The roof on your home is the first line of defense against the elements that Mother Nature conjures up. Having a roof that is solid and free of structural issues is key in keeping a home safe and dry. So how do you know if your roof is functioning as it is supposed to? Waiting until you see an issue inside the home, such as a water leak, means that there is a very serious issue with the roof that should have been dealt with previously. There are professionals that will come to your home to conduct an inspection, but there are also some basic things you can look for yourself.
Frequency of Inspections
Ideally, your roof should be inspected at least once a year, but twice would be even better. The biggest benefit to doing regular roof inspections is that minor issues with the roof can be found right away. When minor issues are found early, they can typically be fixed. If those minor issues become major, that is when more damage and larger expenses enter into the equation. The best time to do an inspection is in the fall before the coldest temperatures of the year set in. The fall season tends to bring mild weather which makes for better roof inspection conditions. Winter is also the worst season on roofs, so doing a fall inspection is a perfect time to catch any issues and get them taken care of before the weather gets too cold. If you are able to manage two inspections per year, then spring is the next best time. After the freezing and thawing cycle that so many places experience during the winter months, it is important to see if any ice has caused damage to shingles, or if ice dams have pulled shingles away from the roof.
It is also advisable to inspect your roof after major weather events that include high winds and hail. Even on roofs that are new, the weather can cause significant damage that may decrease the longevity of the shingles.
Do It Yourself
A basic roof inspection can be conducted by just about anyone that can use their powers of observation to make note of anything that seems to be abnormal. The good news is you don’t have to actually go on the roof itself to conduct a thorough inspection. It is a good idea to not go on the roof without the proper safety equipment. The best way to get a clear view of the roof is to place a ladder in a spot where you can get eye level with the roof. If the edge of your roof is too steep to safely get a good view, then a pair of binoculars can also be used. Having a checklist will help you stay focused on the task at hand, and know exactly what to look for.
The first item on the list is to check the shingles themselves. It is good to note if there are any cracks or if any shingles have pieces missing. The second item involves noticing any patches of moss or lichen growing on the shingles. Both of these items can contribute to the breakdown of the shingle itself which compromises the integrity of the surface. The third item is to look at all of the areas where there is caulking or sealant. You need to take note of any cracked, curling or missing caulk or sealant. This is especially important around skylights, vents and any other structure on the roof. The fourth item is to look for any debris or branches on the roof. If you are able to get them off with a pole or other device and can do so safely, then it is a good idea to remove the items. If not, then it is best to hire someone that can do the work. A final item on the checklist would be to check the gutters to see if they are still in good shape. You also need to look inside the gutters to find out if there are any granules from the shingles. Asphalt shingles are going to lose their granules over time, but large amounts in the gutters can be a sign that the shingles are wearing out fairly rapidly.
Hire a Professional
If there are some basic things that you can fix after doing your own inspection such as cleaning gutters or clearing debris, then take care of them in a safe manner. If, however, you notice issues with the shingles or anything that seems beyond your reach, then it is time to call a professional. A professional roof inspection is going to be much more thorough and it will involve someone going up on the roof. A professional roofer is going to be able to spot things that you miss, and they are likely going to do the inspection from the inside of the house as well. Taking a look at the attic or crawl space can give a much more complete picture of the condition of the roof.
A professional roof inspection should include multiple layers. The structure itself is one layer. Roofers will be looking for areas where water would pond, and areas around the vents or chimneys. They will take note of any areas that are sagging, and take a close look at the gutters, soffit, and fascia as all these areas contribute to the overall effectiveness of the roof. Another layer of the inspection should include looking at all the materials that were used to install the roof. Curling shingles, stained shingles, moss-covered shingles, fasteners and flashing should all be looked at to determine what useful life still remains. The third and fourth layers are the interior and the workmanship. Improperly or poorly installed shingles will not be as effective as those that are properly installed.
The Final Report
In the end, you want to know if your roof is still in good enough condition to continue to protect your home. Using a combination of your own inspection and that of a professional is a great way to keep tabs on your roof and ensure it will last as long as possible. It is vital to keep your roof maintained so that minor problems don’t turn into major expenses down the road.