What is a Roof Inspections?
Don't underestimate the importance of this yearly checkup for your home.
Your home’s roof is its first line of defense against storms and extreme weather, be it a foot or more of snow dropping from the sky overnight or high winds that tear through the town. When homeowners place blind faith in their roof and neglect it completely until the first sign of a leak appears in the ceiling, they could already be facing much larger problems, unwanted structural issues, mold growth, or damaged insulation, for starters. Spare yourself a headache down the road by having your roof periodically inspected.
Your roof is the unsung hero of the home, protecting your family from harsh weather, extreme temperatures, and pesky critters. However, to keep your roof in fighting shape, it’s important to perform regular roof inspections.
Roofing inspections will check for any issues that need repairing, out-of-place items, and whether your roof is withstanding the test of time. How does this differ from a normal home inspection, and how often do you need to check on your roof? Here’s everything you need to know about roof inspections list below.
What’s Included in a Roof Inspection?
A roof inspector will examine every component of a roof, including its structural support, the stability of the roofing material, and if there are any signs of damage throughout the ceiling and walls
Why Do You Need a Roof Inspection?
You can hire a professional roof inspector to conduct a roof inspection for many different reasons. For instance, you may have noticed a leak, and you want to ensure it isn’t coming from the roof. Or your area may have recently experienced high winds, and you want to check the roof for any debris or damage.
Here’s a quick rundown of why you might need a roof inspection:
Noticed leaks coming from the ceiling
Experienced a recent storm that included high winds, debris, and heavy rain or snow
Preparing your home for hurricane or snow season
Looking to sell or refinance your home
If you’ve recently purchased a home without a home inspection
Your insurance company has requested a roof inspection
When to Schedule Roof Inspections
If you’ve recently purchased a home and the last time the roof was inspected was when it was installed, you should schedule a roof inspection, especially if you waived the home inspection during the buying process. After 10 years or more without a proper roof inspection, your roof may be working on borrowed time.
Ideally, you should schedule a roof inspection at least once a year. It’s best to tackle this task either in the early fall or early spring before the amount of rain and snow starts to pick up. After a hailstorm or other significant weather event, most homeowners recognize the need for a thorough roof inspection to determine whether their roof suffered damage.
Perhaps the most vital time of year to have your roof inspected is the fall, before the cold of winter sets in. Timing is key. Frigid temperatures can compromise the success of new roof installations and such repairs as shingle replacement because new shingles can’t seal down properly when it’s too cold outside. Moreover, attempting repairs on icy roofs can be treacherous, so roof problems uncovered too late in the season may have to wait until spring to be fixed.
Another argument for a fall inspection is the fact that certain roof repairs should be initiated in the fall so they can be completed the next spring, for example, treatment for moss and lichen. The solutions used for either of these invaders can require an extended amount of time to work, sometimes up to 180 days. If moss or lichen are discovered during a fall roof inspection, there’s still a chance to get at them before cold weather sets in. Then, the treatment can be working during those long winter months, and the dead lichen can be swept or rinsed off in the spring.
However, that shouldn’t be the only time you consider your roof’s health. By conducting annual inspections, you can catch roofing problems early and avoid expensive repairs down the road.
A Roofing Inspection Checklist to Get Ahead of Problems
A regular roof inspection can head off expensive repairs. A roof inspection is one of those preventive maintenance jobs that are easy to overlook. Don't. Add a once-a-year reminder on your calendar to go out on a warm day and address any roof problems you find.
If you're squeamish about heights, don't worry. You can do a thorough inspection from the ground using a pair of binoculars/Camera with multi zoom/Camera pole or you can get up close and personal with your roof using a ladder.
However, there's no need to get up on your roof just yet. The less you walk around up there, the better for your roofing and the safer for you. Work your way around your house, noting any potential problems.
Here's a roofing inspection checklist:
Cracked caulk or rust spots on flashing.
Shingles that are buckling, curling, or blistering.
Missing or broken shingles.
Cracked and worn rubber boots around vent pipes.
Missing or damaged chimney cap. (OK, that's technically not part of your roof, but since you're looking anyway.)
Masses of moss and lichen, which could signal the roof is decaying underneath. Black algae stains are just cosmetic.
