Is Your Roof Ready for Fall?

Updated: 10/03/2013 12:44 PM By: Networx

Photo: Artur Staszewski/Flickr.comThe equinox has passed. It's officially fall here in the Northern Hemisphere, and while you might be making plans for Halloween, you should also be looking up to your roof. There are some things you may need to attend to before serious weather sets in, and you don't want to leave them waiting until the last minute. 

In the summer, it's easy to forget about your roof; the days are warm and long, and things like leaks, overflowing gutters, and lost shingles feel like miles away. You might not have done a routine check and maintenance to confirm that your roof is in order, and you might regret it once rain and snow start. If your roof does develop leaks and other problems in the fall and winter, you'll be paying a premium to have those problems fixed, because it's more dangerous and time-consuming for roofers to handle work in the middle of bad weather!

If you haven't done it yet, get up on a ladder and inspect your roof for issues like missing or damaged shingles, warped flashing, and other problems that might lead to leaks, mold, and damage. If you aren't comfortable climbing around on your roof (generally, if your roof is more than one story, it can be a good idea to call in a pro), contact someone with the experience and equipment to perform an inspection. Any problems with your roof should be addressed promptly, so that it will be snug and toasty in the winter.

This is a good time to check for pests like termites that might compromise the integrity of your roof. A pest control expert can conduct an inspection and provide advice if needed about how to proceed. You might need to treat your home for pests or take some proactive measures for pest prevention.

At the same time, you should also be checking your gutters and downspouts. Make sure your gutters are totally clean, and check for issues like sagging, which can indicate they might overflow in the winter, or could fall, spilling water freely along the foundation of your home. Downspouts should be clean and the area around their outlets should be clear. Check to see where they're draining, too.

Are your downspouts just dumping water to pool around your house? Or are they routed downhill to drain into a more appropriate location? If they're directing water at a neighbor's, you should adjust them out of courtesy. You might also want to consider an alternative to letting all that water go to waste -- you could set up a rainwater collection system to gather water for gardening and other activities, like washing the car.

Especially if you live in an area with harsh weather like Philadelphia, roofing is a pressing issue. Roofers do the majority of their work in the summer and early fall because that's when the weather is good enough for them to be outdoors. Once rain, snow, and ice start to set in, their jobs get much more dangerous and complicated; they risk falls, injuries, and even death to make repairs on roofs that didn't receive the proper maintenance.

While you're at it, if you have a chimney, make sure to get it assessed for the fall and winter too. A sweep can clean it out and check for any obstructions or other problems like a damaged spark arrestor that might lead to a chimney fire. Your fire department will greatly appreciate your proactive maintenance, and so will you; chimney fires are extremely common in the fall and winter when people light their first fires of the season and inadvertently discover that their chimneys aren't ship-shape.

Roof inspections from professionals are usually low charge or free, and come with a report on the condition of your roof and a discussion of the options. Roofers can provide information about how many years of life are likely left on your roof, and how much it might cost to make repairs or replace your entire roof; be aware that a number of factors can influence cost including height, complexity of the roof design, roofing material, and whether the building code requires the roofers to strip all the way back to the original roofing material. You may find it helpful to get several quotes for comparison before undertaking a major roofing job.

Katie Marks writes for

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