A Top-Down Approach to Home Maintenance

by James Florence


When prioritizing maintenance for your home, one helpful strategy is to start at the top and work your way down. Photo: Trademark Roofing (2015)

When it comes to maintaining your home, it’s easy to get overwhelmed thinking of the many systems and fixtures that require ongoing attention. One way to simplify things is to take a top-down approach, which means addressing maintenance needs in a descending, linear fashion. From this standpoint, the first item on your maintenance list would be your roof, which, considering the essential role it plays in protecting your home, is a good place to start. Read on to learn some of the vital aspects that determine a roof’s long-term health and performance.

As a roof’s first line of defense against the elements, it’s crucial to keep shingles in good repair. When shingles wear out or fall off, it leaves the roof’s structure vulnerable to water intrusion and rot. To prevent these issues, have your roof inspected annually to identify and replace missing or damaged shingles.

Even when shingles are in good repair, without proper flashing, a roof can still be vulnerable to water penetration at irregular points like chimneys, skylights, vents and joints. Since flashing is a commonly neglected aspect of roof installation, make sure flashing components are present in these areas and in good condition.

While worn or missing shingles and flashings compromise a roof’s integrity from the outside, deterioration can also occur from within. When an attic is inadequately ventilated, it often results in excessive condensation, which can decay the wood sheathing and rafters over time and shorten the roof’s lifespan. To avoid this, consider investing in ventilation improvements like enlarging existing vents or installing additional ones. When done in tandem with attic air sealing, this can also substantially increase your home’s energy efficiency.

Moss buildup
In addition to causing unsightly discoloration, when moss or mildew accumulates on wood shingles or shakes, it traps moisture on the roof’s surface, which can lead to rot. You can remove buildup by spraying with a garden hose, but this will only further contribute to the moisture issue, so it’s better to take preventative measures. One such measure is to install a zinc or copper strip beneath your roof’s ridge line, which will naturally deter moss and mildew growth. Another helpful step is to trim back trees and bushes that create damp, shaded areas.

While technically a separate component, gutters are integral to a roof’s functionality because they protect the home’s exterior by diverting water run-off. However, if gutters aren’t properly maintained, it can have direct consequences for a roof’s integrity. When clogged with debris, gutters can become overfull, which causes them to pull, hang and even tear away from the roof, resulting in significant and expensive damage. For this reason, be sure to clean out your gutters at regular intervals, especially before the rainy season.

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