Of all the things in your home, your roof is (arguably) the most important part of its structure… and yet it so often gets overlooked in favor of the more obvious, tangible issues like plumbing problems or air conditioning. Maintaining your roof is an essential part of making your home safe, healthy and durable. Here are a few red flags that will signal you’re overdue for a roof repair!
Shingles are designed to lay flat on your roof, creating a solid seal that keeps water out and any solid debris from damaging the integrity of your ceilings. Curled or buckled shingles occur when either the shingles are improperly installed or moisture is absorbed to the point of warping the material, “curling” it upward. This means that the areas that were once sealed are no longer protected from that moisture sneaking in through those raised pieces. Repairing shingles is a simple procedure and doesn’t have to cost much—it certainly costs less than a full roof replacement or the damage that comes from saturated parts of the roof and ceiling.
Age is one of the leading causes of wear and tear on any part of your home, but especially the exterior and top of the house. As the materials of your home go through cycles of expansion and contraction, they begin to break down. They become weaker, holes develop, wood is more brittle, erosion occurs. Basically, your roof is all in all less reliable for keeping out what it was created to keep out. Your entire roof may need replacing depending on its age! Roofs made of copper, tile or slate may last over five decades, but asphalt and wood last only 25 to 30 years. Make sure you are aware of the age of your roof, especially if you live in an “antique” home.
Probably the most obvious signifier of roof damage is leaks. Moisture that has pooled in your ceiling or drips coming down your walls mean that something in your protective roof has failed—there is some sort of damage (a hole, a crack, a collapsed soft spot) that is allowing large amounts of water to come right in. If leaks are left unaddressed, the moisture will spread and therefore so will the damage. Besides irreversible, unattractive water stains, leaks will compromise the durability of your home’s structure in addition to inviting dangerous mold and bacteria to take over what should be a sanitary area.
Cracks in your roofing doesn’t just mean water can get in—it also means that your heated or cooled air can get out! If you notice that your energy bills are increasing but you feel that your usage is not, check your roof for “leaks” that are allowing that energy-reliant air out of your controlled interior space. You should also check your windows and doors for the cause of energy loss. Any areas of your home that are meant to be opened and shut will be your first line of defense, but the roof should follow close behind.
When your gutters are clogged, the water that is supposed to drain off the roof and channel to the ground (far outside your home) is stuck, sitting in place for extended periods of time right against your roof. Lengthy exposure to that collected water breaks down the material quickly, leading to rot and deterioration of what should be sturdy material. After enough time, the absorption will extend further into your home, seeping into the walls and ceiling and causing those highly damaging leaks through saturation. Keep your gutters clean and clear of easily built up debris! This will prevent the need for repair. However, if this issue has (literally) made its way through the cracks, make sure you repair the areas quickly to control the spread of damage before it gets too deep.
If you notice some interesting black streaks on your roof, your home may have developed an algae problem. Black algae or “roof mold” develops from a combination of mildew, dirt accumulation, and problematic shingles. It thrives on humidity and the sun, both of which are easily found on rooftops! The spores from this harmful growth spread easily, so any small patch may become overwhelmingly large before you know what’s happened. The algae not only stains the coloring of your shingles to leave that black, streaky look, it also eats away at the material and creates vulnerable soft spots and holes. The plus to this issue is that, if caught early, you won’t need to make deep repairs, but rather thoroughly clean the area!
If your home’s exterior paint job is peeling, especially around the top border where the roof shields it, this may be a sign that moisture has built up around that roofline and the material of the walls is expanding. This is what causes the hardened paint to peel off, as the cellular structure of the building material separates from tighter structured substances like dried paint particles, and pushes them away. Attics with bad ventilation contribute to this moisture build up, so pay attention to that aspect of your home as a precaution for potential developments like this. Improve the ventilation, you may improve the lifespan of your roof and walls!
Obviously your roof is meant to be solid, flat, and durable. If you can see that areas of your roof are the opposite—bendy, concave and weak—it’s time for repairs! Those sagging areas of your roof are the point of no return for roof repairs, necessitating roof replacement instead. The materials will have become too saturated, weak and damaged for a simple fix. Parts of your ceiling that are bowed in are an equivalent sign of this issue. Get these concerning damages taken care of right away! Further damage can follow quickly!
Protect your home from the dangers and frustrations of roof damage and consequent repairs. Make routine checks of your roof and the areas around it and inside of it! Keep your roof healthy, and the rest of your house’s lifespan will increase with it.
Read this next: The Benefits of Having Your Roof Maintained