Someone once asked me, “If you could tell your customers five things they should do to maintain their roofs, what would they be?” And I thought: that’s a good question! As roofers, we can tend to overcomplicate how and what we communicate with customers. In reality, there ARE a few primary points to focus on regarding your roof, so that’s what we’ll be highlighting in this article.

And, after a rough summer with stormy weather, this can be a particularly important time to prepare your roofs for this fall and winter.

In general, your roof is such a fundamental part of your life that you may not even notice it unless something is seriously wrong. It’s easy to forget in good times. Because of this, many homeowners forget to give their roof the maintenance it needs. Many forms of roof damage are not immediately visible, but will wear to your roof system over time and significantly shorten its intended life. So your focus should be on taking steps to extend the life of your roof through a proactive approach. After all, under your roof is your most valuable asset… your home!

Before we get into the five things to do to maintain your roof, let’s take a look at warning signs that could lead to increased future costs if not corrected immediately:

*Roof is older than 10 years;

*Interior water stains or moisture are visible;

*Loose attic insulation;

*Open joints and seams on the roof;

*Drains/gutters filled with leaves and other debris;

*Loose chimney mortar;

*Blinking separating from vent pipes, wall caps / parapets, skylights, shutters and chimneys;

* Skylight cracks;

Any of these warning signs can cause damage and expensive repairs. Often there are several roofing problems at once that present very serious potential problems and increased costs if not addressed quickly.

So, what are the five things you can do to maintain your roof and prevent serious roof damage? We recommend an annual roof inspection to extend the life of your roof with an emphasis on:

  1. Gutters and downspouts. Clean gutters and downspouts at least twice a year, especially if you have trees nearby. In addition, they must be properly positioned and secured to the door frame/house frame to prevent them from spilling over into windows and doors below.
  2. Chimneys, skylights and shutters. Seal or reapply loose mortar between joints and chimney caps and secure the chimney gutter. Seal cracks in the skylight and holes in the flashing at the skylight and top of the hatch.
  3. All roof penetrations. Vent pipes and ducts, air conditioning wiring and ducts all need to be properly flashed and sealed.
  4. Roof surface. Repair any cracks or leaks in the roof surface. Rain, snow and ice will deteriorate the roof surface over time and create vulnerable areas that require immediate repair.
  5. Trimming trees. What?! Yes, if foliage grows over your roof, moisture will not evaporate as quickly as it needs to, which can corrode your roof and cause leaks. And tree leaves can clog your gutters and downspouts. Branches should be cut at least two feet away from your roof.

Focusing on these five items will help protect and maintain your roof system in the long run. Some of these maintenance measures are suitable for the do-it-yourself approach and others are not. We perform dozens of roof inspections in Capitol Hill every month and often there is no charge for the inspection, so it’s worth getting all of these things checked out. Checking these five points once a year is the recommended proactive approach to a sustainable roof system!

Tom Daniel owns R. Thomas Daniel Roofing, LLC and is the third generation of the Daniel family to provide roofing services to Capitol Hill homeowners for nearly 100 years. Born in Capitol Hill, Tom has supported numerous community organizations. For help with all your roof work, he can be reached at 202-569-1080, 202-544-4430 or [email protected].

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