April showers bring a lot more than May flowers -- they also usher in a season notable for damaging storms. High winds, hail and especially thunderstorms can suddenly interrupt a sunny, temperate season. These unanticipated assaults can overwhelm a roof already weakened or compromised by structural damage and inadequate drainage. Here are some things you can do to spring into action by "spring-proofing" your roof.
Replace Bad Shingles
Asphalt shingles have many attractive points, including their agreeable range of style, color and price options. Unfortunately, they're also prone to damage from years of weather exposure. That damage can come to a head in a strong spring storm, with high winds ripping weakened shingles off of your roof and permitting rain (and therefore mold) to invade your attic. Take a good hard look at your shingles to check for signs that you need to replace some or all of your shingles, including:
- Cupping - Age and warmth from an insufficiently-insulated attic can conspire to make your shingles curl upward around the edges, a phenomenon known as cupping. The loose edges can get tugged by heavy winds until the shingles become airborne.
- Cracking - Shingles are normally covered with granules that help block the sun's harmful UV rays, but many seasons of heavy spring rains can encourage these granules to loosen and wash away. The unprotected shingles then become brittle and start to crack -- meaning that they can no longer do their job.
- Missing shingles - If you see that a few shingles have already gone AWOL, get them replaced immediately. Without the overlapping protection all your shingles provide, your roof's underlying support beams are vulnerable to moisture.
Get Your Gutters Up to Par
Your gutters have a critical job to do this spring by permitting proper drainage of water from the roof to the ground. Are they up to the task? First and foremost, get into the habit of cleaning them out regularly so they're not clogged with dirt, dead leaves and animals' nests when that big rain hits town. Once the gutters are thoroughly clean, examine their position and structural integrity. If a gutter isn't correctly sloped downward toward the downspout, for instance, rainwater can't drain. If you don't have flashing installed along the roof's edge, your roof may contract a nasty case of dry rot.
Put an End to Your Pest Problem
If you're living with a pest problem, be aware that your roof's days could be numbered. These unwelcome tenants can do serious damage to the organic parts of your roof, including your roof. In fact, termite infestations that attack support beams can weaken your roof until it actually collapses under the next heavy storm, destroying the attic in the process. Don't expect your homeowner's insurance to pick up the tab, either -- you'll be the one paying the roof repair costs.
Termites, along with many other common household pests and vermin, like to make their appearance in the spring when the temperature rises, so the sooner you deal with your pest problem, the better. Missing shingles, decayed roof valleys and droppings or markings around rooftop openings are telltale signs of a pest issue. Contact your pest control specialist immediately if you suspect that roof has been compromised by critters.
Consider Replacing the Roof
Different types of roofing materials have different lifespans, especially when subjected to stormy climates. If you or the previous homeowner invested in a sturdy metal roof, you may be able to get 75 years or more from it, provided that you get it inspected on schedule and watch out for rust. But a terra-cotta tile roof may last a mere 10 years before the tiles start to slip and break, while the ever-popular asphalt roof may be good for 12 to 14 years of wet, humid springs.
If you aren't sure how much life your roof still has in it, contact your roofer to schedule an inspection as soon as possible. Roofing contractors can gauge the amount of wear present on the surfaces and in the underlying structure to give you a reliable estimate of its remaining lifespan, regardless of the actual age of the roof. If there's a good chance that it won't withstand one more big spring storm, do the sensible thing for your property and for your family's safety by investing in a new roof installation.
Spring weather doesn't have to devastate your home. Take the proper steps to safeguard your valuable property and you can enjoy many future seasons under your healthy, functional roof! For more information, contact a roofing company like A-1 Roofing & Siding.