Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Keeping on top of things

We all understand the importance of routine or preventative maintenance - to limit our risk of premature failure on large- ticket items, such as cars, furnaces, and air conditioning units. However, millions of dollars a year are spent replacing roofs that may have lasted a lot longer, had routine maintenance been done.
Roof maintenance is an important part of overall home maintenance and should get the same routine check-up that we give our heating and cooling systems. With any system, routine maintenance will help prolong the service life and keep it at maximum efficiency.
Many things can contribute to shortening your roof's life, including algae build-up. If your roof has dark spots, you may have algae. These stains are often confused for sap, soot, and rust. Algae needs inorganic material to support its growth, which it gets from the filler material in the asphalt/fiberglass shingles. Algae is found in approximately 75 to 80 percent of the United States, but grows best in warm, damp climates. If algae staining is the only symptom your roof is exhibiting, it may be professionally cleaned to add years to the life of your roof system.
Proper ventilation of the attic space is important to prevent premature aging of the shingles due to excessive heat. Proper ventilation also will reduce moisture build-up that can damage the wood components of the roof. An easy way to check for attic ventilation is to observe the attic space in the daylight with the attic lights off. Where you see daylight, you see venting. It is also important that you have cross ventilation. For example, if the roof has soffit vents (vents at the eves) and ridge vents, the air will flow from the soffit vents through the attic to the ridge vents. Cross-venting helps prevent hot spots in the attic. You may see soffit vents on the outside, under the eves, but may not see light in that area from the attic side. That commonly occurs when the attic insulation has covered the soffit vents. If this is the case, pull the insulation back until the soffit vent is open and look for light.
It is also important to have good insulation in the attic, especially if you live in a cold climate. Proper insulation will help prevent ice damming. Ice damming occurs when the heat from your house passes through a poorly insulated attic, thus melting snow or ice on the roof, allowing the melted snow or ice to run down to the lower edge of the roof where it can refreeze. As the snow or ice refreezes, it forms a dam. When the dam gets large enough, the water that is hitting it will start running back and under the shingles. This will cause the roof to leak and can damage ceilings and walls.
Here are some preventive maintenance tips that can help reduce leaks and avoid premature roof failure:
 Trim back any overhanging tree branches.
 Keep the roof free of debris.
 Keep gutters free of debris and in good working order.
 From the ground, with the aid of binoculars, inspect the roof for missing or broken shingles.
 Inspect all flashing around chimneys, valleys, pipes, and butting roofs.
 In your attic, with the aid of a flashlight, inspect the wood decking under the shingles for water stains.
 If you see signs of leaking, have it repaired right away.

If your roof is more than twenty years old, you should consider having it inspected by a professional roofer.
Remember your roof is a major system of your house. Deferred maintenance can be very costly.

No comments: