Your roof and your siding—they’re your home’s literal first defense against the elements, so you want to make them last as long as possible. Unfortunately, those same elements can take an eventual toll on your home’s exteriors, particularly if you don’t put much maintenance into them. Like most things in life, when it comes to the lifespan of your home’s surfaces, you get as much out as you put in. With that in mind, here are three different projects you can use to get the most bang for your siding and roofing buck.
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Fix Clogged and Damaged Gutters and Downspouts
Your home’s gutters aren’t there just to fill up with leaves. They actually serve the practical purpose of protecting your roof and your siding from runoff. That may sound innocuous—it’s just rain after all!—but consider this: your siding likely has small cracks from where boards or sides are joined. That means moisture could make it behind your home’s cladding, causing leaks and mold, and damaging your walls and wall cavity insulation.
Up top, your roof also suffers when drainage systems backfire. If your drainage system is blocked, or if your gutters are bent back toward your home or just damaged somewhere down the line, that system can’t function properly—which could potentially cause rainwater to pool or “pond,” as it’s known in the roofing business. Ponding is a problem because it adds weight to your roof, for one. Water is heavy, and excess weight can cause structural issues down the line. It also offers an opportunity for leaks to form, or could lead to the growth of algae or vegetation down the line. A literal pond on your roof? No thank you!
To protect the exterior of your home, your gutters need to be cleaned at least twice a year—once in the fall, and once in the spring. But you can do them more often if you live in a particularly debris-prone area. Use a hose to flush them clean and make sure the gutters and downspouts all work properly.
This is a great time to check your drainage equipment for leaks. If you notice any holes or leaking joints, you can fix them yourself using a metal patching kit and a tube of roofing cement. Not into the DIY thing? You can have a professional out to clean and repair your gutters for you for around $50 to $100.
Improve Your Attic Ventilation
If you want to see a contractor get animated, ask them for their thoughts on attic ventilation. The proper way to vent a roof—and how much air ventilation affects the life of your roof—is a somewhat controversial issue among roofing professionals. However, most will agree that improper ventilation can cause problems in the long run. In the summertime, poorly-ventilated roofs can become very hot—like 140 degrees Fahrenheit hot. (That’s hot enough to cook a pork loin, in case you’re counting.) If you have asphalt shingles, the elevated temperatures may cause them to break down and degrade over time, meaning you’ll need to reroof sooner.
The trouble is, it can be hard to know off-hand whether or not the ventilation in your attic is adequate without getting up on top of your roof. Fortunately, there are a couple of signs that are a definite tip-off of inadequate ventilation. The first is the presence of icy buildup on the edge of your roof. These “ice dams,” as they’re called happen when hot air gets trapped in your attic. The hot air transfers to your roof, melting the snow and ice on top, which creates streams of water that flow down to the edge of the roof. But the edges of your roof are colder, since they’re not in contact with the heated air from the attic interiors. So the water runoff freezes again there, creating ridges of ice and icicles.
Another way to diagnose ventilation problems is to simply put your hand to the ceiling on a warm day. If your ceiling is hot, the attic probably isn’t letting out enough air.
If you notice some of these issues, the easiest fix is to install a soffit vent on the edge of your roof. However, this can be a pretty advanced project, since you’ll need to cut a hole to fit the vent using a circular saw. If that doesn’t feel like something you’re comfortable doing, you can always engage a professional. In fact, a contractor with roofing experience can probably weigh in on the best place to add a vent based on the design of your home.
Have Your Asphalt Roof Cleaned
If your home has asphalt roofing and is exposed to partial or constant shade, it probably doesn’t dry out all that quickly—and that can lead to problems with mold and algae over time. In fact, some professionals even believe that the heat from algae buildup can increase air conditioning costs. Hire a professional cleaning service to remove algae streaks and restore your curbside appeal. You don’t want to weekend warrior this one. Power washing your roof could potentially harm the shingles—the opposite of what you’re trying to do.
Ask your cleaning company to perform what’s known as a “soft wash”—a solution pumped onto your roof with an air compressor. This gentle cleanup will keep your roof looking great, and it will protect the life of your asphalt shingles too. After all, a little money towards maintenance now can save you a lot of cash later!