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Why It's Important to remove Leaves from a Roof

You might spend time raking those leaves in your yard—but did you know it's also important to remove leaves from a roof?

If left on the roof throughout the winter season, those beautiful, color-changing leaves can potentially cause some serious problems, similar to issues moss buildup poses. Here are the key details to know.

How to Determine If Leaves Are a Problem

You may see a few leaves on your roof in the fall that simply blow away on the next breezy day. But if you notice leaves building up on certain sections of your roof, this can be a cause for concern—especially if the leaves are wet and may not blow away with the wind. If you notice leaves sticking out of the top of your gutters, this is another sign they'll need to be removed.

Dangers of Leaves on Your Roof

The chances of leaves building up on your roof are largely due to your home's location and architecture, but Mother Nature also plays a part. Here are the three main risks you face if leaves pile up on your roof.

1. Water Damage

A mass of wet leaves not only adds weight to your roof but can also make it difficult for your roof to dry out following a rain event. The damp leaves sitting on your roof can lead to mold or mildew and eventually jeopardize your shingles' performance. Should this create any cracks in your shingles, water could seep into the roofing system and make its way inside your home, causing interior damage.

Leaves often will gather in the valley of your roofing system, an area more vulnerable to problems since it's a lower space where two planes meet. Allowing leaves to remain in the valley—especially when they're wet—increases the chance of water infiltration.

It's important to remove leaves from a roof before the first snowfall. Otherwise, you might risk trapping them under the snow for weeks at a time, depending on your local climate. Prevention is a great way to avoid water damage, but for even more protection, you might consider installing quality leak barriers, which can help keep water out of your roofing system.

2. Clogged Gutters

The leaves on your roof may eventually end up in your gutters, preventing water from flowing freely off the roof and away from your home. When the water can't escape through the gutter system, it will overflow from the top and sides, creating water buildup around your foundation and potentially in your basement.

Unaddressed piles of wet leaves can also erode the mineral granules on roofing shingles, causing the granules to fall into the gutter over time. Granule erosion can clog your gutter, shorten the life of roofing shingles, and increase the likelihood of water damage.

Accordingly, maintaining clean gutters is critical to keeping water out of your home.

3. Pests

A nice pile of leaves in your gutters or the valley of your roof can be an attractive place for many pests—like bugs, rodents, and birds—to seek refuge. If they're not quickly evicted, they might settle in and take up residence. Pesky critters rummaging around in the pile of leaves can damage shingles, and they may find a way inside your home for the winter.

A good way to help prevent pest intrusions is by securing Master Flow® vent caps on all pipes and vents extending through the roof, especially at plumbing pipes extending through the roof by installing the all-metal GAF Master Flow(TM) Pivot(TM) Pipe Boot Flashing which encapsulates ugly plumbing pipes and reduces the risk of pests eating at the vent pipes or damaging the pipe flashing.

How to Remove Leaves from a Roof

The best way to remove leaves from a roof is to call a certified roofing professional* who has experience working at heights and safely navigating a pitched roof. These individuals are highly trained and know what to look for.

It may be tempting to try to remove leaves yourself with a roof rake or leaf blower, but climbing onto your roof has risks. You could slip, lose your balance, or even fall from the roof. Falls are the second leading cause of unintentional injury deaths among adults worldwide. Professional contractors have specialized safety training and gear to prevent falls, which is why it's best to leave leaf removal to the pros.

Another reason to avoid climbing on your roof is that you could unknowingly damage the roofing system. Walking on your roof improperly or using a roof rake can cause granule loss. A professional contractor can work on the roof without damaging your roofing system. They can also spot any areas that may need to be repaired before winter that the untrained eye may not recognize.

If your home has leaves and debris that need to be dealt with before winter arrives, contact your local GAF-certified roofing professional* to schedule a cleaning and inspection.


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