What to look for when inspecting your roof

September 24, 2014

Even if you know nothing about roofs, it's a good idea to inspect your home's roof regularly. Any problems you identify now could potentially help you to avoid bigger, costlier and more extensive repairs later. Here are some tell-tale signs of damage you shouldn't ignore.

What to look for when inspecting your roof

[Photo Credit: iStock.com/Boogich]

How often should I inspect my roof?

At least once a year is advisable, but twice is even better if your region is subject to extreme weather.

  • Even if you live in an area with milder weather patterns, if you have an exceptionally severe weather event, it’s a good idea to check out your roof in the days that follow to see if any damage has occurred.

What exactly am I inspecting?

Although you'll need to keep an eye on the shingles, whether they're traditional bitumen or terra cotta tiles, there’s more to your roof than just the shingles. That's why when you inspect your roof, you need to look at the following:

The "flashings" are the metal pieces used to cover the gaps created by things that stick up through or “interrupt” your roof – they're a bit like metal skirts that help to prevent water from seeping under the shingles.

  • Chimneys, pipes, vents and dormer windows usually have flashing around their base. If you notice damage, have the flashing repaired immediately to prevent leaking.

If you have asphalt shingles and notice a lot of bald spots and/or a lot of shingle granules in your gutters, your roof is aging.

  • Look for any torn, warped or curled shingles. These shingles are disintegrating and need to be replaced.
  • If you have wooden cedar shingles, look for warping or rot. If you see these signs on more than a third of your shingles, you'll likely need to have the roof replaced.

If you have a metal roof, look for pitting, rusting and/or corrosion.

  • You should also keep an eye out for loose or splitting seams and joints, as these can cause leaking in your house.

Cracks or damage
If your roof is made from terra cotta tile, which is durable but also prone to cracking, look for broken or missing tiles.

  • In some instances, terra cotta tiles may slide out of position if broken through weathering.

Do I need to climb on the roof to inspect it?

When inspecting your roof, it's not necessary to walk on it. In fact, you shouldn’t walk on a wooden shingle or tile roof.

  • If you can, use a ladder that takes you up to roof height. It's usually sufficient for visually examining the condition of your roof. That way you needn't actually climb onto the roof.
  • You can also stay firmly planted on the ground and use binoculars to help you get a closer look without compromising your safety.

Either way, always think safety first. That includes having a sturdy ladder, wearing good shoes with a grippy sole, not climbing up on wet days and having someone below holding onto the ladder as you climb.

  • Other safety concerns include watching out for high-tension electrical wires. Touch them with a metal ladder and you could receive a potentially fatal shock!

What if I’m afraid of heights or don’t own the right kind of ladder?

Many roofing companies offer free inspections, with the hope that you’ll then choose them to fix or replace your roof if they spot any issues.

  • If heights intimidate you or a roofing inspection is outside of your comfort zone, try calling a few professional roofing companies in your area for an estimate.

Whichever you choose, it's vital to regularly inspect your roof and repair even minor damage before it becomes extreme and potentially expensive.

The material on this website is provided for entertainment, informational and educational purposes only and should never act as a substitute to the advice of an applicable professional. Use of this website is subject to our terms of use and privacy policy.
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