PATH - A Public Private Partnership for Advancing Housing Technology

[IMAGE: What looked fine in the spring has spent the past few months being rain-soaked and sun-baked. You may be surprised what you find up there.]Roof Maintenance

Roofs are expensive, and even the smallest leaks can cause major problems, so you want them to last. The best way to extend the life of your roof is to perform semi-annual inspections and identify and address problems as they occur.

Roofs get more abuse from the elements than other parts of the house. What looked fine in the spring has spent the past few months being rain-soaked and sun-baked. Now that the weather is starting to cool down, go up there and take another look.

Be sure to set your ladder solidly on stable ground, apply sun-protection, and drink plenty of water, then get ready to clean, inspect, & repair.

  • Examine flashing around chimneys, vents, valleys, skylights and roof edges. Flashing is the last defense against moisture intrusion at these vulnerable spots. The flashing should be free of damage, lie flat, and be surrounded by shingles that are also free of damage and laying flat. If flashing is damaged, replace it.[IMAGE: Examine flashing around chimneys, vents, valleys, skylights and roof edges.]
  • Remove any caulking and sealant that is weather-worn or cracked. Clean the area with a brush and apply new caulking.
  • Remove debris from gutters and downspouts. Haul up a hose or bucket of water and test the gutters. Make sure the downspouts direct water at least 5 feet away from your foundation walls.
  • Examine fascia and soffit boards, the eaves. Areas of deterioration or flaking paint on eaves can indicate a problem with the gutters. Inspect and repair gutters around these areas. Sand and repaint the eaves as necessary.
  • If the eaves are soft or rotting they may allow rain into your attic or the tops of your walls! This moisture problem can become very serious very quickly, so be sure to replace damaged fascia and soffit boards! If you live in a hurricane-prone region, extend the fascia so it terminates below the underside of the soffit.

Repairing leaky gutters

Holes in your gutters can be repaired with flashing (sheet metal) and roofing cement. Clean the area around the hole with a wire brush. Dry the area and rough it up with sandpaper. Cut a piece of flashing to fit over the hole and extend at least an inch or two on every side. Apply roofing cement to the area on the inner surface of the gutter being sure to go 2-3 inches around the hole. Press the flashing into place over the hole and feather the roofing cement to hold the metal in place. You're done!

Replacing Shingles and Flashing

[IMAGE: Leave yourself enough time for replacing damaged shingles and flashing.]

These tasks can be relatively simple if approached with the proper attitude. Allow yourself plenty of time so you don't feel rushed and inadvertently damage more shingles. Use a flat tool like a paint scraper or crow-bar to lift shingles. Remove nails from overhanging shingles only when necessary. Remove damaged shingles or flashing. A new vent flashing can usually be placed over the existing, damaged flashing if it fits properly. Slip the replacement shingles or flashing into place. Re-nail with one-inch roofing nails and dab roofing cement on all the nail heads. Use a putty knife to spread a little roofing cement under all the shingle tabs you lifted during the repair and press them down so they adhere to the shingle below. This may be the perfect opportunity to try some of the innovative roofing products found on the PATH Technology Inventory.

Content updated on 9/4/2007

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