If you find piles of colored grit from asphalt roof tiles in the gutters, that’s a bad sign those sand-like granules cover the surface of roof shingles and shield them from the sun’s damaging ultraviolet rays. Check the age of your roofing and see if it's nearing the end of its life cycle.
Can You Perform a Roof Inspection Yourself?
If you have a relatively flat roof on a single-story house, it’s possible for you to get on the roof to look for any signs of damage or missing materials. However, you will need the proper safety equipment, such as a harness, and even then it can be dangerous to attempt. If you want to do a simple visual inspection, you should only do so from the safety of a ladder. If you don’t have prior roof experience or feel unsure about inspecting it yourself, your best bet is to call in the professionals. If you check out the roof yourself, you should still call in a roofing inspector to conduct a professional evaluation, especially if you found anything concerning. The value of an expert roof inspection is knowing that the job was done correctly, allowing you to move forward with repairs that will maintain your roof for years to come.
Finding Early Signs of a Roof Leak
A yearly roof checkup is great, but problems can occur at any time. Early signs of trouble include:
Dark areas on ceilings.
Peeling paint on the underside of roof overhangs.
Damp spots alongside fireplaces.
Water stains on pipes venting the water heater or furnace.
If you find worrisome signs, especially if the roof is old or there’s been a storm with heavy wind or hail, get a professional assessment. Some roofing companies do this for free.
Clearing Your Roof of Moss
Moss eradication begins in the fall. Apply a moss killer intended for roofs (granules for lawn-use contain iron which will stain a roof). In the spring, use a broom to remove remaining dead moss. Spread moss killer along the ridge of the roof and on any remaining green patches. Cost estimate: $20 for moss killer to treat 3,000 square feet of roof. Allow about three hours to sweep the roof, clear the gutters, and apply the granules.
Doing Your Own Roofing Repairs
Any loose, damaged, or missing shingles should be replaced immediately. Check for popped nails that need to be hammered back in place. If you’re comfortable working on a roof, then it’s not too difficult to replace shingles and caulk flashing yourself. Cost estimate: $24 for a bundle of shingles, $6 for roofing caulk. Allow a half-day to make a few shingle repairs. Cost may differ depending on material selection. Metal and vinyl flashing around chimneys, skylights, and attic vents that has separated needs to be resealed with caulk. However, flashing and vent boots that are beginning to rust or deteriorate should be replaced.
Homeowner Inspections vs. Professional Inspections
Most homeowners can spot obvious roof problems, such as missing or flapping shingles, without climbing on the roof. Other types of damage, however, are not as visible to the untrained eye, which is why it’s important to get a professional opinion. If your roof is relatively new (less than five years old), shows no signs of interior leaks, and hasn’t been exposed to major weather events since the last time it was inspected, you can probably get by with a visual inspection from the ground and a quick check for leaks in your attic.
In any other case, however, a comprehensive roof inspection should be completed by a roofing professional who knows what to look for. For seasonal roof inspections, especially if your roof is more than 10 years old, call a reputable roofing contractor to come out and take a look. If you’re going into a roof inspection thinking that your roof has been damaged in some way, call your insurance company they might cover the cost of repairs. Your agent will arrange for a qualified roof inspector to examine the roof and make a determination.
Home Inspections vs. Roof Inspections
When it comes to comparing home inspections and roof inspections, the two tasks are in two different ballparks, but they can be merged together. Almost all home inspections include a thorough roof inspection, as it is an integral part of the home, but it won’t be as focused as a dedicated roof inspection.
A home inspector is more often than not a generalist, while they may note roof issues, a roofing professional will have more insight. Also, unfortunately some home inspectors never get on the roof and take the bulk of their photos from the ground or from the top of the ladder. If this is the case, you should definitely hire a roofing professional to do an inspection. All three parts of the roof inspection will be included in a typical home inspection, but, home inspections often forgo looking for pests and leave that up to the homeowner. Whereas roof inspections consider pests one of their main concerns. Plus, you probably won’t get to request drone or infrared inspection options.
