4 roof maintenance tasks to prevent leaks

Preventative maintenance is crucial to avoid large and costly repairs down the line.

It may look perfectly fine, but preventative maintenance is key when it comes to the roof

It might start with a drip—a small stream, finding its way through an unsecured piece of flashing and running through the roof. Suddenly the insulation is soaked, and water starts to pool in the ceiling space, ruining the gib board, bulging the plastered seams, and threatening the curtains, carpets, and tenant's belongings below. 

Leaks can cause thousands of dollars in property damage, and an unkempt roof is a surefire way to invite water in. Roof care needs to be in your owner's regular maintenance practice. Taking proactive maintenance action will prevent leaks and add decades to the roof's lifespan. 

Complete these four preventative maintenance tasks to keep your owner's roof in tip-top shape and water out of the picture. 

#1 Gutter cleaning 

Gutter cleaning is an essential roof care practice to complete annually. Blocked gutters mean water cannot drain, so it will pool, damage the roof's surface integrity, and create opportunities for leaks. Poor drainage can also lead to water collecting around the property's exterior, potentially damaging the foundation. In dry, fire-prone areas, debris in gutters can be a dangerous fuel for flames, so it is important to keep them clear. 

To clean gutters, remove all the debris (leaves, dirt, other plant matter) so water can flow appropriately to downpipes and drain away from the house. This can be a DIY job if your owner is comfortable on a ladder; otherwise, call in a handyperson or professional company. You can expect to pay $200 - $400 for a professional clean, depending on the property's size.  

#2 Cutting back trees  

Overgrown trees will drop leaves on the roof, clog gutters, and disrupt water drainage. Too many damp leaves will encourage mould and lichen growth. Branches brushing against the house can damage roof tiles or knock guttering out of alignment. 

If the property is tucked back in the bush, surrounded by trees, you may have to tidy the yard annually. If there are fewer trees, every couple of years will do the trick. With proper safety measures, cutting back trees can be a DIY task; however, bigger trees might require an arborist to remove branches. Hiring a professional to maintain foliage can cost anywhere from $100 - $1,500 depending on the property's size and the trees.

#3 Roof washing 

A clean roof protects its material integrity with the bonus of adding curb appeal to the property. Unwashed roofs invite lichen, mould, or moss that bring a lot of moisture that will find its way inside and spores that could be harmful to the tenant. Moss growth can cause continuous damage by freezing in cold weather, expanding, and cracking paint or roof tiles.

Washing a roof rinses away dirt, lichen, mould, and moss with low-pressure spraying. Often, washing includes a chemical treatment to remove plant spores and prevent regrowth. Roof washing can be DIY, but it might be easier to call in a professional. Contact a roof washer when you spot any plant growth on the roof surface. Once you are reset back to zero, plan a wash every 3-5 years. It will cost $300 - $600, depending on the amount of moss, mould, or lichen growth and roof size. 

#4 Roof painting

Weather breaks down the finish on a roof's surface, making it susceptible to leaks and plant growth. Painting a property's roof every five years makes it more durable, extends its life, and is a preventative measure against moss, lichen, and mould. 

This can be a DIY job for a keen owner; however, hiring a professional roofing service might be easier. Painting the roof should be done every five years and will cost $2,000 - $5,000 depending on the property's size. Consider pairing roof washing and roof painting together in your owner's maintenance routine. 

Take maintenance action 

Sometimes, proactive maintenance can be a tough sell, especially when the tasks are expensive. The if it ain't broke, why fix it? mentality kicks in, and maintenance practices can become deprioritised, even if it can save your owner thousands of dollars in the long run.

Working with your owner to coordinate and budget preventative maintenance in advance keeps everyone on the same page. When you do complete maintenance tasks, capture before and after photos and share them with your owner. Seeing a physical difference in the property can help the owner understand that the job and the cost are worthwhile.