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Keeping on Top of Things: Your Intro to Roofing Maintenance

Keeping on Top of Things: Your Intro to Roofing Maintenance

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April 2, 2008

Roofs are the most important parts of our homes.  They set the stage for your entire home.  They can be the biggest representative of your home's character, and the biggest problem when things start to go wrong, which is all the more reason to take care of roofing issues along the way. Not to mention your roof is a sizeable investment, which alone should be reason enough for homeowners to make regular roofing maintenance a part of their routine. 

Your roof is also a one of the largest physical parts of your home, and the bigger the feature, the more potential for things to go wrong.  In order to avoid all those possible troubles that can turn into big money pits, you're going to want to learn a little about how you can take preventative steps to avoid sinking a small fortune into replacing your entire roof. 

Here are some of the best ways you can start looking at your roof in a new light begin finding solutions that will work to protect your house.  Part of regular roofing maintenance and upkeep should include doing a regular all over inspection of your roof.  Use this quick reference list to start looking today:

• Ground: conduct a debris check after a windy day
• Attic: check for wet spots
• Trees
• Dark spots/ discolorations
• Missing or damaged shingles or tiles
• Moss
• Flashings
• Chimney

When inspecting your roof, be on the lookout for anything that could potentially compromise your roof.  These are any areas where the elements might be able to infiltrate your roof's defenses.

Start From the Ground Up

Though it might not cross your mind initially, the best place to start inspecting your roof is actually on the ground.  You'd be surprised what you can tell about your roof just from taking a quick walk around the perimeter of your home.  You'll get the most out of this step of the process if you conduct your walk after a particularly stormy or blustery day.  Look for any debris around your home that should belong on your roof such as bits of asphalt shingles, flashing, portions of roofing tiles, or anything else that might be out of the ordinary.  What you find will tell you if the elements have started to damage your roof. 

Finding your yard clear is a good sign, but it is by no means the end of your inspection.  If you do find some signs that your roof might be in need of repair, it's a good idea to do some more extensive checking either yourself or with the help of a certified roofer to determine the cause of the problem and the best way to resolve it before your home suffers.

From the ground you should also pay attention to the trees around your home.  Trees can be a problem for a few reasons.  They can lead to breaches in your roof's ability to shed water the way it should, especially if branches are in contact with the roof anywhere.  Make sure your trees are maintained properly and that all branches are healthy.  It might be a good idea to call upon a landscaping contractor or certified arborist in this situation to keep your trees a healthy and safe distance from your roof.  It can be very dangerous and precise work to limb trees, a task best left to those with experience and expertise. 

Roofing Maintenance 

Another way your roof can become compromised is through mold or mildew.  To determine if your roof might be affected by these, you'll most likely have to leave the ground or get somewhere high to survey your roof.

To find dark or discolored spots signaling the presence of mold, pay special attention to the more shaded portions of your roof that are consistently out of the sun.  These are the spots where moisture builds up and can lead to mold which can damage the structural integrity of your shingles or underlayment, depending on what type of roof you have.  Moss is another related concern, as it can signal the presence of mold and affect the integrity of your roofing material.   You can scrape moss off your roof yourself or, if you'd prefer to avoid heights, a roofing contractor can easily do this for you professionally making sure no part of your roof is damaged during the process. 

Think of your roof as the shell of your home, any element that breaches this shield is likely to cause big problems down the road.  This means that you need to be on the look out for any missing or damaged shingles or roof tiles.  For this particular project you might want to hire a professional roofer or inspector to come out, but it's also something you can accomplish on your own if you feel comfortable on a ladder and maintain a high level of care when on and around your roof.  

Use a keen eye to search out any missing or damaged shingles or tiles.  This is also a good chance to inspect the flashings around gutters and chimneys.  You may need to consider replacing or patching areas of the flashing that have been damaged or worn by the elements.  Any areas of your roof where joints or seams exist should be carefully examined to make sure the fittings are flush and sound, as these are generally the areas most prone to element infiltration. 

The chimney is another feature of your roof that deserves some special attention during your roofing maintenance inspection.  As you might expect, this is another location that can be disastrous if not looked after properly.  The seams where the chimney meets the roof should be watertight to avoid chimney leaks that can lead to many other expensive repair projects.  Better to do your homework and keep the moisture out rather than waiting until its too late and having to clean up expensive mold, mildew and insulation issues.  Also check up on the bricks to ensure the chimney construction itself is sturdy and secure. 

Whether you decide to tackle your roofing maintenance with one of these projects, or something completely different, you'll be glad you made an investment in your home. To find local contractors, or learn more about any of these remodeling ideas check out our other resources.

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