Roofing

Home Inspections 101

A roof inspection is an important preventative maintenance job that can identify issues before they turn into larger problems like leaks and rotting wood. And yet, this house check-up is often ignored until there is a problem.  Don’t wait for it to rain inside—add an annual reminder to your calendar to fiddle on the roof and fix any problems you find. Conduct your inspection from the ground up. The less you walk around up there, the better for the integrity of your roof, and the safer for you. Work your way around the house with a pair of binoculars, noting any potential problems. 

Here’s what to look for:

  • 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 that the roof is decaying underneath (Moss and lichen are different from black algae stains, which are just cosmetic)
  • Piles of colored grit from asphalt roof tiles in the gutters
  • Branches that are hanging over or touching your roof, which can damage shingles

Home inspector Bill Bitz will tell you any day of the week that water is the Number One enemy of your house, which is why gutter maintenance is crucial for the longevity of your roof and your home. Clogged gutters will allow water to overflow and saturate the ground surrounding the foundation of your house, which can create hydrostatic pressure on your foundation and result in foundation cracks. The damp environment can also damage the wood within your home, and make it more hospitable to a termite infestation. Sound like fun? No… So keep an eye on those gutters and make sure they stay clear. Installing gutter guards is an effective preventative measure, and otherwise, get on the ladder or hire a handyman. Also note that if you live in a heavily wooded area, your roof has less opportunity to dry from weather conditions, so decay may happen more rapidly.

If you identify any of the issues mentioned above, it could imply that subpar building materials were used for your roof, or simply that your roof is nearing the end of its life cycle. As Bill says, a roof is like a water heater. When it goes, it just goes. Consult with a roofing contractor to determine what needs to be addressed immediately, and begin budgeting for major repairs or a new roof.

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