Roof Maintenance – Essential Spring Guide

Every spring we recommend to our clients that they undertake a cursory inspection of their roofing assets in an effort to identify roof maintenance items that should be attended to.

Doing so, helps prevent more costly repairs, minimizes the possibility of interior damages, and premature roof failures.

The most common items of roof maintenance in the spring involve damage from animals, clogged or misaligned gutters, shingle damage resulting from wind, winter ice and snow, and flashings associated with roof to wall, or roof to chimney areas.

Roof Maintenance Specific list of items to check:

  • Shingle roof surface– inspect for missing or broken shingles, particularly at ridges, hips, roof eaves areas, and slopes that receive prevailing winds.
  • Skylights– cracked or broken lenses, moisture between the panes, seal failure around the perimeter of the skylight. Look for frayed rubber gasket between lenses and perimeter frame, and or fog between the panes of the skylight. Also inspect perimeter metal flashings that they do not appear dislodged. Inspect the inside of the skylight well /tunnel, for evidence of watermarks or compromised drywall.
  • Roof vents– check for evidence of animal intrusion, lifted shingles around the perimeter of the vent, missing vent cap. One can also look from inside the attic to assess if there is any water ingress around vent openings. Such watermarks often appear to run sideways from the vent, on the associated roof boards or plywood decking.
  • Roof flashings– are metal transition details to be observed at horizontal roof to wall areas, roof to skylight curbs, roof to sloping wall areas, and roof to chimney areas. Inspect if they exhibit dried out caulking, whether metal work appears dislodged, or metal appears old or rusty relative to newer shingles(sometimes roofs are changed but older metal work was re-used by a particular contractor), inspect interior areas immediately beneath, or on the other side of such details.
  • Gutters (Eavestroughs) System Tap elbows of downpipes to inspect for clogs resulting in water back up. Check that down pipes are secured to wall surfaces. Check that water exiting down pipes at ground level are not directing water into basement foundation areas, check that the gutter and it’s outlets are free from debris, and or are not over flowing the gutter itself. Check corner joints for leaks or deficient sealant. Check integrity of soldered joints if the gutter is copper or galvanized metal. Inspect to insure gutters are secured properly to the fascia area.
  • Wood fascias and overhangs-inspect for cracked of split fascia boards, rot on rafters and fascia boards and or holes, inspect for animal damage or intrusion.
  • Wood, vinyl, or aluminum siding check exterior lint traps (exiting from a dryer); that the vent is not blocked as it represents both a fire hazard and a carbon monoxide issue (if a gas powered dryer). Also inspect all vents exiting through exterior walls and siding, for blockage and animal intrusion. Obviously missing siding panels should be repaired. Inspect for asbestos siding materials which should be abated or encapsulated if removal is not possible. Such materials should be tested by a licensed professional, as there are strict requirements relating to the remediation and disposal of products containing asbestos. Check vertical wood siding for gaps which may permit wind driven rain to enter, resulting in interior leaks.
  • Check your attic the attic can tell many tales of existing or “hidden” conditions. It is important to note that added levels of attic insulation can change how the roof may perform over time, if sufficient ventilation is not incorporated. Clear paths for intake venting at soffit areas should be present, as well as a prescribed number of roof exhaust vents or ridge venting. The attic should also be checked for proper air sealing techniques, such as at attic hatch openings, light fixture boxes through the ceiling, and top plates of exterior framed walls meeting the roof line. Have the attic floor checked for the presence of a proper vapour barrier and taping of overlapping sheets. Check the underside of the roof deck for evidence of dry rot, moisture, or blackened plywood.
  • Look in your basement and inspect for evidence of moisture on exterior foundation walls, and where such walls meet the floor. Inspection should include looking for evidence of cracks, efflorescence, and very damp or musty smells. Remedies may include such items as waterproofing the foundation, diverting water from the gutters, and or grading away from the foundation to direct ground water away from the outer walls.
  • Check your flat roof– If it possible to safely walk on your flat roof; inspect the membrane for splits in material seams, algae and moss appearing on the roof surface, or “fish- mouths” appearing at seams of materials. Inspect perimeter metal details such as outer edges and interior wall areas. If the roof feels spongy or squirts water from blisters in the surface of the roof, it signals that attention is required. Check flat roof drains for blockage from debris and have them cleaned. Beware that if there is a substantial amount of water retained on the roof as a result of a blocked roof drain; that suddenly unclogging the drain may cause a rupture of the drain pipe below roof grade. It is advised to use a broom handle in the drain as a way to help limit the flow of water all at once. Inspection of flat roofs after winter is advised because frozen water on the surface of the waterproofing membrane or gravel surface, will expand and can serve to “tear” open the roofing membrane , particularly on flat roofs which are older in life-cycle. Also inspect perimeter posts,and protrusions through a flat roof where one may identify voids in the sealing of such areas to the roofing materials itself. On buildings or homes that are semi-detached in structure; look at tie-in junctions between neighbouring roofs, and observe conditions of adjacent roofs which may have impact on the water-proofing integrity of a perfectly good flat roof beside it. Flat roofs that have masonry parapet walls or chimneys also need inspection because deficient masonry can result in interior leaks which can mirror that of an actual flat roof leak.
  • Take pictures-Any areas that you inspect should be documented for a variety of purposes. It can supply assurance to your insurance company that by demonstrating before and after pictures, that remedial work or maintenance routines have been performed. It also serves as a valuable tool to demonstrate issues to trade professionals whom may be engaged to solve such problems.
  • Don’t do anything dangerous-Some home or building owners have the ability to do inspections provided that they do not put themselves or uninsured second parties at risk of falling or performing dangerous acts. Such items include climbing TV towers, overreaching the edge of a roof, climbing on a steep slope, using a rickety ladder, going beyond one’s physical limits, etc. There is absolutely nothing worth being injured or hospitalized, or by risking legal ramifications by enlisting a semi-qualified, or un-insured person to conduct such work. Always call a professional who can demonstrate insurance and credentials.

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