When it comes to roofing, Rhode Island homeowners need two things: knowledge and a good contractor. In an area so prone to extreme weather, most homeowners (aside from people who are in the roofing repair field) need to trust experts to care for their roofing. Rhode Island is home to many reliable roofing companies, so finding a reliable, quality contractor is often simply a matter of doing a little homework and interviewing a few people.
In order to help residents find reputable, licensed contractors who repair and maintain roofing, Rhode Island has developed an extremely helpful section on their government website. Between this site and the one maintained by the Better Business Bureau, homeowners have access to lots of excellent information about area roofers. In addition, there are a great number of service provider rating sites online. Run each company's name through a search engine and see what you find. Look for serious complaints and see whether the company has responded appropriately. Consider the quantity of positive reviews as much as the quality.
Once you have a few contractors in mind, give them a call and ask for a free estimate for maintenance work on your roofing. Rhode Island contractors typically provide free estimates, so be wary of companies who only quote over the phone or don't offer free, in-person consults. Interview each roofer as they inspect your roof and draft your quote, and then make your choice when you're ready. Remember, this is who you'll call when a hurricane throws a tree onto your house, so consider whether the person and company seem reliable, find out about emergency response times, and ask how long they've been in business.
Once you've found a reputable, qualified roofer, have your roof inspected and address any damage repairs or necessary maintenance work. Next, talk to your roofer about ways to better protect your home in the long term. For instance, if your home doesn't have rain gutters, your roof is in much greater danger of incurring serious damage than if your home had this form of protection. Rain gutters direct water away from the roof, through the downspouts, and then away from your home's foundation. Without gutters, rain will simply fall in sheets over the edge of the roof, saturating the ground, and thus undermining the stability of the foundation, leading to cracks, basement leaks, and even sinkholes. Having gutters simply isn't optional. It's a real necessity.
But gutters alone are not really enough for a weather-intense area such as New England. In addition to gutters, Rhode Island homeowners really need gutter guards. A gutter guard is a simple device that is affixed to a home's gutters in order to prevent debris, animals, and large insects from entering the gutters and causing clogs. Before discussing installing a gutter guard with your contractor, do some homework. As with most home improvement devices, gutter guards come in a wide variety of styles from numerous manufacturers.
Using a mesh or screen gutter guard is not really ideal for Rhode Island. They allow too much debris to enter, making clogs more likely and hence still requiring regular cleaning. Solid-surface gutter guards, however, are much more effective. These devices use surface tension to direct water over the edge and into a side opening on the guards, keeping nearly all debris out while getting the water in.