Owning a home is a huge responsibility. There is so much to take care of and so many things that can go wrong.

Hot water heaters, air-conditioning units, septic systems, sump pumps, garbage disposals, dishwashers, plumbing - any one of these things can break down at any time, causing instant - and expensive - trouble for a homeowner. Then, there is the roof.

The roof of a home must be maintained and kept in good shape; after all, it serves as the barrier between the interior of a house and the elements. Snow, rain, sleet, hail, and wind are kept at bay by the layer of roofing materials that top a home, and a properly maintained roof can provide that protection for decades.

To understand the importance of properly maintaining the roof of a home, it is helpful to understand its design. The design and shape of a roof are decided upon based on the structure it covers. A gable roof, for example, is a simple style that is popular in areas prone to high winds; its inverted V shape catches the wind. A flat roof is most popular on commercial buildings; this style has barely any pitch. A hip roof, common in residential buildings, is more difficult to build than a gable roof because of its four sloping sides; a hip roof has no vertical lines. A gambrel roof is used on homes that have a tall attic; houses that have bedrooms in the attic most often have this style. An A-frame roof is the design popular on churches; a shed roof is often used on additions; it resembles a flat roof but is built with slightly more pitch.

In addition to providing protection from the elements, a roof houses electrical wires, piping, insulation, and ventilation.

Next, what is a roof made of? The materials that comprise a roof vary depending on its style and location. Typically, roofs are made from asphalt shingles; wood shake shingles, which overlap and add architectural style to a home; slate shingles, which are made from sedimentary rock; metal, including copper, aluminum, tin, zinc and steel; and tile, which is a more expensive choice and most commonly comes in clay, concrete, metal, and slate.

How long does a roof last?

The answer to this question depends on the materials from which the roof is made. An asphalt shingle roof can last for 15 to 30 years, a wood-shingled roof will last between 20 and 25 years, a metal roof can last from 50 to 75 years, a rubber roof can last between 30 and 50 years, and a roof made of composition shingles can last between 12 and 20 years.

How to know when a roof is in need of repair:

A puddle of water on a bedroom floor is a clear sign a roof is in need of repair, but how else would a homeowner know that there is a problem? Here are a few things to watch for:

- Shingles are cracked.

- Shingles are missing.

- Shingles are curling at the edges or buckling: This often occurs in the area of the roof that receives direct sunlight. Shingles that are curling may be past their life expectancy, and both curling and buckling shingles are susceptible to wind damage and can be easily torn off.

- The roof is more than 25 years old.

- Look at the roof valleys; this is the spot where one side of the roof meets another and provides a route down to the gutters. Rain and snow follow these valleys to the gutters. If shingles are missing or falling apart here, the roof may leak.

- Cement or tar chimney flashing: This is the material surrounding the part of a chimney that meets the roof. Cement or tar here should be replaced with metal, which is water-tight. If the metal is dented or rusted, that is a sign of damage.

- Another sign of roof troubles that can be spotted from the attic is sagging.

- Feel the insulation in the roof: If there is moisture there, it may be coming through the roof.

- Look at the overall color of the roof. If it is darker in some places and lighter in others, this is a sign that the granules are wearing away. This may even be caused by algae, which means excess moisture is present.

- Look at the lines of the roof. If it sags or appears warped at any point, this is a sign of an underlying issue.

- Standing water: One function of a roof is to move water to the gutters. If you notice spots of water that do not go away, that standing water can soak through shingles.

- Peeling paint: If any roof overhangs have cracked or peeling paint, that is a sign of moisture.

Be vigilant and keep an eye on the roof of your home. Following a big storm, and at least once or twice a year, give the roof a once over.  Be diligent about cleaning gutters; clogged gutters cannot drain, which means excess moisture on the roof. At the first appearance of any of the signs mentioned above, contact a company that specializes in Roof Restoration - Eastern Melbourne Roofing for example - and fix the problem quickly.

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    Homesgofast com

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