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Maintaining & Preserving the Roof of Your Home

The phrase “keeping a roof over our heads” evokes images of home, security, and safety. A well-maintained roof will keep you and your family dry for years, even decades. Whether it’s made of cedar shakes, slate tiles, or asphalt shingles, your home’s roof protects you and your family from rain, snow, heat, and cold. It’s one of the most extensive surfaces of your home’s exterior, and vital to preserving the integrity of your home. But it’s also hard to see and easy to ignore, which is why it is often one of the most neglected parts of your home.

Many people forget about roof maintenance until they notice leaks in their ceilings or other problems in or around the house. While leaks sometimes point to significant roof issues, often these kinds of problems can be fixed with some simple maintenance.

While replacing a roof is often the most expensive repair homeowners will make, many homeowners simply ignore their roof until it wears out. But there are many things you can do to preserve your roof, ensure its structural integrity, improve its appearance, and extend its life for many years.

The average roof is replaced several years sooner than necessary because most homeowners believe that the only way to fix a roof is with a costly replacement. But as any responsible roofing professional can tell you, there are many practical preservation and repair solutions. Whether your roof looks worn, has black stains, moss, mildew, leaks, or even missing shingles, we can help make it look new again.

Roof Repairs and Maintenance

  The damp weather can be a long-term challenge for all types of roofs. Hot, wet summers, misty springs, chilly autumns, and cold, snowy winters encourage all kinds of roof contaminants, like mold, mildew, and moss, to flourish on your roof. Nearby trees provide shade that promotes the growth of mildew, and also cover roofs with leaves which also creates damage. While some roofs resist this kind of damage better than others, all types of roofing will degrade when exposed to continued cycles of dampness, freezing, and hot weather.

Regular roof maintenance is a wise investment in time and money. Preserving your roof is much less expensive than replacing it. Preservation efforts can also protect the substantial investment you’ve made in your home. Unlike roof replacement, roof preservation can usually be completed in one day without disrupting your household. Replacing a roof is often messy, noisy, and even careful roofers can significantly damage your home’s surrounding landscape. And whether your roof is cedar, asphalt, or slate, replacing a roof is hard on the environment, since all those old roofing materials go to landfills.

What Exactly IS Roof Preservation?

  Roof preservation is an efficient, cost-effective way to extend the intervals between expensive roof replacements by many years. Preservation projects start with inspections. As a homeowner, it’s your responsibility to carve out time, four times a year, to walk around your home and look for roof issues. Keep an eye out for any visible signs of wear and tear, damaged or missing shingles, and problems with your flashing. If you see any shredding or rotting, you may have damage done by rodents. And be sure to do a walk-around roof inspection after big storms and high winds.

It’s not always safe for a homeowner to walk on their roof, especially if it’s damp. If you have a steep roof, you’re nervous with heights, or even if you have an ear infection, stay off the roof. Instead of getting up on a ladder, consider investing in a drone. The cost of drones is quickly decreasing. An inexpensive drone camera is a great way to take a closer look at every part of your roof, gutter, and chimney, all while remaining safely on the ground. You can also schedule roof inspections with a professional service like Atkins Deck.

If you find any damage, a roof preservation specialist can make sure your roof is watertight by repairing or replacing damaged or missing shingles. They can also paint and seal flashings and replace rubber gaskets and grommet screws when required. After repairs, a preservation specialist will often wash the roof to remove mildew and moss, as well as black marks and many other types of discoloration. In some cases, the roof preservationist may apply oils or conditioners that increase the flexibility and water-shedding ability of your shingles. A reputable professional will only use washes, soaps, and oils that are safe for people, plants, pets, and property.

Cedar Roof Shingle Maintenance

Roof Preservation for Cedar Shakes and Cedar Shingles

  Cedar shakes and shingles are some of the most attractive roofing (and siding) materials around. They enhance the character of homes all over Lancaster County. If you’re lucky enough to have cedar shakes or shingles, you know that this building material can last decades without much maintenance. But some steps will help you extend their life and beauty.

Cedar shakes on your roof can attract mildew, moss, or algae. They also weather into grey color, but proper cleaning can eliminate all of these issues. While some recommend DIY spraying with a solution of 1 part bleach to 3 parts water, this can wreak havoc on your garden. Spraying too hard can also damage shingles or allow water to get underneath the shingles, which may lead to rot. Pressure washing is also rough on cedar and may eat into the soft wood.

A professional can recommend solutions that are safe for cedar shakes and shingles, as well as plants and pets. A roof preservation service will also bring the equipment needed to hand scrub any areas with more stubborn discoloration or growth.

After the washing, let the cedar dry. If you want to retain the color, you or your roof professional can stain the shingles to maintain their fresh, cedar appearance. Staining usually requires a few days of clear weather, and oil-based stains will need at least 24 hours of drying time. Some homeowners prefer to let their wood shingles acquire a gray patina over time.

