What Homeowners Can Do to Maintain the Quality of Their Rooftops

By following these tips, homeowners can remain vigilant about the state—and safety—of their rooftop.

Just because your rooftop if oftentimes out of sight doesn’t mean that it should be out of mind. Roof damage can be expensive to repair, and homeowners need to be aware of the condition that their roofs are in at all times.

Roofs typically have a lifespan of 15 or 20 years, but that doesn’t mean homeowners shouldn’t be regularly surveying their home’s roof. Things happen, stuff breaks and neglecting to keep an eye out for loose or missing shingles can be a costly mistake.

The changing of seasons from winter to spring and summer is always a nice time to check on the status of the rooftop for a few reasons, according to Aleksandra Cywinska at the Chicago-based New Edge Improvement Co.

Cywinska offers some sound insight on what homeowners can look out for when evaluating their roofs – especially since it’s never recommended that a non-professional ventures out on the roof themselves.

“The first thing to do is just take a long look at the roof,” Cywinska said. “Look for missing or lifted shingles. That’s the most common and obvious sign of damage. Beyond that, there’s not much to do for personal upkeep.”

Something homeowners can do, however, is make sure any trees in the home’s vicinity aren’t rubbing up against the shingles with enough frequency that’s causing damage. This is something that often goes forgotten. Damaged or absent shingles, especially on a roof that’s endured a snowy and icy winter, can rapidly become a long-term problem.

“Overall, shingles are a barrier against the elements; rain, sunshine, snow, all of that stuff,” Cywinska said. “It’s kind of like a foil to protect the home from moisture damage. We recommend homeowners should have ice and water shields, to prevent ice damage. With wind-driven rain, moisture can get in there, eventually creating ice damming within lifted shingles. This can leads to serious issues like rot wood, which is expensive to fix.”

Maintaining trim trees is additionally important for gutter maintenance, and clean, debris-free gutters are crucial to a well-maintained rooftop. It’s also critical for homeowners to avoid water pooling on their rooftops, which can leak through singles and into the wood underneath.

“Gutters are easier to assess, because most homes have gutters and downspouts,” Cywinska said. “However, corners can leak when they aren’t sealed properly. They can drip back onto the roof and eventually through the shingles. Water needs to flow securely into the gutters on each side of the house. That’s something homeowners can do, too. Gutter guards are a useful tool, too.”

According to Cywinska, homeowners also need to be open to filing insurance claims. It may sound intimidating, but it can often be the easiest (and cheapest) way to work with a contractor to repair your broke-beyond-repair roof – if it has reached that point of course. Many homeowners are skeptical of insurance claims, but the long-term solution for roof repairs isn’t constant out-of-pocket repairs, it’s these claims, Cywinska said. It’s difficult to get a full repair without rigorous repairs which means costly ones, so file a claim if the need arises.

Cywinska makes the point that, beyond a watchful eye, homeowners need to be maintaining their gutters and any surrounding trees in order to maintain the upkeep of their rooftop. And because it can be dangerous to venture out onto a rooftop by yourself, calling a contractor might not be a bad idea, either.