The roof over your head, solid as it may feel, is more vulnerable than you may think. Weather, wind and debris are all causes for concern, but the primary culprit causing roof damage? Fallen leaves.
Accumulated leaves collect water like a sponge. As the leaves begin to break down, they can rot bits of your roof along with them. Shingle roofs are particularly susceptible. Here are some things to consider as you work to prevent leaf damage to your roof.
Seasonal Roof Inspection
Depending on the slope and shape of your roof, it can be difficult for the owner to view the entire thing. Nonetheless, it’s crucial to do a roof examination several times a year, preferably after the majority of the leaves have fallen in autumn. If you have oak trees, you may have to inspect again in the spring. Most homes require a ladder to get a full view. Make sure your ladder extends at least 2 feet above the edge of your home, for safety. If you see collected leaves and they are accessible, remove them from both your roof and gutters. You can use a leaf blower or a broom on an extension pole to remove collected leaves that are close enough. If you need help, you can always schedule a free roof inspection.
Some amount of leaf fall is unavoidable, especially if you have neighbors with tall trees that shed. You can minimize leaf litter on your property by making smart landscaping decisions. For example, avoid planting trees that shed heavily too close to your home. That gorgeous maple or flowering crabapple may seem like a great decision at first, but after a few years, it will tower over your home and dump tremendous amounts of leaves onto your roof. This means more roof inspections and maintenance.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t have trees flanking your home. Quite the opposite: Choosing the right trees can help you save your roof and save you money on energy. True evergreens (not evergreen oaks, which shed their leaves in the spring) are a good alternative to large, deciduous trees. They provide color, shade and screening without shedding onto the roof. Remember that pine needles can also accumulate on rooftops, although they don’t tend to clump like deciduous leaves.
We associate falling leaves with autumn, but oaks and other species shed their leaves in the spring, which is why you should try to inspect your roof thoroughly at least twice a year. Fallen leaves and tree litter can also wreak havoc on your lawn and landscaping. The debris provides habitat for unwanted pests (like water roaches) and smothers your plants and lawn. A good, thorough top-to-bottom spring cleaning your outdoors, including your roof, seamless gutters and your yard, will help keep your roof and property in tiptop shape.
William Dukes is a freelance writer and home decorator. He spends most of his time landscaping and fixing up and flipping old houses. He and his wife enjoy home DIY projects and recently built a new barn for their ranch.