When installed the right way, a roof can last a long time. Even the most basic asphalt roofs will perform for at least 20 years, and your top-tier materials can last over half a century.
Unfortunately, that longevity doesn’t just happen. No matter the type of roof, the only way to maximize its life is with regular roof maintenance. Most residential roofs cost thousands of dollars to replace, so taking steps to extend your roof’s lifespan is well worth your time.
There will be times when professional help is unavoidable, but there’s also plenty you can do as a homeowner to save on the cost of roof repairs and keep your house protected.
1. Assess Your Shingles
Preventing worsening damage and extensive repairs is often as easy as looking at your roof. Check for issues such as:
- Missing shingles
- Warped, cracked, or misaligned shingles
- Streaking and discoloration
- Bare spots on shingles
- Peeling chimney flashing
Try to begin a good habit of doing visual inspections from the ground. Keep a ladder and a pair of binoculars on hand in case you need a closer look.
2. Check the Attic for Leaks
It’s not always possible to find issues with an external inspection. Moisture doesn’t need much space to seep in, so you’ll have to look in the attic for leaks as well.
Check your attic’s ceiling for water stains and wet spots. Pay close attention to the edges, as that’s where ice dams form in the winter.
Along with stained ceilings, look for any discolored spots on the outer walls or pooling on the floor. You may also notice a musty odor if the leak has been present for a while.
3. Keep Your Roof Clean
Keeping your roof clean is one of the most critical tasks you can accomplish as a homeowner. By removing debris, you’ll keep your gutters clear and prevent the speedy development of algae, moss, and mold.
You should clean your roof a few times a year or whenever there are significant piles of debris. There are a few easy ways to clear your roof that only take a few minutes to finish.
A leaf blower is an efficient way to protect the granules on your shingles, but you can also use a soft-bristle broom to sweep down the slope of your roof. You want to limit abrasion against the shingles as much as possible, minding how you sweep and walk around.
4. Prevent Growth and Streaking
When you’re maintaining your roof, inspect for signs of moss or mold. You may even see dark streaks running down your roof. What you think may be discoloration from rain is, in actuality, blue-green algae growth.
Algae can travel through the air and will commonly alight on roofs. It doesn’t always lead to streaking if your roof stays dry. If you have a shaded area exposed to moisture or high humidity, it’s the perfect environment for algae.
Moss, algae, and lichen can all develop from moisture under shingles. Over time, if organic buildup like this takes root, it can be difficult to remove and hazardous to your shingles. They not only trap and redirect water that causes leaks, but they also can loosen and shift the shingles out of place.
You can wash your roof with a sprayer full of bleach cleaning solution and a light rinse. Avoid using a power washer, as this can knock the shingles loose or strip the protective granules off of them.
For more hands-free moss and algae control, you can install copper or zinc strips along the crest of your roof. The metal particles in these strips mix with rainwater, washing your roof down with an effective algae killer. When it comes time to replace your roof, you can also upgrade your shingles to copper or zinc-infused versions for even more algae resistance.
5. Trim Back Trees
The granular surface of your shingles seals the underlying asphalt from UV damage, helping them last as long as possible. One of the quickest ways to wear down that protective layer is from abrasion, and hard tree branches kicked around by the wind are efficient at doing damage.
Trim back any trees that hang over the house. By scaling them down, you keep twigs and branches away while also removing shade that could allow algae to thrive.
6. Know When to Have a Roof Inspection
Experts say that responsible homeowners have their roofs inspected at least once a year, but there are also many situational reasons to schedule an inspection. Obvious structural issues or moss growth on your roof, as well as leaks and water damage, all warrant a professional service call as soon as possible.
There are also times to prioritize an inspection, even if there aren’t immediate issues. For instance, new home buyers should always have a thorough roof inspection before closing. After a major storm blows through, schedule an inspection so you can put in an insurance claim on your roof if there is any damage.
7. Mind Your Gutters
An essential component of DIY roof maintenance is your gutter system. They’re a good place to find signs of roof damage. Piles of granules or bits of shingles accumulate in the gutters, making it more apparent that you have issues.
Cleaning your gutters helps maintain your roof along with everything else down to the foundation by redirecting water away from the house. Clean them out at least twice a year, and check that your spouts are properly positioned. Fix any rusted, disconnected, or damaged pieces that might also cause water to overflow and seep under the roof.
8. Maintain Your Attic’s Ventilation
Your attic should be the same temperature as the outside air, and that requires good ventilation and insulation. If you notice mold or moisture damage, excessive heat in the attic, or ice dams on the roof in the winter, your attic could use some work.
Make sure your attic floor is completely insulated and sealed with a vapor barrier to keep warm indoor air from rising into it. If you need to improve ventilation, you can add gable or ridge ventilation along with perforated soffit.
Stay Safe During Roof Maintenance
Doing roof maintenance yourself can save you time, money, and frustration by preventing many common problems. That being said, it’s critical to know your limits and respect the risks of working on the roof. Sometimes, it’s worth it to bite the bullet and call in a professional to protect yourself and your home.
When it’s time for a roof repair or replacement, our roofing experts at Best Roofing Estimates are ready to help you find the best value. Get a free quote today, and learn how we can help you save up to 30% on your next project.