Make your home's main line of defense last as long as possible
A healthy roof creates a healthy home. When cared for properly, your roof helps prevent water damage, foundation issues, and other problems. Since the typical roof replacement costs anywhere from $5,570 to $11,415, it’s important to keep this structural element in great shape for as long as possible. Here are nine tips for maintaining your home’s roof and promoting its longevity.
1. Keep an Eye on Your Shingles
Schedule a shingle inspection once per year, and make additional inspections after any major weather events; wind, rain, or even the sun’s UV rays can cause damage.
“Inspect the roof regularly for signs of damage,” says Eric Lopez, roofer and vice-president of 619 Roofing in San Diego, CA. “If you see any missing or damaged shingles, replace them ASAP. Keep the branches around the roof trimmed and clear away any leaves, twigs, and other debris.”
If you don’t have a tall ladder handy, no problem—you can do much of the inspection from the ground. “If you have a drone, you can use it to check the roof without needing a ladder,” says Lopez.
Don’t have a drone? Grab a pair of binoculars and look at your shingles to see if any are missing, curling, cracked, or have lost significant granules. If you see any of these issues, call a local roof inspection professional to inspect the damage.
2. Clean Up Debris
Regularly clear off any leaves, branches, and other kinds of debris on the roof. You should never use a power washer to clean your roof. Hire a professional to come in and tidy it up with a broom or leaf blower.
3. Clean the Gutters Too
Leaves can clog the gutters over time, preventing them from doing their job of carrying water away from your home’s foundation. This could spell disaster for your foundation, which is much more expensive to repair than buying a ladder, some gloves, and a trowel to dig out the debris. You should clean your gutters (as well as the downspouts) twice a year, once in spring and once in fall.
4. Eliminate Unwanted Moss
You might see signs of algae on your roof, but that’s ok—algae isn’t harmful. But if you don’t like the look of it, you can clean it up with a mixture made of equal parts water and bleach. If you think you spot moss (or mold or fungi), on the other hand, you have a problem; its presence indicates high levels of moisture and can cause your roof to degrade.
Make sure to clean your roof regularly with a cleaning solution (there are many available and intended for this specific problem) and install zinc- or copper-coated sheet metal on the top part of each side of your roof. Rain carries nanoparticles of metal down the roof, preventing moss, lichens, algae, and other plants from calling your roof home. A local roofer can install the metal sheets for about $300.
5. Prune Trees
With tree limbs cut back, more sunlight will hit your roof, helping prevent the aforementioned moss and algae from growing in the first place. Long tree limbs can also wreak havoc on your shingles, especially on nights with high winds or other extreme weather. Finally, branches overhanging your roof give rodents and other critters easy access where they would be more than happy to gnaw on your roof and sidings. Try to keep tree branches at least 10 feet away from your roof to prevent any unwanted creatures from setting up shop.
6. Check the Chimney
You should periodically check your chimney for any cracks or missing bits of mortar. If present, bricks can begin to fall out, causing your roof to lose its structural integrity.
7. Prevent Ice Dams
To avoid ice buildup, which can rip shingles off, tear down gutters, and cause water to leak into your home, use a long-handled roof rake to drag snow off of your roof. If the ice dam has already formed, fill one leg of a pair of old pantyhose with a calcium chloride-based ice melter. Coerce the “leg” onto the roof so it cuts across the dam and hangs over the gutter. As the calcium chloride melts, it creates a channel for water to flow off of the roof.
8. Ventilate the Attic
Regarding our last tip, ice dams are more likely to form if your attic lacks adequate ventilation. Insufficient ventilation can cause heat damage and mold. It can also make your attic overly warm in the summertime, which could cause higher air conditioning bills.
9. Fortify Your Roof
If you’ve hit the point when you need to replace your roof, consider doing so with a fortified one. These sturdy roofs, designed for homes where hurricanes, tornados, and other extreme weather events are common, use seal decks to reduce the chances of water entering the attic. They also employ ring-shank nails, which prevent wind uplift, and metal flashing to secure the edges. You can expect to pay an additional $700 to $1,200 for the cost of roofing a 1,500-square-foot home for this upgrade.