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A Homeowner’s Guide to Maintaining your Cedar Shake Roof

Part 2: Easy Routine Maintenance

In Part 1 of this series we discussed the ways your cedar shake roof can break down and weather due to time and neglect. Let’s now move on to routine maintenance. Keep in mind that I never recommend someone climb on their roof or clean their roof themselves. The dangers of falling and/or damaging your roof are too great a risk to take. It is always best to hire a licensed and insured professional.

A Few Words on Maintenance:

  • Proper cedar roof maintenance starts with keeping your roof dry. If your roof retains water, it creates an inviting environment for wood-rotting fungi to grow. There are several things you can do to prevent this from happening.
  • Remove all leaf litter, pine needles, and other tree debris that accumulates between the shingles, in the valleys, and around the chimneys, as this debris prevents the roof from properly shedding water.
  • Remove overhanging branches that shade large sections of the roof. Shady areas do not dry as quickly as sunny areas.
  • In woody areas, excess branches may restrict airflow to the roof, preventing the roof from drying as quickly as it should. You may want to consult with an arborist about pruning, trimming, or removing problem causing trees.
  • It is also a good idea to keep tree branches from touching and rubbing against the roof. This rubbing can wear sweeping grooves into the surface of the shingles and loosen the fasteners, opening areas for fungi to grow.
  • Look at the trees around your property. If you see excessive growth of lichens and moss, it means excessive moisture is present, and could be on your roof as well.

Hiring a Professional:

Since I do not recommend you climb on your roof yourself, you will want to hire a professional to clear off the debris. Make sure the professional does not use high-pressure washers. Cedar is a soft, low-density wood, and excessive or imprudent use of high-pressure systems can detach shingles or erode many years of wear in moments. Even though this will easily and quickly clean off the roof, you may have done irreversible damage to your roof in the process.

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