A Must-Have Beginner's Guide for DIY Roof Maintenance

Scott Dylan Westerlund
Updated February 25, 2022
The exterior of a house on a sunny day
Photo: jhorrocks / iStock / Getty Images Plus / Getty Images

Highlights

  • Your roof should be inspected and cleaned several times per year

  • While inspecting your roof can be a DIY event, roof pros can help if you don't like getting on a ladder

  • Taking care of little problems that you spot today can save your roof

  • Shingle problems can be signs of mold, moss, rot, and water damage

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You want to take good care of your roof so it’ll take good care of you. Proper maintenance gives your roof a longer life while helping you avoid damaging leaks that can cost a lot in repairs. You may wonder what type of roof maintenance you need to do to stay on top of your duties. We’ve got you covered. Here’s a must-know guide for beginners looking to DIY roof maintenance. 

1. Keep an Eye Out for Debris—Your Roof’s Enemy

Don't allow debris to sit on top of your roof. Branches, leaves, and other debris that accumulate on your roof invite mold, moss, and moisture that can prematurely age your roof. Elements can get under your roof shingles to cause destructive rot throughout your home. 

There are some tips to know about debris clearing. First, you should never do it alone. Always have a spotter when you climb up on your roof to clear away debris. An extendable ladder is helpful to safely access the top of your roof. 

It's also smart to do roof maintenance on clear, sunny days when your roof is dry. This will help prevent slips and improve visibility. 

Take the opportunity to look for damage while you're up on your roof clearing debris. Of course, you should never force yourself to go up on your roof if you feel unwell, unsteady, or unprepared. There are plenty of local roof repair and maintenance companies in your area that can handle seasonal roof care and inspections.

2. Nip Roof Red Flags In the Bud Early

Your seasonal roof clearings create perfect opportunities for general inspections and repairs. You just have to know what to look for while you're up there.

The first part of roof inspection starts inside your home. First, check in the attic for any stains that may indicate water leakage caused by a roof issue. Have you noticed any stains on the ceilings in your home? Make note of where they're located because they could actually be roof leaks.

Here's the rest of the checklist for what to look for on your roof:

  • Missing shingles

  • Loose shingles

  • Lifted shingles

  • Signs of moss or mold

  • Worn spots

  • Cracking, peeling, or curling shingles

  • Loose flashing

  • Loose nails or metal roof bolts

Be sure to replace any loose shingles, flashing, or hardware as soon as you notice the issue to prevent damage. Shingles that are displaced could be signs of mold growth and water damage beneath your shingles. This will require an intervention. 

If you're seeing excessive peeling, curling, and lifting in shingles throughout your roof, it's possible that your roof has simply reached the end of its lifespan. It may be time to bring in a local roofing pro to confirm that it's time to move on from trying to extend the lifespan of your roof to picking out a new roofing option. 

If you're seeing excessive debris, consider if it's time to rethink your landscaping plans. Tall trees located near your roof could be giving leaves, twigs, and small animals a direct pathway to your roof. Shade allows mold and moss to grow.

Did You Find Any Moss or Mold on Your Roof?

If your inspection revealed moss or mold growth on your roof, it's important to address the issue. Consider using moss or mold remover on the growth areas to gently brush the matter away using a bristled broom or handheld brush. 

Avoid power washers or hard-bristle brushes because they can actually wipe away the UV coating that protects your shingles. You can also bring in roof pros to help you safely get rid of moss or mold on your roof using eco-friendly methods.

3. Beyond Shingles: Don't Ignore Soffits, Fascia, Gutters, and Downspouts

A senior man on a ladder cleaning the gutters
Photo: fotografixx / E+ / Getty Images

All of these components of your roof should be included in any plan for roof maintenance. First, make sure you're scooping debris from gutters and downspouts when you do your general debris removal from your roof. 

Next, use a soft-bristle brush to wipe away any dirt or grime discovered on your gutters and downspouts. You can also consider washing the areas with your garden hose.

Next, inspect for any missing caulk, peeling paint, cracks, holes, or signs of rotting. Look for any missing sections of gutter that need to be replaced. Missing or broken gutter hardware can also lead to leaks. Make all replacements and repairs immediately.

Always be conscious of your body's positioning while you're inspecting or cleaning roof components. Learning your body on your gutters while cleaning can actually damage gutters. This is also an easy way to fall off your ladder. 

Consider Gutter Screens

If your gutters are filled with debris, consider installing gutter screens or covers that will drastically shorten the amount of time you need to spend cleaning out your gutters seasonably. 

4. Look at Chimneys, Skylights, and Vent Openings

Once your main roof sections have been looked at, it's time to move on to large accessories. Start by closing off the fireplace. Next, you'll want to clear away a soot-like substance called creosote that forms on chimneys using a simple chimney brush. You should also inspect the chimney for cracked bricks, missing bricks, cracked mortar, and any other signs of irregularity. 

Chimneys should be sealed with water-repellent products regularly. 

Finally, do a roundup of all vent outlets and skylights. You want to look for any signs of water damage or mold.

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