Don't Ignore That Debris: Why Preparing Your Roof For El Niño Is An Ongoing Project

If you live in an area that is supposed to be impacted by El Niño's heavy rains, you're likely already having your roof inspected to ensure that the rains won't end up inside your home. But be aware that it's not just the state of the roof materials themselves that you should check. You also have to be on the lookout for debris on the roof because the debris, such as leaves, twigs, branches, even your lost basketball, can create additional problems that often result in roof leaks. Here are three ways in which debris can make your roof's -- and your -- life difficult.

Impact Damage

Anything falling on your roof risks damaging the spot where the object hits, and you know that if a heavy branch falls on your roof during a windstorm, for example, you have to get the roof checked out. But even if you haven't had anything really big hit since the last inspection, you should get the roof inspected if your area has another round of strong winds, or if something solid -- not necessarily heavy, but solid -- has hit the roof.

The reason is that, as unlikely as it sounds, anything that falls on the roof could manage to hit a weak spot. You wouldn't think a basketball getting tossed up on the roof would be so bad, but if it manages to it can cause a lot of damage. Remember, one little crack is all it takes to let water start trickling into your attic or crawlspace. With the threat of a lot of rain on the way, don't take a chance by assuming nothing bad happened.

Pooling Rainwater

Leaf debris can pile up on your roof and in your gutters quickly, blocking the escape route for rainwater running off your roof. If there's enough debris, that can cause water to back up. In colder areas, this can lead to ice dams and icicles, but in warmer areas it can still cause a problem by letting the water pool on the roof. The water can gradually break down the roofing materials and cause a spot to wear through, leading to a leak.


Wet leaves are conducive to mold and mildew growth, and if any of those spores get inside your home, you could begin to have a mold problem in your home. Note that it doesn't take that many leaves to start to see mold, so you really have to be aware of what's falling onto your roof and keep the roof and gutters clear.

If you want to help your roof stay in the best shape possible this winter, have it checked for leaves and other debris more than once, and have the gutters inspected and cleaned more frequently than you usually do. Talk to roofing contractors about what schedule they'd recommend in order to keep your roof clear. Also have the trees around your home trimmed so that there are fewer loose branches and leaves to deal with.