Residential roofing is your first line of defense against the elements, but it isn’t impervious to damage. Fortunately, by understanding your roof’s components and the risks they face, you can take preventive action and address issues promptly. Here’s a brief guide on the structure’s most essential elements. 

The Anatomy of Your Roof

1. Deck

The roof deck is the structural foundation. It’s usually made of wood, plywood, or oriented strand board and is nailed to the rafters. Decking can rot if exposed to excessive moisture, but you can prevent this by maintaining the roof’s upper layers and keeping the gutters clean.

Fallen tree branches can also penetrate the deck, which you can avoid by trimming overhanging greenery. Also, consider scheduling professional inspections after severe storms to keep up with the structure’s condition. 

2. Underlayment 

The underlayment is located between the shingles and decking. Typically made of felt or synthetic material, it shields the deck from wind and moisture. The underlayment is particularly important for roofs with low slopes that tend to hold water longer.

Extended exposure to moisture, ultraviolet radiation, or extreme heat can weaken the roof underlayment, as can animals, such as raccoons, that can tear off materials to access the house. Trimming nearby trees reduces the risk of pest problems by eliminating their access points. Also, promptly replacing missing or damaged shingles or panels reduces the risk of issues related to heat and moisture. 

3. Soffit 

The soffit is located underneath the overhang where the roof meets the siding. With the gutters and downspouts, this overhang allows water to flow away from the building.

The soffit draws in cool, dry air and releases moist, hot air through vents, regulating the interior temperature and allowing the roof to breathe. Rodents and birds may find shelter in the soffit and damage it by pecking at the materials or obstructing vents. Ice dams or malfunctioning gutters can cause rot or water damage as well. Keeping the gutters clean and your attic insulation intact will mitigate these threats. 

4. Flashing 

The flashing is located at joint openings and around chimneys and skylights. It’s designed to protect these connective points from moisture infiltration. Over time, it may corrode or separate, which you can avoid by scheduling routine inspections.