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Notes From Ken
We living and breathing animals desire shelter.  Shelter to protect us.  Protection from the elements: weather, the animal kingdom and human kind.  If shelter was all that we desired, any cave or hollowed out tree would most likely suffice.

But we humans also like, STUFF!!!  Stuff like ovens, and stoves and microwaves and computers and an and on and on..  So, we need electricity and Its cousins, water and gas to comfortiably live In the 2Oth Century.  Now, since we have complicated the process of shelter with all of our stuff, and since there probably isn't enough caves or hollow trees to go around, we build our abodes to house ourselves and all of our stuff.

So here are some clues and keys to how and when we service and maintain our shelters.  I'll consider some of the stuffs' maintenance here, too, but let's start from the very beginning, a very good place to start (...sorry Julie Andrews), and that would be outside, with a real estate transaction.

Outside Parts and Pieces
This is the place were it all starts.  The roof, the siding. the foundation, and the most important of all Drainage.  Drainage, or actually the lack of it, will be the quickest killer of your shelter.  Water is involved in almost every factor that will naturally deteriorate or destroy a home.  It starts from the roof over your head. Then hopefully to your roadway system (in other words your gutters, down spouts and drain pipes) and finally your grade at the base or ground at the foundation.  If any one of these pieces falters and fails, it affects the other parts and pieces of the shelter, and even the other systems of the drainage. So drainage can not be ignored.

Although I could describe the many different styles of roof framing here, I will only address two specific types. Flat and Pitched.  Flat roofs, just by the definition will have lees inherent drainage potential than the pitched roof, thus making it a higher maintenance item.  Regular evaluation and servicing should be performed, at least three times a year.  Once in the early fall just prior to the leaves beginning to fall, to see how the roof and its material handled the summer sun.  Repair any and all areas that may have deterioration.  Next, look at the roof just before the normal rain or snow season starts.  At this time, most of the leaves and landscaping debris will have fallen off of the trees and can be cleaned and inspected to how it will handle the impending water.

Lastly, a review of the roof in the spring after the weather period of the seasons, to service the areas potentially damaged by the rain, snow and such.  You can expect a flat roof, with good servicing, to normally last about 10 to 12 years. Pitched roofs, will vary on there maintenance by the slope of the roof, and the material applied on the pitch.  But whatever type and style you have, inspections should be performed at least two times a year. In the spring and in the fall.

If you have a tile roof, service will be difficult, for its best not to walk on this roof.  The life expectancy of a pitched roof will be determined by the material applied.  Wood shingles can have about a 20 years of normal life expectancy. Composition shingles between 16 and 18 for normal designs, and from 20 and 40 years for the "dimensional" types.  Wood shakes about 18 to 20 and tile or metal composites from 25 to 50 and beyond.  Again, the key is regular service and evaluation to obtain and exceed these figures.  Along with the roofs, the next system down would be the gutters and down spouts.  Here, all that's required is keeping them clean of debris so when the rains come and they are asked to perform, the will function normally.  Regular painting and maybe some spot seam repairs will help to keep the gutter system working for many years to come.

Groundwater and Drainage
Once we get the water channeled from the sky, down the roof to the ground.  This is where the real work begins. Here Is where you want to have a positive slope away from your poured or built up foundation.  Included here would be an adequate buffer or clearance from the earth and any wood that is In close proximity to it, hopefully 4 to 6 Inches.  Drain pipes, splash blocks and natural grading all are essential parts of a good and effective drain system.  And, don't forget about it.  Walk around your yard or property regularly to see how mother nature is affecting it.  Get familiar with every corner of your home.  This will benefit you and your structure for many years to come.