The start of a new season is the perfect time to start on your roof maintenance checklist. Ideally, your roof should be inspected twice a year: once in late spring and again in the fall. Neglecting roof problems in the fall can cause further damage in the winter, resulting in more costly repair expenses in the spring. Brace for the chillier months ahead by completing our fall checklist for homeowners:
1. Check for Missing or Damaged Shingles
The very first thing the fall checklist for homeowners should be to look at the shingles. Summer storms have passed and it’s time to evaluate your shingles before the cold and snow approach. A damaged or missing shingle can cause leaks, mold, and deterioration. If you come across a problem with your shingles, it’s important to have your entire roof inspected to look for other problems to decide if it needs a repair or a total roof replacement. Just like asphalt and wood roofs, metal roofs should be inspected in the fall to look for leaks and other possible signs of damage. Make sure to also look for damage that could be hidden under the metal roof.
2. Clean Out Gutters
Gutter systems help collect water runoff from your shingles and direct it away from your home’s exterior. When gutters become clogged, water can flow underneath your shingles and overflow onto your siding. Make sure you keep your gutters clear of leaves and other debris and ensure that they are securely attached. This task is as simple as climbing onto a ladder and digging out the leaves, but make sure you place it on a flat solid surface.
If your gutters are leaking, dented, or not securely attached, you will probably need to replace your gutter system altogether.
Gutters and downspouts have another use, they help keep ice dams from forming which can cause the water to go inside your home. When gutters fill with debris, snow and ice can’t melt properly and run off the roof. The melted snow finds another path which is usually inside your home.
3. Beware and Prepare for Ice Dams/Check Ventilation
If you live in a cold environment, ice dams can easily form due to multiple issues. Ice dams happen when rooftop snow melts, runs down your roof and then refreezes over the eaves. At some point the snowmelt has nowhere to go, and it begins to pool on the shingles. This leads to shingle degradation and water infiltration into the roof.
Blocked gutters are one reason this happens, but they can also form from inadequate attic ventilation. A balanced attic ventilation system allows warm air to exit through exhaust vents (usually high along the roof ridge) and allows cooler air to take its place. Attic insulation also helps prevent heat transfer from your home into the attic, but it is important that it is properly placed for maximum benefit. Having a professional check your attic is usually the best option to help limit ice dam buildup.
However, your best option is to have a professional check your attic for adequate ventilation and insulation. Balanced attic ventilation and adequate insulation can help limit ice dam buildup.
4. Trim Trees Around Your Home
If you have larger trees with extended branches around your home, it’s important to trim these occasionally to prevent damage to your roof. Trees close to your home can rub against shingles, especially during windstorms, which can disturb roof granules.
If you have larger trees that are leaning over your roof it is important to try to trim the branches on these trees as well. Branches and twigs can break off and cause damage to your roof, clog your gutters, grow mold, and more. Cutting back overhanging trees can also limit access to critters from getting on your roof and causing havoc.
When removing debris on your roof, remember to use a tool that does not rub the shingles’ surface because it can dislodge granules. Dislodged granules can prematurely age shingles because without a protective granule coating, shingles experience increased UV exposure, making them more prone to warping and cracking.
5. Investigate the Attic and Ceilings
You will need to inspect your attic and ceilings for signs of water damage, such as rotting wood in the attic or dark spots on your ceilings. If you notice either of these signs, you need to have a roofing company inspect the roof. While checking the attic, look for any unwanted critters such as birds or rodents as they can create holes in your roof and extensive damage that is expensive to repair. If you discover and pests, it’s important to evict them as soon as possible to reduce the damage and have your attic and roof inspected by professionals.
6. Moss & Algae Growth… and Pigeon Poop?
While clearing your gutters and roof of debris, check for moss too. Moss absorbs water so if you have large clumps on your roof, they can cause damage by raising shingle edges and exposing the undersides to water.
Algae can make dark ugly streaks on a roof, but no worry they can be minimized with a combination of chlorine bleach and water! If you live in an environment where moss or algae strives, your best solution could be regular treatments of this mixture. You can also use a mixture of bleach and water to remove pigeon poop. Pigeon poop has a high level of acidity and can actually eat away at shingles, tar and building exteriors.
7. Inspect the Roof Flashings for Damage
Roof flashing helps seal the spaces between the joints of the roof. This is important for keeping water out, such as where your chimney or vent pipes emerge. When looking at your flashing, look for any rusting, dents, missing fasteners, or small holes. If you find any of these problems, then it is time to have it inspected. Tiny holes can usually be plugged with a roofing cement, but larger sections of damage may require a new section of flashing. Flashing should not be pulling away or leaving gaps where water could seep through.
8. Put Away Outdoor Furniture
Outdoor furniture needs to be cleaned and stored for the fall and winter seasons. Wind and rain can cause debris to rain down or even knock over furniture. In larger wind storms, patio furniture has broken windows, damaged siding, and even decking. Keep your home and furniture protected by storing your outdoor furniture until spring.v
9. Connect Dryer and Bathroom Vents Directly to the Outside
It’s essential that the air from dryers and bathrooms makes it out of your home. In new construction, building codes require outdoor venting but if you have an older home ensure that fans aren’t venting into attics or crawlspaces. Adding warm, humid air to an attic or crawlspace can lead to mold and mildew problems mentioned previously.
Occasionally check your dryer hoses or ducts to make sure they’re crack-free and securely attached. Dryer vents also need regular cleanings to lower the electric bill and decrease fire risk.
10. Drain and Remove Hoses/Cover Faucets
When the seasons change, fluctuations in the temperature and weather can be unpredictable. Remove hoses from outdoor faucets and cover them to avoid water freezing in pipes and causing them to burst.
11. Check Windows for Drafts
Ensure your home remains warm and cozy, no matter the season, by weather-stripping doors and resealing windows. If your old windows and doors still feel drafty after weatherizing them, it may be time to replace them with new windows.
12. Change Heater System Filters
As the temperature outside drops, our first thought is to turn the heater back on. However before you do, make sure to change the filters in your heater system. This helps your furnace from overworking and will guarantee the air quality in your home stays healthy throughout the cold seasons!
13. Doublecheck Batteries in Fire Alarms and Sensors
Our fall checklist for homeowners wouldn’t be complete without a few safety tips. The changing season is a great reminder to make sure that all your batteries are fresh and working. It’s also important to check your flashlights and other battery-operated items to ensure they will work through the season no matter what is thrown your way. The worst way to find out the batteries don’t work is when you need them.
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Do you have any additional tips to add to our fall checklist for homeowners? Comment below!