Home Protection Guide

Since it can be a pain to take a close look at their roof, many people ignore this major part of home protection. Just because your shingles are guaranteed for 20 years, doesn’t mean you can skip an inspection every year. If you’re afraid of heights or don’t have a tall enough ladder, the cost of an inspection by a licensed roofing contractor is a smart investment.

Covered soffits (the underside of the roof that hangs over the wall) can keep water and all manner of critters from getting into your house, but only if they stay securely fastened. Aluminum and vinyl soffits are often blown off homes during storms, resulting in lots of additional water getting into people’s homes. While properly installed soffits should not be a problem in most conditions, it is difficult to determine if they have been installed correctly.

An inexpensive way to strengthen your soffits is to apply a bead of polyurethane or silicone sealant where the soffit support meets the wall and in the grooves where the soffit meets the support. If you have soffits that extend more than 18" from the wall, push up in the middle to see if there is a wood brace. If there is, install sharp pointed stainless steel screws every 12" through the soffit material and into this brace.

All shingles (or shakes, tiles, and metal roofing for that matter) are rated by Underwriters Laboratories for their resistance to impacts and fire. For impact resistance, the highest rating is Class 4, which is recommended for areas prone to large hail or severe storms. In fact, some insurance companies offer a discount for using Class 4 roofing materials. The highest rating for resistance to fire is Class A, which means that the shingles will withstand severe exposure to fire originating from sources outside the building.

If you’re comfortable going up on your roof, check for loose or damaged roofing material. If you find loose shingles, you can secure them by placing a few dabs of roofing cement under the shingle and pressing down securely. If you find damaged shingles, the best course of action is to have a licensed roofing contractor repair them.

In addition to the fire and storm dangers, a poorly maintained roof could also pose a liability risk. Loose shingles or tiles that fall from your roof and strike someone or their property could result in a sizeable negligence settlement.

Roof-to-wall Connections
You can put the best-rated roofing on your home, but if your roof doesn’t stay attached to the walls, it doesn’t do much good. Most newer homes, especially in high wind areas, have metal straps that secure each roof joist to the walls of your house. However, many older homes only have a few straps, or worse, none at all. If this is the case, even tropical storm winds can literally rip the roof off your home.

If you can, contact the builder of your home to determine if they used metals straps to attach your roof joists. If you can’t contact them, have a contractor examine your home to see if your roof has been properly connected to your walls and, if necessary, have the roof repaired. The connections between the walls and foundation are almost as important and should also be inspected.

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