Many people spend a lot of time worrying about roof condition in the fall. It’s a practical attitude, especially if your roof contains a lot of nooks where debris accumulates.
The last thing you want is a roofing disaster in January. That’s a time of year when repairs prove difficult and dangerous, even for experienced pros.
With all of that focus on winter prep, it’s an easy thing to overlook the punishment your roof takes all winter. A lot can happen to your roof courtesy of howling winds or hundreds of pounds of snow building up.
So, here’s a few key spring roof maintenance tasks you should do every year.
Venturing onto a roof is a dangerous activity. It’s easy for someone to fall even on a roof with a comparatively gentle slope. You should take some basic precautions.
Use a sturdy ladder that has non-slip rubber feet on it. That helps the ladder stay in place while you climb.
Also, wear work gloves and basic eye protection. Wind can blow loose debris into your eyes. Sliding across asphalt shingles can rip up your hands.
If possible, use a safety harness or safety line to keep you from crashing into the ground.
2. Roof Inspection
Give your roof a thorough once-over. Keep an eye out for damaged or dislodged shingles. Watch for loose or rusty nails.
Check over the flashing around the entire building. Note any rusty or missing flashing, since that will also need attention.
Keep an eye out for visible mold, rot, or moss.
Check your soffits and eaves for any signs of damage or decay.
Take the time to clean out your gutters. Even if you cleaned them thoroughly in the fall, winter winds can fill them with late falling leaves, dirt, or pine needles. Odds are good that you’ll see some accumulation.
Use a hose to run water through the gutters. This can expose any leaks and will ensure that you don’t have anything stuck in the downspout.
Note any leaks or damage to the gutters.
4. Remove Detritus on the Roof
Removing loose debris from the room is the one the riskier portions of the project. Ask someone else to be there, if only to make sure you don’t fall.
Drop any fallen branches or limbs off the side of the roof, but avoid crushing any flower beds or herb gardens below. A broom can help you clean off any small debris in nooks and crannies.
Don’t sweep too hard or you’ll knock too many granules loose from the shingles.
5. Note Defects
While you remove debris from the roof, pay attention. Do any parts of the roof give a lot under your weight? Does any part of it feel spongy as you walk across it?
Those can serve as telltale signs that the wood beneath the shingle suffered some kind of damage. It could mean a large limb hit in that spot and cracked the wood beneath. It can also mean that water or ice damaged the integrity of the wood.
Keep a mental inventory of those spots or mark them on a sheet of paper for later reference.
6. Attic Visit
If your roof suffered from ice dams, you’ll find the best evidence in your attic. Take a quick trip up to your attic and examine the underside of the roof wood.
Use the mental inventory or paper to check the spots where you felt give or sponginess on the roof. If there were ice dams, leaks, or impact damage on the roof, you should see evidence there.
Cracked plywood can indicate an impact. Discoloration in one location indicated a localized leak. Streaks running down can indicate several leaks or water infiltration from an ice dam.
7. Inspect Chimney
Don’t overlook your chimney, if you use a fireplace. They often look quite sturdy, but brick and mortar can deteriorate over time.
Look for cracked bricks or blocks. Also, keep an eye out for cracks in the mortar or crumbling mortar. While they may not look serious right now, they can turn serious next year.
Spring or summer is the ideal time for a chimney repair. The warm weather lets the mortar dry properly without any special extra activities by the mason. That keeps the price down.
8. Conduct Repairs
If you’re comfortable with the work, you can conduct a number of basic repairs on your roof.
Most experienced DIYers can replace some damaged or missing shingles. With some care, you can also handle most flashing replacements. Gutter repairs can prove aggravating, but not impossible.
Damaged soffit and eaves repair is another matter. Fixing them depends on the damage location and equipment you have on hand. For example, damage near the peak can prove inaccessible without a very long or professional grade ladder.
Damage to the roof and chimney don’t generally lend themselves to DIY solutions.
9. Consult a Professional
Even if you conduct a very thorough inspection, it doesn’t mean you’ll catch everything. Calling in a professional for an inspection can reveal telltale problems you wouldn’t notice.
You should absolutely call for a pro consultation if you find signs of serious leaks or impact damage of the roof wood. A professional can tell you whether you need a new roof for the structural integrity of your home. You may discover that all you need is a small repair or partial roof replacement.
Masonry repairs should also require a professional eye.
Parting Thoughts on Spring Roof Maintenance
Harsh winter weather can take a toll on your roof. That means that you should conduct basic spring roof maintenance every year.
Once you deal with the safety issues, give the roof a solid inspection. Note any shingle problems and spongy spots on the roof. Check over the gutters, soffits, eaves, and chimney for damage.
When in doubt, hire a pro roof inspector to give your roof a once over.
Check in your attic to confirm any suspected water or impact damage. Conduct the minor repairs you feel confident about. Leave the complex repairs, like masonry and full-on roof replacement, to the professionals.
M&J Roofing and Exteriors specialize in roofing, windows, siding, and gutters for central Indiana. For more information about our services or to schedule a consultation, contact us today.