Your roof is perhaps the most important part of your home — and it is much more complicated than it looks. Still, there are ways you can maintain and repair your own roof to keep home care costs low. Without further ado, here are some of the most important jobs for keeping your roof strong and healthy — as well as a few good signs you need to call an expert.
Cleaning the Gutters
Believe it or not, cleaning the gutters is a critical job for maintaining a strong and structurally sound roof. Your gutters exist to pull water away from your roof system, which includes the flashing and fascia. Over time, fallen leaves, sticks and other debris like trash will clog your gutters, making it impossible for water to flow. During warmer weather, water held against your roof will begin to rot wooden elements, rust metal parts and generally weaken the structure of your home. In winter, the water trapped in your gutters will freeze, causing ice that spits your roof and gutter system apart.
You know how to clean your gutters — removing gunk from gutters isn’t difficult, it’s just icky. You can always outsource this chore to your kids or neighbors’ kids, who will do the work for a few bucks. Or, you can ask your yard care service to add the job once per season. Additionally, you should consider installing gutter guards, which are mesh covers that prevent debris from falling into your gutters. You will still need to clean the guards every so often, but you won’t need to worry about gunk getting stuck in downspouts and other difficult-to-reach spaces.
Replacing a Damaged Shingle
One shingle can go bad without an entire roof needing replacement. Major wind and thunderstorms can rough up your roof, causing debris to rub against it, cracking or tearing a shingle or two in the process. You shouldn’t allow a missing or damaged shingle to persist for long; this represents a chink in the armor that is your roof, and moisture, pests and other problems can quickly seep in to cause more damage. Fortunately, repairing one or two shingles doesn’t require expert intervention.
First, remove the damaged shingle, if it remains on your roof. You can gently lift shingles surrounding the damaged one, pry out any nails attaching it to the battens and slide the shingle out. While doing this, you should scrape away any mortar left underneath, so you are working with a clean space. Next, cut the replacement shingle to the right size, rounding the back corners, and slide it into place. You need to use 6D hot-galvanized roofing nails at the shingle’s corners, to ensure the nails don’t rust or cause other problems. Cover the nails with caulk or cement andcelebrate your DIY repair.
Patching a Flat Roof
Flat roofs are most common in regions that don’t experience much rain. This is because water can easily pool on a flat roof, causing problems. Flat roofing systems are different than those of typical, slanting roofs; rather than shingles, flat roofs are composed of roofing felt and tar. When homeowners notice leaks, it is usually because the felt has been damaged due to pooling water.
The first and most essential step to patching a flat roof is removing water and clearing debris like leaf litter and sand. Then, you should slice open the roof in the suspected area of the leak. If you find water sandwiched between layers, you should squeeze it out by pressing hard on the edges of the roof and soaking the moisture into any absorbent rag. You can also speed up the drying process by using a propane torch, but you should be aware that this can be dangerous.
Once the area is completely dry, you should spread a thick layer of roofing cement over the exposed portion of roof, including the loose edges of felt. Pound roofing nails along each edge of the cut, sealing them close to the roof, and pour a final layer of cement to cover the nails.
Calling the Experts
To tell the truth, I contact roofers near me at the first sign of roof troubles. I can’t tell you the number of times that something seemingly simple was truly a major project that I was unprepared to tackle. Even if you are a confident DIY-er, you should call in the pros whenever you notice a roof problem like these:
- Replacing flashings. Flashings are usually aluminum or steel coverings for joints on your roof. Ensuring the joint is truly sealed is tricky, which is why this is a job for experts.
- Redoing the whole roof. You can watch any number of roof installation videos online — but that doesn’t mean you will be able to install a roofing system properly. Not only do you need experience, but you need the right tools to ensure your roof doesn’t need significant repairs in a short amount of time.
- Fixing water damage. Water isn’t just destructive; it’s dangerous. You don’t want to be anywhere near a roof that has sustained water damage because it could collapse underneath you or harbor pathogens. Regardless of where you find water damage, you need professional help to fix it.
A home without a roof is like a car without wheels — it just doesn’t make sense. You need to look out for your roof’s health, and sometimes that means relying on professionals to keep your roof in the right shape.