Roofing Maintenance Tips
A well-maintained roof keeps the occupants of a building safe from the elements and protects the rest of the structure. It also reduces energy costs because properly insulated and ventilated shingles allow hot air to escape in the winter and cool air to enter in the summer.
Regular inspections can identify small problems that may become major problems, saving money on repairs. Facility staff should keep up with these maintenance tasks. Contact Boston Roofing CO for professional help.
Flashing is sheet metal shaped to fit and prevent moisture from penetrating areas of a roof that are particularly susceptible to leaks. It is typically installed in the corners of a roof, around chimneys and vents, and at any area where roof covering materials meet a wall.
Leaks are often caused by gaps or cracks in flashing, as well as improper installation. A home inspector will look for these conditions during a standard inspection.
In many cases, a homeowner can repair minor damage to flashing with a roll of flashing tape and some roof cement. This will ensure a water tight seal in the damaged area. For more severe problems, a roofing expert will need to inspect the roof and recommend any necessary repairs.
A common cause of roof leaks is the use of step flashing (required for asphalt, slate, and wood shingle manufacturers at sidewalls) instead of pan flashing. Incorrect installation of pan flashing can result in the roof covering and wall covering coming into direct contact, which eventually causes material decay.
While a homeowner can do a basic check for rust and corrosion, these issues are best addressed by a professional. Corroded flashing can lead to moisture penetration in the roof system, which can cause structural and interior damage.
It is also important to make sure the flashing is properly sealed around any vents and skylights in a roof. A home inspector will look for a sloppy job, as well as a lack of any type of sealant around these areas.
Most flashing is secured with either nails or screws, and these can loosen over time. A professional will check for any raised nail heads and pound them in or replace the screws as needed.
When installing flashing, it is best to remove any shingles covering the flange of the vent pipe. This will allow a more accurate measure of the size of flashing to be installed. Once the correct flashing is in place, the shingles can be replaced.
Another type of flashing is called saddle flashing, and this is sometimes used to cover a gap where a roof slope meets an adjacent wall. This type of flashing is easy to install by removing any shingles covering the flange, then placing new flashing and sealing it with roof cement.
Check the Caulk
In addition to examining the flashing for cracks and leaks, it’s important to examine the caulking at regular intervals. It doesn’t take long for small holes or cracks to get worse and cause costly problems. Caulk fills in gaps and helps to waterproof the roof, but it is not designed as a leak stopper. Only very small cracks and holes should be filled with caulk, and it is a good idea to use a product that will bind well to the roof. This will allow the patch to last longer.
It will probably take a lot of rain to show signs of water penetration through a cracked or worn caulk joint. Often the first signs will appear as mildew, mold, or water stains inside the house. If left unchecked, the wood framework of the house may rot and eventually fail.
If you suspect a problem with the caulking, have it repaired promptly. It’s best to use a product designed for the type of siding you have on your home, rather than painter’s caulk. It will be easier to clean and won’t peel away as easily. If you are worried about being able to reach the spots on your roof that need caulking, have a friend hold the ladder steady for you and consider using a safety harness or a temporary guardrail.
You should also look for areas around the vents and pipes on your roof. These may need to be replaced as they are a source of water intrusion. If the vents or pipes are old and leaking, it’s usually easy to replace them by carefully cutting through the shingles, prying up the pipe or vent, removing any shingle that was covering it, replacing the vent or pipe boot, and caulking.
The same process applies to repairing the rubber boots that seal the connections between metal pipes and the vents. These can be a source of leaks if the joints are leaking or the rubber is deteriorating. You can purchase new rubber vent boots at most hardware stores. They are installed the same way that the vent or pipe flashing is installed.
Trim Tree Branches
Branches that hang over your roof can cause damage to it during storms and prevent water from draining properly. You should regularly trim any branches that hang over your home to protect your gutters and keep the roof safe from debris.
It’s best to prune trees during dormancy, either in the winter or early spring. This allows the tree to heal before it starts growing new leaves and fruit, which can help prevent disease. It also lowers the risk of limbs falling during storms or other events.
To do a proper pruning job, start by making an undercut about halfway through the branch, or 12-18 inches from where it joins the trunk. Next, move a few inches farther up the branch and make another cut about the same length as the first one but without leaving a stub. Finally, cut the remaining stub outside of the branch collar, which is the slightly swollen area at the base of a branch (see the picture above). Never cut into or behind this ridge, as it will leave an open wound where water can easily settle and cause decay.
Whether you’re removing dead limbs or shaping your tree, always prune to a healthy bud, pair of buds or outward-facing branch. Also, be sure to remove rubbing or crossing branches and eliminate suckers and water sprouts. For young trees, prune to train them to a single leader and avoid letting laterals grow higher than the terminal branch (unless a multi-stemmed tree is desired).
If you’re unsure about which branches to remove or how to do it safely, ask your local arborist for advice. They’ll be able to give you tips on how often to do the work, what types of cuts are necessary, and what to look for when it comes to safety and health concerns. While one wrong cut won’t kill the tree, improper pruning can significantly reduce its life expectancy and increase your maintenance costs over time.
Clean the Gutters
The gutters collect rainwater and carry it away from the roof through downspouts. This system protects the walls, siding and foundation of the house from water damage. But, like any other part of a home, the gutters can be subject to problems such as clogs, mold and mildew, rodents, ice dams in winter and leaks which could cause expensive roof and wall repairs. Cleaning the gutters is a chore that most homeowners don’t look forward to. It requires climbing a ladder, and it can be quite messy. It’s also important to make sure you have the right gear to do it safely. Wearing a pair of thick work gloves, a long-sleeved shirt, pants and safety glasses will help you get a good grip on the ladder. Also, a pair of nonslip shoes or boots will help you stay on the ladder when spraying water from the high-pressure hose nozzle.
The best way to clean the gutters is by sweeping out the majority of debris on the ground, then using a ladder to reach the higher parts of the gutters. A hose nozzle attached to the end of a ladder can be used to wash out the gutters and downspouts, dislodging leaves, twigs and other debris. This is much faster than climbing the ladder to manually remove all of the debris, and it’s more effective at removing hard-to-reach debris.
When you’re done, be sure to inspect the downspouts for clogs. You can use a plumber’s snake to clear blockages, or just run the hose through them at high pressure to flush out any remaining debris. Keeping your gutters and downspouts clean is a crucial step in maintaining your roof, and it can help prevent costly repair bills.
While no one loves the job of cleaning gutters, it’s a necessary task that every homeowner must undertake. By following these simple tips, you can reduce the amount of time and effort needed to clean your gutters, and prevent costly roof, wall, foundation and landscaping damage. Of course, the best way to avoid the hassle of cleaning your gutters is to perform regular maintenance on them in order to keep them clog-free.