What is a roof, anyway? It’s not just a hat for your house. A roof is a way to protect your home. Roof systems are part of your home system. Roofing protects your home from the elements. Here is how a roof works and how it protects each part of your home that would otherwise be vulnerable to rain, snow, ice, and wind.
How Does a Roof Work?
Roof systems are focused on protecting your home. Each layer of the roof contributes to the whole system. A roof begins with the attic trusses and joists. On top of the trusses and joists is the decking, which forms the base for underlayment, a layer that prevents wind-driven rain from seeping into your attic. On top of the underlayment is a layer of protection such as shingles, tiles, or metal.
Roofing Protects Your Attic
How do all of these layers work together to protect your house from top to bottom? Roof protection begins in the attic. The roof protects this area of your home from the wind, rain, and snow. Here are some of the ways that your roof protects your attic:
- Your roof has vents that allow air to move out of the house. This keeps your attic from retaining moisture from the rest of the home and allows it to vent to the outside.
- Your roof acts as a system to regulate roof temperature. In the winter, warm air moves up through the roof vents. This prevents the attic from getting too hot. A hot roof melts the snow that falls o it. Melting snow can turn to ice when it reaches the gutters, and ice can push up from the gutters and under shingles. When melted water turns to ice and moves under the shingles, this damages the attic. Roofing vents prevent this by regulating the temperature.
- Wet insulation doesn’t provide as much protection from heat and cold. Your roof has layers of tiles or shingles that prevent water from getting into your home. This protects the attic insulation underneath. In turn, this prevents your home from having large temperature changes.
- Your roof protects your attic from the wind. A strong roof has shingles that are attached with nails and added in layers to prevent them from flying off during high wind events. It also has clips that connect the top plate to the rafters, preventing the roof from lifting off in a storm.
How Do Your Roof Systems Protect Your Siding?
Your roof is designed to protect your home from the elements. These home systems include your siding. Without protection, siding gets baked in the sun and pounded by the rain. It can deteriorate over time, crack, or grow moss or mold. Your roof protects your siding from damage. It provides an overhang that shelters the siding from some of the sun’s rays. It holds up branches and other debris that fall on your house during a storm, and it can sometimes prevent the siding from suffering additional damage. The roof and its associated drainage systems also prevent water from sliding down the side of your home, where it would deteriorate the siding and cause it to grow fungus, mold, and moss.
How Does Your Roof Protect Your Foundation?
Your roof is at the top of your house, and your foundation is at the bottom. However, the two parts of your house are still connected.
One of the jobs that your roof does is to act as a large catch basin for water. The roof is so large that it can collect a huge amount of water at one time, especially during intense rainfall. Your roof protects your home from this water. Here’s what happens if your roof doesn’t direct water into gutters and downspouts:
- Water falls on the roof and slides down the roof to the edge.
- Water moves off the edge of the roof, creating muddy puddles.
- Over time, the soil around the roof’s edge becomes saturated.
- Saturated soil turns into mud, and this mud moves easily.
- The soil becomes wet far under the ground, next to the foundation.
- Water moves through the soil and presses against the foundation.
- Any cracks in the foundation become vulnerable areas where water could leak in.
- Over time, the combination of pressure and leaks erodes the building’s foundation.
According to the Department of Natural Resources, “few, if any, basements are truly waterproof, at least not in the sense that they can remain dry while surrounded with water-saturated soil materials.” To stay dry, your basement needs infrastructure. Specifically, it needs a drainage system that works from the roof down to the ground, moving water away from your home.
How Does Your Roof Protect Your Landscaping?
Your roof isn’t just protecting your home, it’s protecting your garden as well. Your landscaping not only complements your house, it is part of your home system. How does your roof protect your landscaping?
- It creates sheltered areas on decks or along windows where small garden boxes find protection from heat, cold, wind, and rain.
- Its drainage systems move water away from the side of the house. Without roof drainage, the plants next to your house would suffer from a constant cascade of water that would erode their roots and damage their foliage.
How Does Your Roof Work With Other Home Systems?
Your house is a system, and your roof works to protect that integrated system from damage. However, your roof also needs protection. What support does your roof need from other home systems in order to function at its best?
- A roof needs a strong foundation. The rafters that form the skeleton of the roof must be designed for the local climate. For example, in areas where there is a risk of high wind, they should be reinforced. According to Popular Mechanics, “during a tornado, the winds blowing over a home exert an inward pressure against the windward wall, outward pressure against the sidewalls and leeward wall, and upward pressure against the roof.” Adding hurricane clips connects the top plate to the trusses or rafters and increases the connection between the roof and the rest of your home.
- Your roof also needs to be able to move water away from the home. In most climates, roofs have gutters along the base of the roof in order to effectively move water. Maintain those gutters with regular inspections and cleaning, or add a gutter cover that prevents leaves from moving into the gutter in the first place. If you live in a place that has very cold winters, add a gutter heating system to prevent snow and ice from freezing in the gutter and blocking it. Adding a capable gutter and drainage system will allow your roof to continue to do its job of moving water away from your home.
As you investigate protecting your home with a new roof or look at renovating your existing roof, contact Harry Helmet. We’re here to make sure that one of the most important parts of your home continues to protect you for many years to come. We’re been operating since 1981, and we know how to install roofs that are designed to last. View our photo gallery and contact us to learn more about roofing today.
Written by Del Thebaud