Your roof does its best to defend you, your family, and your property from a variety of threats. However, some attackers can overwhelm your roof's defenses, causing a great deal of damage to its shingles, flashing, and fascia. If left unchecked, the following culprits will dramatically decrease your roof's lifespan, resulting in expensive repairs.
However, if you know what to look for, you can protect your roof and keep these threats at bay.
Minnesota has over seven species of woodpecker, and many of these species have adapted to living around people. While these birds look beautiful, they can wreak havoc on your roof. Their sharp peaks can poke holes under the eaves, allowing water and condensation to penetrate the wood.
Bats can also squeeze into the smallest spaces in roofs and walls. Though they do not chew on the building, their waste and urine can ruin insulation and soak through the sheet rock.
While a pest control company can help you take steps to remove these critters, you'll need a qualified contractor to replace missing shingles and fill in gaps to prevent future infestations.
- Overhanging Branches
That Red Oak may look stunning next to your white trim, but those overhanging branches threaten your roof in multiple ways:
The branches rub against your roof, degrading the material and removing the granules from the asphalt shingles.
The fallen leaves lead to clogged gutters and ponding water (two other enemies on our list).
The broken branches can crash through your roof, snapping supporting beams along the way.
You can protect your roof from overhanging branches by keeping your trees trim. Although you want to keep branches as far away from your roof as possible, aim to have at least three to six feet of clearance between your tree and your roof.
- Clogged Gutters
Your roof's pitch works alongside your gutters to channel water away from your home. But if your gutters clog, the water pools on your roof and overflows into more vulnerable areas. This can lead to flooding around the foundation, rot in your siding and sheathing, and mold growth in your attic.
Depending on the types of trees and number of trees you have on your property, you should clean your gutters multiple times each year.
- Inadequate Ventilation and Insulation
Venting and insulation protect your roof from constant changes in temperature. During the summer, they keep your roof cool, and during the winter, they keep your roof warm.
Without adequate ventilation, your roof's temperature will skyrocket, putting excess strain on your shingles. This often leads to curling, shrinking, and bubbling, so your shingles won't last long.
Without enough insulation, the temperature in your roof can also intensify the melt-freeze cycle of snow on your roof. This can lead to dangerous ice dams that build up along the eaves. Over time, dams can tear away gutters and loosen shingles.
If your home is older than 20 years or has loose-fill insulation that has compacted over time, have a professional install blown-in insulation to ensure your roof stays in great shape.
- Ponding Water
Even if you keep your gutters clear of leaves and your rooftop free of ice, your roof may still be vulnerable to ponding water, or puddles of water that remain for at least 48 hours. Sagging beams and poor design create pockets where water can collect, and these pockets create the perfect environment for mold growth and algae buildup.
If you notice pools of water on your roof that don't drain properly, have a contractor inspect your roof's design. It might have poorly placed drainage, or the structure may have settled over the years. Depending on the reason behind the ponding, you may need to have additional drains installed or your roofing membrane replaced.
- Sun Exposure
Although the sunshine may feel good when you want to work on your tan, it doesn't do your roof any favors. UV light dries out your roof's surface, making your shingles brittle and prone to cracking.
Additionally, the sun can heat your roof to over 160 degrees Fahrenheit, only to have the temperature drop to 90 degrees during the night. This temperature fluctuation causes your roof to expand and contract dramatically, putting extra stress on flashing and fasteners.
If you worry about sun exposure, consider having a professional apply roof coating, or cool roof system, to your home. This coating acts much like a sun block, reflecting the heat away from the building.
- Poor Installation and Maintenance
Sometimes roofing companies cut corners when making repairs or replacing missing shingles. Maybe a worker ran out of nails and used too few to hold the shingles in place. Or a lax employee failed to secure the flashing around your pipes, chimney, and valleys. Although most homeowners can't easily spot these installation issues immediately, they'll certainly notice that their roof continues to leak a few months after the repairs.
That's why you need a contractor you can trust to install or replace your roof. Look for a company that stresses quality workmanship and has provided reliable service for several years. With the right contractor, these seven common problems will no longer threaten your home.