Roof Maintenance

Roof-Covering Maintenance

Although homeowners aren’t necessarily expected to climb on their roofs every season as part of regular home maintenance, there are some conditions that should be monitored to prevent roof damage and to help you get the longest life out of your roof-covering materials. Certain types of damage can lead to water and pest intrusion, structural deterioration, and the escape costly energy.

Weathering
Hail and storm damage, known as weathering, can weaken a roof’s surface even if you haven’t lost any shingles/shakes/slates following a storm. It’s the most common source of environmental damage for roofs. Strong, sustained winds can cause uplift to the edges of shingles and shakes, which can weaken their points of attachment and allow rainwater and melting snow to reach the roof’s underlayment. Wind can also send projectiles through the air, which can damage every surface of the home’s exterior, including the roof. You should always inspect your roof after a heavy weather event, as far as it is practical to do so without taking any undue risks, to check whether you have lost any roof-covering materials, or if any parts look particularly weathered or damaged. A small fix now could prevent costly repairs later.

Tree Damage
Tree damage results from wind-blown tree branches scraping against shingles and from the impact of falling branches blown by wind and/or because the nearby tree has dead branches that eventually break off and fall. Branches that overhang the roof should always be cut back to avoid damage from both abrasion and impact, and to prevent the accumulation of leaf debris on the roof, its valleys, and in the gutters, which will interfere with proper drainage and lead to pooling of rainwater and snowmelt. Of course, it’s especially important to make sure that tree limbs near the home’s roof and exterior are a safe distance away from utility and power lines. Tree-trimming is a type of homeowner maintenance task should be undertaken by qualified professionals, as it can lead to accidentally cutting off the service or power from an overhead line, being electrocuted by an energized line, being struck by an unsecured tree branch, falling off the roof or a ladder, and any number of similar mishaps that the homeowner is not trained to anticipate and avoid.

Animal Damage
Squirrels and raccoons (and roof rats in coastal regions) will sometimes tear through shingles and roof sheathing when they’re searching for a protected area in which to build nests and raise their young. They often attack the roof’s eaves first, especially on homes that have suffered decay to the roof sheathing due to a lack of drip edges or from problems caused by ice damming, because decayed sheathing is softer and easier to tear through. If you hear any activity of wildlife on your roof, check inside your attic for evidence of pest intrusion, such as damaged insulation, which pests may use for nesting material. Darkened insulation generally indicates that excess air is blowing through some hole in the structure, leading the insulation to become darkened by dirt or moisture.

Biological Growth
Algae, moss and lichen are types of biological growth that may be found on asphalt shingles under certain conditions. Some professionals consider this growth destructive, while others consider it merely a cosmetic problem. Asphalt shingles may become discolored by both algae and moss, which spread by releasing airborne spores.

Almost all biological growth on shingles is related to the long-term presence of excess moisture, which is why these problems are more common in areas with significant rainfall and high relative humidity. But even in dry climates, roofs that are shaded most of the time can develop biological growth.

What we commonly call “algae” is actually not algae, but a type of bacteria capable of photosynthesis. Algae appears as dark streaks, which are actually the dark sheaths produced by the organisms to protect themselves from the ultraviolet radiation of the sun. When environmental conditions are right, the problem can spread quickly across a roof.

Algae can feed on mineral nutrients, such as the calcium carbonate in limestone used as asphalt shingle filler. Calcium carbonate also causes asphalt to retain moisture, which also promotes algae growth, so shingles with excessive filler may be more likely to suffer more algae growth. The rate of filler consumption is slow enough that it’s not generally considered a serious problem.

Algae attach to the shingle by secreting a substance that bonds it tightly to the surface. Growth can be difficult to remove without damaging the roof. The best method is prevention. Algae stains can sometimes be lightened in color by using special cleaners. Power-washing and heavy scrubbing may loosen or dislodge granules. Chemicals used for cleaning shingles may damage landscaping. Also, the cleaning process makes the roof wet and slippery, so such work should be performed by a qualified professional.

Moss is a greenish plant that can grow more thickly than algae. It attaches itself to the roof through a shallow root system that can be freed from shingles fairly easily with a brush. Moss deteriorates shingles by holding moisture against them, but this is a slow process. Moss is mostly a cosmetic issue and, like algae, can create hazardous conditions for those who climb on the roof.

Lichens are composite organisms consisting of a fungus and a photosynthetic partner, such as green or blue-green algae. Lichens bond tightly to the roof, and when they’re removed from asphalt shingles, they may take granules with them. Damage from lichen removal can resemble blistering.

