Two barns with well-maintained roofs.

Outbuilding Roof Maintenance

Updated December 1, 2018 . AmFam Team

Keeping the roof on top of your garage, shed or barn in good shape is crucial for the health of the total structure. We’ve put together a list of tips to help you take care of your outbuildings and everything in them.

Your outbuildings, like your barns and sheds, store expensive equipment that keep your farm and ranch operation running smoothly throughout the year — and maintaining their roofs helps keep everything they’re storing in working order. We’ve rounded up some tips for checking, cleaning and maintaining your outbuilding roofs.

Inspecting Your Outbuildings’ Roofs

To figure out if your farm or ranch’s outbuildings’ roofs need any cleaning or repairs, you’ve got to get a good and clear look at them first. Inspecting your roof at least twice a year can help you avoid costly wear and tear and any other major repairs. Check out our tips for scanning your detached garage, barn or shed’s roof:

Look at your roof from the ground. No matter how tempting it may seem to get on your roof and get an up-close look at its condition, you should never attempt to check it from anywhere but the ground. Look for any holes, dents, or separation between pieces.

Inspect your roofs’ flashing. Flashing connects joints in your roof to one another, and if it has holes, is deteriorating or is coming loose, you’re inviting water into your structure and reducing the life of your roof. Call a professional roofer if you do notice damage, and don’t ever attempt to get a better look by getting on your roof.

Look for rust. Any exposed metal on your roof is a prime candidate for rust — so if you spot any, call a roofing company and have them wire brush, prime and re-paint the metal to revitalize its condition.

Check the mortar on chimneys. If your farm or ranch’s outbuilding has a chimney, make sure to look at its mortar. Chipped or damaged mortar is structurally dangerous for the chimney and your building as a whole, so call a roofer and/or a mason for repairs if you notice any damage.

Make sure no pieces of your roof are loose. Whether your farm outbuilding’s roof is metal or shingled, make sure all of its components are fastened down correctly. If you spot loose shingles, have a professional roofer apply roof cement or replace them as soon as possible. For metal roofs, make sure all metal is nailed or screwed down — and if it’s not, call a pro immediately.

Check inside for leaks. Even if you don’t spot any obvious holes in your outbuilding’s roof from the outside, that doesn’t mean there can’t be hidden damage to your roof. Look for any pooling water on the floor of your outbuilding, as well as any wet spots on the interior of your roof. Look for any discolored wood, and check to see if any items stored in your shed are wet, too.

Inspect corners for insects or signs of animals. If any wildlife has found an opening in your farm or ranch’s outbuilding, they can wreak havoc on the structure of your roof. Look for nests, holes or other indicators that an unwelcome guest has made your property their home. If you find anything, get in touch with a certified pest control or animal control service before further damage can be done.

Check your roof after major weather events. After a big snowstorm, thunderstorm or windy day, make sure to check your roof for anything out of the ordinary. Finding an issue with your roof as soon as it happens can be crucial to salvaging your outbuilding, the things inside it and the roof itself.

Keep Your Roof Free of Debris

As harmless as a branch, a pile of leaves or any other object might seem as it sits on your outbuilding’s roof, it can still do damage if left alone. Check out these tips for making sure foreign objects don’t put in a dent in your farm or ranch’s outbuildings’ life spans:

Trim any overhanging tree limbs or brush. Any branches or other greenery leaning on or hanging over your outbuilding’s roof can cause expensive damage if left intact and untrimmed. Friction between your roof and the branches can wear down your roof, while a strong storm could break heavy limbs off the tree and cause major damage. If branches are thin and light, you can trim them yourself. However, any substantial brush should always be handled by a professional.

Clear any algae that’s gathered on your roof. Moss and algae can collect on parts of your roof that receive less sunlight and more moisture. And if left alone for extended periods of time, they can weaken your roof. Having a professional roofer install zinc control strips near the hips, ridges and under shingles on your roof can prevent moss or algae from growing.

Rinse your roof with a hose. If your outbuilding isn’t too tall for a water stream from a hose to reach, rinse off any leaves, sticks, algae, moss or other debris. If you notice the water making its way down your outbuilding in ways other than the gutters, consider calling a professional to rid your gutters of leaves and other buildup. Groups of debris can collect moisture and become a harbor for mold, a major enemy of your roofing.

Spraying down your roof can also help you find leaks. Check the interior of your outbuilding again once you’ve sprayed the roof down and look (and feel) for any dripping water.

Invest in a roof rake. Getting a soft-bristled roof rake can help you rid your roof of more stubborn debris. Only use the rake to remove debris while you’re on the ground. Make sure not to scrub too hard and damage any roofing materials.

Knowing what your roof is made off, its age and if it’s been damaged in its past can help inform how you’ll keep your roof in good shape. Don’t be afraid to consult a professional roofing company if you have questions or concerns about the condition of your roof.

American Family Insurance offers farm structure and outbuilding insurance that works hard to protect your business from the unexpected — and your agent will help you craft a policy that exactly fits your needs. Get in touch with your agent (Opens in a new tab) today to make sure you’ve got the peace of mind you deserve.

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