Someone once asked me “If you could tell your customers five things they should do to maintain their roofs, what would they be?” And I thought, that’s a good question! As roofing contractors we can have a tendency to over-complicate how and what we communicate to customers. In reality there ARE a few primary items to focus on regarding your roof so that’s what we’ll highlight in this article.
And, coming off a rough summer of stormy weather this might be a particularly important time to prepare your roofs for this fall and winter.
Generally speaking, your roof is such a fundamental part of your life that you may not even notice it unless something is seriously wrong. It’s easy to forget about in good times. Because of this, many homeowners forget to give their roof the maintenance care that it needs. Many forms of roof damage are not immediately apparent, instead wearing away at your roofing system over time and dramatically shortening its intended lifespan. So, your focus should be to take steps to prolong the life of your roof through a pro-active approach. After all, under your roof is your most valuable asset…your home!
Before we get into the five things you should do to maintain your roof, let’s review warning signs that could mean higher future costs if not corrected immediately:
*Roof is over 10 years old;
*Interior water stains or dampness are visible;
*Loose attic insulation;
*Open joints and seams on roof;
*Drains/gutters filled with leaves and other debris;
*Loose chimney mortar;
*Flashing separating from vent pipes, wall caps/parapets, skylights, hatch tops and chimneys;
Any one of these warning signs can create havoc and expensive repairs. Often, multiple roofing problems exist simultaneously creating very serious potential problems and higher costs if not corrected quickly.
So, what are the five things you can do to maintain your roof and help prevent serious roof damage? We recommend an annual roofing inspection that will help extend the life of your roof with an emphasis on:
- Gutters and downspouts. Clean out gutters and downspouts at least twice each year, especially if you have trees nearby. In addition, they should be properly set and secured to the fascia/house frame to avoid overflow into windows and doors below.
- Chimneys, skylights and hatch tops. Seal or re-point loose mortar between joints and chimney caps and secure chimney flashing. Seal cracks in skylight and gaps in flashing at skylight and hatch top.
- All roof penetrations. Vent stacks and pipes, air conditioning wiring, and ducts should all be flashed properly and sealed.
- Roof surface. Repair cracks or leaks in roof surface. Rain, snow and ice will cause the roof surface to deteriorate over time and create vulnerable areas that should be promptly repaired.
- Trim trees. What?! Yes, if you have foliage growing over your roof, moisture won’t evaporate as quickly as it needs to which can decay your roof and cause leaks. And tree leaves can clog your gutters and downspouts. Branches should be cut at least six feet away from your roof.
Focusing on these five items will go a long way toward protecting and preserving your roofing system over the long term. Some of these maintenance measures are fit for the DIY approach and some aren’t. We perform dozens of roof inspections every month in Capitol Hill and often there is no expense for the inspection, so it’s worth it for you to have all these things checked out. Checking these five items once per year is the recommended, pro-active approach to a long- lasting roofing system!
Tom Daniel is owner of R. Thomas Daniel Roofing, LLC and is the third generation of the Daniel family to provide roofing services to Capitol Hill homeowners for nearly 100 years. Tom was born in Capitol Hill and has supported numerous community organizations. For help with all your roofing needs he can be reached at 202-569-1080, 202-544-4430 or [email protected].