Did you know that some roofing systems, such as copper, slate, and tile, can last for more than five decades? Wood shake roofs, however, can only last for an average of 30 years. Asphalt shingles have among the shortest lifespans, lasting for only about 20 years.
However, how long a roof can last still depends on factors like UV exposure, moisture, and weather. For example, the sun’s ultraviolet rays can cause chemical changes in asphalt. Over time, these alterations can trigger deterioration in asphalt shingles.
On that note, we came up with this list of roof maintenance tips to help homeowners keep early roof failure at bay. Read on to discover how to care for your roof, both the DIY and professional way.
1. Coat Your Roof With UV Protection
In the US, southern states and Hawaii usually have high UV indices since they’re near the equator. High-altitude states, including Colorado and Utah, also tend to get high UV indices.
If you live in one of these states, you can expect your roofing system to age faster due to the high UV index. UV degradation affects all types of roofs, be it asphalt, metal, tile, or wood.
As such, one of the top preventive roof maintenance tips for homeowners is to use a roof coating. These are liquid-applied substances that act as an extra roofing membrane. Their chief purpose is to protect the underlying membrane from UV and heat exposure.
As roof coatings are “extra” membranes, they can also protect the roof from excess moisture. Some even have reflective properties, which further helps reduce solar heat.
Many roof coatings are also “elastomeric,” which means they have elastic properties. This elasticity allows roof coatings to stretch and return to their original shape. So, even if they expand and contract due to heat, they won’t sustain damage that easily.
According to Phoenix Roofing, high-grade roof coatings can even withstand extreme weather. For example, they can stretch under the impact of hailstones without getting damaged.
All these beneficial characteristics allow roof coatings to slow the roof’s aging process. Moreover, some of these products can last for at least 15 years. You can even re-coat an existing layer to extend its life by 10 more years.
2. Trim Your Trees
One of the key steps on how to maintain a roof (and your lawn, too) is tree trimming. For starters, low-hanging branches can scratch away at a roof’s outer protective layer. These abrasions can get so bad that they allow water to seep through the underlying membrane.
Larger branches may also keep pushing shingles or tiles, loosening them up. Over time, this constant contact can detach the shingles or tiles from their location.
Heavy branches can also be quick to snap under heavy rains or extreme winds. If these branches fall on your roof, the impact can cause serious dents or cracks on your roofing system.
Moreover, rodents, which plague at least 29% of folks in the US, can use trees as a way to get inside homes. Mice and rats are incredible climbers, so they can go up a tree and hop onto your roof through a low-hanging branch. From there, they can make holes in your roof to access your attic.
Do note that states have laws in place when it comes to tree trimming and removal. For example, it’s illegal to trim roadside trees in Maryland without a permit. That said, be sure to ask your city government first before you start cutting.
Once you can start trimming, remove only the tips of branches within six feet from your roof. This should be enough to prevent them from falling directly on the roof. Also, removing too many tree sections can cause severe damage to the tree itself.
3. Keep Your Gutters Free of Debris
Another key residential roof maintenance tip is to clean gutters at least twice a year. Go for four times, or once every season, if you live in a tree- or vegetation-rich area. If there are loads of trees near your home, it’s best to clean your gutters twice during the fall season.
Cleaning your gutters is key to roof health since it’s the gutters that collect rainwater. When gutters get clogged with debris, water can’t flow through them properly. Instead, the water pools up on the roof and then overflows onto the sides.
So, every time it rains, the lower sections of your roof sustain extended exposure to moisture. Over time, these “exposure incidents” raise your roof’s risk of moisture penetration.
Moreover, organic debris that fills up gutters, like leaves and twigs, is fungi food. These organisms are quick to proliferate, and in time, can spread all over your roof. They can then attack the other organic materials that make up your roof, such as cellulose fibers.
Gutter cleaning can be a DIY project, so long as the gutters aren’t set too high. Consider hiring gutter cleaning experts if the job entails having to go up too high a ladder. Note that falls from heights of six feet or more (such as from a rooftop) can already cause severe injuries.
4. Clean Downspouts and Tighten Connections
Downspouts are vertical or angled drain pipes attached to gutters. They allow rainwater collected by the gutters to go straight into a drainage system or sewer. In most cases, fasteners secure and stabilize these pipes onto a corner or side of a home.
Like gutters, downspouts can also get clogged with debris, especially those without screens. Mesh screens help make them easier to maintain, as these prevent clogs from forming. If you don’t have these yet, you can use a plumber’s snake to clear the pipe’s hollow insides.
Many downspouts also use elbows, joints, or connections that are susceptible to leaks. So, make it a habit to check these spots whenever it rains. Have all leaks sealed as soon as the weather permits; otherwise, the loose pipe may collapse.
You should also regularly check the fasteners to ensure that the pipes remain secure. Don’t forget to tighten loose screws, nuts, and bolts, and replace those that are too rusty.
5. Sweep Away
Roof brooms come with long handles that let you sweep the outermost section of your roof from the ground. Some roof brooms look like brushes, while others look more like scrubs. The brush-like ones are for sweeping larger debris, like leaves, while the scrubs are for algae or moss.
When sweeping your roof, be sure to don a dust mask, gloves, and goggles to protect yourself from particles. DIY jobs are best for debris piles that collect near the edges of the roof. You may also push these piles off of the roof from a room window with direct roof access.
Make sure not to apply too much pressure when using a scrub, as their bristles may scratch your roof. Don’t push with too much force, either, as this can dislodge shingles or tiles.
6. Get Those Plants off of Your Roof
Unless your roof is an actual green roof, you should remove vegetation as soon as they grow on your roof. Algae and moss are especially harmful as they have exceptional water retaining properties. It’s for this reason that they prevent soil erosion in their natural habitats.
On roofing systems, though, algae and moss are like sponges that soak and store moisture. So, imagine how much more weight they can place on your roof after they absorb so much water! Aside from the extra weight, some of the water they hold can also seep into the underlying roof material.
All that excess moisture can also introduce other fungi, such as molds, onto your roof. Keep in mind that molds are ubiquitous, so their spores can activate as soon as it lands on a moist spot on your roof. From there, it can take as little as 24 to 48 hours for the spores to germinate and spread.
Those roof molds can also keep producing spores that can then find their way into your home. If you have high indoor humidity levels, those spores can germinate inside your home, too.
As with sweeping, you can also remove vegetation growing along the edges of your roof. Leave those that require being on the roof itself in the hands of professional roofers.
Follow These Roof Maintenance Tips to Extend Your Roof’s Life
There you have it, the ultimate list of roof maintenance tips to extend your roofing system’s life. Many of these, such as cleaning your roof’s outer edges, gutters, and downspouts, can be a DIY project. However, if you’re nervous about ladders, then it’s best to hire professional roofers.
As a final note, don’t put off roof repairs, especially for leaks or missing components. After all, these will only worsen to the point that they cause indoor water damage.
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