Roofing materials such as tile, slate and copper have seen gains in popularity over the last several years, but most roofs (approximately 7 out of 10) are still installed with asphalt shingles, due in large part to their affordability. Despite being far less expensive than high-end roofing materials, doing a full replacement with this material is still considered to be a significant investment, with the best return resulting from a long service life. To optimize your roof investment, there are several steps that can help to ensure that the system lasts well into the long end of its expected usable life while requiring minimal repairs along the way. These steps include:
1) Doing regular exterior inspections – Surveying the roof can provide early warnings that can facilitate repairs before potential problems occur, or help to catch small leaks before they turn into big ones that cause extensive damage. Pay close attention to the flashing around structures that penetrate the roof deck such as fans, vents, and the chimney to ensure that they still have a tight fit and that they are sealed off to prevent leaks.
2) Take a close look at interior surfaces – Checking the attic as well as ceilings that are directly on the underside of the roof deck can alert you to the presence of leaks at an early stage so that action can be taken before extensive damage occurs. Focus closely on the areas around skylights, vents, and the chimney to see if there are any stains, bubbling paint, or discoloration, any of which may be indicative of a leak.
3) Check for deteriorating and/or broken shingles – The deterioration and/or breakage of even one shingle can result in a dramatically weakened roofing system that becomes highly susceptible to further damage due to the vulnerability of materials that would normally be protected by the shingles. In this situation, replacing a handful of shingles will be far less expensive than doing repairs on the exterior and interior of the structure at a later date.
4) Trim away branches that overhang the roof – Over-hanging branches pose two problems for a roofing system; they deposit leaves and other forms of debris that can clog the drainage system and falling branches can cause sudden and catastrophic damage. Trimming branches back from your roof solves both issues.
5) Protect shingles with a water/weatherproof coating – Adding a sealant specifically formulated for the type of shingles on your roof can minimize water saturation while also offering protection from everyday exposure to UV rays. In addition to prolonging the life of your roofing system, the second benefit of regular treatment applications is that your roof will look like new long after its installation.
Being proactive with inspections of your roofing system can result in early actions to address potential problems and repairs, which typically reduces associated costs. When these measures are combined with preventative steps such as trimming branches and applying protective treatments, your asphalt shingle roof will look great, require minimal repairs, and last for the long term.