of these are a sign there is a roof leak that needs to be addressed.
- Ensure ventilation is working:
Ventilation in an attic provides a place for the warm, moist air that forms in your house and rises to the highest point, to escape through an exhaust vent or fan. Without proper ventilation, that heat and moisture have nowhere to go and begin to encourage the growth of mold and mildew. Attic ventilation should be part of a regular roof maintenance plan to ensure vents are working correctly and not damaged.
- Check insulation:
Roof insulation helps prevent both heat loss and heat gain within the attic and really within your entire home. Whether glass wool sheets or blown-in loose fill, insulation is an essential part of a roof installation as it can significantly decrease the energy demands of a home’s HVAC system. If your energy bills seem to be rising, if you spot patches of melted snow on your roof after a snowfall, or if you inspect your attic and find insulation missing, damaged, or starting to fall, it’s likely time to have some insulation repaired or added.
- Inspect shingles:
Shingles, no matter what type you have, are what protect your roof from weather. A regular part of roof maintenance should be to look at your shingles from the ground. The easiest problem to spot is missing shingles or ones that have become loose. A closer look from the roof will be needed to identify lifting or damaged shingles, damaged flashing, missing fasteners, or piles of granules that have come off of the shingles.
- Check flashing:
Along the edges of your roof and any roof additions like chimneys, vents, or skylights, there are thin strips of metal called flashing. Flashing diverts water away from those edges where shingles can’t quite cover the space. Overtime flashing can rust, crack, lift, or separate leaving areas for water to seep through the roof. A visual inspection of the flashing will show if the flashing needs to be replaced to block out the water. Either way, regular inspection and maintenance of sealant is an essential component to extending the life of your roof.
There are several ways that homeowners can inspect and maintain their roofs, but we recommend at least an annual if not seasonal roof inspection be conducted by a professional whose trained eye can spot even the smallest of problems that left untreated could damage your roof. Plus roofing contractors follow strict safety protocols and have lots of experience climbing ladders, setting up fall protection, and walking on roofs. Why risk a fall, when you don’t have to?
If you have any questions about roofing repair, damaged shingles, roofing home improvements, or your roof system in general, please contact Pacific West Roofing. We’re happy to guide you through the best solutions for you and your home.