All year round, your roof takes a beating. It’s designed to do so and why so many home improvement contractors consider it to be the most vital comfort system in your home. After all, you wouldn’t be very comfortable with water pouring on your head while you sat on your couch. But all roofs, regardless of roofing material, eventually lose their ability to provide the level of protection your home needs. Generally speaking, asphalt shingle roofs have around a 20 year lifespan but some material types can last for twice that long. But like any home system, wear and tear (not to mention homeowner neglect) can decrease that lifespan. So let’s discuss some of the things we encourage homeowners (and business owners) to do to make sure they get the most out of their new roof and don’t end up with really expensive water damage.
How to prevent roof leaks & water damage
Here is a quick checklist of maintenance items any professional roofer would recommend you follow to make sure that water doesn’t end up seeping through your roof, into your attic and then into your home. In many cases, roof problems that lead to water damage aren’t spotted until a much bigger problem has occurred: black mold in their attic. If the leak is small enough to allow water in over time but not big enough to create visible signs of water damage (spots on your ceiling or even water dripping down), the moisture problem can escalate over time and you could end up with very costly mold damage in your attic space.
Check everything that pops through your roof
There are a number of things that need to go through your roof. Because of that, holes are created to allow these systems to pop through (plumbing vents, chimneys, sunlights, etc.). Flashing is used to make the seals around these holes waterproof. Unfortunately, they’re usually the first areas of your roof to fall into a state of disrepair. Check the flashing around these holes to make sure you don’t have a problem brewing!
Here is how it should look:
And here is how you know you are at risk of roof leaks from shoddy flashing:
Check for hanging tree branches
Tree branches can cause quite a bit of damage to your roof. Especially if your roof is composite shingles, the constant friction between the roof and leaves/branches can cause significant erosion. Survey your property and if you have any overhanging branches, cut them down immediately…it’ll also help you with the next item on the checklist!
Keep those gutters clean
For most homeowners, their gutters just aren’t a high priority (at least not compared to renovating their garage, or the myriad of other honey-dos on their list). It’s unfortunate because of the big role they play in keeping your home functioning well. Each fall (and spring), clean out your gutters! And when it rains, grab an umbrella and go watch your gutters to see how they perform!
How is your insulation?
This isn’t a roof problem, per se, but it has a massive impact on your roof. If you have poor insulation (and a roofing deck that doesn’t provide for proper ventilation), the heat from inside your house will escape through your ceilings and eventually end up heating your roof deck. Why does that matter? Well, if you live in the south and never have to deal with snow, then it only matters because you’re losing energy and costing yourself more money to heat your house in the winter. But if you live in the north, you’ll end up getting what are known as ice dams. When this happens, your roof is truly under siege. Over time, the water pooling on your roof can degrade your shingles and end up penetrating them. Once that happens, water will enter your attic and then possibly your home. Uh oh!