Owning a home is all about having a good roof over your head. Your roof is your first line of defense against the elements and also plays a vital role in keeping your home cool in the summer and warm in the winter. For being such an important part of the home, not many people know about maintaining and repairing roofs.
Whether you’re trying to spot problems early or avoid buying a costly money pit, homeowners and home shoppers alike should know how to spot the warning signs of costly roofing problems.
The first and most obvious thing to look for when examining a roof is the material. While the majority of homes use asphalt shingles, wood, slate and clay tile roofs are common in certain parts of the country like the northeast or southwest. Know that asphalt shingles are more economical and quicker to install but are more susceptible to impact damage from hail or falling tree branches.
Wood shingles are hit and miss. While properly installed and sealed wood shingles can last just as long as asphalt and other types, they require regular maintenance to stay resistant to mold, water and fire. Slate, clay tiles and metal all have their pros and cons that vary based on climate, maintenance and budget. For example, with a metal roof you should double check the gutters are large enough to handle the extra runoff and clay tile roofs should be closely inspected for broken tiles.
Take a Step Back
You can tell a lot about a roof from a distance. By taking a few steps back to the street you can begin to notice how the roof works as a whole. Seeing the overall shape and slope can help you pinpoint areas like deep seams or low pitches where water damage might be happening. Most importantly, take this opportunity to make sure the roof isn’t sagging. A sagging roof is an indicator of some incredibly expensive structural problems.
It also may be easier to spot changes in material from a distance. Newer shingles in a certain area may indicate a recent repair. Something you’ll want to ask the current owner about if you’re shopping or inspect to make sure it was done correctly if you’re a new homeowner.
A Closer Look
After you’ve looked at the roof as a whole, get a closer look at the areas at most risk for problems. Dark spots or discoloration may just be excess tree sap but it can also be an indicator of deeper water damage. Inspect the gutters and make sure they’ve been regularly cleaned out to prevent clogs and rust and be sure to look around the chimney, vents and any other protrusions that break the seal created by shingles, flashing and felt.
You can learn just as much about a roof from inside a home as out. Discolored ceilings, leaks and drafts can indicate that a roof needs repairs. If you’re touring a home, be sure to spend a little extra time in the rooms that touch the roof or attic and look for the telltale signs.
Remember that inspecting a roof or home yourself cannot replace a professional inspection. That said, taking a look around on your own helps spot problems early saving you time and money whether you’re looking to buy a home or already own one.