Since the dawn of mankind, shelter has been one of the most essential necessities for humans. It still is, and will always be the third most important basic need after food and clothing.
Houses have been our homes, a place of comfort and convenience, a measure of success for some, and just a means of protection from the elements for others.
There’s a twist though, you have to keep constant maintenance of your house to get the best out of it and keep it looking great, and of course, secure it too.
And there’s more; a roof that has not been well maintained could also pose a risk for damage to your valuables, injuries, and even fatalities when it comes to the worse.
Well, the roof is one of the most overlooked parts of the house when it comes to repairs and maintenance.
So if you haven’t thought about getting it fixed for a while, or simply checking how well it’s holding up, this post is for you. Keep reading to find out what you might have been missing and what to do next.
Most common risks to your roof
There’s a fair number of risks that could lead to the damage of your roof, and while these happen over time, it is unfortunate that they’re usually overlooked all along, up until it’s too late.
Here are some of the things that you need to be on the watch out for to keep this essential part of the house your in top shape.
Check the gutters as well as downspouts
These parts are essential for ensuring that rainwater that falls on your roof is directed effectively to the ground or storage tanks.
However, if they become obstructed with sticks, dirt, and debris accumulating up there, then damage to your roof could be imminent once the rains hit. Another risk is when the gutters rust, which means they could collect debris easily and become clogged.
In any of these cases, it is wise to either clean or replace these parts altogether for ultimate performance. Just one thing though; be very careful with the cleaning, and ensure that you are safely secured to the roof to avoid accidental falls.
And for the replacement of these gutters, only go the DIY if you know what you are doing. Otherwise, it is advisable to get experts to help you with this task.
This will help avoid poor installation that could lead to damage to your property or even accidents during the installation or in the future.
Another unseen risk comes from standing water and wet leaves that collect on the gutters. These might not be blocking the performance of the gutter as they may remain after the rains are over, but that isn’t to mean they are not a threat anyway.
The problem is that this leads to overloading the gutters and thus causing them to loosen from their attachment points to the roof.
It’s advisable to check (preferably after several months or one year) for any leaves or standing water on your gutter. This could help prevent any unnecessary weight that could damage your gutters.
Algae or moss
No matter how careful you are with your roof, over time, algae or moss will start to grow due to the accumulation of moisture. You can easily identify the growth of these ones with their color, which is either bluish-green, pale, black or white.
Now, there are two things about the growth of algae and moss. One, they could be a sign that something’s wrong, like a leak or some moisture is building up on the roof. Secondly, they could be a serious threat to the safety of your roof.
It’s not uncommon to see some stuff stuck on your roof. And while it’s easy to brush it off as a normal thing, this is actually a bad sign, and you need to take action as early as possible.
Here’s some good and bad news. The good news is, these clumps don’t last long, as they usually break up in a day or two.
The bad news is, sometimes they tend to stay on there a tad too long, and lead to a condition known as “mushy spots,” which is a breakdown that results from damp accumulating on your roof.
This causes a melt in the shingles on your roof, which could easily cause even more underlying problems on the support beams and other parts on or close to the roof.
If you see any of these, it’s time to go up there and inspect or call a roofing contractor to have a closer look and let you know what to do next.
Weather damage to your roof
Besides wear, tear, and other causes that could damage your roof, the weather also plays a major role here, and sometimes it happens so quickly there’s no time to respond.
The roof does a great job at protecting us from the elements, and that means it takes the beating, and sometimes nature can be brutal. Here are some of the potential roof damages that could result from bad weather and how to deal with them.
Wind is yet another weather element that tends to go really hard on your roof, especially strong storm winds. If it’s strong enough, wind can dislodge those shingles and even lift roof panels, leaving the wooden frame and the ceiling beneath exposed.
It could also easily swing or uproot trees and bang them on your roof, or even pick up any furniture left outdoors and send them flying at the house and roof, causing serious damage.
Make sure to use high-quality material and secure those roof shingles tightly. Also, cut any trees that are too close to the house or trim branches that hang too close for comfort.
Rainwater is by far the most common threat to your roof and the valuables inside. Besides any possible leaks that might be long term, roofs are more likely to sustain some serious damages during the rainy season, especially during heavy storms.
It’s thus crucial that you inspect and make any necessary repairs or replacements towards the rain season to ensure it is strong enough to withstand the tough season.
After all, you will agree that making any repairs way into the rainy season can be a bad idea. And, don’t forget to check after the rains are over and see if there’s the need for repairs.
Hailstorms are the worst of them all when it comes to roof damage, and can cause some serious damage once it hits.
Whether it’s a small or large storm, or whatever shape it takes, hail is any homeowner’s worst nightmare when it comes roofs. And even the windows and glass doors aren’t safe from the sheer force that hail comes with once it hits.
You can make the most of hail shields and guards or wire mesh that help secure your roofing material. It’s also important to check it for any signs of damage after the storm is over.
Heat could also damage your roof as well. I know this one might sound a bit far fetched, right? Well, the reality is, heat can easily cause serious roof damage over time.
Some of the damages that result from the roof’s exposure to heat and UV light include cracking, curling or simple wear and tear on your roofing material.
The best you can do is to keep a constant watch for any signs of bending or breaking during the hot season to spot out any potential damage. And when you do find any, make efforts to repair them as soon as possible.
What To Do Now
Now that you know what some of the risks and causes of damage to your shelter are, here are some of the things you can do to secure it and keep your family safe.
Nothing could spell a nightmare than a roof caving in on you in the middle of the night. Or even a mere leakage during the rainy season should be enough to give you that wake up call, so why not stay ahead?
