9 Natural Enemies to Your Roof

A roof system’s performance is affected by everything that nature throws at it. Keeping that in mind will help you make an informed choice regarding your next roof system.

Sun
Heat and ultraviolet rays cause roofing materials to deteriorate over time. Deterioration can occur faster on the sides facing west or south.

Rain
When water gets underneath shingles, shakes or other roofing materials, it can work its way to the roof deck and cause the roof structure to rot. Extra moisture encourages mildew and rot elsewhere in a house, including walls, ceilings, insulation and electrical systems.

Wind
High winds can lift shingles’ edges (or other roofing materials) and force water and debris underneath them. Extremely high winds can cause extensive damage.

Thermal Shock
Thermal shock is the expansion and contraction of the roof system due to extreme temperature changes. For example, thermal shock often occurs when a cold rain shower suddenly cools a heated roof on a hot day. Of course, this means we live in a prime target for thermal shock damage, especially during the monsoon season and winter when temperatures can rise and drop suddenly. Foam roof systems are the only ones not affected by thermal shock. This constant movement of the roof system can lead to a shorter life span and leaks.

Condensation
This results from the buildup of relatively warm, moisture-laden air. Moisture in a poorly ventilated attic promotes decay of wood sheathing and rafters, possibly destroying a roof structure. Sufficient attic ventilation can be achieved by installing larger or additional vents and will help alleviate problems because the attic air temperature will be closer to the outside air temperature.

Trees & Leaves
Tree branches touching a roof will scratch and gouge roofing materials when the branches are blown by the wind. Falling branches from overhanging trees can damage, or even puncture, shingles and other roofing materials. Leaves on a roof system’s surface retain moisture, causing rot, and leaves in the gutters block drainage.

Missing Or Torn Shingles
The key to a roof system’s effectiveness is complete protection. When shingles are missing or torn off, a roof structure and home or building interior are vulnerable to water damage and rot. The problem is likely to spread since nearby shingles also are ripped easily or blown away. Missing or torn shingles should be replaced as soon as possible.

Shingle Deterioration
When shingles are old and worn out, they curl, split and lose their waterproofing effectiveness. Weakened shingles easily are blown off, torn or lifted by wind gusts. The result can be structural rot and interior damage. A deteriorated roof system only gets worse with time-it should be replaced as soon as possible.

Flashing Deterioration
Many apparent roof leaks are actually flashing leaks. Without good, tight flashings around chimneys, vents, skylights and wall/roof junctions, water can enter a home or building and cause tremendous damage to walls, ceilings, insulation and electrical systems. Flashings should be checked as part of a biannual roof inspection and gutter cleaning.

Ventilation and Insulation Are Key
One of the most critical factors in roof system durability is proper ventilation. Without it, heat and moisture build up in an attic area and combine to cause rafters and sheathing to rot, shingles to buckle, and insulation to lose its effectiveness.

Therefore, it’s important to never block sources of roof ventilation, such as louvers, ridge vents or soffit vents, even in winter. Proper attic ventilation will help prevent structural damage caused by moisture, increase roofing material life, reduce energy consumption and enhance the comfort level of the rooms below the attic.