How To Look At A House
McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of
site-built, mobile/manufactured and modular homes
Does a gravel roof need maintenance?
Wednesday, August 22, 2018
A gravel roof, also called a tar and gravel roof or built-up and gravel roof, needs regular maintenance to extend its lifespan. We recommend that at least once a year the following two minor upkeep projects be undertaken:
1) Keep an even and solid top layer of gravel over the roof surface. Gravel protects the built-up roof underneath from damage by ultra-violet rays in sunlight. If the built-up roof surface becomes exposed, it accelerates the deterioration of the roof. Redistribute or add gravel where necessary if you see gaps, like in the photo below.
2) Blow off any leaf debris. Because a gravel roof has minimal slope, rain does not consistently wash down any leaves that fall on it. Minor areas of ponding on the roof create rings of leaf piles. As the leaves accumulate and decompose, their acidity will also accelerate deterioration of the roof surface. Once enough organic debris builds up, moss, weeds, andfungi start growing on the roof.
We suggest that you have a professional roofer do this maintenance. The roofer can also do any minor repairs to perimeter flashing and roof penetrations that may be necessary, and advise you as the roof approaches the end of its life.
But, should you decide to tackle this project yourself, be VERY careful! Most homeowners consider a steeply sloped roof to be unsafe, because of the potential of slipping and falling down and off the roof. But low-slope and flat roofs are actually more dangerous. It’s easy to walk off the edge of the roof if you are not paying close attention to where you are in relation to the edge, especially if you are walking backwards while doing the maintenance chores.
Also, see our blog posts What is "ponding" on a flat roof? and What causes bubble-like blisters in a built-up and gravel roof?
Here’s links to some of our other articles about “FLAT ROOFS (LOW SLOPE)":
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