Check the roof vents
These help keep air flowing into your house, ensuring you can enjoy that fresh breath at any time of the day. But if they become damaged, or are not well fixed, they could let in rainwater.
Besides ensuring you use the best quality vents, it’s also advisable that you go for ones with moisture reduction design. This further helps reduce any water damage that might result in the lack thereof.
Install edge protection
As much as you want a safe and solid roof over your family, you also need to put the safety of those who will be doing the maintenance and repairs at heart.
When working on a roof, it is very easy to forget just how far you’ve gone, and getting too close to the edge is always a real risk, as this could result in a serious, sometimes fatal fall.
This is where the edge protection comes in handy, as it enables someone working or walking on the roof to asses just how close or far they are from the edge.
Another addition that you should consider here is a walking pad, which not only marks the perimeter of the roof but also helps protect your roof from damage when someone walks on it.
Ensure there’s no standing water
If you have a flat roof, or blocked gutters it is very possible for water to remain standing on top of it after heavy rains.
This causes continuous damage to parts of the roof or its drainage, resulting in a weakened ceiling and water spots inside your house. Faulty pipes and clogged drainage in the roof could cause this problem, too.
Leave it unattended for too long, and it could cause cracks on the ceiling, lead to water spots, and allow mold to take hold.
The good thing is, once you spot these water spots, you can use them as an indication to lead you to where there’s a leaky spot in the roof or damaged pipes within the house.
So, how do I fix a leaking roof? Well, it’s simple, make sure to use waterproofing and seal the roof terrace, also, consistent maintenance helps.
Soft decks and steep roofs
While you’re at it, keep in mind that some patches on the roof are damaged by water over time, and can buckle if you step on them. It is important that you make sure to get these areas repaired to avoid accidental falls when someone is working on the roof.
Not forgetting, it’s also advisable to be keen if your roof has a high pitch, as this could be a real risk for sliding and falling off. By the way, safety gear should always be put into consideration when working on roofs, you should never forget that.
If you decide to go the DIY way, make sure you secure yourself well on the roof before you start working to stay safe, or, you could just leave it to the professionals.
Reinforcing any roof installations
It’s great to have installations such as chimneys, HVAC systems, solar panels, and vents or utility posts on the roof, but unfortunately, these could be a real hazard in case of a blizzard, they could break off and damage your roof.
Besides these installations, trees or branches near the roof could also cause some serious damage. It’s thus important to make sure any such installations are well secured and any branches are cleared for your roof’s safety.
Check flashings and shingles
These are important parts of the roof for different reasons.
Flashings help keep water running all the way to the downspouts and drains. If folds, cracks, holes or curls develop on flashings, they could easily cause leakage during storms.
It’s thus important to keep an eye on your flashings to ensure they are in top shape, especially the ones near windows, pipes, chimney, and skylights among other crucial areas.
Shingles help keep the roof in place by allowing water as well as snow slide down the length of the roof. Unfortunately, gaps and holes could easily develop in your roof’s shingles, thus allowing water to make its way into your ceiling, leading to the growth of moss or mold due to the moisture.
Thus, it is crucial that you replace any damaged shingles, as repairing or reusing them might not be a guarantee that the damaged ones will work well.
Also, keep in mind that shingles are designed to last for an average of 15 years, so if you haven’t replaced them for a decade or so, then it’s about time you checked into that.
Check the skylights
As beautiful as they might look, skylights can be a real risk on just about any roof, as losing your balance and stepping on it could easily lead to a fall through it, resulting in damage and injury.
The best, and perhaps the only way to keep skylights safe for anyone walking on top of the roof is to cover them with netting, thus helping keep roof workers safe.
Choose the right materials
Perhaps your best bet when it comes to keeping your roof in top shape and ensuring the safety of your home is the material you select right from the word go.
For instance, getting robust laminated asphalt shingles gives your roof a better shot at bracing the storm and wind than most other options.
Another enhancement that you can make is to upgrade the ridge vent and use a baffle version instead. With baffled vents designed for use in areas that are prone to hurricanes, they are capable of handling high winds and can take on some beating without giving in.
Learn more about making the right choice of roofing material.
Pick up some nice underlayment
Sometimes a windstorm could blow your shingles away, leaving the interior exposed. And this is where sheathing and underlayment come in. So, it’s important that you pick up some underlayment or sheathing to protect you in such instances.
Make the right choice of sheathing according to the weight load maximum of your roof, but preferably 7/16-inch or thicker.
The thicker the sheathing the better, as this allows nails to go deep into the sheathing if they are thick enough , which keeps them sturdy during heavy winds.
How to secure your roof…In a nutshell
- Keep gutters clean and well maintained.
- Replace any damaged shingles in time.
- Keep an eye out for algae, fungus, and moss.
- Make sure your roof is inspected often.
- Repair any cracks on the mortar or chimneys and any joints.
- Clear any trees or branches that could lead to roof damage.
- Have trees at safe distance from the house, as this also helps protect the roof from extreme winds.
- Clear any debris that is stuck on the roof or the gutters.
- Remove any outdoor furniture or ornaments that might be blown up and sent flying right at the roof during a severe storm.
- Alternatively, you can stake them down to keep them safely secured to the ground.
If you haven’t given thought to the safety of your roof in a while, it’s about time you get up there and take a look. Or, call up your roofing technician and let them have a look. If anything needs repairing or replacement, it’s best to have it fixed while you’re still ahead, than to wait until the last minute.
With all the tips we’ve shared in this post, you shouldn’t have a difficult time finding out where that leakage in your ceiling might be coming from, and how to stop it.
Don’t just give your family a roof over their heads; make sure it’s a safe roof, too!