A First-Time Homeowner’s Guide To A Healthy Roof

Buying a home is an awesome responsibility. Not only do you have the added responsibility of paying those mortgage payments, property taxes, and utility bills, you also have to take care of that investment. While taking care of other big purchases, like your surround sound system or a new car, is easy enough, a house requires so much more effort and know-how. That is not, however, to say that it can't be done by a novice. It can. 

One of the most crucial areas of concern is your roof. Its sole job is protecting the rest of your home from the elements. Keeping it in tip-top shape is key to the longevity of your house, but relax. It is easy when you know what steps to take.

Your Roof | How Long Does It Last?

The average asphalt roof lasts anywhere from 15 to 20 years. You can find out how old your roof is by checking your inspection report. Generally, the home inspector that you hired to look everything over before you purchased the home would have checked your roof first. The report should indicate his or her best guess for how old your roof is and how much longer you can expect it to last. While you can use this information to budget for a new roof, it is not an exact timeline. Many factors affect that expiration date.  

Mother Nature is the biggest culprit. She wrecks havoc on asphalt shingles. While your first instinct may be to think about strong winds, shingles are actually designed to stay put. In fact, building code mandates that asphalt shingles be secure in up to 90 mph winds, more in hurricane-prone regions.

Heavy rain, snow, haul, and ice can all shorten the life expectancy of the average roof. It is not, however,  just severe weather that takes a toll. The sun's UV rays and salt spray from the ocean shoulder some responsibility as well. 

Observation | What to Keep an Eye Out For

As a new homeowner, it is imperative that you take regular walks around your home to access your roof. If your home has gutters, look in the splash block, where the water exits your downspout. If there is a gravel-like substance in it, you may have a problem. Asphalt shingles come from the factory with a protective gravel coating. Over time, the coating wears off and leaves your home more and more vulnerable to water penetration. Luckily, keeping tabs on the debris in your splash block is an easy way to keep an eye on things.

While you are outside, take a walk around your home, look in the bushes, flower beds, and the perimeter of your foundation for any broken pieces of shingle. Shingles are not meant to break off. This is generally a sign that you are reaching the end of the usefulness of your shingles. 

Another tip on how to check on the health of your roof is to look up. Look at the bottom row of shingles at the roofline of your home. They should be flat, not curling up at the edges. As shingles age, they harden. The edges curl up and break off. Chances are high that they are no longer preventing the elements from entering your house when they reach this point. 

Cleaning | When and, More Importantly, Why to Clean Your Roof

While you are looking up at your roof, pay attention to the color. If you notice a green haze, it is likely that your roof needs to be cleaned. Depending on what part of the country you live in, algae, mold, mildew, or moss can take up residence on your roof. Prompt removal is key to a healthy roof. Your roof needs a good scrubbing to remove the growth. If you are handy and confident on a roof, you can DIY this project. You can also hire a professional company to do the job. 

Roof Repair | Is it Time to Call in the Professionals?

Try to climb onto your roof at least once or twice a year. While you are looking to make sure there aren't any missing shingles, your biggest job is to see how your roof feels. If the plywood underlayment feels soft, bouncy, or weak, it means that water has penetrated the shingles and is starting to wear down the plywood. You need a professional's expert opinion on how to proceed — fast.

Mold | The One Thing No One Wants to Talk About

One last spot to observe your roof is from the attic. Yes, the attic. It is technically the underside of your roof and can give you a few clues as to the health of your roof. If you see dark stains on the wood, it is an indication that water has entered the space before. Feel the wood and insulation for dampness or standing water. Any signs of water mean that you likely need a new roof. Unfortunately, you also need to worry about mold. The EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) states that mold can grow in as little as 48 hours once water enters a home. Mold is a serious issue that no new homeowner wants to deal with. Talk to your local roofing company, such as The Roof Doctor, immediately. 

While buying a home comes with much responsibility, keeping an eye on the health of your roof isn't difficult.