Slate roofs provide a luxurious and highly durable roofing option. Slate can stand the test of decades without breaking or needing to be replaced. However, even with such a long lifespan and high durability, some maintenance has to be done on slate roofs to ensure that leaks do not develop and that the roof is able to actually last as long as it can.
Like with all types of roofing materials, the integral part of slate roof maintenance is inspecting it for signs of damage. You'll want to do this at least once a year, but it's a good idea to do it twice – once before the snow starts, and once after the snow has melted. This allows to notice any potential damage or wear as soon as it develops, and to address it before it causes actual problems with your roof or the interior of your home. When inspecting a slate roof, avoid walking directly on the tiles, as this can cause them to crack. Instead, get up on a ladder at the edge of the roof, or inspect the tiles from your attic.
When inspecting your slate roof, you should also remove any debris which may have collected on your roof. This is because physical debris like sticks and leaves can collect and hold water against your roof. This can cause water to seep into your home, or even physical damage if the water freezes and expands. Remove as much debris as possible, and ensure that nothing is blocking your gutter system to facilitate the proper flow of water off of your slate roof. You should use a rake or broom to remove debris from the roof without actually walking on it.
Slate is extremely durable, and will not wear thin like asphalt shingles can over time. If a slate tile is broken, you will be able to spot it almost immediately: it will have shattered or cracked, as slate is a fairly brittle building material. If this is the case, you can do a number of things: you should contact a contractor like Lifetime Exteriors to come out and replace the tile as soon as possible, but if for some reason the work can't be done due to a lack of availability of materials or another reason, you should weatherproof the tile. Covering it with a small tarp and weighing that tarp down will stop leaks in the short term.