If you’re like most people who choose aluminum roofing for their homes and businesses, your primary reason for selecting it is that it requires only minimal maintenance. Unlike asphalt shingles that blow loose in the wind and wood shakes that split from age and improper conditioning, a metal roof is sturdy, reliable and not easy to damage.
Under acceptable conditions, aluminum roofing will outlast just about every kind of roofing material on the market.
Still, nothing is indestructible. And there are things you can do that will help you ensure your roof continues to look as good and perform well. Here are some useful tips that serve as your guide to caring for your aluminum roof:
Don’t let trees rub against your metal roof. Over the course of weeks or months, the constant rubbing of a tree branch or limb against a metal roof can cause damage to the finish. And if the wind is strong over a long time and the positioning of the limb is just so, fasteners can be compromised or the surface can be dented or abraded. Once there’s damage, it’s hard to cover or repair.
Don’t let debris accumulate on the roof. Some roof configurations allow debris to build up on the surface of the roof, and this can damage some kinds of finishes. As the debris decomposes, so does the finish. Consider using some kind of window cleaning brush or similar instrument on a long pole to brush away debris. Be careful about using water for this purpose, however. A water jet can push water under the roof and lead to leaks in certain circumstances. That’s why a brush makes the most sense.
Clean your gutters. Keeping debris out of the gutters is also essential because the constant contact of leaves and dirt with your metal roofing can cause failure. Aluminum roofing is designed to effectively shed rain and snow, then dry out. But when there’s debris in the gutters, the edges of the roofing material may never dry, and that can lead to corrosion. A roof that might have lasted a century can be compromised by moisture caused by debris buildup in the gutters.
Try to keep people from walking on it. If you have roof-mounted air conditioning components or need a vent cover replaced, walking on the roof is essential. It’s even necessary to walk on the roofing during installation. But it isn’t something that needs to happen on a regular basis. And make sure that anyone who must walk on the roof minimizes their time and motion while up there and understands any manufacturer recommendations about walking on your roofing material.
Avoid damage from paint overspray. When it’s time to have the eaves, walls or other parts of the outside of your home painted, consider your metal roof. Many painters prefer to use sprayers, but overspray can land on the roof, especially on windy days, leaving a permanent mark. Once this happens, cleaning it off is nearly impossible. That means a roof that could have lasted for decades becomes so ugly that it must be replaced before its time, and that’s a shame. Have painters use rollers or brushes, even if it costs more.
Keep different types of metal roofing from touching. Some kinds of roofing materials don’t like each other very much. If you have aluminum roofing butted up next to another kind of roofing, corrosion can result over time and cause both surfaces to fail. Copper roofing, in particular, is incompatible with aluminum or steel roofing, so stick to one kind of material on your home or business roof.
Fix fasteners. If you notice any loose or dislodged screws, tighten or replace them, and make sure you use similar fasteners made of the same material as the roof. It’s also important to remember that fasteners should only be installed on raised areas of the roofing. Putting screws on the lower areas can cause puddling of water and eventually rust.
Check sealants. There aren’t many kinds of sealant that will last as long as a metal roof, so sealant on seams and edges may need to be replaced or touched up. No sealant lasts more than 20 years. Make sure to check sealants after a storm or snow buildup. Visible rust is a sure sign that a sealant has failed or your anticorrosion coating is beginning to fail.
Repair holes or separations. You may need the assistance of a professional to repair a hole or separation in your roof. If there’s a gap of any kind in the metal, that’s a potential place for a leak to occur and for damage to the underlying roof structure. A properly installed patch can restore the look and performance of the roof.
When you take action based on this advice, your aluminum roof can look and perform well for many, many years — with minimal hassles.