The roof is an essential part of any home, and it’s critical that it’s inspected regularly to ensure that it’s in good condition. In this week’s blog, we’ll cover why roof inspections are so important, what you, as a homeowner, should know and watch for, what’s included in a professional roof inspection, and common defects found during a roof inspection.
Why are roof inspections important?
The roof is the first line of defense against nature and its elements. Your roof protects your home from rain, wind, snow, and other weather conditions. If your roof becomes damaged or deteriorated, it can compromise the safety and integrity of your home.
Regularly inspecting your home’s roof can help identify issues before they become major problems. If a problem is caught early, it can often be repaired quickly and easily. However, if a problem is left unaddressed, it can become much more significant and costly to fix. For example, minor, but observable, damage, or deterioration to the roof covering, flashing or gutters might cause a small leak that’s not detectable until it causes damage to the home’s structure or leads to mold growth, which can be hazardous to your health.
Failure to inspect and maintain a home’s roof can also impact your home’s value. A roof in disrepair can be a red flag for potential buyers and can compromise the pricing and timeline of a future home sale.
The more you know (about your roof)…
As a homeowner, it’s important to stay on top of roof maintenance to ensure your home stays safe, dry, and structurally sound. Let’s further dive into some essential points and aspects to be aware of with your roof.
Roofing material: The type of roofing material used on the roof can significantly impact its durability, lifespan, and maintenance requirements. Common types of roofing materials include asphalt shingles, metal, tile, and slate. Asphalt shingles are affordable and easy to install but may require more maintenance over time. Metal roofing is durable and energy-efficient but can be more expensive. Tile and slate roofs are highly durable but can be prone to cracking and may be more costly to repair. As a homeowner, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of each type of material and choose one that fits your needs and budget.
When inspecting a roof, it’s essential to know what to look for when it comes to signs of damage. Common issues include missing or broken shingles, cracked or warped tiles, or visible leaks. These issues may indicate that the roof needs repairs or replacement.
Roof pitch: The roof’s pitch, or angle, can also affect its performance and maintenance needs. A steeper roof pitch can help with water drainage and prevent standing water, while a flatter roof may require more frequent inspections and maintenance. To measure roof pitch, use a level and tape measure to determine the rise and run of the roof. A roof with a pitch of 6/12 (meaning it rises 6 inches for every 12 inches of horizontal distance) is considered standard.
Roof age: Knowing the age of your roof is essential to determine how much life it has left and what maintenance or repairs it may need. You can determine the age of the roof by checking the building permit or asking the homeowner. As a rule, most roofs will last around 20-25 years with proper maintenance. Check out the “Roof Online’s Knowledge Center” for more specifics.
Roof flashing: Roof flashing is a critical component that seals and protects vulnerable areas of the roof, such as the chimney or skylights. Look for signs of rust, cracks, or other damage that may indicate the flashing needs to be replaced.
Roof vents: Roof vents are essential for proper ventilation and moisture control in the attic. It’s important to check the vents for damage and ensure they are adequately installed and functioning correctly. Look for signs of wear or damage and ensure that the vents are clear of debris and not obstructed.
Gutter and downspouts: Gutters and downspouts are crucial for directing water away from the roof and foundation. During a roof inspection, it’s important to inspect them for damage, clogs, and proper installation. Look for signs of wear or damage and ensure that the gutters are clear of debris and not leaking.
Safety first: Safety should always be a top priority when inspecting a roof. Homeowners and inspectors should take appropriate safety precautions, such as using a ladder stabilizer, wearing appropriate safety gear, and avoiding walking on steep or slippery roofs. For more information, see our previous blog covering Ladder Safety.
Roof inspections are critical to ensure the safety and integrity of your home. Regular inspections can help identify any defects or problems before they become major issues, and they can also help maintain your home’s value. If you haven’t had your roof inspected recently, I highly recommend that you do so as soon as possible.
The professional roof inspection process
The process of a professional roof inspection typically involves the following steps:
Visual inspection from the ground: The inspector will start by examining the roof and its components from the ground to get an overall idea of its condition. Specific attention is paid to the roof’s soffit, fascia, eaves, gutters, and downspouts.
Exterior inspection: The next step is to inspect the roof surface, including the roof covering (i.e., shingles, tiles, metal), flashing, gutters, and vents that penetrate the roof surface. Specifically, this step involves looking at the installation, condition, and function of all components. Home inspection standards of practice don’t require that an inspector climbs ONTO the roof if it is deemed unsafe (i.e., due to its steep pitch, being covered with snow or ice, or other issues). In some situations, this part of the inspection will be done from a ladder, with binoculars, or with a drone.
Interior inspection: A home’s attic and roof function together to provide protection and longevity to their respective components. After inspecting the roof exterior, the inspector will inspect the attic and insulation to check for proper ventilation, insulation, structural soundness, and any moisture issues.
Report: A detailed inspection report will provide the homeowner (or buyer) with a summary of the inspector’s findings, including any damage or deterioration found, recommended actions, and other comments regarding their findings. Generally, these are categorized according to their severity and potential for further damage or expense.
The most common roof-related defects
Based on our experience, some of the most common defects found during a roof inspection include:
- Missing, cracked, or damaged shingles due to wind, improper installation, or age.
- Tree limbs in proximity, or in contact with, roof covering.
- Improperly installed, damaged, or deteriorated flashing, specifically at wall intersections and roof penetrations (ventilation, plumbing, and flue vents).
- Improperly installed, or inadequate, attic ventilation, specifically soffit vent blockage.
- Improperly installed, damaged, plugged, or deteriorated gutters and downspouts causing inadequate flow away from the roof and/or home and moisture intrusion and damage to the fascia, soffits, or foundation.
As a homeowner, you should be aware of the condition of your roof to avoid the potential costs and reduced longevity of your home associated with roof defects. Understanding how and when to inspect it yourself, and when to bring in a professional, can help preserve the value of your home for the long run.