Clean the Gutters

We all know that clogged gutters will cause paint to be ruined on your siding or cause a wet basement, but did you know that damage from overflow can also go upwards?  When leaves pile too deeply in gutters, water can wick into roof sheathing and rot it, or even rot roof rafters. 

Fixing that kind of damage could run into the thousands of dollars, but you can avoid it by cleaning your gutters each fall and spring. Do it yourself in a few hours if you’re comfortable working on a ladder, or hire a pro for $50-$250, depending on house size. 

Remove Leaves 

If you have a roof that is complicated or if large trees are nearby, piles of leaves probably collect in roof valleys or near chimneys. If you don’t remove them, they will trap moisture and gradually decompose. That allows moisture to accumulate in your roof — or worse, create a place for weeds to grow.

If you have a low-slope roof and a one-story house,  you can use a specialty tool like a roof leaf rake, which costs about $20. Or, a leaf blower gets the job done too, especially on dry leaves, but you or a pro needs to go up on the roof to use it. If leaves are too wet or too deep, you might need to wash them off with a garden hose. Don’t use a pressure washer, which can force water up under the shingles.

Get Rid of Moss

Thankfully, in much of our area, typical roofs often become covered with black algae. Although unsightly, this filmy growth doesn’t hurt the roof. 

However, occasionally, you might find moss growing on your roof, particularly on wood shingles. Moss needs to go because it traps water. If you tackle it early enough, you can just sweep it off.

If there’s a lot of buildup, you may need to kill the moss first. Once the roof is clean and free of moss, consider investing in zinc strips to keep it from coming back. For about $300, a roofer will install strips near the top of the roof. When it rains, the runoff from the strips inhibits the growth of moss. It’s effective and more environmentally friendly than treating the entire roof with pesticide.

Trim Overhanging Branches

A little prevention in the form of tree-trimming goes a long way toward keeping your roof in good shape. Tree limbs touching your roof can cause abrasion and eventually damage shingles, especially in high winds.

Overhanging branches also give squirrels and other rodents access to your roof. They can gnaw on your roof and siding. Branches need to be 10 feet away from your roof to keep these pests at bay. If that’s not possible, wrap the tree trunk with a sheet-metal bank to prevent them from climbing the tree. Trimming branches that hang over the roof is a job for a pro, though, or you might cause more damage than you prevent.

Look and Listen

After every big wind or hail storm, or if you’ve heard scurrying on the roof at night, give your roof a quick check to make sure everything’s still intact.

Look for: Curling, loose, or missing shingles. Damaged flashing around vents, chimneys, skylights, and other openings. If anything seems amiss, ask a roofer to inspect ASAP. Most problems are fairly easy to fix, but if you put them off and water gets in, the damage and costs escalate. 

TIP: You don’t have to climb a ladder to inspect your roof. You can use binoculars.