Birds & the Roof Risks They Can Create

Ask any roofer and they will tell you: Birds can create serious risk when they come near your home’s roof. While we usually associate roof damage with storms or leaks— birds can also create a world of trouble. Here are the top types of damage birds can do, and why you should be wary.

1. Corrosion

Let’s talk about bird droppings. While they may temporarily look unsightly on your shingles, the real danger they present is far more permanent. Bird droppings are very acidic, which means they can easily burn away protective coatings—causing shingles to lose granules and curl. Worst case, this acid allows moisture to seep beneath the top layer of your roof. It’s no surprise that pigeons, starlings, and other flocks comfortable around houses are usually the culprits here.

Bird droppings are hard to spot if you aren’t looking. They are also difficult to remove. The best solution for serious damage is to replace your shingles. However, prevention is important as well. Make sure there are no hanging branches or other perches over your roof—as birds are likely to sit on them. You can even use special linings or gutters to discourage perching birds with spikes and other obstructions.

2. Condensation and Fires

What do attic condensation and fires have in common? Both roof risks can be started by bird nests. Birds have a habit of nesting in unconventional areas. If one builds a nest in your roof vents, this will block air flow from your attic. Then water vapor will be able to build until it condenses on attic surfaces and begins to cause serious moisture damage. Anything from gulls to sparrows may be responsible.

If a bird builds a nest on a chimney or heating vent—problems with smoke, fires, and even carbon monoxide backflow can occur. It’s a good idea to check for bird nests on your roof if you notice something wrong (especially during the colder months). They are easily removed, and you can buy covers to help protect your vents.

3. Damaged Gutters

There’s one more place that birds like to build nests: In your gutters. The problem with gutter nests is that they can often block the flow of water out of the gutters. This creates two roof risks. First, water builds up and can soak into your roof edge and surrounding materials, causing water damage. Second, when water collects in a rainstorm, this adds a massive weight that the gutter can’t get rid of, causing structural problems.

4. Structural Damage

Finally, let’s address woodpeckers. While woodpeckers do peck trees to look for insects— roof damage is more likely caused by males that have found a surface to create loud noises for females. This surface is frequently your chimney or vent. Fortunately, a male woodpecker is unlikely to cause as much damage just singing as he is doing other things. However, if a woodpecker is actually digging into your roof materials to look for bugs, that is a much more serious matter that needs to be immediately addressed.

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