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Once you've ensured your home is safe to live in, the next step is tackling issues that may be affecting the physical integrity of your home. Water is the number one enemy of building materials, so having a well-sealed roof is a priority.

The Shingle Life

When shingles need replacing:

Curling Edges
  • This is a common problem that compromises the ability of your shingles to keep water out. It's caused by a heat buildup in your attic, so make sure your attic is properly vented with soffits and a ridge vent (or other roof vent).

  • This naturally happens over time as shingles become rigid due to ultraviolet (UV) rays from the sun.

  • If you notice granules in your gutters, it's likely coming from your shingles. This is a sign that they're balding and nearing the end of their life.


While shingles claim to last 20, 25, and 30 years, these numbers are determined in
laboratories where weather doesn’t exist. Roof pitch, sunlight, heat, cold, and prevailing winds will knock about 5 years off the listed life of your shingles.

  • There should be no more than three layers of shingles on your roof. More than that can cause heat to build up between layers and may further compromise the life of your shingles and/or invalidate the warranty.​


Gutters are designed to channel water away from the foundation of your home.


If you don’t maintain them, clogged and leaky gutters can lead to:

  • A leaky roof

  • A leaky basement

  • Masonry deterioration and foundation issues

  • Sidewalk or driveway damage

  • A drowning landscape

  • Rust and mold within the gutters

  • Gutters pulling away from the roof due to rusted hangers

  • Insect infestation inside the gutters


How to keep gutters clean:

  1. Stand on a ladder and clean out as much gunk as you can (be sure your ladder isn’t pressing against your gutter and denting it!)

  2. Make sure the hangers are secured and in good condition

  3. Look for holes/cracks at the gutter seams

  4. Look for excessive rusting (replace portions if needed but don’t mix metals or deterioration will actually worsen)

  5. Make sure gutters are pitched towards the downspouts

  6. Flush the remaining gunk down the gutters (if using a pressure washer, don’t let the blast of water hit and damage roof shingles)

  7. Make sure the downspout drains several feet away from the house

  8. When determining a maintenance plan, consider cleaning your gutters and downspouts while inspecting your roof (generally once a year). That’s one less treacherous trip upwards!​

Where should flashing be installed?


Flashing is a thin layer of waterproof material that keeps water from getting into places it doesn’t belong.


Where should flashing be installed?

  • Above all wood trim on shelves, doors, and windows

  • Where exterior stairs and decks attach to the house

  • Where dormers intersect with the roof

  • Wherever there are roof transitions

  • Around any features in the roof structure, such as vents and chimneys

If you’re not sure flashing has been correctly installed, follow a drop of rainwater as it moves down the side of your house. It should be carried from surface to surface all the way down, never blocked by an open seam or upturned lip.

What materials should you use?

  • Flashing can be made of sheet metal (copper or stainless steel), plastic, or composite materials. Sheet metal flashing is the most durable but most expensive choice. Plastic flashing, usually PVC-based, is less expensive but the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays will degrade exposed parts.


What about caulk and other sealants?

  • Caulk is fine for filling small gaps around windows and doors, but it shouldn’t be confused with flashing.

  • Don't caulk horizontally along siding or at the base of storm windows. That just traps the water in instead of letting it flow out.

  • Never use caulk or tar along roof seams or chimneys. It will become brittle and fail in about a year’s time. Also, putting tar over metal flashing will cause a chemical reaction that will erode the flashing.

  • You should only need a bead! If the space you are sealing is too big (exceeds 1/2” x 1/2”), it isn’t a matter of adding more caulk. You’ll need a backer rod, which is an extruded foam rod that is placed in deep joints to fill in some of the space before caulk is applied.


Ice Dams

Ice dams are a common problem with bungalows and can cause a lot of damage if not addressed.


Here’s how they happen:

  1. Heat buildup in your attic and improper ventilation. Snow on your roof can melt and slide down to the end of your eaves.

  2. Eaves extending beyond the boundary of your attic space. The ends of your eaves, which are not receiving heat from the attic, are as cold as the air outside. Once the melted snow reaches the ends of these eaves, the water freezes due to the temperature change.

  3. Ice at the end of the eaves expanding and damaging your shingles. This may cause issues with your gutters, and possibly let water into your attic and walls as a result.


To prevent this, properly airseal and insulate your attic, then be sure to have proper ventilation like soffits and a ridge vent to circulate air.

Roof with an Ice Dam
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