Roof Inspection

top of a tile roof being inspected

Do You Need Your Roof Inspected?

Making sure that the roof over your head is solid and leak free is important. Getting a residential roof inspection by a professional inspector or licensed roofing contractor will ensure you don’t have any unpleasant surprises with your roof not doing its job.

While many people get their roof inspected after severe weather such as high winds or hail storms, if your roof is more than 5 years old and hasn’t been inspected, it’s something that would be a wise preventative measure for you to take.  

It is generally recommended that a roof be inspected in the fall, before winter weather hits and may make necessary repairs difficult if not impossible.  Obviously that’s not the case here in Tucson and southern Arizona!  However, taking seasonal weather into consideration, having your roof inspected before the monsoon season rolls in would be wise.  

With the powerful winds, driving rain and occasional microburst of extremely damaging weather, weaknesses in your roof could be exposed in an unpleasant way. And similar to snow and ice, monsoon weather can make getting a roof repair done tricky.  Better safe than sorry and know if and what needs to be done to get your roof in top condition before you have problems.

If you never had your roof inspected, you might have some questions about the process.  Here are some of the more commonly asked questions and the answers.

What is looked at during a roofing inspection?

A professional roofer or home inspector will be looking for different things, depending on what kind of roofing material is on your home, but there are some common things that apply to all roofs, such as:

  • Signs of water damage - if you have a flat roof, they will look for areas of ponding, or standing water that will deteriorate the roof at an accelerated rate. Other roofs that show sagging or otherwise uneven roof planes may be signs of problems, so they’ll be looking for that as well as the overall condition of the soffit, fascia and gutter system.  Damaged or poorly installed flashing or clogged gutters can also lead to water damage, as would lifted or otherwise displaced shingles or tiles where water could get underneath.
  • Deteriorating shingles - shingles may still be in place, but may have curled or simply deteriorated over time, losing their effectiveness.  If your gutters or roof valleys are filled with shingle granules, that’s a sign that they need to be replaced.  The granules need to be in place to help weigh the shingles down and to protect the asphalt material from the damaging UV rays of the sun.
  • Damaged flashing - as mentioned above, cracked, separating or otherwise improperly installed flashing or missing fasteners will create a situation that can, and eventually will, allow water to get past it, leading to roof deterioration.  
  • Roof protrusions - where vents, skylights and other protrusions come through your roof, there should be a good, solid seal.  Sealing materials and different kinds of roof coatings will degrade over time causing vulnerabilities to water leaks. 

Warning Signs that a Roof Inspection is Needed

How do you know if you need a professional roof inspection?  Beyond the previously mentioned fact that any roof over 5 years old should get checked out just to make sure there’s no problems developing, there are some clear signs that something has already happened and you need a pro to come determine precisely what it is and what it will take to get it fixed.

If you see any signs of leaks, whether it’s actual puddles of waters on the floor or stains on the walls or ceilings, or perhaps ‘bubbling’ of paint, you need to have your roof checked out by a competent roofer. 

Of course any kind of new drafts that can’t be pinpointed to a faulty window or door seal may indicate a bigger problem with the roof.  If the problem is there, the sooner you find and address it, the better (and less expensive) it will be for you before the corrosion sets in.  One thing that is certain with roof problems - if left alone, they will get worse over time.

Other benefits of having your roof inspected

If you’re putting your house on the market to sell any time soon, having a roof inspection in advance and in addition to a general home inspection, is advisable.  Finding and fixing any potential issues before a prospective buyer uses a small issue to try to leverage the price down further than necessary will help you.  And because most lenders require a roof inspection before they will agree to lend on a home, and your buyers will need to get home insurance to keep the property insured, you’re getting out in front of things rather than potentially being hit with a bad surprise just as you think you’re getting ready to close on the deal.

Furthermore, if you find that you needed a new roof, the sooner the better.  If you neglect the small problem, putting of the ‘big expense’ of a new roof, the cost will certainly go up as the damage to the roof gets worse over time.  So sooner is better than later whether it’s a small issue that can be fixed quickly, or an issue that requires an entire roof replacement, it’s better to know and act as soon as possible.

One thing worth noting; according to the National Association of REALTORS® report entitled, “Remodeling Impact Report”, homeowners recovered 109% of the cost of a new roof when they sold their home.  While we’re not sure of all the different ‘projects’ that were included in the report, we do know that a new roof was the only one that returned more than the initial investment.  That’s a far better situation than getting nickel-and-dimed to death due to a small, previously unknown roofing issue, or having a deal fall through altogether.  

In the same report, homeowners who got a new roof and stayed in the home reported that their “Joy Score” - a measure of how happy or satisfied they were with their remodeling project - was a 9.2 out of 10 (with 10 being the most satisfied and 1 the least).

How to Perform a Roof Inspection According to the InterNACHI® SOP

Transcript

According to the InterNACHI home inspection standards of practice, the inspectors shall inspect from the ground level or the eaves, the roof covering materials, the gutters and downspouts, vents, flashing, skylights, chimney and other roof penetrations; and the general structure of the roof. The inspectors shall describe the type of roof covering materials, and shall report, as in need of correction, any observed indications of active roof leaks. The inspector is not required to walk upon any roof surface.

In this example, we're gonna inspect this 1971 ranch house today. We're gonna use the InterNACHI standards of practice. Remember this is a visual inspection, so we're gonna focus on the sops. The sops say we start with the roof, so we have our ladder set up, let's get started.

