Birds are lovely creatures and are great to have around if only just to admire their graceful flight and beautiful birdsong. But when they start to perch on your roof, it could definitely spell trouble with a capital T. It doesn’t matter, what kind of birds decide to nest or hang around on your roof – pigeons, woodpeckers or even seagulls – whenever birds come, roof damage is sure to follow. Today, we explain how birds can cause damage to your roofing system and share some helpful tips on how to prevent or get rid of them humanely.
How Do Birds Cause Damage to Your Roof?
How do these small, seemingly harmless creatures cause damage to your roof you might ask? For one thing, bird droppings are highly acidic and will slowly eat away at your roofing materials, particularly tar-based roofing products, such as asphalt shingles.
It doesn’t matter whether it’s a residential roof or a commercial one, ask any experienced roofing contractor, and the person will be quick to tell you that a roof’s life expectancy can be cut by as much as half if they are constantly covered in bird poop.
Not only do birds wreak havoc on your roof itself, but they can also cause significant damage to your rooftop HVAC system. Birds affect rooftop HVAC units by pecking off the insulation and other important exterior components. When this happens, your air conditioning unit’s efficiency can decrease dramatically and will lead to significantly higher utility bills.
Any roofing company worth their salt will know that bird droppings also pose a serious health hazard to the occupants of a building. Breathing in dust or water contaminated with bird droppings can lead to several diseases, including but not limited to salmonella or psittacosis, also known as parrot fever, which is a flu-like illness that is caused by a bacterium called Chlamydia Psittaci, which is contracted from many species of birds, such as parrots, ducks, gulls and pigeons.
Your roof, gutters and downspouts all work together to shed off rainwater and divert it away from your exterior walls and foundation to prevent leaks and structural damage. Unfortunately, your gutters are prime real estate for many species of birds.
Even without speaking to a gutter installation or repair company, most homeowners already know that gutters should be clear of any debris, such as leaves and twigs to prevent clogging. Birds like to use these organic materials to build their nests, and, when you have a visitor that decides to take up residence in your gutters or drains, this can block the flow of water.
Backups can put tremendous stress on your gutters and cause them to loosen or detach completely from the side of your house. Birds nests in your gutters are also one of the leading causes of dreaded ice dams during winters.
As mentioned above, birds like to build their nests out of twigs, bark, moss and grass, which are all naturally flammable. A nest on your roof dramatically increases the risk of fires to your building, especially if it is built near HVAC equipment or inside air vents. If you notice birds hanging around your roof, be sure to call in your local roofer right away to keep your property and your family safe.
Bird Proofing and Maintenance
As the old saying goes, prevention is often the best cure. This is why it is important to schedule regular roof inspections and to keep your roof well maintained to discourage birds from sheltering on it. Be sure to seal any holes or gaps in your roof that birds may find ideal to nest inside. If you are using spray polyurethane foam (SPF) for insulation, check to see if the acrylic covering hasn’t worn away. SPF will attract birds because they are also an ideal material for building nests.
If you own a flat roof, call in your roofing contractor so they can check to see if it has adequate drainage to avoid water from pooling. Small ponds on your roof can attract birds that are looking to get a drink or would like to bathe. If your roof is large and welcoming enough, they might even decide to stay.
If you start noticing signs of insect infestation, especially on a commercial roof, then you should call in a pest control company right away to deal with the problem. Insects on your roof are like an all-you-can-eat buffet for bug-eating birds such as woodpeckers, wrens and mockingbirds.
Other Preventive Measures
The Migratory Bird Act is a law that protects migratory birds, their nests and eggs from transport or removal unless you are licensed to do so. To avoid breaking these laws, you can try these other solutions:
- Predator Decoys
There are actually companies that will rent out predatory birds like hawks so they can fly around your property to scare off other birds, but you might have to repeat this frequently to achieve good results. A better, more cost-effective option is to install plastic decoys of snakes, crocodiles, foxes and other animals which prey on birds to deter them from hanging out on your roof.
- Roof Spikes or Anti-Roosting Strips
Another effective way to discourage birds to live on your roof is to make it as uncomfortable for them as possible without actually harming them. You can install roof bird spikes or anti-roosting strips around ledges, beams and other areas where birds like to sit.
- Netting, Mesh and Vent Covers
If you have vulnerable areas on your roof or have a rooftop HVAC unit, your best solution is to install a mesh covering to prevent birds from getting inside and causing damage.
From exterior home renovations to roof repair and everything in between, turn to the experts over at Ben’s Construction Inc if you want the job done right. Since 1999, we have been faithfully serving home and business owners in Massachusetts. For all your exterior home improvement needs, be sure to give us a call at (508) 962-2417, or fill out our contact form to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with one of our experts today.