What to Expect from Professional Roof Inspections
A roof inspector will be looking for leaks, unusual wear and tear, damage caused by windblown debris, organic growth issues, and problems that may have occurred during shingle installation or subsequent repairs. Ultimately, a roof inspection gets broken into four facets: structure, materials, interiors, and workmanship.
Structural Inspection: The inspector will check for uneven roof planes and signs of sagging, in addition to examining the condition of the soffit, fascia, and gutter system. Masonry chimneys should be inspected at this time for cracks, crumbling grout, and damage to chimney caps. The inspector may also check the venting in your attic; improper venting can lead to heat and moisture buildup that reduces roof life and increases the risk of ice dams forming at the roof’s edge.
Material Inspection: Here, the inspector will be looking for loose, missing, or curling shingles; stains; moss; rust; and missing flashing or fasteners. Shingle aggregate that has settled in roof valleys or on the ground at the bottom of gutter downspouts is a sign that the roof could be near the end of its useful life. The inspector will also check the rubber boots and seals around vent pipes, looking for gaps or deterioration.
Interior Inspection: Because roof leaks ultimately damage your home, the inspector will check interior ceilings, the attic, and interior walls for water stains, mold, rot, and other signs that water is making its way into your house.
Workmanship Inspection: A thorough inspector will examine your roof for problems in workmanship that could increase the risks of leaks or other roof damage in the future. Incorrect flashing around roof penetrations including vent pipes, skylights, and chimneys would all be red flags.
Types Of Roof Inspections
Physical Roof Inspection
A physical roof inspection will consist of someone climbing onto the roof to perform the inspection. This is the simplest type of roof inspection and it relies mostly on visuals.
Drone Roof Inspection
Homeowners can request a drone roof inspection when there’s too much risk involved with getting onto the roof. This type of inspection typically occurs when the roof is very steep or non-walk-able. The drone flies around the exterior of the house, providing videos or pictures.
Infrared Roof Inspection
Infrared roof inspections cost more than the typical roof inspection. Using infrared technology, professional inspectors look for any signs of damage that are otherwise invisible to the naked eye, including small cracks and leaks.
The structural inspection will check how well the overall roof system is holding up. This part of the evaluation requires looking for any signs that may point toward a sagging roof, based on how the roof planes are laid out.
The structural inspection doesn’t focus on finding damaged or missing roofing materials, but instead examines the well-being of the main components of the roofing system. Signs that your roof may be sagging include:
Cracked, splintered, or rotted rafters or trusses
Missing or damaged collar ties
Missing or damaged rafter ties
Exterior walls that are tilting or leaning
While the inspector is on the roof, they’ll also look at the condition of your soffit, fascia, and gutters. If you have any skylights, chimneys, or vents, they’ll check the grout, seals, and exterior for any signs of damage to these systems.
The material portion of the roof inspection will focus on the roofing materials, including shingles, metal plates, clay, or even slate shingles. The inspector will examine them for any damages, missing materials, or staining from rust, moss, or water damage. The material inspection also includes checking the flashing underneath the roofing material for any signs of leaks, cracks, or pests.
The interior portion of the inspection will tackle any signs of damage to the roof that aren’t visible from the outside. Inspectors will check ceilings, attics, and even walls throughout the inside of the home. The signs will typically include the following:
Holes in the walls or ceilings
Beams of light coming into the attic from the ceiling
Pests in the attic
After the inspection, you’ll receive a detailed report about the condition of your roof and what repairs, if any, are necessary to keep it in good shape. If repairs are necessary, schedule them as soon as possible before the snow/rain flies, if you can. That way, when snow/rain blankets the neighborhood, you can be confident that your roof is in good shape.
How to Interpret the Results of the Roof Inspection
Once the roof inspection is complete, the roof inspector should present you with a full report of their findings. If possible, they may also take you around the home to point out the signs of damage that they noticed, without bringing you onto the roof. Each company is likely to have its own reporting system. If you’re doing a home inspection for insurance purposes, the insurance company will likely have its own report, too. The report will list the roof’s condition, any recommended repairs, any concerns of a roof failing, and how much longer they expect the roof to last. If the roof inspection is performed by a roofing company, they may also provide you with an estimate to fix any problems. If the roof is failing in too many sections, you’ll likely need a new roof.
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