“Tobacco-juicing” is the brownish discoloration that appears on the surface of shingles, under certain weather conditions. It’s often temporary and may have a couple of different causes. After especially long periods of intensely sunny days, damp nights and no rain, water-soluble compounds may leach out of the asphalt from the shingles and be deposited on the surface. Tobacco-juicing may also appear under the same weather conditions if the air is especially polluted. Tobacco-juicing won’t harm asphalt shingles, although it may run down the roof and stain siding. Although it’s more common in the West and Southwest, it can happen anywhere that weather conditions are right. You can spray-wash or paint the exterior of the home to remove tobacco-juicing.

Your InterNACHI inspector should investigate signs of roof damage or deterioration before you call a roofing contractor. That way, you’ll know exactly what types of problems should be addressed before you break out the checkbook for repairs.

Scott Price, CPI, #1532
Certified Home Inspector
Home Run Inspections
405-905-9175
homeruninspections@icloud.com
We cover all of the bases!

Serving the Oklahoma City metro and surrounding areas including Edmond, Guthrie, Cashion, Yukon, Moore, Norman, Chickasha, Midwest City/Del City, Bethany, El Reno, Shawnee, Harrah, and more.

Schedule Inspections Online at:
www.Home-RunInspections.com
Like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/homeruninspections
Follow us on Twitter: www.Twitter.com/HomeRunInspect2

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Preparing Trees for Winter

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A lot of home owners were caught off-guard by the recent, relatively early ice storm that impacted much of Oklahoma City and the surrounding areas.  El Reno and Bethany were some of the harder-hit areas this go-round.

Keeping your trees well-watered throughout the year makes them stronger during those ice storms and other extreme weather.

While some limb breakage is inevitable during extreme weather, properly pruned trees are an important precaution a homeowner can take toward protecting a property’s value.  Proper pruning protects from heavy snow fall, ice (usually more damaging than snow), and our sometimes-devastating spring storms with high winds.

While there are some pruning chores homeowners can do without endangering themselves or the tree, certified arborists are trained and outfitted for the big jobs.  Maintenance and damage repair on mature tall or spreading trees often require more skill and equipment than most people can handle safely.  The chore is fraught with danger, from electrocution to falls and being struck by heavy limbs.

Some pruning needs to take place when trees are young, which helps develop a stronger branching structure.  Thinning canopies of mature trees also can help reduce breakage, while too much thinning is detrimental.

Shade trees are more structurally sound and cost-effective to maintain when they are allowed to develop one dominant, central trunk (or leader, as arborists call it).  If a trunk is allowed to develop two equal leaders, that juncture (or crotch) creates a weak spot prime for splitting.

Trees should be pruned so that branches are spaced along the dominant trunk, and they will be stronger than trees with many dominant branches.  Some experts say it’s best if this central leader reaches at least 30 feet high.

Safety First!  Consulting a professional is always recommended if you are tackling a project you have no experience with or are unsure of.

Here are some links to local arborists that can get the job done for you:

Bill Long Arborist
Cross Timber Arborist

Chainsaws flew off the store shelves following the last storm. Below are a couple of links to check out before purchasing one of the most dangerous tools available to the public.

Chainsaw Safety
Osha Quick Card

Scott Price, CPI, #1532
Certified Home Inspector
Home Run Inspections
405-905-9175
homeruninspections@icloud.com
www.Home-RunInspections.com
www.facebook.com/homeruninspections
Serving the Oklahoma City metro and surrounding areas including Edmond, Yukon, Moore, Norman, Midwest City, Bethany, El Reno and others.

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Keeping French Drains Operational

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As a home inspector in Oklahoma I see these these french drain grates a lot.  I usually find them around homes that are built on a relatively flat lot, or at a point at which water needs to be taken away to avoid intrusion into a home or a feature such as a patio.  You may be surprised to hear this from a Home Inspector, but I am genuinely happy when I get to do an inspection during a heavy rain or just afterwards.  It gives me a better chance of ensuring that I catch any drainage problems the homes property may have that my client should be aware of.

Usually when I see these grates, which come in a variety of shapes and sizes, they are filled with debris.  This is their purpose, to catch debris before it enters into the drain pipe system and leads to a clog.  Best case scenario, the drain pipe takes the water to the street and to a main neighborhood drain, but this is not always the case.  Unfortunately, I often can find no evidence of where the drains lead to.

