A roofing system protects your home from inclement weather, provides insulation, and drains water away from the home, making it an essential part of the structure. Conducting regular maintenance and inspections on your roof is one of the best ways to ensure that your home is prepared to handle regular weather conditions, but you should also be ready for unexpected threats—as many of us learned after experiencing the hurricane and tropical storm weather conditions associated with Hurricanes Harvey and Irma.

Though some roofing materials are more durable than others, sometimes damage just happens. If you’re worried that it’s damaged, assess your roof for issues and consider calling a professional to perform an inspection. When it comes to the condition of your home’s roofing, waiting around is not worth the risk. As you’ll see in this post, even minor roof damage can lead to more significant issues over time.

Your home is an investment, and maintaining a healthy roof is key to protecting that investment. Some of these threats can be addressed, while others are more about minimizing further damage after the fact.

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1. Trees

roof crushed by tree during storm

Perhaps one of the most obvious dangers, falling trees and limbs can wreak havoc on your roof, causing cracks, punctures, gaps, and holes.

Falling trees and limbs pose a threat, but tree debris, including leaves, pine needles, and sticks, can also put your home at risk. When you let tree debris accumulate on your roof, you’re giving it an opportunity to turn into a ‘mulch’ of sorts. This ‘mulch’ contains a lot of moisture which can cause mold, rot, and deterioration.

If tall trees surround your home, hiring a tree service to trim back overhanging limbs can minimize the risk when a storm rolls into town. Having overhanging limbs trimmed should also help keep tree debris off your roof.

2. Hail

old roof with hail damage

Hail storms are bad enough on their own without you having to worry about how it’s affecting your roof. While older roofing systems are at a greater risk for damage, hail storms have the potential to damage roofing of any age and material. Common effects of hail damage include puncture marks, erosion, premature aging, bare spots, missing shingles, and cracking.

When falling on asphalt roofing, hail chips away at the granules. Unaddressed hail damage can lead to leaking, which can ultimately result in mold and rot. After a hail storm, call on a roofing professional to conduct an inspection. It will be worth your peace of mind.

3. Ponding

flat roof with standing water

While flat roofs are at a greater risk for ponding and pooling of water, other roofing systems may be vulnerable to ponding in certain areas. Standing water on your roof produces debris and algae that can affect its structural integrity.

Your roof is part of your home’s drainage system and should move water away from your home to prevent erosion and deterioration that can occur when water has a chance to pool on your roof. Keep your roof clear of debris before water can collect.

4. Snow and Ice

ice dam on roof

In many regions, having snow and ice on your roof during winter is just a part of everyday reality. The buildup of snow and ice isn’t inherently dangerous, but it can lead to the formation of ice dams. Ice dams provide the perfect environment for icicles hanging to hang from the eaves or gutters, which is dangerous enough to your home’s residents as well as passersby. But they’re also a sign of an issue with your home’s roof drainage.

Ice dams occur when heat from your home rises to the attic and melts the snow on your roof. Before the snow melt can drain off the roof, it refreezes near the edges, creating a dam that blocks further snow melt from leaving the roof. The constant freeze and thaw can lift shingles, allowing moisture underneath and into the roof.

More permanent ice dam solutions include proper attic insulation and ventilation, but other solutions (like heated gutters and snow guards) are also available to mitigate ice dam problems.

5. Moss

old wooden roof with moss

Some people like the way moss looks while others view it as an eyesore. Regardless of your views on the fuzzy green plant, moss retains moisture that can cause leaks, deterioration, and cracks. It can also affect the overall drainage of your roof by blocking gutters and other drainage paths.

Keep your roof moss-free by regularly cleaning mossy areas. If cleaning your roof is something you’d like to avoid, there are other solutions, like copper and zinc strips that prevent moss from growing.

6. Wind

storm-damaged tile roof

Heavy winds from hurricanes, tornadoes, and winter storms can tear off, lift, and/or damage shingles, rubber, tiles, metal, and other materials on your roof. If the damage leaves your roof exposed, water can seep in and leak into your home. If you notice peeling or missing shingles after heavy winds, call a professional for an inspection.

7. Clogged Gutters

clogged gutters with water backup

If your home has gutters, you’ll know the vital role they play as part of its drainage system. When gutters get clogged, water backs up to your roof and can get under the shingles.

Poorly maintained gutters lead to roof leaks, rot, and deterioration. Of all the threats listed here, this issue is probably the most easily avoidable. Keep your gutters cleaned and maintained, and you won’t have overflowing water damaging your roof.

8. Sun / UV Rays

damaged asphalt shingels

If you live in an area that gets a lot of sun, your roof may be vulnerable to UV and heat damage.

Constant exposure to heat and UV rays can cause shingles to crack, dry out, or fall off. Depending on the roofing material, extreme sun and heat may decrease the lifespan of your roof. Have a professional conduct regular roofing inspections if you’re worried about sun and UV damage.

9. Animals

squirrel on rooftop

There are a number of animals known to cause roof damage, including nesting birds, woodpeckers, racoons, and squirrels.

Nesting birds pose several threats. When birds nest and hang around on your roof, they’re bound to leave bird droppings, which are highly acidic and cause stains and erosion. Nests also create damage spots by blocking vents and gutters and attracting bugs and moisture.

In their search for food and shelter, woodpeckers peck holes that can result in leaks. Racoons, also searching for food and shelter, can use those little paws to rip and pry through your roof. Squirrels can cause widespread damage from the shingles to the vents and flashing. Keep trees away from your home to prevent squirrels from coming for a visit.

Animal removal companies provide removal services, and many also install preventative caps and guards to keep animals from coming back.

Bottom Line:

Sometimes roof damage just happens, and while you can’t always prevent it, there are things you can do to protect your home and be more prepared.

  • If your roof has been damaged, immediately schedule repair to keep issues from compounding.
  • Remove overhanging tree limbs to minimize the risk of falling limbs and debris.
  • When hail and wind impact your home, call a roofing inspector.
  • Deal with issues like ponding and ice dams before they create more serious problems.
  • Consider preventative measures, or at least address the issues in a timely manner, to handle threats from moss and animals.
  • Clean your gutters to prevent water from backing up.
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