Want your roof to last as long as possible? The key is proper maintenance. This is especially true in Minnesota, where harsh weather is tough on homes. Simple, routine roof inspections by a quality contractor and care can save you from costly repairs, providing you with peace of mind that your home is adequately protected for the full lifespan of your roof.
The Lifespan of a Roof
The top of a home takes the brunt of rain, ice, snow, wind, hail, and fallen tree branches that arise from stormy weather. Even though your roof won’t last forever though, it should last, on average, about 20 years—and there are usually clear signs when you need to replace roofing.
Unfortunately, that average lifespan can be dramatically shortened by costly leaks, which can put your home in jeopardy. For this reason, homeowners should check for roof damage on a consistent basis, and especially after storms blow through.
Take These 8 Maintenance Steps to Safeguard Your Roof
A regular inspection of your roof helps you stay ahead of major problems. Plan to do a check annually, and take action to protect your roof from summer storms and winter snowfalls.
However, before you climb up a ladder, remember that being on top of a roof can be risky. To stay safe, get out binoculars and do the inspection from the ground, across the street from your home to get a good view.
You’ll want to address the following areas—and plan to act fast if you notice water damage.
1. Clean Your Gutters
Your gutters are the first item to check because they are the first line of defense against moisture pooling on your roof. Clean out leaves and debris periodically to ensure rain water drains well.
In winter, ice can accumulate in gutters, so keeping them clear is super important in preventing ice dams and large icicles. When ice is allowed to build up, the weight can cause gutters to tear away from the house.
Many people like to clean gutters as a DIY project, but if it’s not appealing to you or you don’t want the risk of climbing a ladder, hire an insured professional to do the work.
2. Check Downspouts
Your drainage system doesn’t stop with gutters. Remember, downspouts clogged with debris can lead to water damage too.
On a rainy day, the bottom of a downspout should be sending all the rain away from your house’s foundation. If you notice that almost nothing is coming out, there’s a blockage somewhere that needs to be removed.
Unclog downspouts as soon as you can to avoid flooded gutters, which can otherwise lead to roof damage. A plumber’s snake or a power-washer can push out debris that has become wedged in those downspouts.
3. Fix Small Holes
Any hole in a shingle can eventually lead to damage due to water penetration. When water finds its way to areas not meant to accumulate moisture, rot is bound to follow.
Holes left over from a removed satellite dish or previously mounted antenna should be filled with silicone caulk or roof cement. Exposed roofing nails should be pulled, and their holes should be patched. However, don’t just inject a hole with caulk or roof cement. First, lift up the shingles around the hole and cover the roof beneath them with caulking or roofing cement, then reapply the shingles.
Small holes in your roof aren’t easy to spot unless you climb up and inspect the shingles—and hiring a pro to do it will help you avoid slips and falls.
4. Remove Snow
If snow sits too long on a roof, severe damage can develop, especially if it turns to ice. The extra weight on your roof can create serious problems.
Also, when snow melts and then refreezes, ice dams can form, preventing moisture from escaping. This can lead to leaky attics and ceilings.
Before winter arrives, make sure your drainage system is clear and your attic is properly insulated. If a snowfall is especially heavy and you’re concerned, call your roofer for advice.
5. Cut Tree Branches
Trees that are close to a home not only drop branches, but also leaves, fruit, nuts and other debris onto the roof. Trimming them helps avoid a lot of issues, including clogged gutters.
It will also discourage squirrels and other animals from venturing onto your roof, which can lead to other types of roof damage.
6. Check Flashing, Chimneys, and Skylights
Roof flashing is a thin material, usually galvanized steel, that roofers install around chimneys, vents, and skylights to direct water away from these areas.
Over time, this material becomes loose or warped. This can lead to moisture build-up, which will inevitably lead to roof leaks. Any loose or warped flashing should be replaced right away.
7. Inspect Inside Your Home Too
Signs of roof damage can appear inside your home, so do a regular check around your home interior.
Some issues to look out for include stains on ceilings, water streaks on walls, wet spots on floors, mold and mildew, and other unexplained moisture problems.
8. Hire a Professional Inspector
While some homeowners are comfortable and experienced in how to safely check their roof, most are not. Bringing in professionals to care for your home’s roof maintenance is a smart choice.
Keep in mind that the investment you make in an inspection can help your roof last longer, and catch small issues before they become costly leaks. A professional knows exactly what to check, leaving nothing overlooked.