Ideally, your roof should last its expected service life, maybe even a few years beyond if kept in good condition. However, roofs can fail due to one or more causes, and understanding these causes can help reduce, prevent, or mitigate premature roofing failure. In today’s blog, STARR Roofing & Gutters takes a look at these causes.
- Poor installation. Poor workmanship or installation is the most common cause of roof failure, especially in new roofs. No matter the quality of the material or how well-designed it is, there is a greater chance of failure when it’s not installed properly. A poorly-installed roof is more likely to suffer leaks that can cause structural damage and mold growth.
- Using low quality materials. Conversely, you may hire exceptionally skilled roofers, but there’s only so much that they can do with low quality materials. Some materials are inherently durable than others, and are worth looking into before making your roof replacement choices.
- Poor drainage. One of the problems of having a roof built by an inexperienced builder or DIYer is that seemingly insignificant details like drainage are often overlooked. The relationship between roofing slope, local weather conditions and gutter size are considered when designing a new roof. If the roof is being rebuilt with a steeper slope, then rainwater will flow down faster. In turn, the roof will need bigger gutters. When these calculations are ignored, the roof will suffer from the effects of poor drainage, including premature roofing failure.
- Neglecting maintenance. Regular maintenance gives your roofer the opportunity to find signs of roofing problems and fix them before they become bigger problems. Roofing maintenance is ideally done once a year and after every storm, supplemented by visual inspections and gutter cleaning. It’s important to note that insurance companies may deny damage claims if the homeowner cannot present proof that the roof is being regularly maintained.
- Storm and impact damage. It goes without saying that storms and fallen trees can cause great damage to a roof, but it is more likely to fail if repairs are not done in a timely manner. Some people find the sudden expense and the homeowners’ insurance claims process to be daunting, but many roofers — ourselves included — can work with insurance adjusters and assist with filing claims.
- Inadequate ventilation. Heat and humidity tend to move towards the attic, which can get trapped without proper ventilation. It can cause moisture buildup that can rot and warp roof framing components, as well as cause mold growth. On sloped roofs, standard passive ventilation consists of exhaust vents at the ridges and intake vents at the soffits, the highest and lowest points of the roof, respectively. The natural rising movement of warm and humid air creates airflow as it’s vented at the ridges, and can be supplemented by mechanical fans when needed.
- Old age. Your roof will eventually succumb to old age. This is why it’s important to know your roof’s expected life span, as it will give you an idea on when you should start preparations for its replacement. An asphalt shingle roof’s typical life span is 20 to 30 years, while a metal roof is expected to last 50 years or so.
How to Reduce the Risks of Roofing Failure
Fortunately, addressing the causes described above is entirely possible. In fact, you may already be doing some of them.
- Work with a good roofing contractor. A roofing contractor does more than just install or repair roofs. They also help take care of tasks like routine maintenance and inspections, as well as assist in filing homeowners’ insurance claims. This underlines the importance of looking for a good roofing contractor from the beginning — looking up their license, insurance and other credentials, as well as interviewing references, can help you find one that you can count on over your roof’s service life.
- Keep up with regular roofing inspections and maintenance. As discussed above, regular maintenance can help keep roofing problems from getting bigger. If your roofer offers maintenance agreements, sign up for one. A maintenance agreement pre-books your maintenance appointments ahead of time, which helps make sure that you don’t miss them. It can also make things convenient when your annual appointments happen to coincide with busy seasons.
- Update your insurance coverage. Homeowners’ insurance policies are either named-peril or open-peril. A named-peril policy contains a list of which perils are specifically covered, while open-peril policies have a list of exceptions that it will not cover. Insurance providers may offer coverage for certain perils — like hurricane-force winds, for instance — at cost.
- Invest in a roof with high wind and impact ratings. Many roofing manufacturers offer products, including complete roofing systems, with high wind and impact ratings. This means the roofing warranty may include coverage if the roof fails while within the conditions the roof is tested for. Often, such products are exclusive to manufacturer-certified or designated roofers because the finished roofs need to meet certain criteria for installation quality.
- Keep your gutters clean. Clogged gutters can cause water to back up the roof edge and cause water infiltration. Standing water in the gutters can also cause corrosion that can lead to leaky gutters. Regular cleaning can help prevent such problems. Consider investing in gutter protection systems, which can keep your gutter troughs clear by keeping solid matter out and eliminate the need to clean the gutters.
- Trim surrounding trees. Leaves and needles can contribute to gutter clogging. Sharp branches touching the roof can scrape protective granules or coatings off the roofing surface. Overhanging branches pose a risk of damage to the roof. If you have trees on your property, keep them trimmed. Ideally, there should be a 10-foot clearance between the outermost branches and the roofing surface. If you’re unsure how to do this without harming the tree, hire a local arborist.
Learn more about how we at STARR Roofing & Gutters can help prevent premature roofing failure. Call us at (512) 736-6539, or fill out our contact form to schedule an appointment. We offer roof repairs, installation and custom roof maintenance plans.