The ultimate guide to maintaining your metal roof and gutters

There are three golden rules for metal roof maintenance.

Whether you already have a metal roof or intend to get one installed, you probably have a couple of questions in mind.

Questions like, how much maintenance is going to be involved? Can you clean it yourself, or should you enlist the help of professionals? And just how often should cleaning and repairs happen, anyway?

These are all good questions, and in this article, we intend to put your mind at ease by answering them.

The good news

Generally speaking, a properly installed metal roof will last the lifetime of your home – think 60+ years. Unlike asphalt shingles which can require re-roofing every 10-20 years, a metal roof won’t crack, peel, fade or disintegrate. Metal roofs require significantly less maintenance than other roof types because they’re built to withstand extreme weather conditions as well as repel pests and complement rainwater capture systems.

So if you have or are considering a metal roof, then congratulations – you’ve already made, or are about to make, a considerable long-term investment. As well as saving on your energy costs and home insurance, you can expect only ever to have to do the bare minimum to keep your roof in tip-top condition.

The bad news

There is no bad news! The only bad news is if your metal roof was not properly installed by professional roof plumbers. A metal roof is not a DIY job.

There is a definite step-by-step process to installing a metal roof, but don’t despair if your roof was installed without due adherence to this system. A DIY job can mean you’ll be facing more maintenance and repairs in the long-term, but you can avoid this outcome by getting in touch with O’Boyles. Our team offers the best in Colorbond metal roofing and guttering installation and can come out to your property to assess and make any necessary amendments to your existing roof.

The three golden rules

To keep your metal roof in top-notch condition, there are three golden rules you should follow for stress-free metal roof maintenance. From regular inspections to maintaining your gutters, these rules cover everything you need to know about how to maintain a metal roof.

Of course, the best and safest way to look after your metal roof and gutters is to ask trained professionals to do it for you. All three of these metal roof maintenance rules can be outsourced to experts in the industry, which means more time for you to do what you want to do and fewer items to check off on your annual home-maintenance list.

At O’Boyles, we can help you with all of your metal roofing needs, from sealant repairs to new installations. Leaks or other problems with metal roofs often manifest as minor issues, so read on to learn what to look out for and how to ensure a metal roof remains a cost-effective and viable choice for you.

1. Get regular inspections

You should treat your roof to regular inspections to make sure the gutters are free from leaves and debris, as these can obstruct proper drainage if they build up. A lack of drainage is a big problem in roofs, even metal ones, as it leads to the pooling of water in gutters and inclines.

By regular, we mean approximately every 12 months, depending on where you are located and the weather conditions there. How long your roof lasts depends entirely on how you treat it, so although you can conduct roof inspections yourself, we recommend keeping things straightforward and scheduling in an annual checkup with a professional metal roofing company like O’Boyles.

As well as gutter blockages, a professional roof technician will check for the following things:

  • Sealant failures or weather damage. Most sealants last about 20 years before they need replacing, although certain types of sealants may last longer. Your roof technician can check out your sealants and replace them at any penetrations or perimeters as required.
  • Exposed fasteners. If your metal roof has exposed fasteners, they should be looked at on an annual basis as they can become too tight, causing the fastener to split or cut the neoprene sealing washers. Alternatively, they can get too loose, creating a gap between the fastener and the metal flashing or panel. Your roof technician can nip the issue in the bud either way.
  • Seam separation. Metal roofs are known for being extremely durable, but they still shrink and expand a little from extreme weather over time. This movement is completely natural. However, it can cause seam separation, which creates water build-up around stacks and sometimes even holes. Your roof technician can look for signs of seam separation and also check out any leaks that might result from silicones which shrink or harden as they dry.
  • Rust stains. Metal roofs have come a long way aesthetically from the good old days of corrugated steel, but they’re still metal and therefore susceptible to rust. If your metal roof isn’t equipped with a non-corrosive sealant to protect it from exposure to moisture, you may run into problems during rainy weather. Your roof technician can easily apply a non-corrosive sealant and also spot-treat any rust stains during your roof inspection.
  • Chipped paint. After forking out for a beautiful Colorbond roof, the last thing you want is for the paint to get chipped or scratched. Your roof technician can fix up any chipped paint by cleaning the surface, applying a touch-up and then allowing the area to dry. It’s perfectly normal for metal roofs to need a touch-up every few years, as aside from general wear and tear, exposure to chemicals in the built environment can gradually corrode metal.
  • Damaged washers. When metal roof sheets expand or contract slightly from sun exposure, it can challenge the integrity of neoprene sealing washers. A roofing technician can look at and replace your neoprene sealing washers as required.

