Texas Living

Avoiding Costly Roof Maintenance

By Kristy Alpert 7.6.17

There are so many things to be grateful for about living in Texas, from Tex-Mex and wildflowers to the myriad living options across the state. Being thankful for what you have is part of being a good Texan, and, while it’s easy to appreciate having good food and gorgeous flower beds, we often take for granted the novelty of having a strong and healthy roof over our heads.

Roofs are the home’s first line of defense against everything from severe weather to temperature changes, but all too often they end up being last in terms of home maintenance and upkeep.

According to the Independent Insurance Agents of Texas, roof damage may be the most common type of property insurance claim in Texas. While tornadoes and high winds are definitely a risk to roofs across the state, severe hailstorms are the biggest threat to homeowners as Texas constantly tops the charts with the highest amount of hail claims in the U.S. 

Having proper homeowners insurance in place before the storm hits is the No. 1 way to keep your family covered even when your roof is unable, but there are a few ways you can reinforce your roof’s resistance to severe storms. The Insurance Institute for Business & Home Safety (IBHS) recommends homeowners in Texas take a few simple steps toward maintaining their roofs year-round to avoid costly damage.

From removing tree branches overhead to knowing when to call in a professional and how to find a quality roofer, here are the IBHS’s best practices for improving the long-term performance of your roof. 

Regular Roof Maintenance

Not all roof work requires long hours and labor-intensive refinishing. Here are some small steps you can take throughout the year to help protect the top of your home: 

  • Remove tree branches that hang over the roof or trim them back to prevent damage from branches rubbing or falling on the roof.
  • Remove leaves and debris that may have accumulated over the seasons to prevent decay and mold.
  • Check the interior of your attic for leaks, cracks, or any signs of water seepage.
  • Clean debris out of the gutters to remove any blockages or install gutter screens or covers.

What to Expect When Replacing Your Roof

Whether your roof is showing signs of age or has recently weathered a storm, here are the steps you or a professional contractor should take to ensure a long life-span for your roof. 

  • Remove the existing cover to give the roof a fresh start with new roofing materials.
  • Look for signs of wear, like rotting or warped wood, and replace any materials that are unsafe.
  • Re-nail the roof deck with 8d common nails (or larger) every 6 inches, adding additional fasteners as needed to make the roof more wind-resistant.
  • Support the edge of the roof by bracing gables and anchoring outlookers with metal brackets or straps to improve their adherence to the frame.
  • Seal the roof deck against water intrusion by avoiding felt and opting instead for a material like ASTM 1970-compliant, self-adhering, polymer-modified bitumen flashing tape or similar.
  • Install flashing at all roof penetrations (pipes, vents, chimney intersections, etc.) to help eliminate leakage.
  • Apply an ASTM-approved roof cover, keeping in mind that high-wind-rated shingles may have a higher price tag but often prove their worth when storms hit.

Hiring a Professional

Many experts recommend having your roof checked out by a professional at least once a year and after severe storms. Whether you’re calling in help for minor repairs or are seeking a specialist’s opinion on the subject, use these guidelines for hiring a qualified residential roofing contractor:

  • Use the Find a Roofing Contractor tool on the National Roofing Contractors Association’s website.
  • Get more than one estimate before deciding on a contractor, and get everything in writing (e.g., total cost, work to be completed, project schedule, guarantees, payment terms, material and installation warranties, etc.).
  • Make sure the contractor you select is well-established with a federal tax ID number and permanent address.
  • Ask to see the contractor’s certificate of insurance to ensure he or she is covered for liability and worker’s compensation.
  • Contact your local Better Business Bureau to check for complaints filed against any of the contractors you’re considering hiring.
  • Never sign a contract with blanks as oftentimes fraudulent contractors enter unacceptable terms later on.
  • Never pay the contractor in full until all the work has been completed and a certificate of completion is in your hands.
  • Review and then send all the documents to your Texas Farm Bureau Insurance Agent.

Don’t let the old adage “out of sight, out of mind” affect your roof during the height of a Texas summer. Keep these proactive tips for roof maintenance — the right way — in mind the next time your budget allows.  

For more roofing insights, check out Texas-tough Roofs.

Coverage and discounts are subject to qualifications and policy terms and may vary by situation. © 2017 Texas Farm Bureau Insurance