Your roof takes care of your home and your family, but because you don’t get a close-up view of it on a regular basis, it often gets forgotten about. Any major repairs or roof replacement costs a lot of money, but you can help to minimize the chances of having to pay for expensive repairs by taking some preventative action once every year or two or after periods of particularly severe weather.
Fiberglass-based asphalt shingles are by far the most common roofing material for residential properties in the US. Over the last 20 years, they have largely replaced the now obsolete organic shingles due to their greatly improved durability. Although modern roofing shingles are relatively affordable and designed to last up to 20 years, they do still require some maintenance to keep them performing at their best.
Inspecting Your Roof
You should ideally get into the habit of inspecting your shingle roof once per year, and if you are comfortable with a bit of DIY, you should even be able to take care of minor repairs yourself. However, if your roof is more than 20 years old and the existing shingles are in poor condition, it may be time for a complete replacement.
You can conduct a basic inspection of your roof without having to get on a ladder, and it is possible to get a good overview of its condition just by examining it from the ground through a pair of binoculars if necessary. Some things to look out for include the following:
. Any missing or broken shingles.
. Debris or ice dam backups, particularly around the gutters.
. Cracked caulk around the flashing, as well as any spots of rust on the metal.
. Buildups of moss or algae on the shingles.
. Sand-like granules in the gutters and downspouts from the surfaces of the shingles.
Inspecting your roof from the inside is also advisable. After all, many people don’t notice water damage until it starts to leak, or there is a significant buildup of mold. Inspect your ceilings for any dark areas, peeling paint or damp spots, since these are likely caused by a problem with the roof. Such problems are most likely to start occurring after severe weather, and it is good practice to thoroughly inspect your roof after a storm.
Occasionally, you’ll need to replace one or more of the shingles, particularly after a bout of bad weather. If a shingle has cracked or a part of it is missing, you’ll need to replace it entirely. For this reason, it’s always a good idea to keep some spare shingles handy, and many roofing contractors will leave a few extra ones behind once they finish building the roof.
To replace an asphalt shingle, you’ll need a flat pry bar, a putty knife, some roofing cement and some roofing nails. Using the putty knife, break the seal of the shingle you want to replace and pry up the nails with the pry bar. You can then install the new shingle by slipping it into place and securing it with the roofing nails. To further protect the shingle, be sure to apply some roofing cement underneath the tab.
Cleaning Your Shingle Roof
In fairly humid regions like the Midwest, roofs are susceptible to stains from algae. Black algae stains are particularly common on asphalt roofs, and while they generally do not pose any threat to the roof itself, they can still be a cosmetic concern. This issue is less common with newer asphalt shingles, which often feature algae-resistant surfaces consisting of copper granules.
There are products available for consumers for cleaning algae from roofs, but you’ll need a pump sprayer to be able to apply them safely to the entire roof. You should always stick to using suitable products designed specifically for the purpose, since harsh chemicals can cause damage to the roofing materials. It is also advisable to carry out the work on a cloudy day so that the cleaning fluid does not evaporate too quickly.
Another important way to maintain your roof is to ensure proper drainage of water by inspecting and clearing the gutters and downspouts. During stormy weather, gutters can quickly get clogged up with leaves, pine needles and other detritus, while the winter months can bring an excess of ice and snow to further hinder the performance of the gutters.
To keep your roof and gutters clear of debris, trim back any overhanging tree branches, and after a period of poor weather, be sure to inspect the gutters and remove any detritus from them to ensure optimal water flow.
Asphalt shingle roofs will eventually need replacing, particularly once the shingles start to bald, crack or blister. Once this happens, you should consider contacting a roofing contractor to survey your property and provide you with an estimate for any necessary repairs or roof replacement.