In spring, every magazine that you turn to reminds you to take care of your spring cleaning chores. Spring home maintenance reminders are less common. Such work is essential to the well-being of your home, however. Careful inspections and repairs right after winter can be an excellent way of heading off problems before they get out of control. The roof, especially, tends to be a weak area in many homes.
It’s important to have the roof inspected twice a year — once before winter starts, and once after at the beginning of spring. These inspections can help manage the serious damage that icy weather brings.
What kind of roof damage can winter cause?
Winters actually cause no roofing damage on their own. Ice can certainly cause considerable damage to a roof that is poorly installed or maintained, however. A poorly insulated roof or attic, for instance, could leak heat and cause snow on the roof to melt, and to seep down the walls. Such melted snow could also form large ice dams around the eaves and cause extensive damage to shingles, fascia and flashing. Hail, strong winds and falling branches in the winter can cause damage, as well.
You need roofing inspection
Certainly, anyone can learn how to spot the signs of a damaged roof. An inspection, however, can be challenging to perform well without training. Roofs are not easily accessible, and getting up on the roof is dangerous. Dozens of homeowners attempting DIY inspections fall off and end up in hospital. While it’s certainly possible to conduct safe and thorough inspections without a professional, it isn’t the best idea. It does make a lot of sense to hire a pro.
As long as you research your choice of roof inspector, rather than pick a door-to-door salesman, you will receive a better inspection than you could provide yourself. A visit tends to cost between $200 and $300.
If you do plan for a roof inspection on your own
Visibly loose, rusted, broken or otherwise damaged roofing parts are the first thing to look for. It’s also important to look closely for loose material or large quantities of shingle granules in the gutters. Tiles that shed granules tend to be ready to be replaced. It also makes sense to check for soft spots. An area of roof that gives way under your weight probably has a rotting plywood support system underneath.
When it’s particularly cold, check the bottom edge of the roof. If there is any roofing tile curling, it’s time for change. Brittle shingles or ones with blisters are problems, as well. Blisters, especially, point to either an attic insulation problem, or a manufacturing defect.
Whether or not you are successful making a competent assessment of the health of the roof, you need to put safety before anything else when you inspect. It’s never a good idea to get up on the roof when it’s wet. It’s important to get a good, high quality ladder, place it on good, strong ground. There needs to be someone holding the ladder at the bottom, and it needs to be secured at the top. It needs to be checked for good condition, as well. Finally, it’s always a good idea to wear a helmet, should there be a fall.
Preventive maintenance is the best way to go
According to the water damage experts at RestorationEze, a roof is a complex system, and it takes careful installation and regular preventive maintenance to ensure long life.
Keep the gutters clean: Clogged rain gutters can cause damage. Clogs can cause water to stand in gutters, overflow, run down the walls and damage attics. Such damage can spread to the roof. You need a maintenance-free gutter design.
Look closely at the soffit: The plywood on the underside of the eaves often attracts small animals. When there is damage, the soffit will admit nesting creatures that will go on to cause damage to the roof.
Work on the attic: Attics should not let in heat from the house below. If there is heat there, it will inevitably warm the roof, and cause ice dams to form. Attics need thorough insulation and proper ventilation.
With careful maintenance, a roof should serve you as long as twenty years.
Matt Buchanan is the Outreach Director for RestorationEze.com, where he helps home and business owners recover after water or fire damage emergencies. When not blogging about the restoration industry, Matt enjoys spending time in the Rocky Mountains with his wife, daughter and two dogs.