Important: Roofing Mission & its Neighbouring Areas (a.k.a “BulletpRoof Roof Systems), a word of caution to homeowners to use their roof maintenance activities as an opportunity to keep an eye out for potential leak hazards and contact a professional immediately when water damage becomes more likely or is noticeable. Safety first!
Roofing maintenance is meant to increase the longevity of a roof, ensuring it reaches as close as possible to its full lifespan before a roof replacement is needed. Primarily, this is done by taking measures to prevent any water from pooling on the roof and running off properly; This is done by ensuring your home’s roof system moves the water off of the roof and moves it as far as possible from the home’s foundation, preventing any possibility of a leak.
Anytime there are signs of a leaky roof that means there has been water damage to the home’s interior, whether it’s minor, major or worse is relatively unknown. The cause of the leak can be caused by a host of possible issues due to the neglection of the roof system, like:
- Poor Installation Practices - Flashings or waterproofing of roof protrusions (air vents, chimney, plumbing, etc.) are loose or missing nails; Nails pressed too far into shingles or not enough nails, causing shingles to be loose; Gutter systems uneven
- Neglected Maintenance - Leaving small repairs and not seeing it is getting worse; Loose debris on the roof not being cleared; Not replacing damaged flashings and shingles, or repairing gutters
- Unwanted Organic Growth - Moss, mold, rot, algae growth or plants growing on the roof
- Exposure to Weather - Sunlight, wind, rain, hail, snowfall, storm-events, etc.
- Home Repurposing - Any imbalances in ventilation or increases in humidity that the home was not built to handle in the first place
Over time, the roof will still take damage which is unavoidable, except it can be mitigated to an extent in order to increase the longevity of your roof’s life with regular maintenance. Below we’ll go over roofing maintenance best practices to ensure your roof is maintained properly, by doing the following:
- Homeowner Roof & Home Inspection
- Routine Roof & Gutter Cleanup
- Timely Roof Repairs
- Keep a Record of Roof Repairs
Generally, when performing roof maintenance it’s best to avoid walking on your roof as much as possible, but it's really unavoidable depending on what kind of maintenance activities your roof needs at the time.
Homeowner Roof & Home Inspection
As the homeowner, you are the first warning system to ensure your roof remains in good shape and you can do that by keeping an eye on changes to your roof & home. This will help the homeowner to stay proactive and record the changes happening to their home with a professional when the time comes.
Spring and Fall are the best times to perform this inspection. While in Winter, it's worth keeping an eye on ice dams forming on your roof, these are water backlogs caused by the freezing and melting of snow; Often causing water to get trapped under the shingles. This will also provide a hint for your inspection that there could be damage in those areas of the roof.
A homeowner can do the following on their own:
- Using binoculars to quickly inspect the roof, especially after a storm-event; Signs to look for are curled, peeled, curled, cracked shingles, and the roof protrusion (chimney, air vents, plumbing, etc.) base waterproofing called flashing; These are the first areas where a leak could start appearing from
- Be aware of moss, algae growth and any plant debris on the roof; These slow the water run-off and give it an opportunity to get under the shingles
- If the attic is accessible, using a flashlight inspect for leaks in the form of dripping water, dark streaks, water stains or a musty odor; If there is condensation in the attic or ice dams forming on the roof, check the ventilation system for malfunctions or cleaning; Any of these signs indicates water damage and a leaky roof
- Inside the home, be aware of musty odors in specific rooms, water stains or dark streaks on your ceiling, dark spots on exterior walls and any bulging patches on the interior walls
Checking the roof, attic and the inside of the home for anything unusual instead of ignoring it is the first step to understanding that the roof’s protection has gotten worse; Needing some attention, some parts that you as the homeowner can handle and other parts that you might have no idea why it is happening.
Performed every Spring and Fall, and when a change is noticed, it’ll be easier to track (or keep a roof log of) the progress of an issue progressing negatively or not.
To provide an idea, a homeowner can handle cleaning the roof & gutters of twigs, leaves and branches, while a water stain on the ceiling isn’t as straightforward and would require a professional roofer to diagnose further.
