Surprisingly, most home owners neglect the roof of their house until a serious problem presents itself. The roof might look terrible, or it has sprung a leak, or there was a terrible storm overnight, and the owner finally decides to ask a roofer for a checkup. But most roof problems – certainly those that require the roofing material to be replaced – occur gradually. That is, the heating, cooling, freezing, snowing, thawing, raining and heating cycle takes its toll on the the materials over many years and many seasons. It might be a perfectly good roof nail was finally deteriorating from twenty-five years of all those negative seasonal effect, it finally failed, and exposed a small opportunity for a little moisture to get into the roofing infrastructure.
Don’t wait until you know you have a problem
Replacing a roof on the average home in a neighborhood like Kirkland or Bellevue can easily run into the tens of thousands of dollars. The bigger the house, the bigger the roof usually, and the higher the house, the more difficult it is to replace the roof on it. All that brings the price up for a total replacement. On the other hand, a simple inspection can be a fraction of that, and can identify some tiny issue that can be fixed for price of a few hours’ work now, and perhaps every two of three years, and you can easily add a decade of life of the roof. In order words, for a few hundred dollars, you can get another ten years out of your existing roof that might cost thirty thousand dollars to replace. The math is, as they say, a no-brainer.
Get your roof inspected every two or three years
A roof inspection takes only a few hours of work by a professional. They examine the condition of the tiles or composite, how well it is still fastened to the understructure, as well as those layers under the surface you can’t even see, especially if you don’t actually walk on the roof to do a visual examination.
A roof inspection sometimes also includes minor repairs. If a nail or two needs to be replaces, or three shakes need to be replaced, that might be included in the price. Ask before that project starts if it is included.
Keep some material from the original project
A roofing company will estimate – as accurately as they can – how much material they expect to use in the project on your house. Those with lots of experience will end up with a small handful of shakes or a few feet of composite roll, but very little. Excess material eats into their profit, and they often cannot use it again, or at least maybe not for a long time. They like to end up with nothing left over! But they usually do have some, and it might be worth your while then to set some aside for those potential little repair projects that may occur years into the future. But don't leave them outside, like most folks do! Get a old wooden box or such such container, and store them in your garage. The better labeled they are, the more likely you’ll be able to call on them when and if the needs arises fifteen years from now. Keeping them in a wooden, non-sealed box will also allow them to ‘breathe’ where they neither dry out completely nor get damp and rot. Write on the box with thick Sharpie “15 roof shakes tile spares from summer 2016”. Having those handy will preclude the need to purchase more, and pay for the roofer’s time to go get hold of them.
With natural materials, treating them regularly is good
Most natural roofing materials – for example, cedar shakes – do have natural preservatives in them, but like anything natural, Mother Nature breaks them down eventually. That’s why roofing companies often treat such products like cedar shakes with synthetic preservatives even right after the initial installation.
Every few years, almost every roof needs to be cleaned. It’s pressure sprayed with water at least, and sometimes a cleaning agent is added to truly get the years of grime build-up off the roof. Then it’s let dry completely before a new coat of preservative is added, and which hopefully soaks into the roofing materials, giving it a number of more years of life before the cleaning and re-treating cycle is done again.
In the case of such natural products as cedar, if installed and not treated at all, the roof might begin to give problems in about ten years, depending on a number of other factors too. But if you clean and retreat it every say three years, you can certainly double if not triple the life of the roof. That preventative action will absolutely save you money, and likely lessen the chances you ever have of a roof leak interfering with the roof’s infrastructure or anything else under it.
Synthetic roofing material offer several advantages
One of the great advantages of using one of the new synthetic roofing materials is, the uniformity of construction. Synthetic shakes might look like the real thing, and even appear different from one another, but they usually only have a small number of unique pieces. That is, there are, for example, five natural looking variations, but they make thousands of each of the five. This allowed them to give the impression of a ‘natural look’ but still offer a uniform product behavior that makes installing and servicing them much easier. It also provides a better look and feel, as well as more reliable product, to the home or business owner.
As with natural products, keep some stored for future potential repair work.
Do an interior roof inspection yourself
Often, a roofing problem can be spotted by the appearance of light peeping through the roof. There really shouldn’t be an tiny holes in the waterproofing under the tiles of composite, but if there are, you can often spot it by way of a tiny point of bright light finding its way through the roof and into the attic. It’s not a definitive test, but it won’t cost you anything. It might also be perfectly acceptable, but if you also see any water or moisture damage below the hole, it’s definitely time to act. Get an inspection done immediately.
Whether you find a problem or not, a roof inspection every few years is always a good investment. The worst that can happen then is, they find nothing and your roof is good for another three years!