With warmer weather comes more rain, and a damaged roof can bring a lot of problems. A leaking roof can also make your AC work overtime. Use these tips to safely inspect your roof.
Your roof is one of the most important parts of your home. A well-maintained roof in good repair protects your home from water intrusion, and that’s why it’s so important to inspect your roof regularly. Homeowners insurance usually covers roof damage but additional coverage may be needed for specific roofing needs.
It’s a good idea to inspect your roof in the spring or early summer, to make sure that it hasn’t been damaged by winter storms, snow, ice or hale. Inspect your roof again in the fall, to check for damage done by summer thunderstorms, falling tree limbs and other hazards.
Should you get your roof inspected by a professional? Yes, if you can afford it. Roof inspection costs can range from free to a few hundred dollars, sometimes depending on whether the contractor feels the roof needs repair. However, if money is tight or you can’t find a contractor to come out and inspect your roof, you can safely do it yourself following these five steps.
1. Look for Algae, Moss, or Piles of Leaves
If you have binoculars, you can begin your DIY roof inspection from the ground. Start by walking around your house and checking your roof for moss, piles or leaves, algae, or other growths or debris. Algae, moss, lichen and piles of leaves can cause serious damage to a roof. That’s because they can trap moisture, which can seep into the sheathing below your shingles, and even into the structural elements of the roof itself.
Moss is especially dangerous, because it soaks up rainwater like a sponge. The moisture can cause the wooden structure underneath your roof to mold and decay, which can compromise the structural integrity of your roof. Moss, leaves, lichen or algae on your roof needs to be cleared away immediately. You can do this yourself by applying moss killer and brushing the offending moss away with a broom or brush, especially if the infestation is new. When you have your roof re-shingled, consider buying moss-resistant shingles – they aren’t much more expensive than the regular kind, and they can keep moss away for the lifetime of the roof.
2. Look for Buckled or Curled Shingles
Hot air in your attic can cause your shingles to warp, buckle or curl. Misshapen shingles can compromise the integrity of your roof, letting in water and causing poor ventilation. Curling asphalt shingles should be replaced. If more than one-third of your shingles are curling, it’s time to re-shingle the entire roof.
3. Check for Damaged, Missing or Old Shingles
Missing or damaged shingles can also let water seep through your roof. If you have wooden shingles or shake, inspect them for signs of dry rot, either from the ground or from a ladder (don’t walk on a wooden shingle or shake roof. Asbestos, slate, or clay tile roofs can suffer from breakage, so look for cracked, chipped, broken or altogether missing shingles. Check a metal roof for signs of corrosion, metal seams, pitting, rusting, or other wear.
If you have asphalt shingles, check for signs of wear as you clean your gutters. Asphalt contains gravel-like granules. As the shingles age, these granules will break free, and find their way into your gutters. If you see a lot of asphalt granules in your gutters, check the roof carefully for damaged or missing shingles.
4. Inspect the Roof Up Close
If you can, get up on a ladder and inspect your roof up close. While you’re up there, look for damage to the flashings around the chimney, dormers and vent pipes. Damaged or corroded flashings can let water into the interior structure of your roof, and could contribute to rot in the structure of your roof and the walls of your home.
5. Investigate Your Attic
If your home has an attic, it’s important to go into it and look for signs that water has leaked through your roof. Inspect your rafters and the wooden interior of your roof for signs of moisture, mold and rot. Checking your attic for signs of water leakage can help you spot damage that may not have been visible from the ground or from your ladder. If possible, inspect your attic for leaks during a heavy rain; this will show you whether your roof has any active leaks.
Your roof is your home’s first line of defense against the elements. Even if you can’t afford to have a professional roof contractor inspect your roof twice a year, you can safely and cautiously check it yourself for signs of damage and wear. Regular DIY roof inspections will help you get to know your roof, so you’ll be able to recognize problems before they get too serious.