Another proactive step is to ask a professional roof inspector to look for what you may have missed; Subtle issues (like uneven gutters, missing nails leaving holes, shingle granules spilling out of the gutter downspout, etc.) that have the potential to make a roof leak at some point.
A roof inspector will be able to tell you about your roof’s condition and catch potential issues before they become costly issues; Highlighting whether the roof needs repairs, maintenance tips for their roof, roughly how much longer until the roof is due for a replacement and anything else they should keep an eye on. The roof inspector will provide a report which can be added to your roof log too.
Routine Roof & Gutter Cleanup
Every Spring and Fall, after inspecting for potential leak hazards, it’s time to clean up anything that could cause them on your roof and gutters; The entire roof system includes the roof shingles, flashing & installations (waterproofing at the base of roof protrusions like air vents, skylights, solar panels, plumbing, etc.), eavestroughs, downspouts and ventilation.
Word of caution, to avoid:
- Using harmful products (like bleach) to the environment, choose eco-friendly products instead to prevent damage to any landscaping and so on;
- Using power washers or hard bristle brushes on shingles to prevent removing the UV coating protection accidently. A soft bristle brush and garden hose are enough to clean both your roof and gutters without damaging either of them, including your landscaping;
- Using a ladder without assistance, at least be aware of your body’s position when using a ladder to avoid falling, and avoid going on the roof without assistance, if possible.
Below is a 2-step roof cleanup process:
First step, cleanup of the roof to ensure water runs-off properly:
- On the Roof; Clear any larger debris (branches, sticks, etc.), use a leaf blower from the peak of the roof and work your way down clearing any smaller debris (leaves, pine needles, etc.) to avoid blowing debris under the shingles. Then use a garden hose to wash the roof of any remaining dirt that may be covering it. While on the roof, inspect for damaged shingles and flashings around the bases of any of the air vents, plumbing, etc. for repairs later; At the same time, look above the roof for overhanging branches that are causing excessive debris to build-up or could potentially fall with a strong enough storm-event and take note of this for later.
- Clear Anything Growing on the Roof; Use an eco-friendly product on moss, algae growth (look like dark streaks), mold, etc. and use a soft-bristle brush to wipe as much of it away as possible. Alternating a garden hose and a soft-bristle brush is usually effective.
- Clean the Chimney; Close off the fireplace to prevent soot from entering the home. Then on the roof, using a chimney brush clean the soot-like substances on the inside and outside walls of the chimney. Oftentimes, this cleanup will reveal anything unusual about the chimney, whether it is missing or has cracked bricks and mortar damage that was previously covered. Any damage to the chimney can be taken note of for repairs later on.
Second step, cleanup the gutters to help water get channeled away from the house:
- Clear (or dig out) any clogged gutters of debris, leaves, grime, or any other organic matter that could cause water to pool; Using a soft-bristle brush, a garden hose and gloves to remove it manually by hand, to avoid any allergic reactions due to touching the organic matter bare-handed; During the cleanup, inspect for missing caulk, peeling paint, cracks, uneven gutters (or sagging), rust, rot on the gutters, or missing or broken gutter hardware, or if the gutters are full of leaves; These are all signs of repairs or improvements like replacing any damaged gutters, replacing old caulk, replacing rotten fascia board that the gutter is attached to and if the gutters are full normally, an eavestrough protector or gutter guard. To ensure the gutter drains properly again.
- Clear any downspouts, vertical gutters that run alongside the home, by running water down them and if it is clogged further down, use a plumber’s snake to remove the clogging debris. This is to prevent leaks or water dripping on the side of the house and during the next rainfall be aware of whether there are any leaks or drips coming from the downspout. During the cleaning, if you notice many shingle granules on the ground where the downspout empties, it means it may be time to replace your roof; Or if there is erosion in the same area, there may be damage to the home’s foundation and this warrants a repair.
Timely Roof Repairs
After a routine roof and gutter cleanup, you probably had taken note of anything damaged in your roof system like:
- Algae, mold, moss or mold growths
- Flashings around roof protrusions (chimney, air vents, skylights, etc.)
