When it comes to home maintenance tasks, one area that is often overlooked is the rooftop of our homes. A roof does more than just provide a decorative accent to our home; it protects the structure beneath from the weather. A roof is so important that most professionals recommend that it be inspected at least twice a year.
While you should never climb on top of a shingled, shake, or metal roof (which can damage the material), slightly sloped asphalt roofs are usually safe enough for a home owner to climb upon. For the do-it-yourselfer, here is the round up of roof top tasks that every homeowner should tackle on a regular basis. If you don’t feel comfortable doing these tasks yourself, you can hire a contractor to do the work instead.
1. Sweep off leaves and twigs. Leaves, pine needles and debris from trees tend to gather on the flat areas of the roof, and over time will actually break down as compost. To prevent microorganisms from damaging your roof, remove any fallen tree limbs and sweep off any pine needles or leaves that have become trapped on the roof.
2. Check the chimney cap and roof vents for bird nests. If your chimney top is easy to reach, check for bird nests that may have been built in the area of the cap. Clearing out bird nests will help keep your fireplace running effectively. Roof vents, plumbing pipes and other capped duct work should also be checked for bird nests.
3. Clean out the dryer lint exhaust. For homes with a clothes dryer on an internal wall, the exhaust vent may duct outside to the roof. Dryer exhaust vents are usually covered with a protective grille to keep out the birds. Remove the grill and shake out the dryer lint.
4. Cut off overhanging tree limbs. Trees that hang over a home may look pretty but can cause some serious damage to a roof. If the branches are easy to reach, use a pruning saw to trim back overhang limbs. For larger trees, call a professional tree trimming service to do the job for you.
5. Look for signs of animal damage or nests. Raccoons, squirrels, and birds will pick away at vulnerable areas of the roof in the search for food, bedding material or even a cozy place for a den. While walking around the roof, keep an eye out for signs of holes or damaged wood around the gables and nesting areas.
6. Inspect the condition of the shingles. This is also a good time to assess the condition of the roof, rubber membrane, and metal flashing and the condition of the rain gutters on the second floor. Items to check include loose, damaged or missing shingles, curled or warped shingles, holes in the roof, loose rain gutters, or areas where it looks like the metal flashing has been damaged or pulled away. For a detailed DIY roof inspection checklist, “Inspecting-your-roof” by doityourself.com is a great resource filled with lots of helpful information about all types of roofs.
These are six easy tasks that should be part of a twice a year roof top maintenance program. By catching roof top problems early, you will prevent bigger and more costlier problems from developing in the future.