Roof and Gutter Maintenance

Toronto Life
 Roof by Creativity103
Roof by Creativity103

To avoid serious roof and gutter problems, homeowners should make sure that their roof system is in top shape and get rid of potential hazards. Roof and gutter maintenance should be performed at least twice a year — before and after winter. Autumn roof maintenance will help to prepare your roof for the winter, and spring inspection will help you find and repair the damages that the winter brought. Roofs and gutters in the Greater Toronto Area are exposed to sun, rain, winds, and other elements that can cause severe damage. A roof without regular maintenance will only last about half of its expected lifespan. Moreover, almost all roofing materials manufacturers state that their warranty doesn’t cover claims when the roof is not properly maintained.

The most common roof problems in the GTA include animal damage, poor downspout drainage, blown off shingles, exhaust vent repair or install, damaged eaves, rusted flashing, flat roof seam seal deterioration, metal valley leak, vent damage, lack of weather stripping, and skylight leaks.

Conducting regular inspections and good maintenance is the best way to avoid these problems. Don’t overlook your roofing system, and try to inspect your roof before a major problem occurs. Here are some basic tips for maintaining your roof and gutter.

Fix Your Roof
Fixer on the Roof

Early Checkup

After a long winter, you should look for warning signs that indicate potential threats to your roof. These signs include cracked caulk or rust spots on flashing, piles of coloured grit from asphalt roof tiles in the gutters, moss, lichen, and worn areas around chimneys, pipes, and skylights. Furthermore, be sure that you immediately replace any loose, damaged, or missing shingles. Examine you roof and make sure that there are no popped nails or loose metal flashing around chimneys and that skylights and attic vents are properly sealed. Check thoroughly for any cracks or gaps, and make sure that the chimney cap is in its place. Detecting these signs early will help you avoid costly problems later on.

Piles of leaves that gather on your roof — especially if your roof includes many intersecting surfaces and dormers — trap moisture and gradually decompose, which allows wind-blown seeds to take root. Get rid of these leaves with a soft car-wash brush on a pole, a roof leaf rake, or if you don’t mind going on the roof, a leaf blower or a garden hose. Don’t forget to trim the trees that overhang your roof, preventing the accumulation of leaves and moss.

Ignoring the moss on your roof is one of the worst mistakes you can make when it comes to roof and gutter maintenance. It will significantly reduce the lifespan of your roof. Moss holds moisture against the wood, encouraging rot. It can crack cement or ceramic tiles as well, because it produces organic byproducts that make shingles more brittle. Wait for the fall and apply a roof moss killer product. Then remove the dead moss using a broom in the spring.

Examine the Gutters and Drainage

Spring rains can result in pools of water collecting near the foundation, streaked house paint, wet basements, and ridges in the ground. These problems indicate that there’s something wrong with your gutters. Accumulated debris and leaves can clog gutters, causing serious damage such as cracks in the foundation, rotting wood, leaks, and insect infestations. Make sure that you remove any blockages and examine your gutters for any signs of bending, damage, or excess water. You can undertake these basic gutter maintenance tasks yourself — including removing debris, hammering bent areas, and replacing damaged sections — or you can call professionals. Regardless, make sure that rainwater can flow through your gutters in the proper direction.

Brick Chimneys by Elliott Brown
Brick Chimneys by Elliott Brown

Chimney, Skylights, Siding, and Attic

Watch out for loose chimney bricks and mortar, rotting boards if your chimney box is wooden, or rust if your chimney consists of metal parts and flashing. Check that there are no stains around your skylights, which would indicate water leakage. Find any loose or rotting boards and replace them. Examine the areas where siding meets windows and doors, and caulk any holes. Next, go to your attic during a spring rain and check if there are any visible leaks, water stains, or discoloured sections of insulation as well as rotting or mouldy joists and roof decking. If you find any dark areas on the ceiling, peeling paint on the underside of roof overhangs, damp spots alongside fireplaces, or water stains on pipes venting the water heater or furnace, you should seek professional help.

Repair the Old Roof or Install a New Roof?

All roofs wear out over time and need to be replaced. However, getting a new roof too early is a waste of money, while waiting too long and having to cope with water damage is also a mistake. The key is to assess the roof’s health and to identify signs of deterioration. According to Trish Duncan, ”The first question you should ask yourself is, how old is your roof?“ Maintenance is an important factor that you should consider along with your roof’s age. If you check the condition of your roof regularly, you should be able to plan in advance for necessary repairs and even replacements. Watch out for dark spots on your roof, damp spots in your attic, excessive moss, and damaged flashings around skylights, valleys, eaves, rakes, stacks, and chimneys.

As Trish points out, if your roof is shingled, these are the signs that indicate you need a partial or full replacement:

Shingles that are all curling up instead of lying flat, granular disintegration of many of your shingles in the eaves or on the ground, many torn and missing shingles that show obvious wear and finally unhappy neighbours who glare at you because your roof shingles ended up in their hosta bed.

Roof in the winter
 Winter Roof

The cost of repair depends on the intensity and type of damage, the type of roof, and of course the company. The fee of qualified contractors in the GTA for fixing a simple leak is around $400. You may find cheaper contractors, but always make sure that they have a business licence and proper insurance or a WSIB clearance certificate in case something goes wrong. Stripping off your old roof and installing a new one typically costs $3.00 to $6.00 per square foot in the GTA. When estimating the cost of replacing your roof, you should consider several factors. As Trish suggests,

The first thing a roofer will look at when pricing your roof is access — is the roof walkable or not? The second thing is the overall condition of the roof. The third is how does the wood roof sheathing look? The fourth thing we are looking at are the flashings — can they be reused, or are they all rusted? The fifth thing we are assessing is your ventilation, and the last thing that goes into assessing a roof will be the type of system you, the consumer, wants.

Before replacing your roof, you should obtain estimates from several companies and then choose a roofer, preferably with good reputation and licence. You should also think about getting the most from your new roof by incorporating environmentally friendly, modern solutions.

Toronto Roof Contractors

Here is a list of companies that provide roof repairs, replacement, consultations, maintenance, and other services in Toronto and the GTA.

Fixer on the Roof — 647 350 1222
Empire Roofing Corporation — 416 923 7663
Royal Roofing — 416 880 7625
Top Roofers and Renovations — 416 333 8527
Luc’s Roofing — 416 222 2672
Avenue Road Roofing — 416 785 5129
Best Man Roofing — 416 526 2656
The Roofers — 416 858 0400

3 thoughts on “Roof and Gutter Maintenance

April 17, 2014 at 2:59 pm

What is needed to have a winter roof install and how is it different from a normal roof? What are the benefits of having a roof like this because I live in an area where it snows a lot during the winter. Any information will be beneficial.

May 26, 2016 at 11:51 am
Micahel chrest says:

Starting to work with a roofer , good article thanks gives me more info than i had before

April 26, 2019 at 2:23 am
Robert Smith says:

You forget to mention Crown Industrial roofing in your list. It is also good company.

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