Keeping your roof in good repair will protect the rest of your home from mold, rotting, and water damage. A well-maintained roof will also enhance the value of your house when it comes time to sell.
Start by doing a visual inspection of the exterior of your roof. Look for shingles that are cracked or missing, as well as damaged flashing and vent boots.
Shingles are prone to cracking, and even a single broken shingle can let moisture into the home. It’s important to keep an eye out for any shingles that appear loose or damaged, and replace them as soon as possible.
It’s best to do this in the spring or fall. Shingles are not as brittle in these seasons and will be easier to handle. If you have to work on the roof repairs in the summer, wear soft-soled shoes with larger surface area treads (like tennis or basketball shoes) instead of hiking boots, which can easily damage shingles.
Start by sliding a putty knife or flat pry bar under the front edge of the damaged shingle. Use the flat pry bar edge to separate the shingle from the ones above it and expose the nails. Remove the nails and pull up the shingle, then use the flat pry bar to loosen the shingle sealant and expose the first row of shingles beneath it.
Flashing is a thin material that is used to wrap the seams of different installations on your roof, such as chimneys and vents. It also helps to eliminate the possibility of water leaks from those specific installations.
Flashing naturally ages over time due to exposure to the elements, and it can eventually develop rust spots or corrosion that could lead to holes in the flashing. These holes in the flashing can allow water to penetrate your roof, causing internal damage and possibly mold and mildew.
While you can often fix small holes in your flashing by patching them with a roof patch, it is usually best to remove and replace the damaged piece of flashing rather than simply covering over the top of it. The replacement is typically done by removing some of the roofing shingles, then positioning the new flashing and securing it with roof cement. This is a job that should be handled by a professional to ensure proper installation.
Gutters are a vital component of your roof system, diverting water runoff away from the foundation of your home. Leaving them damaged can lead to flooding in basements, and rotting in wooden components such as window sills, walls, and doors. This can be expensive to fix. Taking preventive measures, like regular gutter cleaning and repair, is much more cost-effective than reacting to problems that arise from damaged or inefficient gutters.
If gutters are clogged and overflowing, they will prevent water from flowing properly away from the roof. This can damage the material surfaces and underlinings of your roof, leading to costly replacements.
Gutter leaks typically occur at rusty spots or at seams that have opened up due to expansion and contraction over time. Gutter leaks can be easily repaired using a piece of scrap wire screening cut to size, nailed in place, and coated with roofing cement or caulking. The best way to find a leaky section of gutter is to use a bubble level and walk along the entire length.
A home with damaged roof vents can suffer long-term, unseen damage to the attic, drywall and ductwork. Water entering the ductwork can rust metal piping and lead to attic mold, mildew and insect problems. The attic space without a functioning ventilation system can become humid and sweltering.
A leaking roof vent can ruin your insulation, damage the drywall and saturate foam insulation, creating a costly moisture problem and potential health issues for your family. The best way to protect your investment is to catch roof leaks as early as possible, and repair them promptly to avoid extensive damage.
The photo at left shows a broken-off above-roof plumbing vent stack that was extending through a cathedral ceiling and the building roof surface. Access to the roof cavity was difficult, so we removed the roof shingles over the attic side of the chimney, cut off the ABS pipe, and glued a new pipe into the attic side of the old elbow.