Roof Maintenance Tips to Protect Your Home

The roof over your head is your home’s first line of defense. Keeping your home in good condition ensures you’ll enjoy it for many years to come. Here are some tips to extend the life of your roof and things to consider when it’s time for replacement.

How to Properly Maintain Your Roof

Knowing your roof’s makeup and condition can help prevent problems before they occur. Here are some factors that affect how your roof performs.

Proper attic insulation and ventilation. This can save your roof from warping, reduce energy costs and reduce the amount of moisture in your home. It also prevents snow and ice from melting and freezing, which can cause water damage to your roof and home.

Maintain gutters. Clean your gutters often to make sure they’re free of debris. Check that the outer edges are lower than the slope line to allow snow and ice to slide clear.

Proper flashing. Flashing is material, like aluminum or galvanized steel, that’s used over the joints in roof construction in order to prevent water seeping in and causing damage. Having the right flashing in place is important since it helps direct the flow of water around openings. Verify that your flashing is correctly installed, particularly around vents and chimneys. Improper flashing installation is a common source of interior water damage.

Proper roof decking. Basically, the roof deck is the section of the roof onto which everything else is placed, so the type of roof decking you use has to be strong enough to hold the weight of everything placed on it. It must support the roofing materials and workers, safely resist impact loads (e.g. a pile of shingles), hold constant loads (e.g. heavy snow), resist wind force and be able to anchor the nails.

Do I Need a Roof Repair or Replacement?

Mother Nature can be harsh. The hot sun, driving rain, heavy snow, strong winds can all cause visible and structural damage to even the strongest of rooftops. Knowing what to look for will keep you on top of the situation. Here are some signs your roof is aging and may need to be replaced.

Curling shingles are a sign of weathering and are highly susceptible to wind and ice damage.

Cracked shingles are typically a result of wind damage. If just a few are cracked, you can probably replace them. But if the cracking is random and frequent, you should start thinking about a new roof.

Granules in the gutter are normal for a brand new roof. But if your roof has been around for 10 to 15 years, granules could be a sign it’s time for a new one.

Seeing sunlight from the attic is never a good sign. If you see the light, it’s time to repair or replace.

Sagging is a sign of a structural issue and should be addressed by a professional, soon.

My Roof Needs to be Replaced. What Roofing Material Should I Use?

A roof’s makeup can vary based on personal preference and geographic location. The life expectancy of a roof varies according to a number of factors, including age, exposure to the elements and roof type. Here are the advantages and disadvantages of the most common types of roofing materials.

ROOF TYPE
ADVANTAGE
DISADVANTAGE
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION
Architectural asphalt composition shingles
Typically has a longer life expectancy than three-tab asphalt composition shingles
More expensive than three-tab asphalt composition shingles
Look for shingles rated impact resistant with a UL2218 class 3 or 4 rating as these provide better protection from hail and may be eligible for a reduced premium.*
Three-tab asphalt composition shingles
Less expensive than architectural asphalt composition shingles
Typically has a shorter life expectancy than architectural asphalt composition shingles
Look for shingles rated impact resistant with a UL2218 class 3 or 4 rating as these provide better protection from hail and may be eligible for a reduced premium.*
Metal panes
Aesthetic value, lightweight and has a long life expectancy
Expensive compared to asphalt composition shingles and susceptible to denting from hail and other sources.
Look for metal roofing product that have passed either the UL2218 or FM4473 test as a class 3 or 4 as these may be eligible for a reduced premium.*
Wood shakes
Aesthetic value
Expensive compared to asphalt composition shingles and highly susceptible to hail damage and often prohibited by local fire codes.
A high-end roofing option that must be maintained yearly. Note: Wood shakes are not eligible to receive Replacement Cost Value (RCV) coverage through American Family Insurance.
Slate
Aesthetic value and has a long life expectancy
Expensive compares to asphalt composition shingles
A high-end roofing option
Rubber slate or “faux” slate
Less expensive than real slate and has a long life expectancy
Expensive compared to asphalt composition shingles
Made with recycled rubber or plastic.
Tile
Attractive and has a long life expectancy
Only an option in warm-weather climates
A high-end roofing option

*Discount availability and eligibility varies by state and policy terms.

Hiring a Roofing Contractor

If you’ve given your roof a good review and decided it’s time for repairs or replacement, the next step is to hire a roofing contractor you can trust. Find peace of mind by asking a few key questions.

  • How long have you been in the business?
  • Are you bonded and insured, including worker’s compensation and general liability?
  • Do you have the appropriate licenses for my community?
  • Can I call your customers for a reference?
  • Are you willing to put all agreements, promises and understanding in writing?

Remember, the cost to replace a roof varies according to the market, roofing materials, the roofing contractor, the pitch (or steepness) of the roof, the area to be covered and other factors.

Are Roofs Covered Under Homeowners Insurance?

If your home, including your roof, is damaged, our homeowners coverage works hard to help you regroup and restore. And if your home isn’t livable while things are being repaired or rebuilt, we may even help cover temporary housing expenses. Take a look at our roof replacement coverage page to learn how your homeowners insurance covers roof damage, and in the meantime, here’s the gist of what you should know.

  • With American Family Insurance, your base homeowners policy provides actual cash value coverage for wind and hail damage to roofing systems.
  • Replacement cost value coverage for wind and hail damage to roofs is available as an optional coverage.
  • Roof losses for all other perils (e.g., falling objects) are covered at replacement cost.
  • Cosmetic hail damage coverage for metal roof or siding is available as an optional coverage.

The answers you need. Have questions about protecting your home with the right coverage? View our home insurance FAQs.

Need to file a claim? Our industry-leading claims service is focused on helping you regroup and restore, with as little interruption as possible. Let's get started.

Want to make sure you have the right coverage for your home and roof? Your American Family agent is ready to help!


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