What to Look For During a Roof Inspection

The roof is one of the most expensive parts of your home and it should be kept in good condition for as long as possible. The roof is exposed to all kinds of weather and it is important that it be cared for and maintained so it can continue to protect your home and family from the elements. Regular roof inspections are an important and necessary step in keeping your roof in top condition.

If you’d prefer to make your own inspection, it’s important to know exactly what you’re looking for. You can inspect the roof from the ground using a pair of binoculars, but if you choose to venture out on to the roof be sure to take the necessary safety precautions. Make sure to check for any obvious defects like sagging or uneven areas, which may be a sign of a damaged roof deck.

You should also look for missing, loose, cracked, pitted, broken or otherwise damaged shingles and inspect the flashing to make sure it has not pulled away from the surface.  Check the rubber boots on any vent pipes or other features for rot or decay and

Other areas to inspect are the attic space, if it’s accessible, and any interior ceilings within the house itself below the roof. If you enter any crawl spaces or attic areas, take extra care in where you step or explore to look for damage, since one misstep can cause unnecessary damage and costly repairs.  In the attic, look for signs of water entry such as water stains, wood rot, mold and mildew. Be sure to have any necessary roof repairs completed as soon as possible.  Delaying roof repairs only leads to more serious damage and more extensive repairs. 

It is easy for a homeowner to miss important signs of roof damage such as missing ceramic granules due to hail.  If you have any concerns about the condition of the roof, it’s worth a call to a reputable local roofing professional.


Roofing Materials Cost Comparisons

Installing a new roof on your home is a serious investment in your home.  Most homeowners want to keep the cost of a new roof to a minimum, but when comparing types of roofing materials be sure to factor in all of the costs of ownership of the roof, not just the initial outlay.

The least expensive roofing materials are three tab composition asphalt shingles.  Three tab shingles have been the workhorse of the residential roofing industry for decades because they provide good protection for 15 to 20 years at the lowest initial cost.  However, three tab asphalt shingles are easily damaged by wind and hail.  When you add in the cost of roof repairs and maintenance over the lifetime of a three tab shingle roof, it is not quite as good a deal as it initially seems.

In addition, most other roofing materials last much longer than three tab shingles.  Laminated asphalt shingles are quickly becoming the residential roofing material of choice because they last much longer than three tab shingles while providing far better protection.  Most laminated shingles carry warranties ranging from 40 years to lifetime.  You may have to replace a three tab shingle roof once or even twice before a laminated shingle roof needs replacement.

Looking at it on a cost per year basis, the cost of a laminated shingle roof may be the same or less than a three tab shingle roof.  The same is true for metal roofing.  The initial installation cost is higher, but since metal roofs can provide good service for 50 years or more, in the long run the cost of ownership may actually be lower other alternatives.

Finally, even if you are planning on selling the home within the next few years, a higher quality roof may increase the value of the home and may be a good selling point that can be used to distinguish your home from similar homes and attract a buyer.

Power Attic Ventilators

If you have been tempted to buy a powered ventilator fan for your attic by all the ads claiming that they will save you money on your air conditioning bills and extend the life of your roof, take a few minutes to get the whole story before you rush out to the home improvement center or start cutting holes in your roof.   Attic ventilation is an important part of your roof system, but randomly adding powered ventilators can sometimes do more harm than good.

Some powered attic ventilator fans are run using electricity while others are solar powered.  Most are marketed as being easily installed by the homeowner and claim that by reducing heat and moisture from your attic, they can save you money on your energy costs for air conditioning and help your asphalt shingles last longer.  If you have been up in your attic on a sunny summer day this sounds pretty good.

There is no question that a poorly ventilated attic can get very hot.  This heat can radiate through your ceiling and cause your air conditioning system to work harder to keep your home comfortable.  In addition, heat and moisture can shorten the life of asphalt shingle roofing.

However, the key is that the attic ventilation system must be properly designed in order to be effective.  Adding a powered ventilator to your attic in the wrong location or without enough vents to allow air to flow into the attic can be counter-productive.  It can leave hot areas in the attic and in some case can draw air from inside your home into the attic which will cause your air conditioner to have to work that much harder to keep up.

