Maintaining Your Roof

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Never underestimate the value and importance of your roof. It protects your home and family by standing between you the elements, and, when properly maintained, protects your home’s foundation from water damage. The Homeowner Protection Office (Branch of BC Housing) says that the average roof lasts from 10 to 30 years, depending on its design, the level of exposure it gets and the materials used in its construction. Since replacement is a fairly expensive proposition, most homeowners consider regular maintenance a great investment.

Systematic inspection and maintenance of your roof enables you to prolong its life, prevent leaks and remedy minor problems before they become major costly ones. The HPO recommends semiannual inspections  – one in the spring to address winter damage and one in the fall to prepare for harsh winter conditions – by a professional roofing inspector or contractor. It’s also important to inspect your roof following high-wind storms, which, in addition to rain, snow, hail and extreme temperatures, really put your roof to the test.

You can also do some inspection and maintenance work yourself.

Here are some tips for keeping your roof in great condition:

Inspect your roof at least twice a year for damage and trouble spots.

Look for shingles that are torn, curling, blistering or abnormally worn; accumulations in your gutters of the granules from the surface of the shingle (these provide protection from the sun); cracks or gaps in the caulk around the flashing; and moss, which could indicate moisture and decay on the underside of your roof.

Do thenecessary repairs. Replace missing, damaged or loose shingles .

Flatten any nails that are sticking out. Re-caulk the metal flashing around the chimney, attic vents and skylights if it’s not in great condition. Replace your chimney cap if it’s damaged or missing.

Remove moss.

Moss holds moisture against your roof, leading to decay and accelerated damage from winter freezing. Use a moss killer formulated for roofs; once the moss is dead, you can simply sweep it away.

Remove leaves.

Like moss, leaves can hold moisture and facilitate decay.

Remove ice (with professional help).

Acknowledging the potentially severe damage that can be caused by heavy ice, the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Association offers this advice: First decide if trying to remove the ice might cause more damage than leaving it there. Ice-removal tools can damage roofing materials as well as the structure below. Chemical deicers can damage the roof, as well as plants on the ground. Consult with a roofing professional and, should you decide the ice needs to go, let him or her handle the details.

Keep your trees trimmed.

If you have trees close enough to touch your roof, keep them trimmed to discourage the build-up of leaves and moss. Branches that touch the roof also serve as a bridge for squirrels and other crawling pests that should not have access to your home.

Be alert.

Between inspections, watch for dark spots on your ceiling or moisture around your fireplace. These are warning signs of a leak in your roof.

Consider replacement. If your roof is more than 15 years old, it may be time to replace it. As you weigh this decision, factor in the roof’s general condition, whether you’ve experienced leaks and how much ongoing maintenance is costing you.