Give your roof a spring ‘check-up’

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National Roofing Contractors Association offers free ‘Roof Checkup Guide’ to provide helpful tips on ‘summerizing’ your roof

So how’s your roof? You don’t know? Most of us don’t know what’s happening with our roofs because we never actually climb up a ladder and look at them. But that “out-of-sight, out-of-mind” approach can turn into a costly roof maintenance strategy. The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) recommends homeowners conduct a simple roof checkup every fall and spring. Doing so can help prepare your roof for the hot, humid and sunny weather that’s just around the corner. The following are some important tips to get you started.

Safety first

Cleaning your gutters and/or inspecting your roof system can be risky business! So it’s important to remember these important safety tips:

Make sure the ladder is on solid, level ground.

Secure the ladder at the top to prevent it from slipping.

Extend the ladder at least 3 feet beyond the gutter, and angle it 1 foot back from the house for every 4 feet in eave height.

Removing leaves from you gutters

Once or twice a year, it’s a good idea to put on your work gloves, get on a ladder and clean out your gutters and downspouts. If your gutters are clogged, rain won’t drain properly. Water can overflow the gutters and cause serious structural damage to your foundation over time. In addition, a gutter full of water is heavy and can damage the fascia boards on your roof.

Remove leaves, sticks, needles and seeds from gutters, scooping out debris with a garden trowel or gloved hand.

Don’t try to remove the debris with a hose because that may cause downspouts to clog.

Remove the pasty goo made up from the tiny granules from asphalt roofing shingles that have mixed with dirt and water.

Flush residual matter using a garden hose.

To clean downspouts, turn on the hose full blast and thread into drain opening.

Check gutters after flushing for pools that indicate low spots. Gutters should be sloped about 1 vertical inch for every 15 to 20 horizontal feet so they drain properly. Adjust gutters as necessary.

What to look for on your roof

Most roof damage occurs before anyone at ground level notices it. The following are some signs that your roof (or parts of it) may need replacing.

Shingles that are buckling, curling or blistering; this indicates the end of the shingles’ life expectancy.

Loose material or wear around chimneys, pipes and other penetrations.

Excessive amounts of shingle granules in your gutters; granules give shingles added weight and protect them from ultraviolet rays.

Be sure to inspect the area around pipes and chimneys.

Inside your home, check interior walls and ceilings for water damage.

Hiring a professional roofing contractor

If you see a potential roofing problem, don’t try to fix it yourself. Call a professional roofing contractor. Be sure your contractor has a permanent place of business, telephone number and tax identification number. In addition, check references from prior customers and ask for proof of insurance (liability and workers’ compensation). Finally, be sure to ask the contractor to explain material and workmanship warranties. To receive your free Roof Checkup Guide or for more information about how to find a professional roofing contractor in your area, check out NRCA’s Web site at

from the May 16-22, 2007, issue

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