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7 Elements Your Contractor Should Check During a Roof Inspection

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You might assume your roof only needs attention if it’s damaged or leaking. The reality is that a build-up of small, seemingly inconsequential roofing issues can contribute to those bigger, more obvious signs of damage. You can prevent both minor and major roofing issues by getting your roof professionally inspected.

But how often should you have your roof inspected? It honestly depends on several factors – the age of your roof, weather conditions, and any roofing problems previously identified. But even if your roof is newer or hasn’t had any issues, it’s a good idea to have it inspected by a professional at least once every two years.

Committing to timely roof inspections can:

  • Increase lifespan
  • Identify potential problems early
  • Prevent existing problems from getting worse
  • Saves money in the long-term
  • Provide peace of mind

Below are seven elements your contractor will examine during a professional roof inspection. Let’s dive in.

1. Attic Ventilation

Your roof’s lifespan could be drastically shortened if your attic isn’t properly ventilated. That’s why your attic’s ventilation system should be one of the first things examined during a roof inspection.

Without proper attic ventilation, heat and moisture will accumulate in your attic with nowhere to go. The damage caused by this buildup could cause leaks and other issues that could shorten your roof’s life.

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For example, poor ventilation in the summer can cause heat to build up in your attic. This can deteriorate the adhesive in the roof decking and cause your asphalt shingles to crack, curl, or blister.

During a roof inspection, your contractor will help ensure proper ventilation by checking to make sure soffit vents have been installed near the lower part of your attic and ridge vents near the upper part of your attic.

2. Shingles

Shingles are your roof’s first and strongest line of defense against rainwater, sunlight, and other harsh elements. Without their protection, water can damage the interior layers of your roof and home. 

Here’s what your contractor will look for when they inspect your shingles:

  • Damaged shingles (curling, blistering, cracked): Your shingles will curl as they dry and shrink over time, which can cause them to become brittle. This can make them susceptible to blow-off, especially during strong storms.

  • Granule loss: While some granule loss is part of normal roof wear, excessive loss is cause for concern. Granules protect your asphalt shingle from UV damage, so once they’re gone, your shingles will wear out faster.

  • Overdriven nails: Roofing nails have to be driven straight with the right amount of pressure to hold shingles firm. If they aren’t, water could get under the shingles and cause a leak. If it looks like your shingles have lifted, the nails might’ve been improperly installed.

  • Algae staining: The discoloration caused by algae staining is both an aesthetic and structural issue. Algae growth can damage shingles by causing them to hold moisture and reflect less sunlight, which can create a heat build-up. Excessive algae on your shingles can also lead to moss growth.

  • Moss growth: Moss is concerning because it typically grows on top of a layer of algae. While a thin layer of moss isn’t too threatening, large growths can get underneath shingles, degrade them, and create opportunities for leaks.

3. Roof Decking

Inspecting the roof decking can be tricky since it lays underneath other layers of roofing material. However, there are several steps your contractor can take to check the integrity of the decking:

  • When your contractor gets on your roof, they’ll check to see if the decking is spongy or if it’s solid underneath their feet. There should be no signs of moisture damage or holes other than the ones made by roofing nails from the previous installation.

  • The spacing between rafters, as well as the structure of your roof, will be inspected. This helps to ensure your roof is stable and complies with local building codes.

Most of the time, contractors will have to check the condition of the decking after the shingles have been removed. If the integrity of your decking is compromised, then your contractor will recommend a roof replacement.

4. Roof Penetrations

A roof penetration is anything that comes through your roof decking. This includes skylights, pipe boots, chimneys, and more. When your contractor does their inspection, they’ll check all penetrations to ensure they’re leak-free. 

For example, pipe boots wrap around the base of plumbing vents to create a waterproof seal that prevents them from leaking. Over time, the rubber seal will crack, split, or pull away from the boot. If not caught, this issue can cause a leak.

A Cracked Pipe Boot

A leaky skylight is pretty easy to spot. If you find yourself having to put a bucket underneath it, it’s leaking. As part of their inspection, your roofer will look for two issues that could cause your skylight to leak:

  • Damaged or worn weather seals: Weather seals create an airtight, waterproof seal between your skylight and the wall that surrounds it. They age with exposure to sunlight and other harsh elements. This will eventually cause the seal to loosen, leaving room for water to infiltrate your skylight and start a leak.

  • Damaged flashing: Metal flashing is installed around the area where the skylight meets your roof. If the flashing comes loose or degrades, water can slip in between the cracks.

Through regular inspections, your roofer can quickly catch these issues and save your home from water damage. Read this article if you think pipe boot failure or skylight damage may be the cause of your roof leak.

5. CHimney

Your inspector will check your chimney’s mortar joints and flashing. Mortar is basically just a mixture of water, sand, and cement, so it too will break down over time.

Checking the chimney’s mortar joints is vital for maintaining your roof’s health. If your chimney’s mortar base has crumbled away, there will be little to nothing left to prevent a leak. This can also create a moist environment that is ripe for moss and algae growth.

Your roof inspector will also check your chimney cap for cracks, rust, and signs of age. A damaged cap won’t be able to channel water away from the entrance to your chimney, meaning you’ll be at risk for a chimney leak.

6. Flashing

Roof flashing is thin pieces of metal installed to direct water away from critical areas of your roof (valley, walls, dormers, chimneys, skylights). These areas are considered the most vulnerable because they can cause major water damage if not flashed correctly.  

Your roof inspector will make sure your flashing isn’t rusted and that the integrity of the metal is strong enough to keep your home safe from the elements. Here are some other flashing issues your inspector will look for:

  • Missing caulk around the flashing edge: The caulk around the edge of the flashing will degrade over time, which can cause it to crack or peel.

  • Damaged flashing: Your inspector will make sure that the screws and nails attached to the flashing haven’t become loose and raised. They’ll also look for cracks and warped metal.

  • Missing flashing: Wind storms can cause flashing to be torn off completely, so your roof inspector will make sure that your flashing is intact and installed where it needs to be.

7. Gutters

Your gutters have one job: to manage the flow of rainwater off the roof and away from your home. If they’re blocked with leaves, debris, or other matter, they won’t be able to do this job. By having your roof inspected, you can make sure your gutter system is up to par.

Your inspector will check to make sure your gutters are free of debris that could restrict water flow. They’ll also look for standing water, as this means your gutters could be titled in the wrong direction.

A gloved hand clears out a blockage of dirt and leaves in a gutter

They’ll also ensure that shingles and drip edges are lapped over the back of the gutters so water can’t get to the fascia boards that run behind them. Not all homes have these, but those that do are at risk of water damage. Over time, water from a clogged gutter system can splash onto the fascia. This constant exposure to water can cause them to deteriorate and rot.

Looking to Get Your Roof Inspected?

Now that we’ve gone over seven elements your contractor will examine during your roof inspection, we hope you feel encouraged to start getting your roof inspected on a regular basis. 

While the issues we listed in this article are best left to the experts, there are several roof maintenance tasks homeowners can and should complete seasonally and after major weather events. Read this article to learn how you can develop your own roof maintenance routine.

If you’re in Raleigh and need a free roof inspection, don’t hesitate to fill out the form below. We’ll look for signs of wear and damage that could impact the safety and performance of your roof. If we spot any areas of concern, we’ll explain our findings and help walk you through the next steps for repairs. Whatever you need, we’ll be happy to help.

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