While this list may lead you to think there’s a lot of cause for concern with metal roofs, rest assured that that definitely isn’t the case! Nearly all of the problems you may encounter with a metal roof start off small so they can be easily be detected by a roof technician during an annual inspection.

If you do decide to inspect your roof yourself from time to time, make sure you take the necessary height and safety precautions. Wear soft, rubber-soled shoes and be careful where you place your feet when walking on the roof as you can accidentally damage the formation of the sheets. Check that your roof is designed to be walked on as well – some metal roofs are ‘non-trafficable’, and this will be cited in your house plans or installation papers.

2. Look after your gutters

It’s a smart idea to clean your gutters every time you experience severe weather conditions – but if you can’t commit to that, then aim for at least once a year. Like roof inspections, gutter maintenance is something that you can easily outsource to professionals, like us here at O’Boyles. We’ve been installing internal box gutters and external gutters around Melbourne for almost 30 years and know how to repair or replace gutters that have rusted, started leaking, been poorly installed or are suffering from general wear and tear.

That said, gutter cleaning is something that you can safely undertake yourself. To get started, follow these steps:

  • Don a long-sleeved shirt and a pair of rubber gloves
  • Gather your equipment – an extendable ladder, a small plastic scoop and a plastic tarp
  • Spread the tarp across your lawn or flowerbeds to prevent them from getting damaged
  • Climb up your ladder and use the plastic scoop to remove all leaves, debris and rubbish from your gutters. Fling it onto the tarp.
  • Fill a bucket with warm water or use your hose to flush the gutters out
  • Pat yourself on the back and make yourself a nice hot cup of tea.

If you happen to notice a leak in your gutter while you’re in the process of flushing it out, call us at O’Boyles on 03 9998 2170 to discuss your options. We’ve always got our minds in the gutter, so to speak, and can help to solve the problem whether you’re in an older property, a newly built home, a commercial office or an industrial building.

Note that cleaning your gutters regularly is particularly important if you’ve got a lot of overhanging trees near your roof. They will create additional debris, and constant contact from leaves or limbs can damage your roof’s metal finish.

Although an accumulation of leaves may not seem like that a big deal for metal roof maintenance, leaf mounds can trap moisture and gradually decompose, causing rot and creating a fertile ground for moss and mould to grow.

3. Avoid incompatible metals

Copper pipes and lead flashing should never come into direct contact with Colorbond steel. If your home is designed in such a way that rainwater will drain from copper onto your metal roof, then it should be painted to avoid galvanic corrosion.

Galvanic corrosion is the corrosion induced when two dissimilar materials are coupled in a corrosive electrolyte. In layman’s terms, the metal ‘clashes’ and the materials in contact either oxidise or corrode.

You would no doubt have been made aware of any metal ‘clashes’ when you first had your metal roof installed, but maintaining vigilance about other metals is a big part of caring for your metal roof. For instance, if you replace the flashings on your roof system at some point, you should make sure you replace them with the same metal that is present on the rest of the roof system or use non-metallic, non-absorbent insulators between the two dissimilar metals.

Taping or gasketing with non-absorptive materials or sealants is also a highly effective method of separating copper from all other metals. The informed, proper selection of roofing materials is nearly always done with professional assistance so if you are wondering how to avoid potential corrosion problems before they even occur, reach out to us at O’Boyles on 03 9998 2170 today.

Understanding the basics behind galvanic corrosion and the various reactions of dissimilar metals is an important part of extending the life and looks of your metal roof. Provided proper precautions are taken, the risk of galvanic corrosion can be significantly reduced, but don’t stress if it’s all mumbo-jumbo to you. Just avoid the use of different metals together, whenever possible.

Wrapping up

The three golden rules listed above – getting regular roof inspections, looking after your gutters and avoiding using incompatible metals together – are the holy trifecta for maintaining a metal roof. The best maintenance, however, comes from developing a great relationship with a local professional roofing company. That way, you and your roof technician can come up with a few goals that you want to accomplish every year, such as checking vulnerable areas for paint chipping or identifying if ultraviolet ray exposure has damaged a neoprene washer.

A metal roof lasts a lifetime so it makes sense that your relationship with a roof technician should last that long as well. Contact us or give us a call at O’Boyle’s on 03 9998 2171 if you’d like to discuss metal roof upkeep, ask for more tips, or simply book professional help for roof and gutter maintenance.

We can relieve you of any roofing problems you may have and help you achieve the all-important goal of extending your roof life and avoiding costly roof repairs. We pride ourselves on our personalised approach and understand the importance of regulatory compliance and safety. We ensure that the hazards associated with roof and gutter work are eliminated, and issue plumbing compliance certificates upon the completion of every job, as required by the Victorian Building Authority.

For more information about our services or just to chat about maintaining your metal roof, call our friendly team on 03 9998 2171.

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