As a new home owner, you want to keep your house and yard in like-new condition for as long as you can. If you do periodic maintenance, you will ensure that your home stays as beautiful as the day you bought it. Let’s start at the top: maintenance of the roof and drainage system.
A roof is a system of your home which is designed to last a long time, if you take proper care of it. Areas which require periodic attention include flashing, drainage waste vent stacks, shingles and gutters. To be sure everything is working as it should, you should have a professional roofer examine these areas every three years.
On the Roof
FLASHING: Flashing is metal, plastic or rubber pieces which protect your roof wherever there is a join – between roof and chimney, between dormers and roof or in valleys where two different roof slopes meet. These pieces ensure that no water infiltrates those areas. Usually, metal and plastic flashing will last as long as your roof does and will not need replacing until replacing your roof.
DRAINAGE WASTE VENT STACKS: These vents are the white pipes which protrude from your roof. They are designed to allow air to help your waste water flow without impediment. The vents are very durable, but the special flashing around them, called a “boot,” is not. Boots are typically made of rubber and extend from a seal around the base of the vent and under several rows of shingles. Sun and weather take a toll on these boots, and they typically will fail after about 5 years. If a boot fails, you will get water under your shingles, and may have roof damage or damage to your ceilings inside your home. If you have a roofer examine the boots every three years, he will be able to replace any faulty one before it causes a problem.
SHINGLES: Shingles, typically made from asphalt, slate, wood, metal or plastic, overlap and are designed to allow water to freely flow off your roof and into the rain gutters. Asphalt shingles, the most commonly used in America, will last between 15 and 20 years. As they weather and age, they will become brittle and begin to crack. That process signals you that it is time to replace the roof. Again, if you have a roofer examine the roof periodically, he will discover when the shingles are too brittle to function well and will need to be replaced.
Assisting Your Roof
Another integral part of your roofing system is the gutters and downspouts. The rain gutters are the rain water evacuation system for your roof. Always keep them free-flowing – free of debris, ice and snow. Paying attention to the maintenance of these components will protect your home’s exterior as well as your foundation. When a gutter is clogged with debris, such as leaves, bird nests or tree limbs, rainwater overflows rather than drains. This drainage can crack your foundation! Keep the gutters clear!
Several products are on the market to help avoid debris clogging your gutters:
MESH: A mesh gutter guard attaches to your roof’s shingles and covers the gutter to prevent debris from entering. This guard has holes to allow rain to flow into the gutter. Small holes are better than large ones in this type of gutter cover.
BOTTLE BRUSH: A bottle brush gutter guard is covered with bristles which resemble a round, nylon hair brush. The bristles fill the gutter to prevent debris, but water filters through them and drains to the downspout.
REVERSE CURVE: This gutter guard bows upward to deflect debris, but has a small slit to direct water into the gutter.
FOAM: A foam gutter guard fits into the gutter and blocks the debris from entering.
NYLON: Nylon gutter guards also insert into the gutters, but do not attach to the shingles.
In addition to preventing clogged gutters, you may need to do a few other tasks to keep your rainwater draining happily. While vinyl gutters never need painted, aluminum ones will need an occasional coat of paint. All other metals must be painted with rust resistant paint every 4 to 6 years.
After every winter, do a visual survey of your roof and rain gutters to assure that snow and ice have not caused any damage or detachment from your home. Also check your downspouts for clogs and install drainage hoses to direct water away from your foundation.