Before you invest in a power attic ventilator, have your attic ventilation system checked out by a good local roofer.  They can help you design an effective attic ventilation system.

Spring Roof Inspection

Frequent roof inspections are an important part of any roof maintenance program, but it is especially important for homeowners with asphalt shingle roofs.  Roof inspections are recommended at least twice a year and after any significant weather event such as high winds or hail storms.  Spring and fall are good times to have your roof inspected. 

Frequent roof inspections can catch small problems so that they can be repaired before they become big problems.  Roofing problems that go unnoticed or are left unattended can cause thousands of dollars in water damage to your walls, ceilings, floors, and roof deck.  Also moisture in your attic can lead to mold and mildew.

A spring roof inspection can catch damage done to your roof during the winter.  You can do the inspection yourself, but most reputable local roofers offer free roof inspections.  Why risk climbing on your roof when a local professional can do the job quickly?  In addition, the roofer will know what to look for and can advise you on any necessary repairs.

Before the roof inspector arrives, take a close look at your walls and ceilings to see if there are any new water stains or if old water stains have grown larger.  If you see any of these indications of a leaky roof, be sure to report them to the roofer. 

The roof inspector will climb up on your roof and look for cracked, broken and missing shingles.  They will examine the integrity of flashing around chimneys, pipes, and other roof features and inspect any rubber boots or seals for cracking and crumbling.  Any defects noted should be repaired as soon as possible.

Asphalt Shingle Roof Maintenance

Asphalt shingle roofs are by far the most common roofing material in use today.  Asphalt shingle roofs have a proven track record of providing excellent protection from the elements at a reasonable cost.  They are relatively easy to install and repair and require minimal maintenance.

Asphalt shingle roofs can last as long as 25 years, but many roofs fail long before then.  The most common reasons for roof failure are poor installation and lack of maintenance.  Asphalt shingle roofs are low maintenance, but to maximize their service life a little maintenance goes a long way. 

First, you should have your roof inspected at least once a year and twice a year would be better.  Most reputable local roofers offer free roof inspections so having your roof inspected should not be much of a burden.  You should also have your roof inspected after any severe weather event such as hail or high winds or if you make any changes to the roof such as installation of a satellite dish, solar panels, or skylights. 

Any loose, missing, cracked, or otherwise damages shingles should be repaired immediately.  Damaged shingles allow water intrusion that can cause serious damage to your roof and the inside of your home.  Be sure to use a reputable local roofing contractor for any roof repairs.

Keep your gutters and your roof clear of any leaves or other debris.  Leaves and other debris hold moisture that contribute to the growth of mold and mildew that can harm your roof.  Trim back any branches that hang out over your roof to minimize debris from falling on your roof.

Fall Roof Maintenance Tips

A properly installed asphalt shingle roof will give many years of good service.  Depending on the quality of the shingles installed and the climate, you should expect to an asphalt shingle roof to last about 15 to 20 years. 

Asphalt shingle roofs are low maintenance, but a little bit of simple roof maintenance will go a long way toward maximizing the useful life of your roof.  Fall is a good time to do a roof check-up to prepare the roof for the winter weather ahead.

Make sure you clear any accumulated leaves or other debris off the roof.  Left to accumulate, leaves trap moisture that can promote mold and mildew growth and can allow water to back up under your shingles and freeze.  Ice that forms under your shingles will cause them to heave and crack and provide an entry point for water.   When it rains in the spring, you will have a leaky roof to deal with!

Also make sure you do a thorough job of cleaning your gutters after all the leaves have fallen.  You don’t want any leaves or other debris left in the gutters over the winter.  Leaves and dirt accumulate moisture that can rot your eaves and promotes mold and mildew growth. 

If you notice an unusually large number of granules in your gutters, have a reputable local roofing contractor inspect your roof for hail damage.  The granules protect the roof from the sun’s harmful UV rays.  Excessive granule loss is one of the warning signs that you may need a new roof. 

Finally, trim back any low hanging branches.  Once they are heavy with snow and ice, they will drag on your roof and damage your shingles.