Shelter from harsh weather has been the prime agenda for humans since the stone age. A makeshift nest on a high tree branch, using the leaves to make a thatched roof, or scrambling to occupy an empty cave before the sun sets saved the early humans from predators, heavy rains, and gave a sense of security. As times changed, the human shelters upgraded to be a sound structure made from metal bars, concrete, baked bricks, vinyl sidings, and asphalt shingles.
Out of all the exterior aspects, the roof of a building is the one that not only fights against adverse weather effects such as high-speed winds, heavy rainfalls, and dense snowfall but also stands strong against constant exposure to direct sunlight. In exchange, all it requires is periodical maintenance and repairs at the first signs of damage. This not only saves you from expensive repair bills but also retains your property’s warranties, increases its lifespan up to 25 years, and keeps your property insulated. This may sound far-fetched but the roof condition can play a role in improving the curb appeal of your property and increase the chances of it being leased.
How can roofs be damaged?
While harmful UV radiations and waterlogging cause the roofs to age quicker, lack of maintenance is the leading cause of roof damage. There are multiple aspects to roof deterioration which include:
Extreme Weather Conditions: Rainwater or hail traveling at high speeds can cause cracks on the roof surface on impact. The broken layers are washed off with the rainwater and expose the underlying layers which are weaker and can be easily punctured. Similarly, high-speed winds can uproot loosely fitted roof shingles and reveal the underlying layer.
Waterlogging: Unexplained pits in your roof or a clogged up gutter can cause rainwater to collect. This rainwater can cause the materials to decay and then make its way through the roof to enter inside your property. This leads to mold formation, rotting, and structural deterioration which can run up expensive repair bills.
Poor ventilation: Ventilation allows the area below the roof, generally the attic, to breathe and stops harmful microbes such as fungus or mold from creating an infestation.
Aging Shingles: The age of an asphalt shingle is anywhere between 15-18 years. As the shingles age, they become dry and brittle. They can easily crumble or buckle under heavy snow and the debris can puncture the underlying asphalt felt layer.
With deteriorated roofs, the rental property looks old and vulnerable to repairs which drop its curb appeal. This will discourage people from considering renting your property. Proper maintenance practices, explained below, can help in prolonging the lifespan of your roofs.
How to properly maintain the roofs on your rental property?
Step #1 Book an Inspection
Roofs being an overhead installation, are often overlooked. Some of the future expenses can be averted by identifying the symptoms early and getting your roofs inspected can help quickly identify those symptoms. Depending on the roof type, it may be wise to book a professional contractor to conduct a roof inspection, as there is a risk of falling if you are not careful. Roofing contractors are experienced workmen who take extra care while on the roof and are on the lookout for defects such as:
Missing or Uprooted shingles
Broken Drip edges
Having the roof inspected allows you to identify the defects early on and get an estimate on the steps you need to take. It is advised to conduct a proper roof inspection twice a year.
Step #2 Clean the gutters
Your gutters are the metallic frame around the edge of the roof that collects the rainwater flowing down and channels them away from the house foundation. Leaves, twigs, shingles pieces, or any other debris can easily be lifted up by the flowing water and deposited at the drain pipe, thereby clogging it. Unless cleaned at regular intervals, waterlogging can creep into the sidings or foundation and start decaying them. While you can hire professional pressure washers for gutter cleaning, you can manage to DIY with the help of a long ladder and a plastic scooper. The only care you need to take during gutter cleaning is to not put weight on the gutter as they are malleable and can be easily deformed.
Step #3 Trim out low lying branches
If you have any trees around your property, it is advised to get the branches hanging over your roof trim. They pose variable hazards to the roof.
Dried out branches can break and fall on the roof, damaging the shingles.
The fallen leaves and twigs can block the water flow in the gutter.
Squirrels or any other critters can easily access your roof from a low hanging branch
The trick while clearing low hanging branches is to blow away any leaves on the branches and carefully cut it away in smaller sections to avoid it crashing down.
Step #4 Keep an eye out for moss or algae
Microbes love moisture and humidity. Moss tends to grow in damp areas and if you have water leaking from the roof, the underlying layers or the attic can have moss growing inside. Moss not only ruin the look of the wall or attic, they are a breathing hazard as they are the cause of numerous breathing-related ailments. Algae, on the other hand, are harmless but can become slippery and leech off wooden and asphalt shingles, making them brittle. Unless you are going for a rustic look, it is advised to get algae removed and keep away from mold infestation.
Step #5 Re-Caulk and check roof insulation
Insulation helps in trapping the air inside the house, thereby regulating the temperature inside. Basic laws of thermodynamics dictate that the warmer air travels to the colder areas until a thermal equilibrium is achieved. So, if your property is not insulated enough or the roof has developed cracks, the inside warm air will escape through the cracks and allow the colder air to enter. This would drop the temperature inside and force the HVAC or thermostat to work extra hard in regulating the temperature. This means you’ll observe a spike in the energy bills and the property would be a lot drafty. At such times, it is advised to re-caulk all the seams, doors, windows, and check the roof insulation for gaps.
Step #6 Have your tenants notify the first signs of damage
Since the tenet would be using your property extensively, it is a good idea for them to monitor the roof conditions and notify you at the first signs of damage. This way the issue is clipped at the roots and cannot stem further. This saves money and any inconveniences due to the repairs.