The short answer is, don’t wait until the water is pouring through the roof into your cereal before you do something about it. A good rule-of-thumb is the number of years since you last replaced your roof, but there are many details to consider:
How weather makes a roof deteriorate
Both good weather and bad weather affect your roof in different ways, but both make it age. Continuous rain over long stretches can cause the typical shake roof to become waterlogged and require replacement sooner than perhaps you thought would be necessary. There are ways to protect – or at least prolong the life of – a roof by getting it professionally cleaned every few years and re-treated with protectorant immediately after the cleaning. Pressure washing is probably the most common method of cleaning a roof, and there are a number of ways beyond that to ‘seal’ the materials against the water and damp that we all experience so much of every winter here in Kirkland.
Getting the roof installed correctly in the first place
On the right style of house, shake tiles can look great, and are certainly my favorite. More and more these days, it seems, new composite materials surface on the market, but shake has a unique natural look that can blend in with the beautiful nature all around us. You can also get imitation shake roofing materials now too, so that is also an option. Still, you might have many years left in your shake roof investment from years ago, so here’s how to extend the life of it: Pressure washing and treating every two or three years. Not only will it make your roof look new again, but it will postpone that day in the future when you have to replace it. If you don’t treat it every few years (and necessarily power wash it first) the shake materials will degrade much faster, shortening the life of the roof and also increasing the chance you will experience some kind of leak. And you know that a leaking roof will happen just at the very wrong time possible!
Power washing your roof will identify problems, if there are any
Although some roofing companies specialize in winter projects – such as Blue Star Roofing – it’s better to identify any leak in the summer, when you can do whatever project you need to do right there and then, so consider doing your power washing say in the spring. That will give you the whole summer to address any roofing or leak problem.
The process of power washing your roof, if any tiles are ready to come loose or are broken, will often identify those exact tiles right away. It’s often easier to replace a few tiles now than to wait a few years while a few compromised tiles become a full-blown leak.
Your power washing company should understand roofs
Power washing a roof takes skill. Just enough pressure must be applied to remove moss, mold and dirt in general, but not enough power to negatively impact otherwise good tiles or the waterproof material below it. The roof should be power washed starting on the top of the roof, and working your way down, never spraying up and under the tiles, or of so, being very careful.
As the work is being done, suspect tiles are marked for replacement, and problem areas where leaks are suspected are identified. That will make the repair work a lot easier (and less expensive). This careful maintenance prolongs the life of the roof and saves you money in the long term.
Roof maintenance is a great investment and will save you money
The Pacific Northwest brings a unique set of challenges to a roof
When you consider the sheer volume of water that falls on the average roof in the Pacific Northwest, it’s clear that it has to be a different experience than if you were, for example, living in Albuquerque, New Mexico. There, the air is so dry almost all year round, ‘baking’ is more of a problem, and maintenance is a different thing altogether. In fact, roof materials there are completely different.
You bought a house, and you don’t know how old the roof is
If you haven’t actually closed the purchase yet, consider asking the inspector about when the roof was replaced. If that opportunity has already passed, and the roof looks like it is in trouble, it might just need a good cleaning. Years ago, when I lived in a house, we had neglected the roof for about five years, what with baby-rearing and such, and one day we decided we should probably replace the roof. A neighbor suggested we do a power washing first. Lo and behold, the roof looked brand new after the cleaning. We followed that with a sealant treatment, and we were able to keep the roof for another ten years.
Covenants regarding roofing types and roofing materials are often in effect in cities like Kirkland
Before you commit to any re-roofing project, check first with the neighbors. For both safety and curb appeal rules, there might be restrictions on what materials you are allowed to use. And even if you were allowed to replace the roof with a particular material type last time, neighborhood covenants change, but more importantly perhaps, the city of Kirkland may well have taken certain materials off their list. A roofing company can’t be expected to be up on all the rules and covenants for every city in their area of operation. You don’t want the city knocking on your door because you hadn’t done your homework.
New types of roofing materials last longer
With the advent of new, synthetic roofing materials on the market, your choices are better. A fire can spread through a neighborhood full of houses far faster than it can if those houses were instead roofed with one of these new, fire-resistant materials. That’s how, by the way, rules about roofing materials have crept into city laws and covenants. Wouldn’t you prefer if your neighbors’ houses were roofed with the most fire-resistant materials on the market?
When you really do need to replace that roof
I’ve said a number of times that replacing a roof is not rocket science, but when it’s not done properly, it can do a lot of damage to a house. That’s why it’s almost always a bad ideal to attempt a roof replacement project yourself. The only exception to that might be if you have direct experience of replacing roofs in the past. Otherwise, you need to hire professionals. The longer they are in business, the better. And make sure they are licensed, bonded and insured so that if there is a problem during the project, you won’t end up getting sued because one of the roofing company’s workers got drunk and fell off your roof.
More exciting roofy stuff next week!!!!