Raise the (Health of Your) Roof

January 30, 2020

What’s a house without a roof? Well, in Washington, we’d wager it’s more like a pool with rooms.

Many people don’t think about the importance of having a healthy roof until they’re dealing with the unfortunate and costly consequences of a failed one. Here are three primary suspects in the demise of a roof, and how to stop them in the act:

Wind Damage

During high winds, shingles can come loose or blow off altogether, leaving the roof deck or underlayment exposed to the elements. Exposure can lead to costly water damage. Even when shingles are only peeled up and not completely removed from the roof, the broken seal can leave you vulnerable to wind-driven rain and seeping water.

If you suspect wind damage, try to get an idea of how much of your roof is affected. Replacing or securing a few shingles can be an easy do-it-yourself fix, but a larger section may be better left to a roofing professional who can also check for water damage underneath. Regardless of who does the repairs, try to cover exposed areas with a tarp as soon as possible to prevent water damage.

Storm Damage

Hail can leave dents in your shingles and destroy the layer of granules that protects shingles from sun and rain damage. The damage might not be visible for up to a year after the hail storm; the bond that holds the granules onto the shingle will weaken over time and eventually spall to show a round bald patch. This unprotected area can cause the shingle to warp and crack with temperature and moisture changes.

If you are concerned about hail damage, have a professional inspect your roof. They may recommend replacement of affected shingles or the entire roof, if damage is significant. Keep in mind that your roof warranty is typically voided by such things as hail storms, but your homeowners insurance will likely pay.

Moss and Algae

Though it might lend a cozy and rustic look to your house, moss drastically shortens the lifespan of roofing materials by causing them to degrade. Moss growing between shingles eventually forces them upward – like a tree root growing beneath a sidewalk – and exposes more vulnerable layers underneath to water, which means rot. Moss and algae are typically pretty easy to spot: moss will grow in bright green clumps, and algae usually appears as blackish stains that seem to be running down the slope of the roof.

Professionals will make easy work of moss and algae removal, but if you want to do it yourself to save money, consider these points:

  1. Never use a pressure washer on your roof. Rather, begin by rinsing from the top down using a garden hose.
  2. Remove large clumps of moss with a soft bristle brush, again going from top to bottom, and avoiding hard scrubbing.
  3. Thoroughly wet the affected areas with a commercial moss killer or a 50/50 mixture of water and vinegar or water and bleach. Let it sit for 30-45 minutes, and rinse with clean water.
  4. Be aware that whatever is rinsing off your roof might end up in your yard or gardens. Consider laying down plastic sheets to protect your plants.


**Note: We strongly recommend having a contractor or other experienced professional be the one to access your roof, especially after a storm, when the integrity of the roof could be compromised. NEVER try to access your roof while it is icy or snowy, and always use appropriate safety measures.**

Sources: This Old House, Insurance.com, Bob Vila, Owens Corning