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The bottom line is; french drain systems are like any other drain. In order for them to function properly they need to be kept clear of debris.  If you have drains like these or others, pay attention next time you get some good rainfall and see if they are doing their job.  If they are not, clear away any obstructions that you can gain access to.  Should the problem persist, I recommend you gave the drains cleaned professionally by a plumber using a power-feed drain cleaner.  If you fancy yourself or someone in the family as handy with tools like this, they can be rented at your local big box store for a reasonable fee.

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Like any other home maintenance project, the longer you prolong the repair of these drains, the more costly the fix is likely to be.  I’ve seen homes requiring literally thousands of dollars in foundation repair as a result of roof drainage that could have been easily upgraded for less that $50 bucks when the problem first started.

Happy Home Maintenance!

Scott Price, CPI, #1532
Certified Home Inspector
Home Run Inspections
405-905-9175
homeruninspections@icloud.com
We cover all of the bases!

Serving the Oklahoma City metro and surrounding areas including Edmond, Guthrie, Cashion, Yukon, Moore, Norman, Chickasha, Midwest City/Del City, Bethany, El Reno, Shawnee, Harrah, and more.

Schedule Inspections Online at:
www.Home-RunInspections.com
Like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/homeruninspections
Follow us on Twitter: www.Twitter.com/HomeRunInspect2

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Winterizing Outdoor Faucets

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Winterizing Outdoor Frost-Free Faucets

If you have frost-free faucets, your home winterizing process is much easier. Frost-free faucets with hose bibs are a relatively new invention designed to prevent water from freezing in pipes during cold weather by removing water from freezing air.  They require minimal maintenance from homeowners.

Instructions:
1.  Turn off the frost-free faucet’s interior valve.

2.  Remove the hose from the exterior valve.

3.   Open the faucet to drain any remaining water.

4.  Shut the faucet off.

There is no need to cover a frost-free faucet with insulation material or coverings.

If your home has older hose bibs, follow the above process but in addition, add an insulation covering (especially on walls facing the North).  These can be picked up for a couple of bucks at your local hardware store.

Scott Price, CPI, #1532
Certified Home Inspector
Home Run Inspections
405-905-9175
homeruninspections@icloud.com
We cover all of the bases!

Serving the Oklahoma City metro and surrounding areas including Edmond, Guthrie, Cashion, Yukon, Moore, Norman, Chickasha, Midwest City/Del City, Bethany, El Reno, Shawnee, Harrah, and more.

Schedule Inspections Online at:
www.Home-RunInspections.com
Like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/homeruninspections
Follow us on Twitter: www.Twitter.com/HomeRunInspect2

 

 

 

Safely Burn Fuels

fireplace

I inspect a lot of homes with some sort of fireplace.  So many fireplaces today are merely decorative and can be started with a flip of a switch, but there are many homes purchased by “first time home owners” that have masonry fireplaces designed to burn “solid fuel”, meaning wood logs or fire logs.  Starting and managing a real wood fire seems to be a fading art, so I put together a quick list of tips for those home owners out there who are planning on starting up the fireplace this year.

  • Never use flammable liquids to start a fire.
  • Use only seasoned hardwood. Soft, damp wood accelerates creosote buildup. In pellet stoves, burn only dry, seasoned wood pellets.
  • Build small fires that burn completely and produce less smoke.
  • Never burn cardboard boxes, trash, or other debris in your fireplace or wood stove.
  • When building a fire, place logs at the rear of the fireplace on an adequate supporting grate.
  • Never leave a fire in the fireplace unattended. Extinguish the fire before going to bed or leaving the house.
  • Allow ashes to cool before disposing of them. Place ashes in a tightly covered metal container, and keep the ash container at least 10 feet away from your home and any other nearby buildings. Never empty the ash directly into a trashcan. Douse and saturate the ashes with water.

As a home inspector, I always advise buyers to have there fireplace inspected by a professional before the first use of the season.  It only takes a minute for a romantic evening to turn into a three alarm disaster.

 

Scott Price, CPI, #1532
Certified Home Inspector
Home Run Inspections
405-905-9175
homeruninspections@icloud.com
We cover all of the bases!

Serving the Oklahoma City metro and surrounding areas including Edmond, Guthrie, Cashion, Yukon, Moore, Norman, Chickasha, Midwest City/Del City, Bethany, El Reno, Shawnee, Harrah, and more.