Whether you stain or leave your cedar shakes in their natural state, cleaning them every few years keeps rot and decay at bay. At the time of cleaning, a professional preservationist will be able to examine the health of your shingles and repair or replace any that are cracked, split, loose, or damaged.

Our cleaning services extend the life of your roof. When you use Aktins’ professional roof cleaning service, you hire professionals that are experienced with cedar shakes and shingles. It’s a smart way to ensure that you’re getting the kind of maintenance that will help your cedar roof and walls look better and last longer.

Slate Roof Shingle Maintenance

Roof Preservation for Slate Shingles and Roofs

  In our part of the state, slate roofs are typical on older homes. They look great, and they last for decades. With the right kind of maintenance, they can last more than a hundred years. These handsome roofs can outlive their owners if they are appropriately installed and maintained.

Slate roofs are popular on older homes with steep-pitched roofs. They are dangerous to walk on, so homeowners should not use a DIY-approach to care and maintenance. Even if you feel confident about your footing, stepping on your slate roof in the wrong way can actually damage the tiles (and put you in danger.)

Because winter snow and ice can be hard on slate, the best time to have a professional inspect this kind of roof is in spring. During this annual inspection, your roof preservationist will test for loose tiles, and dents or depressed spots due to the force of hail or ice. If you notice interior leaks, talk to your roofer, since these are an indication of additional damage. Buckled or rotting wood, or rusty nails can also affect the integrity of your slate tiles.

Once spring repairs are complete, it’s time to clean your roof. Again, a professional approach is preferred to get the pressure needed without using a damaging pressure washer. An experienced professional, like Aktins, will also use cleaners that are safe for your slate, your home, your pets, and your garden.

Asphalt Shingle Maintenance

Roof Preservation for Asphalt Shingles

  In many modern homes, asphalt shingles are the standard. When replacing roof tiles, many older, historic homes also choose asphalt. While the quality and lifespan of asphalt tiles vary widely, these types of shingles are generally more affordable than slate or cedar, and often include superior fire-retardants and insulation. Good asphalt shingles can also repel water and resist mildew and moss. Maybe that’s why asphalt shingle is the most common residential roofing material in the United States.

This is a popular roofing materials with thousands of variations. Cheap asphalt shingles may last for only a decade, while premium asphalt shingles can last decades. Some premium brands are built to withstand high wind, severe weather, and other factors for up to 50 years.

Asphalt shingles can be divided into two groups: three-tab, or flat, and architectural, or dimensional. Three-tab shingles are less expensive and more common. They get their name from the two slits cut in them, to create the appearance of three separate shingles. This type of asphalt shingle is flat and symmetrical and creates a smooth and unvaried appearance.

Architectural shingles are dimensional, thicker, and often manufactured to mimic cedar or slate. Their thickness helps them to last decades longer. They are also significantly more expensive than three-tabs.

One of the most important factors in determining the lifespan of an asphalt roof is the quality and integrity of the granules. An asphalt shingle is covered in small granules of stone, brick, or ceramic. This textured coating makes the asphalt sheet tougher. Without the protective granules, the sun would cause the asphalt sheets to degrade over time.

Activity that knocks granules loose, including foot traffic, decreases the lifespan of an asphalt roof. Reputable roof preservations know they must tread lightly to keep granules in place. Hail and flying debris can also reduce the integrity of the granular coating. That’s why it’s always a good idea to have your roof inspected after a severe storm.

While severe weather or heavy footsteps can damage an asphalt roof, the most common culprit is damage by weather over time. As your roof protects your home from the elements, granules are gradually worn away. And while weather damage is inevitable, proper maintenance can extend the life of your roof.

Your professional will also tread lightly to minimize damage. They should use mild solvents that are safe for your home, garden, and pets. An experienced roof professional will also check to make sure your flashing and gutters are intact and well-secured. If you’re unsure of the age of your home’s roof, a professional inspection should be able to tell you how many years of wear are left before replacements become necessary.

In Pennsylvania, wet, warm summers encourage the growth of mildew. Homes in shady yards are at higher risk. Have a professional clean your asphalt roof every two years to reduce discoloration and to slow the degradation of granules. Algae usually grow on the north-facing slope of a roof or any area that is mostly shaded. The algae can appear as dark green or black streaks along the roof. Roofers disagree as to whether the algae itself is harmful. Many suggest that the primary damage from algae is aesthetic.

However, many homeowners choose to clean their roofs, if only to improve curb appeal and make the house look better. The first important rule is to never, ever use a power washer on an asphalt shingle roof. The high-pressure spray from a power washer can easily knock the granules off the shingles, causing widespread damage. Instead, most roofers recommend a soft wash or even a plain garden hose.

Regular Maintenance and Repair

  No matter which type of roof you have, regular maintenance and repair is an important way to extend its life. Timely support can prevent more extensive, more costly damage. Even if you are able to conduct yearly inspections on your own, it’s important to have your roof professionally inspected about once every three years. During these inspections, our roofers get on your roof to conduct a comprehensive examination, looking for cracked or curling shingles, loose shingles, rusted nails, missing granules, and other signs of wear.

