Do you regularly inspect your roof and perform needed maintenance? Or have you hired a roof inspector to check for problems in recent years? If the answer is no and your roof is more than ten years old, it’s time to give it a thorough inspection. You should also get some essential roof maintenance done to help it last.
Roof safety first
If you don’t have the balance of a mountain goat, we recommend you never go up on your roof. But if you are the DIY type and you take the proper precautions, you may be able to safely inspect your roof, perform necessary roof maintenance, and make any minor repairs. However, if your roof is steep (a slope of more than 35 degrees), or your home is two-story or higher, do not attempt to climb up there. The pros are used to working at heights and it's best to call them in these circumstances. Some basic safety precautions every person working up on a roof needs to follow:
- Check the weather first. Do not attempt to get up on a roof when it’s wet or rain is in the forecast.
- Use a heavy-duty, sturdy extension ladder or a ladder that reaches past the gutter level by at least a foot.
- Set up the ladder on firm, level ground.
- Wear non-slip or soft-sole shoes.
- Never work on your roof alone. Always work with a buddy.* You need someone to steady the ladder as you climb up and down.
- Watch where you walk on the roof. If the roof is older, tiles or shingles could give way, and where you step also could cause more damage.
- Know when to get down. If you feel unsteady or uncomfortable once you are on a roof, don’t hesitate to climb back down immediately and hire a pro.
*Be sure your buddy has a cell phone handy to call 911 if an accident occurs. Be smart. If you cannot follow all of these safety precautions, hire a professional to do the job.
If you have taken the recommended safety steps, and prefer to do an inspection yourself, there are specific things to look for to get a basic idea of the condition of your roof and to spot any potential repairs needed. Be sure to carry your cell phone to photograph any potential problems you see.
- Carefully walk around the roof in a grid pattern, inspecting shingles or tiles to see if they are in good condition. If you spot any curling, warped, or blistered shingles, it may be time to replace the roof. For a tile roof, look for cracks or large chips. These may be signs that you need to replace your roof. Replacement is expensive, but if either shingles or tiles are missing or broken, you should either get them repaired immediately, or replace the roof.
- Inspect the caulk around the flashing for cracks or signs of rust.
- Check around the base of the chimney for any cracks or visible problems.
- If your home has skylights, nspect the seal around them for cracking or rust.
- Look for any moss buildup. This can be a sign that the roof underlayment is failing.
- Inspect gutters, including connection points and edges for signs of wear or rust. For shingle roofs, check the base of gutters for excess asphalt grit. That’s a sign your roof may be wearing out and need replacing.
If your roof inspection does not turn up any problems, then breathe a sigh of relief and follow these roof maintenance tips. Or you can hire a pro to do the work for you.
- Carefully and gently sweep the roof clean of leaves, sticks, and other debris. It’s best to use a broom with soft bristles. Use care as you sweep to avoid damaging the shingles or tiles. The asphalt can easily come off asphalt shingles, which can cause damage to the shingles.
- Use a garden hose as needed to spray off dirt and bird droppings. Be sure to spray off the roof on a sunny, warm day so it can dry thoroughly. Never use a power washer on a roof.
- If you have a moss buildup, you may be able to sit down in those areas and use a bristle brush to carefully sweep the moss away. Use caution to avoid damage. If the buildup is too great to remove gently, it may be time to replace the roof.
- Cut back any overhanging tree branches. You don’t want them falling on your roof. This also prevents leaf debris buildup, keeps the roof dry, and inhibits roof mold. Often tree limbs can block the sun from properly drying your roof leading to mold.
- Clean out the gutters.
Perform these roof maintenance tips at least two times a year, and more often depending on the proximity of trees to the roof of your home.