Spring Maintenance Deep Dive: Roofs, Gutters and Chimneys

Earlier this month, we published our Spring Maintenance checklist to make sure you were all ready for the change in season.

This week, we’d like to build upon that, specifically when it comes to assessing your roof after the cold winter months.

Checking for damage

Winter is the toughest month on your roof due to the snow pile-up as well as ice accumulation. Cracks in your roof covering can easily lead to leaks inside the house as the snow and ice starts to melt, which will result in interior water damage.

If you have a safe and secure ladder, it would be a good idea to now climb up and assess the condition of your roof. If you aren’t comfortable, or don’t own a proper ladder, you can stand back and perhaps use binoculars to try to get a better look. Catching the damage as soon as possible is integral to maintaining your roof as you don’t want to leave any cracks unattended, since it will result in the problem becoming even worse. You may even be denied insurance coverage, unless you can show you’ve been diligent with maintenance.

It’s also important to pay particular attention to the metal and other applied flashings. The sheet metal/caulking used to waterproof around chimneys can shrivel up and/or peel away, resulting in problematic and damaging leaks. If you aren’t comfortable taking on this task yourself, a roofing contractor can help.

Cleaning your gutters

Spring is also the ideal time to clean out your gutters. Now that winter is officially over, if you don’t act quickly to clean out the debris that built up over the season, you’ll eventually run into roofing, siding and foundation issues in the months ahead.

Clean gutters help protect your home from water damage by draining it from the roof and funneling it away from the home.

One easy way to check if your gutters are clogged is to wait for a rainy day and listen carefully to be sure water is emptying via the downspouts. If it isn’t flowing freely or you notice water overflowing from the edges, that means there is blockage preventing it from functioning properly.

To clean the gutters, you’ll again need a ladder to climb up and give yourself a good view of the situation. Once you’re up high enough, you can simply use a garden hose, your hands or a proper scoop to remove the debris.

Another thing to look for is cracks and holes in the gutters. If you run into anything like that, they’ll need to be plugged or caulked immediately.

Maintaining your chimney

The last thing you’ll need to check while examining the roof is your chimney.

First, you’ll want to check the chimney cap to see if it’s still secure and the flue is not obstructed by any debris.

It’s also important to look for cracks or openings, which can lead to leakage and water damage. Small cracks can be repaired with special sealants, but larger problems will often require professional assistance.

Tell-tale signs of a problematic chimney include:

  • White, patchy areas on the bricks
  • Foliage or growth coming from the mortar cracks
  • Signs of deterioration/rust
  • A musty, damp smell inside
  • Water inside the firebox
  • Ceiling stains in the immediate area below

Also, please note: If you don’t feel comfortable using a ladder, then it’s important you call a professional to come in and assess the situation, rather than putting yourself in a potentially dangerous situation.

If you have any questions about how to properly assess your roof, gutters or chimney, or any other maintenance needs, please contact us at Duxbury & Associates and we can walk you through the process, or give you advice on which other professionals you’ll need to contact to make sure everything is working efficiently.

About Glenn Duxbury

Duxbury & Associates Building Inspection and Consulting Ltd. has received the 2004 Douglas College Entrepreneur of the Year Award in the ‘Consulting’ category for persistence and pursuit of excellent service delivery to clients by providing very thorough and professional Inspection Reports and dedication to those involved in buying / selling / building / renovating and maintaining uncompromised customer focus.