10 Tips to Ensure Roof Reliability

A reminder to add roof inspection to your home maintenance checklist this spring.

Washington, DC - Spring is almost here, and as you head outside to tend the garden and mow the lawn…don’t forget to inspect the roof!  Asphalt shingles are the unsung heroes, protecting your home and business from the elements, but who’s watching over your asphalt roofing system?

Asphalt roofs are designed to require low maintenance (and easy repairs) while providing reliability and high performance for decades. Properly installed, your asphalt roof will be extremely resistant to UV damage, wind tear-off, uplift, moisture damage, algae discoloration and growth and practically any other hazard Mother Nature can hurl at it.

With the continuous change of seasons, the Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA) encourages property owners to inspect and evaluate their roof shingles to make sure that they are secure and functioning properly.

Below are 10 tips to consider when conducting a roof audit this spring:

  • Make annual inspections of the roof to evaluate its general condition and detect any potential leakage problems before they develop. The best time for an inspection is the spring/summer after severe weather conditions (and the damage they may have inflicted) have passed. In addition, the weather is ideal for repairs if they are necessary.
  • Make the initial inspections from the ground or through upstairs windows where the roof surface can be observed. Binoculars are a good tool to use for the inspection.
  • Keep gutters and roof surfaces clear of fallen leaves, pine needles, twigs and other litter so that water will drain freely.
  • Keep trees trimmed to prevent branches from scuffing the roof surface.  This will also keep the roof surface drier helping to inhibit growths such as algae, mold, fungus or lichen.  Keep climbing roses, vines and ivy trimmed back from the roof. 
  • Never paint or coat asphalt roofing materials to change the color or give the roof a “new” look. The use of paint or coatings may void the manufacturer’s warranty. Consult the individual manufacturer, as this type of treatment may be detrimental to your investment.  However asphalt shingle may be cleaned if they are showing signs of staining from algae.   The ARMA website lists a technical bulletin defining the process. 
  • Never allow water from a downspout to pour directly onto a roof below as this will create additional wear to the shingle surface. Connect all upper story downspouts to a lower level gutter with drains installed on the lower roof.
  • When removing snow or ice from a valley or other roof areas, proper care must be taken to avoid damaging the roof.  For safety, use a soft-bristled broom or long extension pole – never allow shovels to make direct contact with your shingles. Never climb onto a wet or snow-covered roof.
  • Inspect the underside of the roof deck from the attic to detect leaks. Flashings are the most vulnerable points, therefore, inspect the underside carefully at all flashing points for evidence of leakage, such as water stains. Remember that in cooler climates, water stains may be due to condensation as a result of inadequate attic ventilation.
  • Limit walking on roofs to a minimum to avoid damaging the surface. When workmen have to climb onto the roof to service or install a chimney, solar collector, television antenna or other roof element, require them to use care to protect the roofing.  Avoid mounting satellite discs or other hardware to the roof surface to avoid future potential leak areas. 
  • Whenever a new element is added to the roof, make certain proper flashing procedures are followed to maintain the integrity of the roofing. Be sure anchors are made of a non-corrosive material to eliminate the possibility of metal discoloration or “iron stains” on the roof.

If you have ANY safety concerns, call in a reputable roofing contractor to make the inspections and/or repairs for you.

While asphalt roofing systems offer beauty, affordability and reliability, it’s always good practice to check on your roofing system for any damage after the winter season.

“In some instances, where bad weather may have dumped heavy snow, large hail or caused blustery winds, the shingles on your roof could have been compromised,” said Reed Hitchcock, executive vice president of ARMA.  “Regular maintenance and upkeep assures a property owner peace of mind and extends the life and performance of the roofing system.”

For more information about asphalt roofing systems, please visit www.asphaltroofing.org.  For more information about roof care and maintenance, contact ARMA about purchasing the Asphalt Roofing Residential Manual.

About ARMA:

The Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA) is the North American trade association representing the manufacturers and suppliers of bituminous-based residential and commercial fiberglass roofing products, roll roofing, built-up (BUR) roofing systems and modified bitumen roofing systems.