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Roof Maintenance Tips

The next time you step outside, you should take a good look at the roof over your home. If there are trees touching it or if you see loose or damaged shingles, your roof is well overdue for a maintenance checkup.

Inspecting the roof for signs of damage should be an annual task but not enough people do it. Most people think that just because their roof is only a few years old, they don’t have to worry about it, but they are wrong.

Most asphalt roofing systems are designed to provide useful service for approximately 15 years. Slate, clay, tile and metal systems can last longer, but only if they are well maintained. The following is a roof inspection checklist.

1. Are trees growing too close to the roof? Trees can cause a variety of problems for roofs of all types. Branches leaning up against the roof will scratch and gouge roofing materials when being blown by the wind. Falling branches from overhanging trees can often damage, or even puncture shingles and other roofing materials. Falling leaves can clog up gutter systems causing water to backup into the attic, living spaces, or behind the fascia.

If you have trees growing near your home, you should take steps immediately to trim them back away from the roof.

2. Are there black or discoloring streaks on the roof? If you have these streaks on your roof it is an indication that you have a problem with mold, algae or fungus. These things grow freely during periods of high humidity, especially on northern facing roofs and on roofs that stay in the shade for long periods of time. If left unchecked, they will, over time, eat away at the roofing material which will cause deterioration and eventually will lead to leaks.

To help with this problem, you can trim back nearby trees to reduce shade and improve air circulation. But for more permanent protection, it is a good idea to install zinc strips that go along the ridge of the roof. These strips form zinc oxide when rainwater runs over them. As the water rolls down the roof, it carries a protective coating with it that prevents damaging growth from occurring. If your roof is new, just adding the strips will be sufficient. If however you are installing them on a roof that already has streaks, you will need to clean off the vegetation first. Some people think they can just use bleach to clean this growth. This however is not advisable because bleach can be corrosive. It is better to use a cleaner that is designed specifically for this purpose.

3. Inspect roof for signs of damage. If shingles are missing or torn off, a roof structure and home or building interior become vulnerable to water damage and will rot. Weakened shingles or tiles can be easily blown off, torn or lifted by wind gusts. Since a deteriorated roof system will only get worse with time, once you discover a problem, you should take steps to repair any damage immediately.

If you have an asphalt shingle roof, repairing the damage is something you might be able to do yourself. You will need to loosen the first row of good shingles above the damaged shingle; use a pry bar or putty knife to gently pull away the adjacent shingles so the good shingle are separated from the damaged shingles. Gently rock the damaged shingles back and forth to remove them; then replace them with the new ones.

Replacing damaged tiles will require more precision. This is a job that is best left to the professionals.

The most important key to a roof system's effectiveness is complete protection. Don’t leave your home’s roof integrity to chance. Make a point of conducting an annual inspection. If you do, you won’t regret it but if you don’t you likely will.
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