Your roof is your home’s first line of defense against the environment; in particular, it’s your primary source of protection from the onslaught of the elements. Over time, your roof may sustain damage from the very things it’s protecting you from, compromising its ability to effectively keep out the wind and rain. Here’s a list of the most common sources of roof damage, and the signs that they’ve affected your roof.
The sun – ultraviolet light
The sun is one of the subtler sources of roof damage, but that just makes damage from ultraviolet light all the more insidious. Over time, UV light causes your roof’s shingles to dry out and age faster, making them brittle and prone to cracking. You’ll notice that this aging effect is more pronounced on the sides of your roof, where it’s likely to suffer from more exposure to the sun. Aside from visible cracking, a sure sign that your shingles are aging and need to be replaced is if you see a lot of shingle granules in your gutters.
By itself, the wind can be just as subtle a source of roof damage as the sun. Over time, exposure to even mild winds can cause shingles to loosen. If your roof’s materials loosen too much, one moderate-to-strong gust of wind can cause the shingles to fly off your roof; it’s not uncommon to see large bald spots on roofs after a bad storm. If you see even one shingle missing, or can verify that it is loose, then you need to take action before the situation gets any worse.
Strong winds can also indirectly cause damage to your roof by causing tree limbs to impact on the roof. If the tree limb is weakened or rotted enough or, for that matter, if the wind is strong enough, it can snap limbs off trees which can then cause damage to your home, your roof in particular. Your best bet at avoiding this kind of roof damage is to keep tree limbs trimmed.
Anything which can adversely affect your roof’s ability to drain off rainwater can cause water to pool on your roof, which can then seep through vulnerable areas in your roof to cause leaks and other damage. Debris on your roof, such as leaves shed from trees, can cause your gutters and downspouts to back up, resulting in just such a pooling of water on your roof. Additionally, the weight of the debris clogging up the gutters can damage the gutters themselves. Keep your roofs clear of debris, and watch out for sagging gutters, a sure sign of gutter damage.
Heavy snowfall, when combined with insufficient attic insulation, can create ice dams on your roof, areas of accumulated snow that melt just enough to turn into ice and dam up the meltwater, causing water to pool on your roof. Additionally, the weight of accumulated snow can damage your roof directly, causing it to collapse. If you’re noticing leaks in the attic during the winter, then you might want to check to make sure your attic is sufficiently insulated.
While this is by no means an exhaustive list of the causes of roof damage, these are, for the most part, the ones you can do something about. Regular roof inspections, coupled with quick action when you do find something wrong with your roof, will save your roof and prevent you from having to deal with the hassle of roof damage.
John Sanchez is a professional roofer’s son who, working side-by-side with his father, fell in love with the roofing industry. When not providing homeowners with quality roofs – as Production Manager for Goodrich Roofing, he likes to spend time with his family and play sports.