Being a homeowner is a wonderful, but large, responsibility. Your
house requires a great deal of ongoing maintenance. While this may seem
like bad news, the good news is that proper maintenance will save a
great deal in the long run.
Start at the top. Check your roof for damage
inflicted by summer storms or high winds. Be especially careful to check
valleys or areas around chimneys. A leak during heavy fall rainstorms
or from melting snow can cause a great deal of damage. If you’re unsure
whether your roof needs repair, call a professional.
Trim those trees. Look for branches that are
unhealthy or damaged, which may fall during high wind or ice, and cut
anything that is a potential danger. Tree branches should be cleared
away from the house and all electric wires.
Fill in the holes. Look for any areas that need to
be sealed in order to prevent cold air from entering your home. Weather stripping and caulking can save you on energy
costs. Replace old insulation for better performance.
Get ready to heat things up. Have your furnace
serviced by a professional and change or clean all filters. Preventative
maintenance will keep your furnace in good working order and will
further help with energy efficiency. If you have a fireplace, have it
cleaned before lighting your first fire.
Clean up. Before
things get chilly, it’s a great idea to complete those outside chores,
such as cleaning windows and garbage cans. Also take the time to vacuum
dust from vents, heaters, dryer vents, etc., in order to keep air
Preparing your home for fall and winter is an important way to secure your largest and most important investment.
11 Forest Hills Drive $179,500
7 Dogwood Trail, $394,900
500 Williams Drive $160,000
A new roof is an expensive proposition — $18,800 on average for composition shingles, according to Remodeling
magazine’s Cost Vs. Value Report, and as much as $36,000 for high-end
materials. Once you’ve made that kind of investment, you’ll want to
And even if your roof is years old, maintaining it in good shape will
prolong its life and keep you from having to replace it prematurely.
Here’s what you need to do to get the most from your roof.
Clean the Gutters
Ruined paint on siding and a wet basement
are typical problems caused by clogged gutters, but it might surprise
you to learn that the overflow can also go upward. When leaves pile too
deeply in gutters, water can wick into roof sheathing and rot it, or
even rot roof rafters.
Fixing that kind of damage could run into the thousands of dollars, but you can avoid it by cleaning your gutters
each fall and spring. Do it yourself in a few hours if you’re
comfortable working on a ladder, or hire a pro for $50-$250, depending
on house size.
If you have a simple peaked roof surrounded by low landscaping, your
roof probably stays clear of leaves on its own. But if the roof is more
complicated or if towering trees are nearby, piles of leaves probably
collect in roof valleys or near chimneys. If you don’t remove them, they
will trap moisture and gradually decompose, allowing moisture to
accumulate in your roof — or worse, create fertile ground for weeds to
If you have a low-slope roof and a one-story house, you may be able
to pull the leaves down with a soft car-washing brush on a telescoping
pole. Or you can use a specialty tool like a roof leaf rake, which costs
about $20. A leaf blower gets the job done too, especially on dry
leaves, but you or a pro needs to go up on the roof to use it.
If leaves are too wet or too deep, you might need to wash them off
with a garden hose. Don’t use a pressure washer, which can force water
up under the shingles.
Get Rid of Moss
In much of the country, composition roofs often become covered with
black algae. Although unsightly, this filmy growth doesn’t hurt the
roof. A little chlorine bleach or detergent mixed with water will kill
it, but it’s safer for both you and the roof to just leave it alone.
If you live in the Northwest, you’re likely to find moss growing on
your roof, particularly on wood or composition shingles. Moss, which
looks more three-dimensional than algae, needs to go because it traps
water. If you tackle it early enough, you can just sweep it off.
If there’s a lot of buildup, you may need to kill the moss first. The
Washington Toxics Coalition recommends using products based on
potassium salts of fatty acids rather than more toxic formulas with zinc
sulfate. Even so, apply the soap only where moss is.
Look and Listen
After every big wind or hail storm, or if you’ve heard scurrying on
the roof at night, give your roof a quick check to make sure
everything’s still intact.
Curling, loose, or missing shingles
Damaged flashing around vents, chimneys, skylights, and other openings
If anything seems amiss, ask a roofer to inspect ASAP. Most problems
are fairly easy to fix, but if you put them off and water gets in, the
damage and costs escalate.
TIP: You don’t have to climb a ladder to inspect your roof. You can use binoculars.