As the weather changes and the leaves begin to fall, there is more to do than just enjoy the foliage. For homeowners, now is a critical time for the health of your roof. Getting your roof ready for fall—and for the oncoming winter, too—is the best way to ensure that your roof lasts as long as possible. It’s always cheaper to maintain a roof than repair it, and cheaper to repair a roof than replace it. So take the extra time now to get your roof ready for fall, and you will be rewarded with years or even decades of savings.
Luckily, getting your roof ready for fall is not rocket science. If you take care of these five issues, your roof will be prepared to take on the changing seasons.
Clean Your Gutters
Cleaning gutters is no one’s idea of fun, but it is one of the most important things you can do to protect your roof. Gutters play a crucial role, collecting rainwater streaming off your roof and directing it safely into a downspout, where it can drain without damaging your roof or your home. But gutters clogged with leaves and other debris can’t do their job. So if your gutters are anything other than completely clear, your roof is in danger. Take the time now to clear your gutters.
There are multiple ways to clear your gutters. They range from good old-fashioned elbow grease, using your hands and a bucket, to high-tech options like customized sprayers and even robots. Of course, if you don’t feel comfortable climbing a ladder or just don’t want the trouble, you can hire TrustDALE certified gutter cleaning experts. You can learn more about gutter cleaning here.
Clear Debris from Your Roof
It makes no sense cleaning your gutters if you aren’t going to clear debris from your roof. You may have sparkling clean gutters, but with the first rain, all that debris will flow right down into your gutters, and you’ll be right back where you started. So at the same time that you clean your gutters, or even before, make sure to clear your roof of debris.
Debris like dirt, leaves, and branches pose many risks for your roof. As we’ve often pointed out, the worst thing for your roof is extended exposure to water and moisture. A mat of leaves and dirt can hold moisture long after the rain stops, leading to rot that endangers your shingles. Larger debris, like branches, endanger your shingles in another way. When the wind blows, branches can be dragged across your roof. As they move, they loosen and knock off the critical gravel coating that covers your asphalt shingles. Without that coating, the asphalt is exposed to the sun’s UV rays, which break down the asphalt, leading to cracks and leaks.
Prune Nearby Trees and Cut Back Branches
Taking another step back, if you are going to clear the debris from your roof, it makes sense to cut back overhanging and nearby branches. The main source of debris is overhanging trees that drop leaves, twigs, and even larger branches in the wind, rain, and snow. So if you have trees that overhang your roof, this is the time of year to cut them back.
If a tree’s branches hang close enough to your roof, wind and rain can cause them to scrape across the surface of your roof. The scraping can damage shingles directly and indirectly. The direct damage comes from tears and scratches in your shingles, or even shingles pulled up and knocked loose. The indirect damage occurs when the gravel is knocked off the shingles. As we already noted, a shingle without its coating is susceptible to damage and degradation by the sun.
Another worry with overhanging trees is what happens in a severe windstorm or when the tree is weighed down by ice and snow. Even a tree that appears healthy and resilient is in danger of losing limbs if the weather is severe enough. And if those limbs reach out over your roof, when they fall, they will damage whatever is beneath them. Smaller branches can damage individual shingles. Larger branches can even break through your roof, causing catastrophic damage to your home.
If any nearby trees are dead or dying, they pose another risk. A dead tree that gets weighed down with snow or ice can topple right onto your roof. And it goes without saying that nothing good comes of a tree falling on your roof.
Check for Adequate Ventilation and Insulation
Your roof is not just under attack from above. While the weather outside is one challenge for your roof, the conditions in your attic or crawl space can affect your roof, too. This is particularly significant because the underside of your roof is typically less protected from the elements than the top. Shingles are built to withstand sun, rain, wind, and snow. But the underside of most roofs is made of plywood, which is susceptible to damage from heat and moisture.
The main danger from your attic is moisture that can rot and warp the sheathing that forms the base of your roof. In the summer, the main threat is humidity, but in the fall and winter, the danger is condensation. Condensation occurs when warm, moist air hits a cold surface. The cold surface cools the air, and the cold air cannot hold as much moisture as when it was warm. The result is tiny droplets of water that form on the cold surface. As the droplets combine, they can create significant amounts of water that cause leaks and damage your roof from below.
The best way to prevent condensation in your attic is to avoid a temperature difference between the air and the surfaces in your attic. In the fall and winter, the surfaces in your attic will be cold, so you’ll need to avoid warm air. To do that, you will need adequate ventilation so that cool air from outside can flow into the attic, and warm, moist air can flow out. Insulation is also crucial. The floor of the attic, which is the ceiling of the roof below, needs to be sealed and insulated to prevent heat from rising into the attic and warming the air. A well-sealed and insulated attic also saves energy on heating in the fall and winter.
Inspect Your Roof
The best way to ensure that every aspect of your roof is ready for fall and winter is to get your roof inspected. Of course, not all inspections are equal. Unscrupulous roofers will find damage that doesn’t exist just so they can charge you to fix it. In some cases, scammers may even use a hammer to create damage on your roof just to coax you into expensive repairs. So when you hire a roofer, you need to know you can trust them. The best way to find a roofer you can trust is to hire a TrustDALE certified roofer. All TrustDALE certified roofers have passed Dale’s 7-point investigative review. These are companies Dale would do business with himself. And every business in the TrsutDALE circle of trust comes with Dale’s trademark $10,000 Make-it-Right™ Guarantee.