Thanks to Mother Nature’s rotating extremes of freezing snow and thawing chinooks in the Calgary region, our rooftops require special attention. Like a solid foundation, the roof is essential to a home’s structural integrity. Poor maintenance can result in major damage, inside and out.

Proper gutter and drain maintenance are key.

“Residential sloped roofing systems typically do not require maintenance to the roof itself, but rather to what has accumulated on the roof and drainage system, including the gutters,” said Gary van der Leek, owner of Vanderleek Roofing.

“Water overflowing from poorly maintained gutters, as well as drains and scuppers on low-slope or flat roofing systems, can result in roof leaks and egress into walls. This can cause issues with building foundations and/or basement issues.”

Homeowners should watch for debris, such as leaves and pine needles, that can adversely affect asphalt shingle roofs. Oils and acids, in turn, can harm fibreglass laminate shingles.

Drains should also be kept clear of ice. “This can be difficult, as it is dangerous to access the roof when there is snow and ice present,” said van der Leek.

“If you have trees in proximity to your roof system, it is advisable to clear the roof a couple of times a year, especially after heavy winds. Also, heat cables can be put in place to help reduce the need to be on the roof during extreme icy times.”

A quick walk around the home after extreme weather incidents, such as hail or high winds, can reveal potential issues.

“Aside from looking up onto the roof, anything on the ground will alert you to damage that may have occurred,” said van der Leek. “Also, if you look at down pipes and gutters, denting from hail indicates a likelihood the roof may have been damaged, too.”

“Residential sloped roofing systems typically do not require maintenance to the roof itself, but rather to what has accumulated on the roof and drainage system, including the gutters.” – Gary van der Leek, Vanderleek Roofing

It’s also important to monitor skylights, siding, stucco, windows, trim and flashing, chimney flashing caps, and attic condensation, all of which can mispresent as roof leaks and require attention.

Sloped roofing products have an average lifespan of 25 years, but van der Leek cautioned that range encompasses roofs that only make it 10 years, as well as those that last over 50 years. Most sloped roofs in Alberta have fibreglass laminate shingles, which last roughly 25 to 30 years.

“The typical replacement cost for this type of roof system runs anywhere from $3 to $4 per square foot for standard material, but it can be up to $8 on steep and/or complex roofs,” said van der Leek. “Replacement can go as high as $20 per square foot for specialty, one-life products, which have lifespans in excess of 50 years.”

Flat roofing systems typically last around 20 years, but they can require replacement as early as 12 years out. “The replacement cost typically ranges anywhere from around $10 per square foot up to $20 or more, depending on upgrades to insulation, which is typically done at the time of roofing on a flat roofing system,” he said.

Finally, as the insurance industry is increasingly concerned with roofing when issuing or renewing policies, a new roof can lower insurance costs. “(There is) high risk inherent with old roofs, and the potential damage that can result from leaks includes damage to the building itself, as well as any contents,” said van der Leek.