A neglected roof isn’t just a danger to your home’s curb appeal. Blocked gutters, unrepaired leaks, and other effects of neglect can actually pose a threat to you and your family. Here are five health and safety risks that can result when you neglect your roof and gutters.
Mold can often be a homeowner’s worst fear. Mold is insidious, it’s dangerous, it’s difficult to get rid of, and it can decrease your home’s value without your knowledge. Both roof neglect and gutter neglect can allow mold problems to arise.
An underperforming roof can result in either roof leaks or condensation issues. These can raise moisture and humidity levels in the attic (as well as, sometimes, in the basement and even throughout the house). This allows mold to proliferate, invading the organic materials of the roof deck. Mold can also grow on the paper covering of fiberglass insulation.
After becoming established in the attic, mold can travel to the basement and even your living space. Here it reduces air quality and can take root in damp or sheltered spots.
Poor gutter maintenance allows vegetation to build up in gutters, where it holds water in place and keeps humidity high. High humidity encourages nearby roof components such as the fascia and the soffit to deteriorate. Once these are water-damaged, the moisture and mold can enter your home and spread from there to other places under your roof.
2. Insect Pests
Insect pests and neglect often occur at the same time. Insects are attracted to the damaged and damp wood materials found in a neglected roof. And once termites have gained entrance to one part of your home, they can tunnel through until they’ve gained access to all your home’s wooden components.
Fortunately, many insect pests aren’t a direct threat to your health. Termites, for example, aren’t venomous, although they can make your home structurally unsound if left to their own devices for long enough. However, wasps may nest under your eaves or in your attic, and mosquitoes (which can carry West Nile Virus) may breed in clogged gutters.
3. Mammal and Bird Pests
Damaged, neglected, or rotted fascia and soffit are a quick and easy way for squirrels, raccoons, and other pests to get into the attic. Chimneys that haven’t been fitted with chimney caps, kitchen and bathroom vent stacks that haven’t been flashed securely enough. Any knotholes or other chinks that haven’t been filled also provide access for smaller pests.
Although you may think of pests as just a nuisance rather than a safety risk, they can also carry fleas, lice, mites, ticks, E. coli, and a number of transmissible diseases including rabies.
4. Electrical Risks
Roof leaks don’t often infiltrate electrical wires and cause electrical fires. However, electrical fires can happen, and they’re a real risk. Either the wiring in the attic itself or the electrical components set in the ceiling below the attic (such as light fixtures) can provide an opportunity for fires when you have an unrepaired roof leak. Electrical shock can happen too, once wires have been compromised.
5. Foundation Problems
A damp basement can lead to a wet attic, and the same holds true in reverse as well. A roof leak can cause a trickle-down effect (literally and figuratively) that leads to a damp, moldy basement. Gutter neglect can lead to increased pressure and strain on your foundation walls, which can lead to buckling and loss of structural integrity.
These are just five health and safety risks that can threaten you and your family if your roof is neglected too long. To avoid these problems, be sure to perform home inspections and keep gutters free of debris. And if you notice any problems, send for a roofing contractor such as A&W Custom Carpentry and Roofing right away.