When you’re renting out a property, it’s essential to keep it in tip-top shape. No renter wants to spend the evening by a cozy fire, just to get dripped on because the rental property roof is leaking. And you as a landlord don’t relish a call from an upset tenant complaining about drafty, leaky roofs.
Significant roof repairs not only cause substantial damage to your wallet but could also damage your renter’s relationship with you. As a property renter, ensuring your property is sound year-round is not just a perk; it’s a necessity.
As we head into winter, it’s vital to prepare your rental property roof to hold up to the incoming wind, rain, and snow. Here are several tips you can employ right now to keep your property dry and cozy.
Check the Shingles
The first item on your to-do list should be giving your shingles a good looking over. This step might require physically getting onto your roof, but the results will be worth it.
If you see any shingles that are curling, cracking, loose, or buckling, they need to be replaced right away. Shingles that show signs of damage will be the first to go when you get hit with a hard storm. Damaged shingles will also be prime areas for water damage and leakage due to heavy rains or snow.
Even if a shingle doesn’t look too bad, it’s better to replace it than to wait for it to fall or blow off. Fixing shingles is perhaps one of the easiest ways to avoid costly repairs in the future. This process is part of regular roof maintenance.
Check shingles regularly and especially after heavy storms to keep your rental property roof in the best shape possible.
Check for Gaps
While you’re on the roof checking the status of your shingles, you’ll also want to check for gaps. Look for gaps in the flashing around skylights, vent pipes, and chimneys. Any gaps you observe will need to be fixed.
Whether you tamp your flashing back down and into place, or you need a silicone all-weather sealant, this is not an area to ignore.
Gaps in the flashing can allow rain to find its way in during a heavy storm. These gaps are also prime areas for ice to build up during a storm. As rain and snow work their way into gaps in the flashing, it will freeze and expand, making the gap worsen over the season.
If not repaired when first noticed, you can incur water damage as a result. If left long enough, you’ll need to replace all the flashing to ensure a tight seal against the elements.
Check Seams and Joints
During the warmer months, pests love to scout out nooks and crannies in your roof in preparation for winter. Any small hole that leads into the attic or crawl spaces needs to be sealed off.
During winter, pests will retreat to the holes they discovered in your roof for a warm and dry place to nest and hibernate. While this may not sound like it poses a significant problem, pests tend to chew through wires, make a mess, and leave droppings all over your attic.
This can be especially problematic if they get into your venting system and leave droppings or die. You’ll then have more significant issues than holes in your roof; you’ll need pest control and a deep-cleaning service so your tenants can be sure they’re breathing clean air.
Check the joints where parts of your roof come together, especially. These areas are often the culprit for holes and cracks large enough for mice, snakes, and even squirrels to enter and build a nest.
Check Gutters and Downspouts
Gutters and downspouts are one of the most significant areas where major rental property roof problems can begin. Your first task under this category is to ensure all gutters are adequately sloped for proper draining.
They also need to be secured tightly to your roofing structure, so there is no chance of their falling and harming someone below. Gutters that are incorrectly sloped will create an opportunity for standing water to build, and, in the winter, this means ice in your gutters.
A buildup of ice in your gutters will lead to ice dams forming, creating a potential for severe damage to the entire structure of your roof. The best way to ensure ice dams will not have the opportunity to develop is by making sure your gutters are correctly sloped and draining.
Check to make sure your downspouts are connected so water flows down and away from the building.
If downspouts become detached from your gutters or they do not properly face away from the house, water can pool around the foundation of your home. Pooled water has the potential to leak into your basement and crawlspace.
Make sure your gutters and downspouts are clean and free of debris. Debris can cause water to back up or get blocked from draining altogether.
During the winter, this is hazardous. A gutter full of water might freeze, becoming too heavy for the support joists, and could fall on someone below.
Check Trees for Overhang
One final area to check is the trees surrounding your rental property. If any trees have branches overhanging your roof, these need to be trimmed back. Not only will pruning help the overall life of your tree, but it will keep your roof safe from the potential of limbs falling during a storm and causing damage.
This should be checked each season, as severe summer rainstorms or tornado winds can also cause tree limbs to break and fall.
Maintenance Prevents Damage
As you can see from the above tips, regular rental property maintenance can help you avoid costly roof repairs. Much damage done to your roof can be prevented with just a few hours each season. By sealing up gaps, checking gutters, and pruning surrounding trees, you will keep your rental property safe all season long.
Have you performed any of the checks listed on your rental property? If not, which will you do first?
This article has been contributed by Lonnie Hagen.