Certain mistakes ranging from minor neglect to taking the wrong steps toward roof maintenance can lead to major issues. Knowing the most common homeowner mistakes can help you avoid roof damage.

1. Ignoring the Gutters

Dirty, clogged gutters cause water to wash back onto the roof. The backflow can get underneath shingles. In warmer weather, this can lead to moisture on the roof decking and eventual roof leaks. In winter, the moisture may freeze beneath the shingles and form an ice dam, which damages shingles and leads to leaks. Clean gutters prevent both issues.

2. Letting Moss Grow

A mossy roof may not seem like a big problem since moss doesn't have actual roots that can penetrate the shingles. What moss does do, though, is trap large amounts of moisture. This moisture can make the moss heavy, which puts unnecessary pressure on the roof. The trapped moisture will also slowly degrade shingles and lead to leaks. A roofer can install special moss-killing strips on the roof that will prevent moss growth.

3. Skipping Tree Maintenance

Tree debris can collect on top of your roof from overhanging branches. Small twigs and piles of leaves can trap moisture much like moss does or create dams on the roof similar to a clogged gutter. Further, larger branches may break off and puncture the roof. Maintain all overhanging trees by keeping them pruned back from the roof.

4. Applying Paint-On Sealers

It may seem like a good idea to pick up a can of roof sealant at the hardware store if your roof is getting older. Although there are sealers suitable for use on a roof, it's best to leave the process to professional roofers. A sealer may not fix a major issue like a leak. Instead it will hide it until the damage becomes much worse. Further, there are different types of sealers, and a pro can determine what is best for your roof's material and age.

5. Walking on Your Roof

It may not seem like a big deal to walk on your roof, which you might do when you are putting up holiday lights, but even a little foot traffic can cause a lot of damage. Stepping on shingles compresses them and loosens the protective gravel coating. Damage can be even worse in winter when the shingles are cold and brittle. Dropping a tool, such as a heavy hammer, could crack a cold shingle. 

Contact a roofing service if you suspect that some past mistakes may have lead to current damage.