Top 5 Preventative Roof Repairs: What to Look For

Roof problems: one of the greatest sources of anxiety for sellers and buyers alike. It should go without saying that the roof is integral to the structural integrity of the home. But perhaps because it’s such a big deal, the roof can feel easy to avoid keeping up with. For one thing, it’s not a part of the home you interact with on a day-to-day basis. For another, no one wants to find serious problems with such an important part of the home.

But the adage “what you don’t know can’t hurt you” doesn’t apply in this case. Severely damaged roofs are dangerous, but even minor problems can still spell greater problems for the rest of the home. And problems mean money.

Before we scare you too much, remember that roof repairs are a common and regular part of home ownership. In fact, the best way to stay away from costly repairs? Keep up regular maintenance. Portland has its fair share of roofing challenges, including heavy rain and large trees. To stay ahead of the game, owners should take the following preventative measures, rather than waiting and having to deal with major problems later. And buyers, we haven’t forgotten you! These tips will be helpful for you as you go through the inspection period as well.

1. Clear Away Moss

One of the things we love most about Portland? The lush greenery that seems to spring up on its own everywhere. It makes our city beautiful. But while moss on a roof may make you feel like you’ve stepped into an enchanted fairy tale, it’s bad news for the state of the roof itself.

Moss starts out as a thin coating on shingles. But as it grows, it can lodge itself between shingles and lift them up, making space for leaks to come through. Beyond that, letting water in means deterioration of the roofing material speeds up. No matter what kind of roof you have, keeping Portland’s albeit lovely moss off those shingles will increase the lifespan of your roof. If the problem is relatively new, you may choose to clean your roof on your own. For more advanced moss growth, we recommend getting a professional involved.

2. Clean Clogged Gutters

Wait, gutters aren’t part of the roof, right? Technically, no, but being immediately connected to them, they play a significant role in the roof’s function. Drainage in Portland is crucial, given our famous weather. When gutters become clogged during periods of heavy rain, water can back up and sit on the eaves and the bottom of the roof for too long. Again, you’re looking at rot if this happens.

For homeowners, it’s a must to clean your gutters once a year (after fall/winter’s leaf drop) as well as after any major storms. Get out a ladder and muck that stuff out to preserve your roof – and your home’s value. While you’re up there, you’ll have a chance to make sure your gutters are solidly attached to the home and that there’s no age-related damage to the gutters themselves.

For buyers, functional gutters are crucial for inspection. The homeowner may have cleaned out the gutters just before your viewing after months or years of neglect. Make sure your inspector checks the eaves and the roof carefully.

3. Maintain Trees and Repel Small Animals

When it comes to actual holes in your roof, the two most common perpetrators are tree limbs and branches and small animals. Keeping trees trimmed back from the house serves two purposes. First, weak or sickly limbs can fall during a storm and damage the roof. An arborist can help assess and maintain the health of your trees. Second, keeping branches further from the roof can keep animals like raccoons to get there (or at least make it harder for them).

Which brings us to part two of this entry: animals. Squirrels and raccoons do sometimes try to get into attics in order to nest. Not ideal for anyone! If you suspect you have animals living within the walls of your home, you’ll want to consult a professional to safely remove them. Additionally, you need to seal up holes through which they might have entered (and check for roof damage). Oregon is also home to a wonderfully beautiful bird – the Northern Flicker – which sometimes pecks at roofs and causes damage. Luckily, you can take simple steps to prevent this, all while providing a good habitat for the birds.

4. Check for and Replace Missing Shingles

It’s a simple but unwelcome fact. Eventually all roofs will need full replacement. The most common type of shingles – asphalt – typically last between 15 and 30 years. But over time, shingles of all types become worn, leaving your roof vulnerable. Once shingles start falling off for no particular reason, it’s probably time to replace the roof entirely.

But that doesn’t mean a few loose shingles mean the coming down of the gavel on that count. If you lose some shingles because of extreme weather, such as hail. If that happens to you, assess the damage immediately and file a claim with your insurance company. A contractor can help you decide how best to repair the damage. Patching makes a perfectly respectable solution for small amounts of damage.

5. Examine and Repair Flashing

When we think about securing a roof, shingles often come to mind first. But flashing is equally important, though often neglected. Flashing, usually made of some type of metal, protects gaps in the roof around things like vents, chimneys, and dormer windows. It makes sure that at these junctures, rainwater runs into the gutters rather than leaking into the house. Sounds like something not to ignore! If you suspect your flashing is aging or defective, get a professional in right away to check it out.

Whether Buying or Selling, Don’t Neglect the Roof!

No matter where you are on your home ownership journey, never ignore the state of the roof in question. For current owners, the best thing you can do is perform regular maintenance that protects and extends the life of your roof. Buyers, on the other hand, should keep informed on what that maintenance entails. Ask questions about these issues directly to your inspector.

And when in doubt, it’s always best to have as many professionals in your corner as possible. That includes real estate agents! For the best experience in the Portland real estate market, our top 1% buyers agents or top 1% sellers agents are here to walk you through the nitty gritty of every transaction.

June 23, 2021

Stephen FitzMaurice

Stephen FitzMaurice, Realtor is a top 5% real estate agent in the U.S. A Principal Broker in Oregon, Managing Broker in Washington, he has been licensed since 2003 for residential real estate sales. Call his team in Oregon at 503-714-1111 or in Washington at 360-345-3833.

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