In literature and film, nature is often portrayed as a gentle and nurturing force. In reality, nature is more of a brute force, capable of causing both slow, steady deterioration and much more violent destruction. This is especially true when it comes to some of nature's effects on residential and commercial roofing materials.
Homeowners who understand this can use the following information to help them recognize some of the visible signs that nature may be taking its wrath out on their roof.
1. When moss and maple seeds sprout
Nature loves to take over surfaces that are not regularly cleaned or maintained. This often includes residential roofing materials, like shingles. As the seasons go by, shingles that do not regularly have dust, dirt, and debris removed from their surface will soon accumulate a thickened layer capable of fostering plant growth. While just about any seed or nut could sprout in these layers of undisturbed debris on a roof, common culprits are moss and maple seedlings.
In addition to looking dilapidated, shingled roofs that have accumulated enough dirt and debris to grow moss and tree seedlings are also retaining large amounts of moisture. As the sun beats down on moisture-rich layers of old leaves, dust, and dirt, heating occurs. Over time, the combination of heat and moisture causes the shingles beneath the debris layer to soften and degrade much more quickly than they might if kept clean and free of debris and plant matter.
2. When ice dams form
"Ice dams" refer to what happens when ice and snow melt and refreeze at the edges of a roof. Ice dams most often form in late winter or very early spring as the days begin to warm. As the thawing and refreezing action repeats, moisture is pushed back under the shingles further with each recurrence. In addition to loosening shingles and roofing materials and forcing them apart from the sheathing beneath them, this moisture often begins to seep through the underlying layers of the roof and may then begin to drip into the interior of the home.
Ice dam formations can also cause massive amounts of ice to form in gutters and extend downward from the roof. As these ice formations break away, they often tear or damage nearby shingles, causing even more damage to the roof.
3. When snow loads are too much
When nature serves up snowstorms that result in deep layers and drifts of snow, the load can sometimes be too much for a roof to bear. Snow loads can cause cracks or broken rafters to occur in the supportive structure of the roof. In some cases, the roof may collapse under the weight. Homeowners who live in areas that receive large amounts of snow will want to have a plan for safely clearing away the snow after each storm to lessen the risk of snow load damage.
4. When trees edge too close
Nature can also damage roofs very slowly over a period of years as nearby trees and vegetation increase in size. If the trunks, stems, or foliage grows enough to reach the edge of the roof or hang down and scrape the surface, wear issues will soon develop. This can include torn or damaged shingles and damage to soffits, overhangs, eaves, and vents. Tree limbs that become too heavy and begin to bear down on the roof of a home can quickly cause leaks to form as well as creating the potential for structural damage to the roof, should the branches fall onto the roof.
Homeowners who find that their roof is being attacked by nature in these or other ways will want to contact a roof installation service to discuss their concerns and decide if the time is right to consider replacing the roof on their home.