How Leaves can Damage a Roof

The vivid reds, bright oranges, golden browns, and sunny yellows of fall are pretty to look at while they’re hanging from trees. But once they land on your roof, they can cause trouble in a number of ways. Find out how leaves can damage a roof and what can be done to prevent it.

When Leaves are Left to Sit

While they don’t look as pretty hanging from the trees or gathered on the ground in colourful piles, can fallen leaves really do any harm just sitting a roof? The most common reason they haven’t been blown away is they are wet. Whether it recently rained or the leaves were already damp when they landed, when leaves are left to sit, water becomes trapped. Soggy leaves attract even more moisture as they start to decompose. If moisture manages to get past the underlayment into the decking, wood rot could set in. Other types of damage include:

  • Compromised roof shingles resulting it cracking, warping, or breaking
  • Added weight putting uneven pressure on the surface, causing sagging
  • Exposure due to runoff and leaks
  • Moisture soaking beams and weakening the roof’s structure
  • Mold growth or the appearance of moss
  • Pest infestations
  • Shortened lifespan

To Remove Leaves from Your Roof

Your roofing system is designed to repel rain, not retain moisture. Ignoring the leaves piled up on the roof can lead to expensive repairs or even roof replacement. Avoid potential damage from fallen leaves by removing them. To remove leaves from the roof keep the following in mind:

  • You can climb onto the roof if it has a low pitch (a slope of 30° or less) – if you have a steep roof, the leaves will most likely be blown away before they can be plastered to the roofing shingles
  • It’s better if you avoid walking on the roof altogether – use a leaf blower or a rake with an extendable handle
  • Let the wet leaves dry out a little before trying to remove them
  • Remove them on a windless day

To Prevent Damage from Fallen Leaves

Now that you’re aware of the kinds of harm fallen leaves can do to your roof, here are some ways to prevent it from occurring in the first place.

Trim Trees

One of the best ways to prevent leaves from invading your roof is to trim back the trees growing close to the house. When limbs hanging over the roof are regularly cut back, it not only means fewer leaves, it also lets more sunlight to help eliminate moisture.

Clean the Gutters

Gutters that are free of debris don’t overflow. Rainwater escaping from a gutter system can pool back onto the first two or three rows of shingles; soak the fascia (the part of the roofing system to which the gutters are attached); and splash up into the soffit.

Do Roof Inspections

Conduct a visual roof inspection, from the ground with binoculars, once every four months (after the season changes). This will allow you to keep track of how much debris such as blossoms in the spring and leaves in the fall land on the roof.

Do a visual inspection after intense storms.

Schedule a professional roof inspection once every two years to ensure that your roof is in good shape, but if it isn’t, it can be repaired by a pro.