There are many ways your roof can be damaged, but there are also many things you can do to avoid damage to your roof. In general, there are a few different types of damage that can affect your roof. The first type is damage from nature and the elements. This includes things like storm damage, pests, and so called “acts of God”. While you can’t prevent this altogether, there is a lot you can do to minimize the effects. Another type of damage comes from regular wear on the roof. Every roof ages, and eventually almost any roof will need to be replaced. A third type of damage comes from poor maintenance, poor workmanship, or cheap materials. This kind of damage is preventable if you know what to look for.
Minimizing Damage from “Acts of God”
The very term “acts of God” seems to imply that certain events are unpreventable. The legal definition of an “act of God” usually covers events that had no human cause. In other words, nothing you do could have caused or prevented the occurrence. However, even when events have no human cause, you can minimize the damage they do.
For instance, storms are clearly not the direct result of a human action. However, there are things you can do to minimize damage caused by hail, high winds, and falling debris.
Wind damage takes two forms. The usual wind damage is caused by high winds that get under your shingles and lift them up, tearing off shingles. Different types of roofing are rated for different wind speeds. If you live in a location that routinely experiences high winds, you can install shingles rated for higher wind speeds. While this may entail some initial expense, it can save you money over time as you prevent multiple repairs every time there is a high wind event. If you’re not ready to install a new roof, you can still secure shingles by applying roofing cement with a caulking gun anywhere that you find a space under a shingle.
A more extreme form of wind damage is caused by extremely high winds such as those in a hurricane. When wind speeds are high enough, they can create a low pressure zone that is significantly lower than the air inside the house. When that happens, the low pressure zone can literally suck the roof off of a building. If you live in an area that is prone to hurricanes, there are ways to minimize the chances of having your roof “blown” off in a storm.
Some simple things you can do yourself include using a caulking gun to apply roofing cement under shingle tabs and areas where shingle edges are exposed, like the edges of your roof. You can also go into your attic and apply a bead of construction caulking to the seams where your rafters meet the roof decking. This provides extra hold to keep the roof on your house. You can also hire a contractor to install special clips or straps that attach your roof to the walls of your house.
Falling and Blowing Debris
In a storm, high winds and pounding rain or snow can bring down branches or entire trees. If the winds are strong enough, they can pick up loose items and fling them at your roof. But you can minimize your risk. When the weather is nice, go outside and take a look at the trees around your house. Are any of your trees leaning over? This may be a sign that a tree is not well rooted in the ground.
If a poorly rooted tree is leaning in the direction of your home it may pose a risk in a strong storm. Removing the tree now could save you from replacing a roof caved in by a falling tree. If a tree is covered in ivy or looks like it is dried out, make sure it’s not dead. A dead tree is primed to fall over, and you don’t want your roof to be in its way.
Keeping healthy trees trimmed is another way to minimize the ammunition that a storm has. Fewer hanging branches means fewer chances for a branch to be blown loose and smash into your roof. Similarly, you can minimize a storm’s ammunition by securing or removing loose debris around your house. If you don’t need it (like an old pile of lumber or loose hedge clippings) recycle it or compost it. Just get it out of the way.
Short of building a roof over your roof, there is almost nothing you can do to keep hail from hitting your roof. If you live somewhere that tends to get large hail, such as 1” in diameter or more (that’s about the size of a quarter), your roof may experience hail damage. While the initial damage is hard to avoid, residual damage is not. If there has been a heavy hailstorm you can look for signs of damage without ever getting on your roof. Look for damage to siding or to outdoor air conditioning units. If you notice damage there, it is likely that there is damage on your roof. It’s time to call a contractor.
Most roofing contractors will perform a free inspection. Eagle Watch Roofing is happy to inspect your roof for you. If you find damage, don’t wait to get it repaired. Eagle Watch professionals can help you make an insurance claim and will meet your insurance adjuster at your home to make sure you get all the coverage you deserve. Waiting to make repairs can lead to further damage, as the area damaged by hail is weakened. So the best defense against hail damage is to notice it and deal with it promptly.
Regular Wear and Tear
Like most things in life, roofing doesn’t last forever. Depending on your roofing material, your roof will have a “life expectancy”. While some roofing manufacturers offer “lifetime warranties”, that is 50 years or more, those warranties are prorated. That’s because even a lifetime roof will need to be replaced, usually before it has reached that magical 50 year mark.
There are lots of reasons roofs age. Even regular weather, not the extreme kind we call “acts of God”, can have a cumulative effect on your roof. Over time, the expansion and contraction caused by changes in temperature can weaken shingles. Rain running down your roof can wear away your shingles. And even harmless sunlight can weaken your roof as UV rays break down the materials in your shingles. But there are ways you can minimize the damage that builds up over years. With the right care, your roof can age gracefully.
A major enemy of your roof is water. Make sure that flashing is in good working order. Inspect it from time to time, or have a roofer inspect it, to make sure there are no dents, holes, tears, or corrosion damage. Making sure that water is properly drained from your roof can extend its life. Also, keep your roof clean. Built up debris can trap moisture and prevent proper drainage. Some types of roofs are susceptible to algae and moss. A neat trick to inhibit the growth of algae or moss is to install thin strips of copper at the ridge of your roof (and possibly at other intervals). The copper ionizes water that trickles down your roof, inhibiting the growth of algae, moss, and mold.
Poor Workmanship and Cheap Materials
If you’re buying a home you should check for poor workmanship and cheap materials used on the roof before you buy. While it’s not a deal breaker, you may get the seller to pay for the necessary repairs. If you’ve owned your home for a while and you’re just discovering these issues, you have no choice but to pay a contractor yourself. Either way, don’t let poor workmanship or cheap materials go without repair. They can cause much worse damage if not corrected.
The best way to avoid poor workmanship and cheap materials is to work with a reputable roofing contractor. Eagle Watch Roofing has been in the roofing business for nearly two decades. We’re proud of our work, but you don’t have to take our word for it. Our many satisfied customers will tell you for themselves. If you need your roof repaired or need an inspection because you suspect damage just contact us and we will be happy to set up an inspection and provide a free, no-obligation estimate for repairs.