A new roof is a major investment in a home. You can expect to pay between $5,000 and $8,000 for a basic roof replacement on a typical four-square or ranch-style house, while high-end materials or a complex roof may put you in a cost range of $9,000 to $14,000 or even more. Whether your roof is the original or you’ve had it replaced recently, you’ll want to ensure it lasts its longest. Here are the ways you can maximize your roof’s lifespan.
Keeping your gutters maintained and free of clogs doesn’t just protect against basement flooding and siding damage, it’s also good for your roof. If gutters become clogged or full of leaves, water can seep into the roof sheathing or rafters and cause rot. This type of damage can cost thousands to repair.
To avoid this risk, be sure to clean your gutters every fall and spring. The job can be done yourself in a few hours if you’re handy with work on a ladder, otherwise, a pro can tackle the job for $50-$250 based on the size of your house.
If you have a simple roof or little in the way of trees around your home, leaves probably don’t collect on your roof. However, if your roof is more intricate or if you have large trees hanging over your home, leaves and branches may accumulate in roof valleys or around chimneys. Unless removed, these materials can absorb moisture and begin to break down, causing moisture to build up in your roof and potentially creating an environment for weeds to take root.
With a low roof and a one-story house, you might be able to clear the leaves from the ground using a car washing brush or a roof rake on an adjustable pole, which typically cost about $20-$30. Leaf blowers are well suited to the job, but you or a pro will need to venture up on the roof to use one. Damp leaves may need to be washed off with a garden hose. Pressure washers can force water under shingles and should not be used.
If you live in a cool, damp, cloudy climate like the Northwest, your roof may be susceptible to moss. This clumpy plant matter is a threat to roofs because it holds in moisture.
If caught early, you may be able to simply sweep moss away. Significant buildups often need to be killed with a chemical solution and scrubbed off.
You can prevent moss from taking hold by installing copper or zinc strips just below the top ridge of your roof. Runoff over the metal is toxic to moss and will inhibit its growth. You can tackle the job yourself or hire a roofer to do it for about $300.
Unlike moss, the filmy black algae that appears on many roofs across the country is not considered to be harmful. You can kill it off with some chlorine bleach or detergent mixed in water, but it will be easier on yourself and your roof to just let the algae be.
Branches that hang over your house present numerous threats to your roof. They provide shade that helps moss grow, they drop leaves and other organic matter, they can cause direct damage by scraping or falling and they can provide access for pests such as rodents.
At a minimum, trimming branches so they are at least ten feet away from your roof is recommended. For the most protection, you’ll want few if any branches to overhang or shade your roof. Tree trimming gone wrong has a big potential for damage or injury, so hire a trained arborist if you’re not up to the task.
Fight the freeze
Winter in the colder climates is often the least pleasant time for roof maintenance, but it’s important to guard against the buildup of snow and ice on your roof.
Ice is the biggest threat as it can form ice dams that impede drainage and increase the chance for damaging roof leaks. Clearing away some or all of the snow when weather permits should combat ice dams. Don’t attempt to pry off ice from your roof as that may cause damage.
Roof rakes, brushes or shovels on telescoping poles allow you to clear snow on the roof from the sure footing of the ground. Take extreme care if you must work from a ladder and ensure any falling snow won’t knock you or your ladder over.
Poor insulation or the presence of air leaks are big contributors to ice dams. Correcting these issues can save you additional trouble and expenses down the road.
Inspect and check
Like any part of your home, it’s best to spot problems while they’re still small and easy to fix. If a wind storm passes through, a barrage of hail hits your home or you hear animals scurrying around on the roof, be sure to check when safe and ensure your roof is still in proper shape.
Issues to check for include curling, loose or missing shingles and damaged flashing around vents, chimneys, skylights and other openings. If something doesn’t seem right, have a roofer inspect it as soon as possible and repair any issues before the damage escalates.
If you can’t or don’t want to climb up onto your roof for inspections, a pair of binoculars or a camera with a good zoom lens may allow you to do the job from the ground.
A full professional inspection every few years with maintenance work such as resealing weak spots along the flashing is also beneficial.
A “roof over your head” is so important, it’s come to mean shelter and security itself. If you follow these steps and take proper care of a good roof, it should continue to protect you from the elements for many more years.