From Dan Harding on April 07, 2008 in Tools and Tips
Some types of roofing, such as stainless steel, copper, and slate need very little care and maintenance, but these roofs tend to come with a staggering price tag. Asphalt roofing is by far the most widely used roofing material, and for good reason. It is durable, affordable, and still requires a fairly small amount of maintenance. Under proper care, asphalt roofs can last 30 years and longer!
A common problem for all roofs is debris. We all enjoy those large, shade-giving trees in the backyard that provide us with restful, cool summer afternoons. Yet these trees may be wreaking havoc on our roofs at the same time. It is a good idea to keep trees trimmed so they do not encroach on the roof. These trees can also drop quite a bit of leaves, pine needles, or other debris onto the roof. This refuse holds moisture in the roof for an extended time and can greatly accelerate the degradation of the asphalt. Depending on the amount of trees, if any, you have nearby, try to get up on the roof regularly and make sure it is clean and clear of debris. Be sure to include gutters in your inspection.
Other than the regular task of keeping the roof clean, at least once per year you should do a general inspection, noting a wide variety of potential problems. Check for any loose, torn, or cracked shingles. Unless your roof is quite old, this condition is most likely due to improper installation. Replace or reset these shingles as needed. Also, check for any nails that may have worked their way up through the roofing over time. This does happen and locating and sealing the holes as soon as possible can save you from serious water damage.
It is important to inspect any and all flashing on your roof. The most common defects in roofs occur at these flashing areas. Flashing keeps water out of your home wherever the roof meets another section of the building (e.g., dormers, chimneys, skylights, etc.). Inspect your flashing for rust, cracks, or any opening that may allow water to get in. If you see a lot of caulking or other sealants, this is a good sign of problems to come.
Note any buildup of moss or lichen on the roof. Similar to the effects of trees debris, moss will keep your roof damp indefinitely and promote the decay of the roof itself. This is very common with asphalt roofs, and, thanks to your regular inspections, will not be too difficult to remedy. Simply take a garden hose with a well-working nozzle up on the roof with you. You should be able to wash the moss and/or lichen off the roof. Be sure to keep the water flowing DOWN the roof. NEVER direct water up under the roof shingles.
Finally, check your ventilation in the attic or area beneath the roof. A good air flow under the roof will keep it cool and prolong the life of the shingles. Unfortunately, it is all too easy for us, as humans and busy homeowners, to forget about our roofs until it’s too late. While they do require very little care, that does not make the roof a negligible piece of the puzzle. On the contrary it is, perhaps, the most important piece, protecting your house and everything in it. Therefore, if you develop serious leaks or problems that fall outside of this basic inspection routine, it would be wise to call a professional roofing contractor to come examine your roof.