A professional roof preservationist can also check your flashing to make sure that it is appropriately draining rainwater. They’ll take extra time to examine flashing around chimneys, vents, and other places, looking for any gaps that could cause leaks. Finally, they’ll make recommendations on when to clean your gutters, and may even test their working condition.

Moss Dirt & Mildew Damaged Roof

Preventing Roof Damage and Extending the Life of Your Roof

  While some types of roof damage are unavailable, like storm damage, some types of wear and failures can be prevented, or greatly slowed, with a little proactive roof care. Whether you have a roof covered in cedar shakes, slate tiles, or asphalt shingles, here are some tips to help you get the most out of your roofing investment.

  1. Don’t skimp on materials. Use durable, quality materials when installing or repairing your roof. When you invest in quality repairs now, you’re helping to avoid more significant repairs down the road. Additionally, when roofs leak, they can damage other parts of your home, like your insulation, your framing, and your drywall or plaster. It’s smart to keep your roof dry and airtight now, to avoid big renovations in the future.

  2. Inspect your roof 1-4 times a year. Simple maintenance will really extend the life of your roof. Ideally, you’ll give your roof a once over every season, and always do a thorough annual inspection. These inspections will help you spot moss and mildew early. You’ll be able to remove leaves or branched promptly. You’ll spot gutter issues early, which will allow you to keep gutters clean and in good working order. Get roof inspections after major storms with large hail, or very high wind. And considering investing in safer home inspections by purchasing a drone with remote camera feature.

  3. Inspect and clean your gutters twice a year. Gutters are part of the irrigation system of your roof. Clogged gutters can result in water damage. Remove anything in the eaves along the path to the gutters. Make sure that water can easily flush through all parts of the gutter system. Check the stability of your gutter hangers and replace if you suspect they won’t last another season. Be safe and let the professionals clean your gutters when needed.

  4. Keep nearby trees trimmed. Falling limbs are one of the most common, and costly, types of roof damage. And it’s usually preventable. Trim any branches within 10 feet of your roof, and don’t ever allow tree branches to hang over your home. In addition to reducing the likelihood of storm damage, creating a barrier between your roof and surrounding trees will also make it much harder for squirrels and rodents to nest in your house.

  5. Remove leaves from your roof. Even if you create a 10-foot barrier between your home and trees, if you have trees around your home, you probably have leaves on your roof and in your gutters. Wet leaves encourage the growth of mildew, mold, and moss. They also create moisture traps and can provide enough matter for weeds to start growing on your roof. Sweep your roof to remove leaves, especially after big storms. For steep roofs, stay safe and bring in the professionals.

  6. Watch for pooling water. Homes will flat roofs, or flat areas on the roof must watch for pooling water. When water hangs around after rains or because of melted snow and ice, it stays on your roof, seeping into your shingles. Eventually, these wet spots will deteriorate parts of your shingles or nails, encourage the growth of mold, and even result in leaks. Pooling water can cause severe and expensive roof damage over time, so it’s smart to resolve the problem as soon as you identify it.

  7. Watch for signs of a leaky roof. While TV shows often show leaky roofs as steady drips that must be caught in buckets, actual water damage is usually less evident. In fact, most kinds of water damage can exist for weeks, months, or even years before you detect it. However, if you know what to look for, you may be able to address the problem quickly. Watch for these signs;
    • Mildew, algae, or mold on your shingles and roof, indicating a wet roof.
    • Buckling or bulging shingles can be an early warning of water damage.
    • Curling shingles, cracks, or missing shingles that mean there are gaps in your roofing system.
    • Damaged flashing can allow water to leak through if you don’t fix it early on.
    • Always look for roof damage after a storm, including loose or missing shingles.
    • If you have an unfinished attic, do a 2x yearly inspection for damp or wet spots, or signs of water leakage like discolorations or mildew.
    • Ceiling or roof water spots, often around chimneys or vents mean you have a significant leak in your roof which needs to be repaired ASAP.

  8. Watch your gutters during wet weather. If you see leaks or overflows when it rains, your gutters are not working correctly, and water may be backing up onto your roof, or even under your roof tiles. Clean or repair gutter promptly.

  9. Don’t forget about other structures on your property. While your home may be the most valuable structure on your property, you may have one or several other different structures that require attention. When you inspect your home’s roof and gutters, take a look at the roofs on the other structures as well. Keep all the buildings on your property well-maintained and watertight.

Need Help With Roof Maintenance?

Taking care of your home, roof, and exterior features is not only important, but it can also be difficult or even dangerous. Don’t risk your home or your personal safety. Call in the professionals from Atkins Deck, and we’ll provide a free consultation that will help you understand what’s needed to restore and protect every part of your roofing system. We’re here to keep Lancaster County looking great!