You're busy and don't have time to worry about your house, I get it. We all have choices about where we spend our money and our time, but not always. You can ignore problems with your roof until it's raining inside or worse, your ceiling falls down, which happened to my neighbor. Then you'll probably spend a lot more time and money addressing the problem. So this article outlines what you need to know about inspecting your roof because we think you'd rather spend money improving your house, than making unnecessary repairs.
Inspecting Your Roof – When & Who
Most homeowners, some with a gentle nudge from their real estate agent, have a home inspection when they first buy a house. But too often, they forget that a house is a living, breathing structure that needs more attention over the years, so here are our recommendations for inspecting your roof:
- When a home inspector recommends a roof inspection, do it!When buying a house – Make sure your home inspector is going to climb up a ladder to inspect the roof up close. If they say they don't, then you probably want to find a different home inspector. Ideally they should look at the roof on the side of the house that has the worst (sun and/or wind) weather.
- Every year – Homeowners should make inspecting your roof part of your yearly, proactive home maintenance checklist. Pick a date that follows your worst weather, like March in the northeast or once the hurricane season ends in Florida.
- After severe weather – Anytime your house lives through a severe storm with excessive winds, rain, air borne debris, etc, you should do a visual inspection of your roof (and unfinished attic if accessible).
- Home expert inspections – Once your roof reaches half it's estimated lifespan, it's time to start periodic inspections by a roofing company or qualified roof inspector. They can identify small problems that can be prepared, and advise you as to when you'll need to replace your roof … giving you plenty of time to research alternatives.
Inspecting Your Roof: Common Problems
When you're inspecting your roof, these are the top ten roofing problems you need to look for. Avoid walking on the roof any more than necessary, as this adds wear and tear to the shingles.
- Missing or broken shingles are the easiest problem to spot, especially when you find them on your driveway or lawn (but need to verify they're from your house and not a neighbor).
- Shingles that are curling, buckling or blistering can be identified because they break up the uniform look of the roof material. The most common reason for these problems is inadequate ventilation, so you'll want to get a roof inspector to help you identify the source of the problem and ways you can fix the problem.
- Shingles losing granules that cover and protect the base of the shingle from the sun's damaging ultraviolet rays. You will either see polka dots on your shingles, or find piles of granules in your gutters.
- Moss and lichen will damage your roof by holding moisture against the roof surface, causing decay underneath and more damage from frost in colder climates. They need to be removed as their roots will penetrate and separate the roof shingle materials, reducing the roofs lifetime.
- When you minor problems early, you can often repair them with caulking. Once flashing around chimneys, skylights and vents rusts or deteriorates, they need to be replaced.Cracked or worn rubber boots around vent stacks on your roof, can allow water to seep under the roof shingles.
- Cracked or detached flashing around the chimney is another way that water can get under roofing shingles, and cause damage to the roof or interior of your house.
- Failing flashing around skylights should be repaired immediately to avoid damage and repairs to your home's interior.
- Ponding water that collects on your roof is a problem, often due to debris collecting on your roof or the gutter system not draining properly.
- Trees with overhanging limbs may leave debris on your roof, and can rub against the roof to wear away the protective top layer. They should be trimmed back to avoid these types of problems.
- Punctures and penetrations of your roofing materials can be caused by severe storms, which is why you want to inspect for damage right away. If you suspect a problem, you should get expert help right away, as these small holes from hail are hard for the novice homeowner to identify.
- Ice dams on roofs in northern climates can cause roof failures that may not be identified until after the snow is gone.
Finding the Best Roofing Resources
Yes, at some point you'll need to replace your roof. By inspecting your roof annually and making the necessary repairs, you'll know that you've gotten the maximum life expectancy from your roof. You'll also have time to research your roofing options, and find the best roofing company your budget will allow.
Resources to help you start this journey include:
- Learn more about roofing materials from the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors library used to educate home inspectors on how … inspecting your roof.
- Learn about the layers under your roof shingles, by reading Roofing Layers – What's Under Your Shingles.
- Find a top notch roofing company, starting with local referrals. Qualify them by membership in the National Roofing Contractors Association and a warranty on both materials and labor, like my friends offer at MyCoastalWindows.com.