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5 Common Roofing Problems and How to Prevent Them

Friday, May 12th, 2017 by Joe Boettcher


Moldy roofing shingles

As experienced roofers, we've dealt with all sorts of roofing problems over the years and want to use our expertise to help you avoid those same pitfalls. That's why we've put together this list of five of the most common roofing problems we've encountered along with easy steps you can take to stop them before they start. We hope you find them helpful:

1. Leaks

A leaky roof is no roof at all. Leaks can cause all sorts of costly and dangerous problems for your home, including water damage, mold and mildew growth, electrical hazards, and even structural deterioration. So how do you take precautions against leaks? A good place to start is to have your roof properly installed by a certified and licensed contractor (i.e., a contractor who will correctly install flashing and ice and water shield to protect those areas most vulnerable to leaks).

Post installation, you should have your roof regularly inspected to ensure leaks do not develop over time. Not only should you have a roofing expert come and check it out once or twice a year but also keep an eye on it yourself. An excellent way to do it yourself is to take a pair of binoculars and survey your roof from ground level or from an upper story of a neighbor's home (if possible) and take note of any damage or problems you see. Major red flags include cracked or missing shingles and warped or dented flashing. Be sure to get those problems fixed right away if you see them.

Some other things to especially watch out for are clogs in your gutters and roof vents. The problem with clogged gutters is that they can cause water to pool on your roof, making it more likely to seep through your shingles and into your home. Stopped up roof vents can also create problems by heating up your attic and causing condensation to form and drip through to your ceilings. So you're going to want to be sure to have your gutters and vents cleaned out regularly.

Other steps you can take to prevent leaks include removing all debris from on top of your roof to reduce the chances of pooling water and making sure that your downspouts properly work so that they're not depositing water on your roof instead of on the ground. You can also avoid walking on your roof as much as possible. Keep in mind that roofs weren't designed for a ton of regular foot traffic, and all it takes is the smallest crack in a shingle for leaks to begin. So be careful! 

2. Unwanted Vegetation

Sure you love looking at nature around your home, but when it starts developing on your otherwise pristine roof, that's a problem! Moss and algae can wreak havoc on an improperly protected roof. Not only can these plant pests be unsightly and hard to get rid of, but they can also create major problems for your roof, including shingle deterioration and buckling.

There are many things you can do to prevent moss and algae from growing on your roof, starting with choosing an algae resistant shingle. Many shingle manufacturers these days boast about how their algae resistant shingles, so do your research and make sure the shingle you're getting offers the best vegetation protection. You can also ask your contractor to install zinc strips at the peak of your roof during roof installation because zinc is a natural enemy of moss and algae. Other metals that work well include copper, aluminum, and galvanized metal. 

Other steps you can take involve the environment around your roof. Since moss and algae need cool and wet conditions to form, you should eliminate sources of shade, such as overhanging tree branches, to keep a roof in the sun. Another benefit of removing overhanging tree branches is it will keep your roof clear of debris, which can fall on one's roof and cause water to pool, creating the proper conditions for moss and algae to form. In short, if you take good care of the plants around your roof, you can keep unwanted plants from growing on your roof!

3. Storm Damage

Naturally, you can't prevent Mother Nature from doing her thing weather-wise, but there are steps you can take to prepare your roof for the inevitable. First, you can equip your roof with high-quality impact resistant roofing products that have an excellent wind rating and trustworthy warranty. Make sure not to skimp on this step and go with some cheaper, less reliable materials, because you will only be doing yourself a disservice in the long run by costing yourself a lot of money on storm damage repairs. 

The unpredictability of storms is another good reason to make sure you trim away the trees around your home so that no branches are overhanging your roof. Falling branches are one of the biggest causes of storm damage, so having them trimmed ahead of time is an excellent preventative measure.

Once a storm hits, do not hesitate to get your roof inspected right away. Although your roof may appear unharmed to your untrained eye, a licensed and experienced contractor will be able to give you peace of mind by performing a thorough inspection

4. Invasive Critters

If you're not careful, your roof can become a motel for squirrels, possums, raccoons, and the like. The fact is, critters just love breaking into roofs for shelter, and can you blame them? After all, it is a very convenient way to keep protected from the elements. But, of course, you don't care about how comfortable your roof is for squirrels and chipmunks. Those little varmints are just going to have to make their shelters the hard way! 

There are many things you can do to keep furry intruders out. The most common access points on a roof for wild animals are the fascias, soffits, vents, and chimney. So you're going to want to pay particular attention those areas and make sure they're well maintained. Have them regularly inspected for scratch and bite marks and make sure your chimney is properly capped to avoid any creatures getting stuck in there. You should also keep an eye on your attic for any evidence of unwanted inhabitants, such as nests, fur, or holes with oily residue around them. 

You can also make your roof less appealing to critters by trimming trees around your home to make your roof less readily available from the ground. By removing any overhanging branches, you will also decrease the incentive for animals to be up there because it will ensure that fewer objects, like twigs and berries, will be dropping on your roof for those little rascals to covet. It stands to reason that the less motivation they have for being up there, the less likely they will be to burrow into your roof. 

5. Membrane Shrinkage

If you have a flat or low-pitch roof, chances are your roof is protected by a rubber membrane. Although this material works well for these types of roofs, problems can occur if the membrane dries out and loses its elasticity. That's when it can shrink and pull away from shingles and flashing, creating weak spots in the roof where leaks and deterioration can occur. Thankfully, this problem isn't as prevalent as it once was thanks to improvements in rubber roofing materials over the past few years. Still, you're going to want to be cautious if your roof has a rubber membrane.

Some steps you can take to avoid shrinkage include having your rubber membrane correctly installed and getting it inspected once or twice a year by an experienced contractor. You could also completely prevent the possibility of shrinkage by asking your contractor if there are alternative materials that would work for your roof instead of rubber. Some possible options include asphalt, foam, or metal. You should always be sure you're getting the best type of membrane for your roof and that it will be installed correctly by a trustworthy professional.  

Need help dealing with roofing problems? Give My-Pros a call at 1-815-957-0770 or click here to schedule a free inspection today!

 

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