Being a first-time homeowner is so exciting. There is comfort in the initial relief of being a property owner. Soon enough, though, the reality sets in that you are the one who has to arrange for repairs when there are issues with the house. Even when there aren’t obvious issues, there’s a lot of maintenance that goes into caring for a house and preventing the need for those potential repairs. While you might have a list of all the systems are areas inside the house that need attention, many new homeowners forget about maintaining the roof until something goes wrong.
Your roof perched way up there all stoic and strong should give you a sense of comfort. It is the part of your house that takes the brunt of the elements. All it needs in return is a keen eye, routine inspection, and the occasional cleaning to ensure all is well. Maintaining the roof means making sure the vulnerable aspects of the roof’s construction are not left to fend for themselves. Even minor damage left unrepaired can allow water or moisture to penetrate. Over time, this can be the undoing of an otherwise sturdy and resilient home.
Know the Potential Vulnerabilities of Your Roof Structure
You don’t need to wait until you see the obvious signs of a leak for the damage to occur. Water damage is insidious. Start with the top layer—the shingles or tiles. Look for cracked, curled, or missing tiles. Next, inspect the flashing, which is designed to divert water away from the areas where water would otherwise penetrate, such as the valleys of the roof and around the chimney. Check for signs of missing, damaged, separated, or corroded flashing. Repair or replace these, even if the damage appears small or inconsequential.
More and more these days, it seems the solution to a number of things that are added to the house is to stick them on the roof. This is fine except anything that penetrates the roofing material creates a vulnerability to the building envelope. That envelope must remain sealed. This includes chimneys, solar panels, skylights, satellite dishes, antennae, and the like. Ensure the seal around any of these areas is secure showing no sign of leaks. Where there are glass panels, a telltale sign is condensation on the panes, a sure indication that water has managed to intrude.
Clean the Gutters
The system of gutters around a home is one of the most efficient methods of diverting the water that drains from the roof down a spout and away from your home’s foundation. Sagging or broken gutters are a sure way to guarantee water damage. Backed-up water from clogged gutters allows water to seek another path, typically into the home, down the exterior walls into the foundation, or right into your drywall. Keep the gutters clean and free of debris.
Trim the Trees
Left to go without pruning, trees present a consistent threat to your roof in various ways. Low-hanging branches close to the roof may provide shade, but when low enough to make contact, they can do some damage. When the winds pick up, the branches are blown and can scrape the tiles or shingles. When winds or storms are powerful enough, they can cause branches to break off and impact the roof.
There are more subtle kinds of damage that trees can do though. Deciduous trees drop their leaves and a lot of them end up clogging the gutters. Leaves, seed pods, and other debris that collect on the top of your roof can rot if left long enough, which can cause your roof materials to break down more quickly as well. Keep trees trimmed so their branches are far enough from the roof not to do any damage. When necessary, get up on a ladder to clear out debris. If you lack the equipment, your roof is taller, or you simply aren’t comfortable working at those heights, have a roofing professional come clear debris for you.
Inspect the Attic
Another area many homeowners do not even think about is the attic space. While not necessarily considered a part of the roof construction, it is the area most affected by leaks. Water penetration into the attic occurs in different ways including damp beams, mold and mildew, visibly darker areas on the framing, or compacted and soggy insulation. If water is visibly detected in either your ceiling or walls, there is a strong chance it has been seeping through the attic for some time. Keep a sharp eye on your attic for signs of what is happening up top.
Work With Roofing Contractors
New homeowners may not be familiar with many of the issues the roof could face. In fact, when you’re moving in, you may want to make a call to the roofing contractors so they can walk you through an inspection and help you familiarize yourself with the most important areas of concern. Should you find there are issues in need of attention, fixing them sooner rather than later is the best method of approach. Roofing contractors are the best source for advice and recommendations before minor repairs turn into a whole roof replacement.
Even seasoned homeowners can neglect the roof, the attic, and the gutters over time. Since water takes some time to do its damage, it is easy to understand why these things can be overlooked. With regular inspections and maintenance around the known areas throughout the seasons of winds, rain, snow, and sun, you can avoid the costly expense of neglect. Catching issues while they are just repairs prevents a premature roof replacement.