Getting to know your home is simply part of being a good homeowner. Because it is one of the most important structural and protective elements of your home, garnering a better understanding of your roof will not only help your roof last longer but will help your home last for a lifetime.
As a professional roofing contractor, our Lifetime Exteriors team wants you to understand the basics of your roof to help you properly maintain it and know problems to watch out for.
The Structure and Parts of a Roof
In order to care for your roof, it’s important to know and understand the structure of your roof. Let’s get to know your roof, starting from the bottom to the top.
Your roof actually starts inside of your home. The framing structure resides in your attic and is comprised of multiple parts.
- Trusses are the supportive triangular structure your roof is built upon. They create the pitch to the roof and act similarly to floor joists.
- The roof Decking (Sheathing) consists typically of plywood that is laid across the trusses to create a foundation for the shingles to be adhered to. It also helps keep the trusses sturdy and properly in place.
The most commonly noticeable portion of your roof is the rooftop. It plays an important role in protecting your home from rain.
- The Underlayment is a layer of waterproof or water-resistant protection that is adhered directly to the decking. It helps to block excessive moisture that may make it past your shingles during severe weather from getting to the wood deck.
- Shingles are the top layer and the most well-known portion of your roof. While not every roof type will have asphalt shingles, they are the most common roof type for residential structures. The shingles are staggered over one another across your roof to reflect the sun and keep water out of your home.
- The Ridge of a roof is at its peak. It is typically covered by roof ventilating shingles.
- Valleys are formed where the pitches in your roofline meet. They help direct water drainage to your gutters and off of your shingles and often collect leaves and twigs.
On, Around, and Under the Roof
Your roofing system consists of elements other than the frame and shingles.
- Fascia Boards (Eves Edge) are the exposed boards that run the perimeter of your roof.
- Flashing is a protective material, often metal, that is placed around joints (often in the roof’s valleys) or around skylights, vents, and chimneys, to keep water from penetrating these areas.
- Drip Edge is metal flashing or molding covering the edge of the roof to keep water off of the fascia.
- Gutters are the drainage system for your roof. These are attached to the fascia board and drain water, letting it out through downspouts that divert the water away from your home.
- Vents are covered structures containing openings that allow for airflow. Some vents intake air and some allow air to escape the attic to keep proper air movement, allowing the attic to release warm, moist air and intake cooler air. To properly vent and attic, the base of a roof must have an air inlet vent.
- Soffits are the ceiling structures that cover the underside of a roof overhang. They can be used for attic ventilation as well as to keep pests from the underside of the roof and out of the attic.
How Long Should a Roof Last?
Getting a roof to last will depend on a couple of factors. The quality of your roof and the location of your home can affect the lifespan. But you should expect your roof to last for at least twenty years with regular maintenance and repairs.
Common Roof Problems
Leaks are probably the most well-known roofing issue because your roof is designed to keep water and the elements from penetrating your home. Roof leaks can occur due to broken or misplaced shingles, punctures from trees in the shingles, lifted or curled shingles, clogged gutters, ice dams, and many other reasons.
A majority of American homes lack sufficient insulation. One of the most prominent places heat escapes a home is through the roof. Insulation is important in keeping your home temperature regulated and in helping your roof last for years.
Lack of Ventilation
Ventilation plays a major role in controlling the temperature and moisture within your attic. Without proper ventilation, your roof can suffer.
Like any aspect of your home, your roof needs proper maintenance. Without the proper care and attention, your roofing materials will prematurely wear down.
How to Properly Care for Your Roof
To keep these common roof problems from arising, proper roof maintenance becomes important. With proper maintenance, you can reduce the number of roof replacements your home will need. To keep your roof functioning at its best, you will need:
- Regular inspections— You should have a professional inspect your roof annually and preform at-home inspections before fall and after winter as well as after major storms. At signs of damage, contact a qualified roofing professional.
- Seasonal gutter cleanings— Clean out your gutters at the end of each season to keep them from backlogging with debris. Clogged gutters can damage a roof.
- Clearing your roof— Clear your roof of debris at the turn of each season and after heavy storms.
- Maintain your yard— To help keep debris off of your roof, trim tree branches that rest over your roof and clear your yard of loose yard waste. Prune dead plants as well.
Keep Your Roof from Major Problems
Knowing your roof will help it last for years to come. And when you notice signs of potential damage, you should immediately contact a professional roofing contractor for an inspection and roofing repairs. Our Lifetime Team wants to help make your home last for a lifetime.
Our licensed and certified roofing contractors will inspect your roof and give their professional recommendations to get your roof back to its best shape. If you notice wear and tear on your roof, contact us to get an estimate now.