Top 5 Roof Repairs: What to look for in 2020

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Portland is a city with some special challenges for roof maintenance — big trees, a lot of flat roofs and high rainfall. And while roofs are easy to place in the “out of sight, out of mind” category, a compromised roof can compromise the entire structural integrity of the home. Whether you’re shopping for a home or considering putting one on the market, get to know the common roof issues that Portland homeowners experience.  

Top 5 Roof Problems for Portland Homes

It’s true with most things, but especially with roofs, that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Knowing these five signs of roof trouble could save you big bucks down the road:

1. Missing shingles

It happens just about every winter: A big storm hits, throwing down big chunks of hail and debris, or even limbs, from nearby trees. Part of the cleanup for every homeowner should be to check for roof damage, looking for small pieces of roofing or even entire shingles scattered on the ground. Also check the siding for damage, which could indicate that the roof was compromised as well. When up on the roof, you or your contractor may find several layers of shingles forming a patchwork, much like these Portland homeowners did. Unfortunately, there’s only so much patching you can do until you need to replace the roof entirely.

2. Leaky components

The typical lifespan of asphalt roofing shingles (depending on the quality), is 15-30 years. Presidential style asphalt roofs can last even longer. However, other roof components such as flashing around vents and caulking around skylights can fail well before that. It’s important to keep an eye out for water stains on the ceiling and walls inside the home, which are a common sign that water is getting in somewhere. A small leak will cause discoloration, but bigger amounts of water can lead to bubbling and buckling of the material. 

As soon as you see a water stain, it’s time to act. Go up on the roof, or have a professional go up, and find the source of the water intrusion. They (or you) should check the roof throughly — not just shingles but also the fascia, exhaust pipes, roof valleys and outer edges, looking for missing or damaged flashing and seals. 

3. Clogged gutters

While this isn’t a roof problem on the surface, underperforming or compromised gutters are a common issue in Portland that can lead to major roof problems in a matter of weeks. In a city with many trees and frequent rain events, every part of the gutter system is susceptible to debris buildup, from leaf screens to downspouts. When gutters back up, water can sit on the roof or eaves too long, creating rot and giving water the opportunity to penetrate the roof. Home owners — it’s important to get on a ladder once a winter, or after a major storm, and check the condition of your gutters. Check out our full blog post on cleaning your gutters here. Home buyers — if you’re looking at a Portland home with clogged gutters, it should raise a red flag. Be sure the home inspection includes a thorough check of the roof condition. Water pooling in a crawlspace or leaking into a basement is often caused by clogged gutters leading to water cascading down the side of your home. Really any break in the system designed to push water away from the foundation of your home can lead to serious water problems!

4. Roof Punctures

Holes in the roof are sometimes caused by catastrophic events like a tree branch hurtling into your home, but more often they happen slowly when a rubbing branch or persistent rodent chews a hole through the roofing material. Unless there was a major storm, homeowners usually don’t find out about this type of roof damage until they see water intrusion (stains, bubbling paint). To prevent holes formed by rubbing or falling tree branches, keep trees trimmed well away from the roof of the home. Have large trees evaluated by an arborist on a regular basis — they can often detect warning signs that a tree is going to fall and pose a hazard to your home. (Check this City of Portland article on how to hire a good arborist first.) And pay attention to sounds coming from your roof because it might be a rodent trying to chew its way in! 

5. Pooling water on the Roof

Many Portland homes are single-level ranch homes, with long, flat or low pitched roofs. This creates a potential for water to sit on a roof after a rain event, which can lead to damage. The standard rule is that water should sit on the roof for no more than 48 hours. If it does, there may be a problem with the drainage that needs to be addressed. It’s not that water will immediately intrude into the home, but the water itself can magnify sunlight and speed up UV damage to the roof material. It can also deteriorate adhesives and sealants as well as trap dirt that will eventually allow plants to take root! Pooling water will be difficult for home inspectors to flag, since they’re not hanging around for 48 hours, but they can detect the signs of a pooling issue — clogged roof drains, dirt and vegetation buildup. It’s important to have the root cause of the pooling water addressed before it causes more expensive damage to the roof. 

Portland Roof Repair – where to start?

If your investigations cause you to suspect that you have roof damage or a drainage issue, it’s time to think about repairs. The good news is that the most common roof problem for Portland homes — missing asphalt shingles — is relatively easy and inexpensive to fix. According to a Home Advisor survey, the average cost to repair damage to an asphalt shingle roof is $710. That’s much less than the thousands of dollars it could cost to repair rotted plywood, replace moldy insulation or deal with electrical or structural damage if the roof repairs aren’t done.

Before you call a contractor for a quote, check their CCB license online. See if your friends, neighbors or real estate agent can recommend someone, and call references provided by the contractor as well. Finally, it goes without saying that you should triple-check up on any contractor that comes to your home and solicits your business by telling you that your roof is damaged.

Should you buy or sell a home in Portland with potential roof damage? Who should pay for roof repairs — buyers or sellers? Your trusted real estate agent can answer these questions and more, so contact us today!

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