- Damaged shingles
- Gutters and downspouts not draining properly
Now it’s time to allocate some time between both Spring and Fall homeowner inspections to avoid damaging the roof system in the Winter. Below we’ve outlined common repairs that any homeowner should consider making to prevent unwanted major repairs or a roof replacement in the future.
Common repairs to make to your roof:
- Remove any overhanging branches to avoid the risk of them falling one day and prevent debris from building up as a result of the branch. If the branch can’t be safely cut down without risking a fall, being out of reach, etc., ask a contractor to remove it for you.
- Home’s with regular algae growth, moss growth, etc. (located in high moisture areas) should consider installing a strip of copper flashing at the roof’s peak so that rainfall can carry copper particles down the roof; Killing any of these algae-related growths in the process and making the next cleanup easier at the same time
- Replace or repair any damaged shingles noted earlier, preventing further damage to the exposed roof deck; A roofer normally would use roofing cement and/or nails to make the repairs to the roof.
- Replace or install any missing valley flashing; A valley flashing waterproofs the space between a wall and the roof, if it is corroded or became loose then it no longer waterproofing as it should; Replace or install a new valley flashing to prevent a leaky roof in the future
- Replace any other flashing; Flashings are waterproofing at the base of roof protrusions like the chimney, air vents, plumbing, installations (skylights, satellites, solar panels, etc.), etc. that prevent water from leaking through; In most cases, the flashing installation is the culprit of a leaky roof and is easily preventable with a properly installed flashing.
- Repair gutters or downspouts; Any leaky, corroded sections of gutter or downspouts should be replaced along with any damaged fascia or wall siding that was caused by the leak; Any uneven or sagging gutter sections require re-leveling to the proper pitch and need to be re-hanged to drain properly again.
- Repair the Chimney; Repair any structural damage to the chimney, replace any broken or missing bricks or mortar; Replace or nail in a loose flashing to the chimney; If the chimney is made up of brick and mortar, which contains lime, replace the chimney flashing with copper or galvanized steel flashing because an aluminum flashing may get corroded over time.
These roof maintenance, cleanup and repairs, can help increase the longevity of a roof; Allowing an asphalt shingle roof to last 20 years, cedar shakes 15-20 years, or a rubber shingle, metal panel or concrete tile roof up to 40-50 years. Depending on the home’s location, the amount of recurring damage to the roof and the homeowner’s level of maintenance, this lifespan can be achieved. Due to aging, a roof replacement is inevitable and would be the best repair to make to your roof when that time comes.
Common signs of a roof replacement being needed are:
- Shingle granules piling up on the ground at the bottom of a gutter downspout
- Sun-faded shingles due to UV-exposure from sunlight
- Rusting, cracking, peeling of roofing shingles, panels or tiles; By extension, an exposed roof deck or roof felt for this reason
- Excessive moisture retention in the roof; Seen in the form of moss, mold, rot, algae growth and holes that are leading to rodent infestations
Many of these roof repairs are DIY-friendly, in any case a homeowner is unsure of what to do, please contact a “BulletpRoofer” and we’ll assist in the repair or roof replacement process.
Keep a Record of Roof Repairs
As a best practice, commercial building managers keep a record of any inspections or repairs who work with commercial roofers because this supports their occupational health and safety practices.
Similarly, with residential roofing, a homeowner is highly recommended to keep track of any inspections or repairs on their home’s roof to ensure the home and its occupants are protected.
During the homeowner’s home and roof inspection, they can keep a written log with photos of any potential problems they see along the way, like:
- Rusting, corroding or loose flashing
- Bulging walls inside
- Water stains or dark streaks on the ceiling
- Missing or damaged shingles
- Uneven gutters
- Musty odor in specific rooms
- Gutter downspout erosion on the ground
- Anything else that seems unusual
This helps the homeowner to keep track of the progression of anything unusual happening with their home and roof and allows them to share it with a “BulletpRoofer” if they are ever unsure or ready for a repair.