Asphalt is one of the most popular materials used in residential roofing. Statistics suggest that roughly 80% or four out of every five homes in the US are covered with asphalt shingles. Asphalt shingles are affordable, look good, and hold up reasonably well against the elements.
via Structure Tech
A roof is a big investment for homeowners, and it’s important to protect your investment by conducting regular, thorough maintenance. A little roof maintenance goes a long way toward extending the service life of your roof and a thorough inspection will find small problems to fix before they become big repairs with expensive price tags.
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Roof Components to Inspect and Maintain
Becoming familiar with the components of a roofing system will assist you in understanding the terminology used in roof maintenance, inspection and repair.
Decking or Sheathing: Usually made from ½-inch plywood or OSB, the decking closes and reinforces the roof structure and provides a nail bed for the shingles.
Roof Eaves / Overhang: The eaves are the edges of the roof which overhang the face of a wall Their purpose is to carry water out away from the way, so that if it isn’t captured in gutters, it won’t wet the wall or fall near the foundation and possibly leak into your home.
Attic: This is the space under the roof. The attic must be properly ventilated to protect the roof against excess heat and humidity in summer and warm moist air generated from inside the house through cooking, a shower or laundry.
Saddle: A structure located behind the higher part of a chimney or similar projection from the roof, to divert rainwater around it.
Ridge: The ridge is the horizontal line at the top of the roof where two upward sloping surfaces meet.
Valley: The valley is the “V-cut” angle along the meeting point of two downward slopes of a roof.
Underlay Membrane/Tar Paper: The underlay membrane of a roof is the tar-saturated black paper that is laid over the roof decking to seal the roof from moisture that might penetrate the shingles. It also protects the shingles from damaging resin released by the wood decking.
Drip Edge: A drip edge is a molding that covers the edge of the roof and reduces the risk of water infiltration.
Vents: Soffit vents are made of metal or plastic and feature openings or fins. Ridge vents are usually plastic and sit beneath the shingles covering the ridge of the roof. Both ensure that the attic space is properly ventilated.
Plumbing Vent and Boot: A plumbing vent is a pipe that emerges from the roof and admits air into the plumbing system allowing wastewater to flow properly to the sewer. There is a rubberized boot that fits around the vent, aka stack, and extends under the shingles to keep out water.
Flashing: Sometimes called joint cover because flashing covers the gaps where materials like a roof deck and chimney meet. Flashing is usually galvanized steel or aluminum and easy to spot on a roof. Flashing prevents rainwater from infiltrating the roof. Look for flashing around chimneys, skylights, and where the roof meets a wall.
Shingles: Shingles lie over the top of the roofing system, protecting the roof from rain and elements, while also giving the house character.
Key Elements in Roof Maintenance
Pay attention to these steps to extend the longevity of an asphalt roof:
#1. Keep the Roof Clean
Leaves, moss, pine needles and small sticks piled on a roof will stain the roof and hold moisture against susceptible locations like flashing, skylight frames and the fascia – the face of eaves and rakes.
Clear any debris from the roof, empty the gutters of leaves to make sure water moves cleanly through them and flows into the downspouts. Check that the downspouts are clear and free-flowing, so that the water can drain properly from the roof and away from the home. A homeowner can do this by taking note of any leaks or drips that occur during or right after it rains and have those repaired.
To reduce the amount of debris that gathers, cut away vegetation that may be touching or hanging over the roof. Hire a professional to trim away difficult or hard to reach areas.
Homeowners may consider installing gutter protectors, which are metal meshed grates that prevent the buildup of debris filling and blocking the gutters.
#2. Inspect the Roof
Twice each year (spring and fall) the roof should be inspected. Once the roof has been cleared, inspect it yourself, or hire a roofing contractor to inspect it for you. Make the necessary repairs before they become big problems in the future. Here is a list of what to look for.
Roof Inspection Cost:
On average, a professional roof inspection will cost between $200 and $400, depending on the roof size, scope, and the type/depth of the report provided with the inspection. Most contractors will apply the fee towards any repairs that may need to be performed.
The Exterior Inspection:
Look for any outward signs that the roof needs repairs such as:
- Loose or missing shingles
- Blistered, curled or split shingles
- Loose, exposed, or popped nails
- Missing caulk around flashing and vents
- Missing, loose or corroded metal flashing
- Sagging along the roof peak
The Interior Inspection
Enter the attic and check for any evidence or roof leaks and poor ventilation problems:
- Cracks or water marks on the underside of the roof decking Sagging decking between the rafters
- Outside light coming through the roof
- Leaks around vents and chimneys Any signs of condensation, wet insulation or mold
- Bathroom and kitchen vent fan ducting – it should be in good repair and tight to interior and exterior fittings
#3. Make Repairs
A roofing contractor should be hired to immediately complete shingle and roof repairs to maintain the integrity of the roof’s materials and related systems including drainage and ventilation. Timely roof shingles and flashing fixes done properly can help prevent larger repair needs.
The contractor may:
- Replace missing, broken or buckled shingles
- Suggest replacing the shingles
- Replace flashing around chimneys, roof vents or skylights that are loose, leaking, or missing
- Replace loose, missing or broken caulking and seals
- Repair gutters and downspouts if there are minor gaps or recommend replacing them if they are broken or corroded. If they are sagging, the contractor can use a level to determine correct pitch and rehang them so they drain properly.
- Recommend roof cleaning, since moss and algae stain the roof and hold water against it.
#4. Prevent Ice Dam Formation
If you live in a cold climate, you must take steps to prevent ice dams from forming at the eaves of the roof. The cause of ice dams is insufficient attic insulation. Heat escapes your home, causing snow to melt. The water runs down to the eaves, where there is no heat, and it freezes, causing a dam. This can push water running down the roof back up under the shingles, where it can soak the roof decking and cause water damage.
Repairs to rotted sheathing are costly and intensive. Make sure that your home and attic is well insulated and discuss other steps with a roof contractor that can prevent ice dams.
#5. Keep Records
Ask the roofer to note potential problems discovered during the inspection that don’t require immediate repair. These might include aging shingles or flashing that is showing light corrosion.
Those items can be reviewed at the next inspection. The roofer should also make a report of any repairs that will be completed as a result of this inspection. This will create a roof history for the homeowner and other roofing contractors who do future work on the house. It will be a record for future homeowners who may want to see what work has been completed over the years to maintain the roof. A properly maintained roof is an excellent sales point.
Adding pictures to the report make it more complete. They become a baseline of the roof’s current condition. There should be before-and-after pictures and pictures of potential issues to keep an eye on.
Even if there are no outward signs of obvious damage, every homeowner should have a professional roofing contractor regularly inspect and perform maintenance, when necessary. Keeping your roof in a healthy condition will protect your home. Roof maintenance is an investment that will pay major returns down the road.
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