If you've recently purchased your first home after years of rental living, you may be anxiously doing research on maintenance and minor home repairs that were previously handled (and paid for) by your landlord or maintenance crew. One of the most important duties of home-ownership is keeping your roof in good condition, as moisture leaking from a damaged or neglected part of your roof could cause mold, carpet damage, or even erosion of the main support beams of your home. However, you may be nervous at the thought of climbing onto a one-, two-, or even three-story roof to clean the gutters and inspect your shingles. What should you do to keep yourself safe while performing regular roof maintenance?
What should you do to maintain your roof in good condition?
Fortunately, roof maintenance shouldn't be a regular enough chore to be a hardship—if your roof was relatively new when you purchased your home, you'll only need to do a brief check (and possible cleaning) every 6 months or so. Older roofs or those with pre-existing damage may need to be watched more closely to ensure you catch any problems before they cause damage. If you live in a temperate climate and experience all four seasons, you'll likely want to clean your gutters and inspect your roof during late spring and late fall after any nearby leaves, seeds, pollen, or other potentially downspout-clogging materials have already fallen to the ground (but before the outdoor weather becomes too hot or cold for comfort).
- Cleaning your gutters
Your first step will be to clean your gutters. If you have gutter grates or plastic attachments that help drain water while removing debris, this should be a fairly easy process—you'll need a small hand broom and water hose (and only one at a time). Starting near the downspout, you'll use your broom to sweep away any leaves or twigs lying on top of the gutter shield or remove stuck twigs with your hands.
For those with open gutters, a bit more preparation is necessary. Instead of a broom, you'll need a trowel and a bucket. Using these tools, you'll scoop out any debris from the gutters, working from corner to corner and ensuring you clear the tops of your downspouts. Once you've removed all major debris, you'll take your bucket to the bottom of the ladder, retrieve your water hose, and use it to flush out any dust or smaller pieces of debris.
- Inspecting your roof
After your gutters are clear, you'll be able to perform a quick inspection of your roof to root out any potential problems. Examine your gutters for signs of sagging, rusting, or cracking that could indicate a need for replacement. Peeling or curling shingles may also need to be repaired before they become damaged enough to allow moisture access to the flashing beneath. You'll also want to look for any dark or discolored spots, particularly green or blue-gray ones that could indicate algae or mold growth. If you notice any of these conditions, you may want to contact a roofing contractor such as American Building & Roofing Inc for a quick estimate of repair costs to determine whether you want to try to perform repairs yourself.
What measures should you take to ensure your safety while cleaning and inspecting your roof?
As a homeowner with plans to perform your own roof maintenance (or minor repairs), you'll need to own a sturdy ladder that is long enough to allow you easy access to your gutters without requiring you to step onto the top three rungs. Doing so could throw you off balance and potentially cause you to slip and fall. You'll also need a sturdy canvas or leather tool belt that will allow you to carry necessary tools while using both hands to climb the ladder. For maximum safety, a belt with a fall-limiting mechanism can help stop you after falling no more than 6 feet and (when used properly) prevent fall injuries.