As the colder months approach homeowners should start to think about their roof. There is no more important part of a home than the roof, and the winter can be brutal on a home’s exterior.
There are several steps to doing an inspection and any maintenance. If your roof is very high, hard to access, has a steep pitch or most importantly you are not comfortable getting onto your roof, then leave this to a professional. There still are steps that you can perform at ground level.
To start you will need a good ladder and someone to “foot” the ladder, that is have someone hold it steady as you climb up and down, get on and off. Do not use a cheap or unsafe ladder, the consequences can be serious.
As you access your roof you will first want to take a look at the entire roof, or what section can be seen. You will be looking at the condition of the roof, several things to look for:
-What is the condition of the shingles or roofing material? Does the material look in poor condition? If it is in poor condition and older than 20 years, than it may be time for a replacement.
-Does the roof have any dips or sags? This may show that the roof needs repairs to the underlying wood.
Take a walk around the roof, especially near any sections where two sections of roofing meet at different angles. These are called valleys and this is where much water is channeled. Look to see if the valley material is in good condition, if any of the asphalt sealing material is cracked.
I also advise that you look at every spot that has any asphalt sealing material, such as around skylights, roof edges, pipes coming through the roof.
If the asphalt material is cracked you will want to purchase some from a roofing supply center of home center, along with some asphalt mesh tape, a trowel and some gloves. You will want to apply some of the sealant with the trowel, then add some of the tape over. To finish off the repair you will add more sealant on top, blending the tape into asphalt to make a strong patch. Always where gloves, the sealant is very hard to get off.
If there is a chimney that comes through your roof, check to see if the metal flashing sealing the chimney to the roof is in good condition. Look for small cracks at the seam between the chimney and the metal. You can seal any cracks with the asphalt sealant, but this can be very messy for an area like this where people can see it from the ground. I would suggest sealing this with an asphalt caulk.
I just had a leak in this area of my roof, and I could not believe how much water entered my house through such a small crack, which we later sealed with the caulk.
If you have any siding that is accessible from your roof inspect this to see if it is loose or needs any attention. Any loose siding, no matter what material it is made of can be held in place with small finish nails. If there are any gaps where the siding meets the roof you will want to seal this with silicone caulk, this type will flex with expansion and contraction of the siding and can be purchased in different colors.
Any metal flashing, which is the material that usually covers roof edges, around chimneys, where a roof meets another roof, should also be checked. Many times this will come loose. You can tighten the flashing up with small flashing nails (even small brad nails), many times the existing holes are no longer good, so you will need to nail in another spot.
If there is any debris that is on your roof, sticks or leaves, you will want to sweep these off, as they could clog your gutters.
When you are on the ground take a walk around your home and visually inspect the edge of your roof. There may be some loose flashing or shingles that you could not see from up top. Also you will want to see if there are any trees that are close to your roof. You do not want any branches, tall bushes or vines growing over, next to or onto your roof. The key to a good roof is to keep it clear and in good condition, so if you have any thing growing near it, prune it back.
During your inspection if you have found any condition or repair that you were not comfortable with please call a professional.
This inspection should only take about an hour, not including any repairs, but will be well worth the time spent. Remember stay safe.