Make Your Roof Leak-Proof

Tips on how to prepare for rainy days

The saying may be “April showers bring May flowers,” but those rainy days can bring something else that’s decidedly less pleasant: roof leaks.

While roof maintenance is important year-round, homeowners should always take special care in the spring to make sure their roofs are sealed up tight before the showers come. Here are some tips to help you avoid leaks this season.

Perform a thorough inspection. You should give your roof a good once-over at least annually, and twice a year if possible. It’s not as difficult as you might think: Just put a ladder up to the side of your house and check for missing or worn shingles. Take a particularly close look at spots where there’s flashing or where two different materials meet, such as the areas around chimneys, vents, and skylights. If they’re not sealed right, they’re prime spots for leaks.

Hire a professional, if necessary. If you’re not comfortable looking at the roof yourself, or if you think you found some trouble spots during your once-over, call a reputable roofer and make an appointment for a general roof inspection. The best person to hire is the contractor who installed your roof because of his or her familiarity with your house. If that roofer isn’t available (or you don’t know who installed the roof), ask friends for recommendations or inquire at the Better Business Bureau. Make sure the inspector is licensed, bonded, and in good standing with the state’s contractor licensing board, and check customer references. Always ask the inspector to take photographs so you can get a firsthand look at the trouble spots he suggests you fix. And if he says you need a new roof, get a second opinion.

Perform basic roof maintenance now. Take time to clean out your rain gutters, and while you’re at it, make sure they’re securely fastened to your house so they can do their job—directing the water off your roof and house—during a storm. In addition, clear out any debris buildup, such as leaves, from the valleys in your roof, which are also designed to carry rainwater off your roof.

After a big storm, check your gutters and roof again to make sure there are no clogs. Remember, putting off maintenance can void the warranty on your current roof. So by all means, if you know of any leaks in your roof, take care of them now. It’s never a good idea to defer roof repairs.

Don’t forget about your trees. If you have trees near your house that might uproot and fall on your roof, hire an arborist to assess their health. Also, trim back any tree limbs hanging over your home so they don’t crack and punch a hole in your roof during a strong storm.

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