As Canadians, there is one thing that the fall season can always guarantee – the falling of leaves. No matter where you live in our great country, the leaves will fall. If you happen to live near an oak or walnut tree, you may also have the added benefit of noticing entire branches of nut litter around your home from squirrels hoarding food for the winter.
For those of us in the roofing business, like Professional Roofers, we come to know those fallen leaves and emptied out shells by another name – debris.
Debris can encompass any dead, fallen, or discarded organic matter that no longer serves a purpose to us. It can occur anywhere, but since we are roofers, the debris that we are going to discuss today will only pertain to roofs. While larger organic litter, like fallen trees or branches are often viewed as true threats to roofs, many people disregard the danger smaller debris like fallen leaves or pine needles may cause to their homes. These smaller forms of organic litter may not be as immediately damaging; however, they can be just as harmful to our homes if we let them.
In order to truly understand how smaller debris can damage your roof; you must first understand how southern Ontario roofs are made. By far, the majority of southern Ontario roofs are constructed with asphalt shingles, which use asphalt as a water repellent. In order for these shingles to function correctly, they have lots of small little granules on their surface that are there to help repel water. Without those tiny granules, your shingles won’t be able to keep moisture out effectively and will begin to break down and decompose. These shingles are also layered, one on top of the other, in order to create a barrier to the elements.
Oftentimes leaves, small twigs, and pine needles will fall from trees onto nearby rooftops and gutters, collecting until it is forcibly removed. As this debris is already dead or dying, it will begin to break down over time, particularly in the presence of added moisture (such as rainfall). The decomposition process of this organic matter requires moisture, so the debris will retain moisture for as long as it can. However, as it breaks down, it will also begin to eat away at the surface of your roof, very slowly decomposing your shingles as well and eating away at the small surface granules that protect it. This isn’t something that you will notice over the course of one season, but a constant build up of debris can seriously deteriorate the lifespan of your roof.
Large piles of decomposing matter will also cause dams, preventing water from effectively running off in a rainstorm. The water is unable to fall from your roof properly and may backup underneath the shingles, causing water damage to your home in the form of mould and rot.
In order to prevent any damage to your home this fall season, do yourself a favour and remove the debris from your roof. The best way to remove debris is by hand, with a blower, or through the use of a soft, gentle brush. If you have a steep roof, or you simply feel uncomfortable clearing the debris off yourself, feel free to give us, at Professional Roofers, a call and we’ll be happy to assist you – roofing is our specialty after all.