Shelter from the storm

Regular maintenance keeps leaky roofs at bay

After this winter’s storms, local residents realized just how important it is to perform routine checkups on their homes. A key step in ensuring a home’s safety and value is roof maintenance.

Tom Sparling, longtime Morgan Hill resident and owner of Calpac Roofing since 1981, received, on average, five to 10 calls per day. When the rains began, that number increased to 30 to 40 calls.

“Four years of drought left a lot of people with a false sense of security on how good their roof is,” says Sparling. “Every spring and fall, you should keep your gutters and waterways clean. You need to check that so that you don’t get overflow in a heavy rain, which can actually cause the gutter to fall off.”

Gilroy resident Jimmy Shrull, and owner of Jimmy Shrull Roofing, Inc. since 1998, experienced the a similar increase: Over a three-week period during the last bout of storms, he received more than 280 calls.

Shrull suggests performing checkups twice a year in order to avoid costly repairs.

“The first time should be done anytime in April, right after all the winter rains. To make sure that everything gets unclogged and cleaned up,” he says. “The other time would be to do it in October, right before the rains begin.”

“So keeping your roof clear of debris and keeping the valleys [the ‘V’-shaped area on a roof, and a common site for roof leaks] clear, and the gutters clear are very important,” Shrull adds.

Local hardware stores offer a number of screening products that can be installed over the top of gutters to aid in keeping them clear of debris. “The other areas would be in any type of penetrations, from a pipe flashing, or a chimney flashing, or a skylight,” Sparling says.

For homes with shake roofs, the tar paper under the cedar wood shakes can deteriorate over time and create holes into the tar paper.

“When it gets to that point that’s a good sign that a shake roof needs to be replaced,” says Shrull.

Overhanging tree limbs are another problem and both experts suggest keeping tree branches trimmed to avoid potential risk.

As unusual as it sounds, moss is also a common roofing problem. According to Sparling, when the moss appears in large area, dirt builds up in those areas, and left unattended, may lead to dry rot.

A DIY solution for moss removal from metal or tile roofs is to spray a solution of half pool chlorine and half water on the mossy areas, let it set for a few hours, and hose it off.

“You have to be cautious when the water comes off onto your landscaping,” Sparling says. “It wouldn’t be good for your lawn.”

Sparling also suggests keeping an eye on key areas—the corners of the ceiling, around skylights and chimneys, and areas where there are penetrations in the roof—inside the home to help prevent substantial damage.

Outside, homeowners can check for rain damage and dry rot around the eaves and the overhangs. If dry rot is discovered underneath the overhang, it’s a good indication there’s a leak somewhere on the roof.

For more information about roofing maintenance or repairs, contact Jimmy Shrull Roofing, Inc., 408.847.5090, or Calpac Roofing, 408.370.3332,

Kimberly Ewertz

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About Kimberly Ewertz
Kimberly Ewertz is a freelance writer for South Valley magazine and Gilroy Dispatch.