Day in and day out the roof over our head keeps out the wind, rain and sun. It takes a beating for us. But do we give it get the attention that it needs? The roof is too high over our head that we don’t even want to think about looking up there and it often goes unnoticed until there is a leak. You do not necessarily need a ladder to take a peek at the roof. You can look through binoculars or look from a window that sits above the porch or garage. All you need to know is what to look for. Then you can make sure that it stays in good condition as long as possible.
There are many different types of roof coverings. All have different life spans and characteristics. Some of the most common in our area are three-tab asphalt shingles, standing seam metal and wood shakes.
Most of us have asphalt shingles that usually have a lifespan of 20 to 25 years, but there are architectural grade shingles that can last 30 to 50 years. The sun has the largest influence on the lifespan of shingles. Usually a roof with a southern exposure will be more worn on the south side. One of the first signs of deterioration is the granules start to wear off. You can usually see where the granules have washed into your gutters. When asphalt shingles get to be 12 to 15 years old, you can see signs of hairline cracks. From there the shingles start to curl down and then curl up. By the time they are curling up, there will probably be some shingles missing and pieces broken off. If more than 10% of the roof has cracked and missing shingles, then it is past time for a new roof. In the meantime, to preserve the life of your shingles you want to make sure any nail pops are hammered down and any missing shingles are replaced. Even newer roofs can have nail pops. Usually because of expansion and contraction, the nails pop out of the underlying wood sheathing. As the nail pops up, it brings the shingle up with it and could allow water penetration under the shingle or strong wind to blow the shingle off the roof.
Metal roofs have been around for centuries. The most popular metal roofs in this area are standing seam metal roofs. Most are made from galvanized steel and are provided with a coating of zinc for corrosion protection that’s lasts up to 20 years. After that, galvanized steel roofs usually need to be painted every 5 to 7 years. If you see rust spots on the roof, then it’s time to call the roofer. Metal roofs usually last 50 years or more if they are maintained correctly. If more than 15% of your roof is rusted, you may need to purchase a new metal roof. The best thing to do is to keep them painted. Copper roofs are also prevalent in this area, but since they are costly they exist primarily over bay windows. You will be happy to know that copper roofs need virtually no maintenance!
Wood shakes usually last 30 to 50 years. Shakes have a rugged gray appearance with natural curves and splits, which causes some to think they are old or broken. What you should look out for is that the nails wear out before the shakes do. If galvanized nails were used and shakes are slipping off, you may want to use high-quality stainless-steel nails when re-securing. You want to make sure all the shakes are nailed on and none are sticking up. Mildew or moss has a tendency to grow on wood shakes especially if your roof has trees in the vicinity. Mildew and moss should be washed off and the shakes should then be oiled with a clear wood-finishing product.
Take a peek at your roof and make sure it is up for the challenge of this fall and winter. Unless you are an experienced roofer, getting up on your roof and doing maintenance work yourself could be very dangerous. It is best to have a professional do it that is “up” for the job.