Remember we are required to inspect the roof but we're not required to walk it. We are required to say what type of roofing material it is, and observe either from the ground, from the ladder, or roof edge, binoculars etc. When it's safe we like to walk them, because it's really hard to see the penetrations the sidewall flashings etc, with either a drone or a camera on a stick, or just binoculars. So nothing really beats walking it but inspector safety really takes priority over everything. So when you are walking a roof climbing a ladder, remember your three-point connection always have a hand on the ladder. Don't carry things extra. When we're here, we can check and see how many layers etc we have and our flashings. We want three rungs above the ladder, so when we get off we can hang on. Let's inspect the roof. Okay as we get on the roof we are required say what type of roofing material, (this is asphalt composition shingles), we're required to look at the venting, we're required to look at the visible flashings, things like that. Okay we have a drip edge flash. Right here is where we could look and see how many layers of shingles, very easily. This is a step flashing or a sidewall flashing. They're supposed to terminate within three-quarters of an inch of the bottom of the shingle, because we have nails. So this one's a little high, there's one up here that's a little high. So my report would say a few of the step sidewall flashings were installed improperly.

We want to see that it sheds the water to right here and we want to shed it after the nail, not on top. So that one right there is a little bit off. We do have a counter flashing, a lot of jurisdictions won't require that because of the overhang here, but it's still a great idea.

The singles themselves looking pretty good shape. You know we're gonna walk around the roof fill it for low spots, looks like we might have a little hail damage. Here we have our nail heads we want to make sure that they're all caulked. A single nail head that's not caulked will fail a roof. So coming on the back side again, here we have some hail. There's a hail hit, look at her out I can see a hail hit, hail hit... So the roof does have some hail damage over here. It's probably enough that if somebody argued they could get a hail claim on the roof, it would definitely be considered cosmetic, but I would at least point out the hail damage to my clients because if their insurance company comes up and they count eight to ten hits and a ten by ten or a square, they can refuse coverage on the roof. So definitely would want it noted that there is hail damage on this roof.

We're required to inspect the gutters we can see right here without having to get too close that there's a lot of leaves in the gutters. It's fall, the gutters need to be cleaned. Let's step off the dried roof onto the main roof. Talking about these turtle vents or ridge vents - we want to see them at the very peak. Code says that you're required to have if there's no vapor barrier in the attic a square foot of venting for every 150 square foot of attic. If there's a vapor barrier, we're only required to have one square foot for every 300. Now you won't know if it's right or wrong till you go in the attic and you see if there's a vapor barrier on the insulation or not. However in colorado we almost never see a vapor barrier, so we pretty much always use the one in 150 rule. If you go to some southern areas they always use a vapor barrier, so they will use the one in 300 rules. So home inspections are location, location, location, just like real estate, so those are things you're gonna have to kind of learn what what works in your neighborhood.

Now our flue. The flue and bathroom vent, we should have what's called a storm collar. There should be a little sheet metal almost like a hat sitting on it to shed the water around this. Right now they're relying on the caulking. When the caulking fails, it would be able to get water down that, so I didn't want to have a note that the storm collars were missing. Never ever walk backwards on a roof, you'll notice I walk sideways, don't do this you might get to the edge and not be thinking about it and go off.

You're required to have one roof vent. You're not required to have two or three. A lot of houses have multiples. In the mountain sometimes we see houses with no roof vents because the ice and snow will rip them off, so they put air admittance valves in the attic. The jurisdictions allows it that's where we're not code inspectors because for every code a jurisdiction can overrule it because something doesn't work in their area. So here's our main stack. In this particular situation it's a soil stack, so our toilets all dump into this. So this goes straight out to the street. So we want to look at the rubber flashing, is it in good shape, is it cracked, is it deteriorated, did they the nails down here? That all looks okay.

Again we have leaves in the in the gutters. Here if you look really closely, you can see red chalk line. That tells you this rust probably less than five years old, maybe even less than that. Colorado is one of the leading hale states in the nation so it's not unusual for us to see a brand new roof with hail damage. It just takes out one storm. But a lot of roofers will snap a line so that ridge shingles so they make them nice and straight.

So again coming to this side, you know we're basically looking at the same thing, does the roof wave, is it nice and flat this roof actually looks really, really good except for a little bit of cosmetic hail damage. So all we had for flashings really are on the outside there any of these sidewall flashings, it's safer for us to look from the ground up than it is to reach over and do this, so we kind of want to keep our distance away from that edge. It's not the safest place to walk.

Right here we were talking about how flat it is, I can see a little bit of a crown right here, and one right there, probably have a little bit of moisture damage on this side of the sheathing so we have a little bit of scalloping. We're in the attic we'll look and see how bad that looks. It doesn't look too excessive to me, but we might find at some point this house had ice damming, because all of those soffit vents that I saw have been added. They weren't there originally. So somebody may have been doing that to get rid of this problem.

Why don't we complete the roof inspection we'll go down we'll start the exterior. The exterior also looks at the soffits and fascia which is part of the real structure, but we put that in the exterior just because it makes a little more sense to do that from down below. So now we're done with 3.1 roofing.

Having a solid roof over your head, and knowing that it's solid, are important aspects of being a happy home owner.  So take care of your roof and have it inspected on a regularly.

When it comes to roof inspections, the money you pay compared to the work and money you'll save on needing a complete roof replacement makes for an easy choice. Whether you decide to schedule a maintenance plan where a company will provide regular, complete service inspections to your roof is up to you. But it's a major point to understand that having a professional inspect your roof today, whether by climbing up and getting their hands dirty or using a drone with a camera, rather than waiting for some big storm to call your insurance company to learn what kind of estimate they'll offer you can take a lot of future stress out of your life. Don't wait to see a roof leak showing up on the interior of your home's ceiling - let a professional roof inspector with certification access your roof and prevent future damage before it's too late.