When you buy a home for the first time, you may make a few maintenance mistakes and assumptions about your property in the initial weeks and months of ownership.
For example, you might install a fire detector in your kitchen, only to discover that the alarm sounds every time you cook dinner. Or you might assume that your neighbors will love your new fence color, only to find out that the local homeowners association has strict exterior paint guidelines.
While some mistakes are laughable, other mistakes can cost you a great deal to fix. Fortunately, you can avoid serious problems and save thousands of dollars when you understand the following principals regarding your roof.
1. Your Roof Doesn't Last Forever
When carefully maintained, a quality home can last generations. Many homes across the country have lasted well over 100 years, and they can still meet the same safety standards and building codes as their modern counterparts.
But though your home as a whole can withstand a great deal, your average roof cannot. Asphalt roofs need replacing every 15 to 20 years, and cedar shakes last approximately 30 to 40 years if installed correctly. With both roof types, individual shingles will need immediate replacement if cracked, curled, or missing.
As you move into a new home, don't forget to ask about important details such as your roof's age and any recent repairs it may have undergone. If that information is unavailable, hire a roofing contractor to inspect your roof for damage.
2. Your Gutters Need Cleaning
Your gutters play a key role in protecting against basement and crawlspace floods. As rainwater pours from your roof, the gutters collect and redirect the water away from the vulnerable places of your home. Eventually, the downspout and splashguard guide the water to a safe patch of ground, and then the water can soak into the soil.
However, gutters can also contribute to leaks when you fail to clean them. As dirt, leaves, and twigs collect in gutters, water can no longer flow freely down the run and to the downspout. In severe storms, the water pools beyond your gutter and seeps under your shingles.
If you have trees that overhang your roof, take the time to clean your gutters every few months. For new builds with minimal landscaping, inspect and clean your gutters on a semi-annual basis.
3. Leaks Aren't Always Obvious Holes
When you picture a leaking roof, you may envision obvious holes in your attic or upper floors. During a storm, you may comically place buckets, pots, and pans underneath the holes to catch the dripping water.
Though many movies and TV shows would have you believe in this imagery, most roofs don't give you such obvious signs of damage. On many occasions, rainwater will slip in around a missing nail or snake its way along the underlayment before soaking into your ceiling and insulation.
If you notice bubbling paint on the ceiling, wall discoloration, or mold in your attic, you could have a leak. Algae growth and curling shingles could also indicate excess moisture collection on your roof. To avoid severe water damage, keep your eyes open for these subtle signs, and don't hesitate to call in a contractor if you suspect a problem.
4. You Should Leave the Repairs to the Professionals
You may feel comfortable performing a variety of home maintenance tasks on your own. With the right tools and a little research, you can teach yourself to caulk a sink, replace a washer hose, and clean your range hood filter. At a glance, a missing shingle or two may seem like an easy fix compared to your other past projects.
But though your confidence is commendable, leave the roofing repairs to the professionals. Without proper training, you could further damage your shingles when you walk on them. And without adequate safety equipment, you could slip and fall and suffer serious injury.
When you follow the advice above and regularly hire a contractor for help, you can ensure your roof stays in great shape for years to come.