Summer Roof Maintenance Plan: Essential Checklist and Tips

SPONSORED CONTENT is content paid for by a partner. We might earn a commission if you make a purchase through one of the links. McClatchy's Commerce Content team, which is independent from our newsroom, oversees this content. LEARN MORE

For most homeowners, their roof is “out of sight, out of mind.” Especially if your home is more than one story, it can be hard to see what condition your roof is in. Typically, homeowners won’t know their roof has a problem until the issue is significant enough to cause damage to the home’s interior. These roof maintenance tips are designed to keep you ahead of major problems so you can save money and have peace of mind. Here’s what to do for your roof to keep it performing well during the hot summer and hurricane season.

Roofing Tips to Know Before You Start

First things first: can you safely get on your roof? If not, it’s time to call the roofing pros. You will likely be able to spot several of these issues with your feet on the ground. A pair of binoculars can be especially useful here. You can ask your roofing contractor to check out everything else on this list that you can’t inspect personally.

Next, check out your attic. Do you see any water stains or other signs of leaks? How about any mold growing? You’ll want to point those out to anyone you are getting quotes from for roof maintenance/repairs.

Make sure you’re doing your attic inspection during the daytime so you can see if daylight is shining through anywhere. That’s a sign of a crack or an area that needs to be sealed/caulked. Make sure you point out those spots to a pro, too.

Lastly, be aware that not all tips apply to all roof types. For example, a standing seam metal roof will have different needs than an asphalt shingle roof.

Roof Maintenance Checklist

  1. Count missing shingles. If you can see missing shingles, chances are the professional you hire will spot more. Your goal is to get a rough estimate of what you can see missing so you can budget for that repair. Replacing missing shingles will be a crucial part of keeping rain and other elements from making its way beneath other shingles or into your home.

  2. Count cracked and curling shingles. Similarly, you want to get an estimate of how many shingles are cracked, have edges curling, or are otherwise damaged. Just like with missing shingles, you’ll need to replace these to keep your roof watertight.

  3. Find (and clean) moss and algae. While algae does not damage your roof, moss can. Moss also could be a sign that your roof is holding onto too much moisture. If you notice this problem above for the gutters, for example, that could be a sign that your gutters aren’t draining properly, and water is backing up onto the roof. If you can reach algae and moss spots safely, you can clean this yourself with either a store bought product or with a mixture of half water and half bleach. If you can’t reach these areas, be sure to point them out to any professionals you get a quote from so that roof cleaning can be added as a line item.

  4. Caulk any possible openings. Metal roof flashing is usually installed around skylights, vents, chimneys, and anything else that is installed into or attached onto your roof. Flashing is attached with caulk, which wears down over time. Professionals typically recommend that you remove old caulking and re-caulk around flashing every two years. However, homes in areas like Florida that see extreme heat and hurricanes should re-caulk flashing every year. One last tip: make sure this is done before a hurricane or other major storm hits to minimize your risk of water damage.

  5. Clean your gutters and inspect them for damage. Your gutter health and your roof health are intertwined. If your gutters are clogged, leaking, or damaged, your roof will pay the price. Clean all debris out of your gutters, then push your garden hose through the downspout to clear away debris stuck there. Keep an eye out for holes or cracks as you’re cleaning; some roofing pros can service gutters, too, and you can ask for repairs or replacements to be included in your quote.

  6. Look for low-hanging branches. If you have trees with limbs that are growing over your roof, you may want to consult with an arborist in addition to a roofing professional. You want to ensure that no branches or limbs are causing damage to your roof, and you also want them to be trimmed back enough to prevent roof damage during extreme weather like hurricanes.

What Caused Damage to My Roof?

Some homeowners are surprised by the number of missing or damaged shingles they discover. Only a professional will be able to tell you what may have caused that damage, but here are a few questions you can ask yourself in the meantime:

  • Was the roof recently installed? If so, it’s possible that it wasn’t installed properly. Sometimes this is caused by an installer using too few nails or not placing nails correctly. In other cases, homeowners opt to have a new layer of shingles installed on top of the existing roof to help save money, only to discover that the new shingles aren’t very secure since they are being nailed into old shingles instead of into the underlayment.

  • Was the roof installed more than 15 years ago? If so, you may want to look for other signs that your roof is reaching the end of its lifespan — particularly for shingle roofs. Many of the same things you look for during roof maintenance — like missing shingles, curling shingles, and moss growth — can also be signs that your roof needs to be replaced. The amount of shingle damage and other areas of concern as well as your roof’s age will play the largest factor in that determination.

  • Have you seen extreme weather since you last inspected your roof? If so, then you are likely seeing the accumulated effects of humidity, heat, hurricanes, and anything else your roof has seen since it was last inspected. It’s a good idea to check out your roof after inclement weather has passed to see how it held up and if it needs any repairs.

What Does Roof Maintenance Cost?

There are two elements to roof maintenance costs: the roof inspection and the roof repairs.

Depending on the size and complexity of your roof, a roof inspection costs between $150 and $400. The average cost hovers around $250. Costs can exceed $600 if you have a particularly challenging roof.

The cost of any repairs is more difficult to estimate since it will depend on the type of damage you have, what caused the damage, and what kind of roof you have. However, here is a general guide for what to expect:

  • Cost to replace missing or damaged shingles: between $600 and $1,200 depending on extent of damage and shingle type. Asphalt shingle replacement will fall toward the lower end of that cost range while replacing natural clay tiles will fall toward the higher end. Fixing damage to a metal roof or metal shingles could run $1,500 and above.

  • Cost to clean the roof: approximately $0.50 per square foot of roofing. Simpler roofs might cost as low as $0.25 and extremely complex roofs could cost up to $0.80 per square foot. Note that the square footage of your home will not be the same as the square footage of your roof.

  • Cost to re-caulk flashing: between $300 and $1,000+ depending on how many elements you have flashing on. If you only have a vent and a chimney, for example, it will cost less than also flashing multiple skylights.

  • Cost to clean and repair gutters: between $150 and $700 depending on how many linear feet of gutters you have, how high up they are, and what damage needs to be repaired.

The best way to figure out what your roof maintenance will cost is to get quotes from roofing pros. Plan to get three to four quotes to find the best price and be wary of quotes that are either much higher or much lower than the others you’ve gotten.

Preventative Roof Maintenance: Accomplished

Inspecting your roof annually and taking care of any damage before extreme weather hits are the best ways to extend your roof’s lifespan and to help prevent a very costly repair bill. While you’re talking to roofing pros, you can also ask about ways to enhance your roof’s durability and energy efficiency, like a cool roof coating that helps prevent UV damage and heat absorption.

Ask roofing contractors their professional opinion on what to budget for first, options for financing repairs, and what you should plan to take care of in the future. That way, you will have a complete picture of what needs to be taken care of immediately and what upgrades you can budget for to help lower your bills in the future.