It’s easy to take your roof for granted. It’s there. From a distance, it looks sturdy and strong. When it rains, it keeps you dry. Unlike squeaky car breaks or flickering lights, your roof and gutter doesn’t give much of a warning before it goes bad – unless you know what to look for.
John F. Kennedy once said, “The best time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.” And we agree. Maintaining your roof is one of the most important jobs of a homeowner – and often overlooked.
The average roof will last a long time, ranging from 20 up to 50 years, depending on roof material and how well the roof is maintained. Regular maintenance and care will ensure you’re never caught off guard by a collapsed roof, or a flood of water rushing into your living room.
Keeping Your Roof Clear of Debris
You’ve heard of cleaning out your gutters (more on that later), but what about cleaning off your roof? Keeping your roof clear of debris is just as – if not more – important than cleaning out the gutters.
Piles of leaves and other tree and plant droppings on your roof can cause major problems over time.
When it rains, the water will travel on whatever path it can find. Gravity pulls it from your roof to the ground. Ideally, water will flow down your roof, into the gutter, down the downspout, and either into the ground below. When your roof is covered in stuff it blocks the water from flowing, and water will pool up and sit on your roof. That’s not good.
Sitting water on your roof can cause many problems – dry rot, moss growth, roof deterioration, and even insect infestation.
Sitting water wants to get out and will find whatever path possible. Often that means soaking between the tiles or roof slats, finding a tiny exposed nail hole, and slowly leak into your home. Tile roofs are most notorious for this happening. None of which would have happened had the water been able to freely flow off the roof and into your gutters.
Sitting water is also a perfect place for bacteria to grow, moss, and bugs to lay eggs, none of which you want on your roof.
Take advantage of sunny days, and blow off any debris from your roof a couple of times a year. At a minimum be sure to clean off the roof at the start, and end, of the rainy season.
Reduce Risk of Roof Damage
Sometimes, the best way to keep your roof safe, it to maintain the area around your roof. Specifically the Trees near your home.
One of the tragedies I hate seeing on the news is a home destroyed by a fallen tree. While that’s an extreme situation, a broken limb or branch can still do a lot of damage to a roof.
Once every few years, hiring a tree service to clean up and trim back large or overgrown trees near your home is a worthy investment. Not only will they remove potential hazards from falling onto your home, but they will also advise on the overall health of your trees. Tree experts will advise if any trees are sick, dying, or at risk of falling and need to be removed completely.
Other than the risk of fallen limbs damaging your roof, keeping nearby trees trimmed and cleaned will reduce the debris they drop onto your roof – making roof clean up days that much easier.
While it can look pretty, like you’ve walked into a fairytale even, it’s never good to have moss growing on your roof. Moss can break down the structure of your roof, grow under and between shingles causing them to separate and leaving you open to leaks. It’s also a safety hazard, as moss is very slippery – not at all safe to walk on when on your roof.
Luckily, removing moss from your roof is simple. The hard part, it keeping the moss from growing back.
To remove moss from your roof, all you need is a hose and a soft-bristle scrub brush.
- Standing on the ridge or near the highest point of the roof, spray the moss in a downward direction with a hose. You do not want to spray up, as you could push moss further between the slats of the tile making it harder to remove.
- Working in small sections, use a soft bristle brush to brush away any moss that didn’t wash off. Be sure to use light pressure as to not damage or scrape off any of the protective grit on your shingles.
For stubborn moss or moss that continues to grow back after being removed, there are commercial cleaners that can be applied safely to your roof. Any home improvement store should sell a variety of moss killing sprays.
Apply the cleaner on a cloudy day, too much sun exposure can cause the chemicals to evaporate too quickly, making it ineffective. Some cleaners are also known to discolor siding and cement, and damage plants, so be sure to cover the surrounding ground and areas directly below the roofline.
Broken Tiles and Shingles
One broken tile or missing shingle – not a big deal, right? Wrong. A single broken tile or single shingle of exposed roof is all water needs to leak into your home, mold or moss to grow, or heat and energy to escape.
Cracks in tiles can happen easily. Walking on your roof conducting recommended maintenance can easily crack a tile or two (Note, it’s best to walk on tile roofs where the tiles overlap, this is where they are strongest and least likely to crack.). Heavy rains and wind, debris falling onto your roof, and nails that are sticking up a bit can also cause tiles to crack or shingles to dislodge.
Fixing broken tiles or missing or damaged shingles as soon as they are noticed is much easier – and cheaper – than dealing with the consequences if left untreated. Replacement tiles can be purchased in small batches and are easy to replace. Consider keeping a box of replacement tiles at home, so you’re always prepared for a quick repair.
Gutters and Downspouts
Gutters and downspouts, like your roof, need to be clear of debris to work correctly. Droppings from nearby trees, or your roof, will quickly clog your gutters. This causes water to back up on your roof, or spill over the side of the gutters, flooding the ground below. If too neglected, gutters can rip away from the house if debris mixed with heavy rains adds too much weight to the gutter.
How many times has it started to rain, and you notice a small waterfall starting in one – or multiple – spots along your roof. I can remember my dad running outside, quickly pulling on a raincoat and grabbing his ladder, rain pounding down – to clean out a clogged gutter that’s overflowing.
How does that saying go again – easier to repair the roof when the sun is shining? The same goes for the gutters.
If you look outside, the sun is shining, the air feels crisp, and beautiful yellow, orange, and red leaves sprinkle the ground, then it’s a great day to clean your gutters and downspouts.
No fancy tools required. Just a ladder, some gloves, maybe a small hand shovel or pick to break up chunks, and a rake and trash bag to clean up the mess. For downspouts, take your garden hose and feed it down the top of the downspout. Let the water run for a few minutes to flush the line. A steady flow of water coming out the bottom will let you know your spout is clear.
Safety First. When in Doubt – Call for Help
We get it – climbing up on your roof is not everyone’s cup of tea. Whether you’re scared of heights (like me), wobbly on your feet, or just not comfortable getting onto your roof, don’t chance it. There are many roofing companies and gutter specialists ready to help.
If you are up for maintaining your roof yourself – never do it alone. Make sure someone else is home, and aware of what you’re doing. It’s best to have someone outside spotting you, any time you’re on the roof, or even climbing a ladder to reach your gutters. Safety first – always.
Handyman Network is here to lend a hand. While we leave roof repairs and cleaning to roofing specialists (give us a call – we have great referrals), we’re happy to help with your gutters. For minor gutter repair, replacement, and installation, our experts are happy to help. We can even set you up for recurring service appointments so you can rest easy knowing your gutters are in top working order.
When you’re ready (hopefully while the sun is still shining), give us a call. We’ll provide you with a free estimate and set you up with an experienced Handyman. Let’s get it done – together.