Schedule Inspections Online at:
www.Home-RunInspections.com
Like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/homeruninspections
Follow us on Twitter: www.Twitter.com/HomeRunInspect2

Fall Home Maintenance

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Fall is here and its time once again to get our homes ready for another season.  Here is a quick list to get you started this weekend.

  • Have a heating professional check your heating system.
  • Protect your home from frozen pipes.
  • Run all gas-powered lawn equipment until the fuel is gone.
  • Test your emergency generator.
  • Have a certified chimney sweep inspect and clean the flues and check your fireplace dampers.
  • Remove birds’ nest from chimney flues and outdoor electrical fixtures.
  • Make sure the caulking around doors and windows is adequate to reduce heating/cooling loss.
  • Make sure the caulking around the bathroom fixtures is adequate to prevent water from seeping into the sub-flooring.
  • Clean the gutters and downspouts.

Remember to take a moment before starting machinery or climbing a ladder to think about safety. A few hours of preparation can save you and your family some misery this winter, not to mention some money.
Scott Price, CPI, #1532
Certified Home Inspector
Home Run Inspections
405-905-9175
homeruninspections@icloud.com
We cover all of the bases!

Serving the Oklahoma City metro and surrounding areas including Edmond, Guthrie, Cashion, Yukon, Moore, Norman, Chickasha, Midwest City/Del City, Bethany, El Reno, Shawnee, Harrah, and more.

Schedule Inspections Online at:
www.Home-RunInspections.com
Like us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/homeruninspections
Follow us on Twitter: www.Twitter.com/HomeRunInspect2

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Autumn Home Maintenance Tips

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Be sure to:

  • Check and change your furnace filters.
  • Clean and check gutters for leaks, misalignment, or damage (use extra caution when climbing ladders to clean gutters, hang holiday decorations, etc.  Always wear protective gloves when doing outside yard and home work.)
  • Have your furnace serviced by a licensed HVAC contractor.
  • Change the batteries in your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors.
  • Check and replace home fire extinguishers that have expired.
  • Have rock salt, sand, and snow shovel on hand to keep walkways and driveways passable.
  • Know where your water shut-off valve is in case of frozen, burst pipes.
  • Check plumbing shut-off valves for proper operation.
  • Drain outside faucets and cover with a styrofoam insulator.
  • Winterize your sprinkler system.
  • Drain hot water heater to remove accumulated sediment (consult a licensed plumber prior to performing this maintenance task as older hot water heaters may be better left alone).
  • Check for proper flow of water in your faucet aerators.  If the flow is reduced, clean the aerator screens.
  • Check the attic for evidence of any leaks, check insulation and add any if needed, and check for evidence of birds, squirrels, raccoons, etc.  Check for proper ventilation.  Repair as needed.
  • Check countertops for separations at sinks and backsplashes; re-caulk where required.
  • Check for loose or missing grout or caulking in tiled areas; re-grout or re-caulk if needed.
  • Check shower doors and enclosures for proper fit, and adjust if needed.  Check caulking and re-caulk if needed.
  • Check caulking and weather-stripping around windows and doors.  Check window and door screens.  Adjust or replace if needed.
  • Check fireplace flue, and clean if needed.  Check fireplace brick and mortar for cracks or damage.  Repair as needed.
  • Lubricate garage door rollers.
  • Remove debris from around air conditioning units, and clean with a garden hose (be sure to disconnect the unit from power  before cleaning it or have your licensed HVAC contractor perform this service for you).  Remove window air conditioner or protect with weatherproof cover.
  • Clean refrigerator coils.
  • Check the roof for leaks and damaged/loose/missing shingles.  Check vents and louvers for birds, nests, squirrels, and insects.  Check flashing around roof stacks, vents, and skylights for leaks.  Repair as needed.
  • Clean and check chimney for deteriorating bricks and mortar.  Check for leaks.  Check for birds, nests, squirrels, and insects.  Repair as needed.
  • Check exterior walls for deteriorating bricks and mortar.  Check siding for damage or rot.  Check painted surfaces for flaking.  Repair as needed.
  • Trim shrubbery around walls.  Remove tree limbs, branches, or debris that can attract insects (no wood or shrubbery should be closer than 3 inches to your house).  Maintain grading.
  • Check concrete and asphalt for cracks or deterioration.  Reseal or repair if necessary.
  • Examine septic system drain field of flooding and odor.  Repair as needed.  Have tank pumped yearly.
  • Clean and store or cover lawn and patio furniture with weatherproof material.
  • Close swimming pool for the winter.

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