For many homeowners, getting a roof inspection is a lot like going to the dentist. It happens once per year, takes up some of your time for the day, but in the end is worth it.
Like going to the dentist, getting routine roof inspections are essential to yours and your home’s overall health.
Part of the dread and anxiety surrounding these types of appointments comes from not knowing if there is anything wrong or what it will take to fix it. We’re here to fix that. Here, we’re taking a closer look at the complete process of getting a roof inspection, what you can expect at every stage, and what you should look for.
What is a Roof Inspection?
Roof inspections are necessary to determine the structural integrity of a roof, the relative lifespan of the roof, whether any work needs to be done, and whether the roof should be replaced. Think of it like an annual checkup.
To be clear, a roofer isn’t going to clamber on your roof if you’re thinking of buying shingles. That’s not the point of an inspection. The goal of an inspection is to run through various procedures to determine the integrity of the roof. Roofing inspectors have certain procedures they can use to figure out the health of your roof without tearing into it.
That way, they can let you know if you do need to think about repairing shingles–or getting a new roof altogether.
Roofing inspections are not to be confused with home inspections. In a home inspection, an inspector comes to your house and does a walkthrough to see if they can spot any health and safety issues in your home.
A roof inspection is a specialized process focusing solely on your roof. Roof inspectors run a wide variety of tests to check your roof’s health, like infrared tests to show where heat is escaping.
What Roofers Look For
There are many different ways a roof can become damaged and many different ways that roof damage can express itself.
For example, water damage is one of the most common things that inspectors look for. The trick is that water damage can be the result of several different issues, including:
- Damaged shingles
- Clogged gutters
- Improperly installed flashing
- Storm damage
It can also express itself under the guise of other issues. Mold and mildew, for example, are often the result of extensive water damage. Shingle deterioration or rotting can be brought on by algae, which is also a result of water damage.
In general, roofing inspectors will check your roof for various signs of damage and try to figure out the root cause of the issue. They’ll look for things like:
- Water damage
- Mold and mildew
- Shingle damage
- Clogged or damaged gutters
- Improperly installed or damaged flashing
- Ventilation issues
Once they spot the damage, they can assess how extensive the damage is and what caused it.
Types of Inspections
Because roof issues can express themselves in a variety of places–not just your shingles–and can result from a number of problems, a roof inspection isn’t just a roof inspection, per se.
For example, most people think of exterior inspections when they imagine a roof inspection. However, keep in mind that your roof plays a key structural role in protecting your home, which means that damage can be internal as well as external. For this reason, all roof inspections have an internal and external component.
Roofers will also perform thorough structural inspections on your roof which may create structural issues for the rest of your home. A sagging roof, for example, may mean poor weight distribution or warping due to water damage. The chimney will also be inspected for signs of wear and tear.
Your roof inspector will also check your roof materials as part of the structural inspection. The shingles are a big focus point and will be checked thoroughly for signs of damage or deterioration. However, the roofer will also check the status of your flashing, fasteners, and gutters, as well as your interior walls, ceilings, and the attic.
Finally, a roofer will also perform a workmanship inspection. Essentially, they’re checking the workmanship of your roof to see if it may create problems in the future.
The Process of Getting a Roof Inspection
It’s one thing to know what the roofer is looking for, and it certainly helps you understand what’s going on in your inspection. But what does an inspection actually entail?
Walkthrough and Perimeter
Roof inspections begin with the inspector walking around the perimeter of your home. It looks like a simple stroll, but it’s actually essential in helping the inspector get the lay of the land (or, rather, the lay of your roof).
During this part of the inspection, the roofer will note the location of your chimney, gutters, vents, and flashing points relative to the rest of the house. This will help them figure out the location of potential damage later on in the inspection.
This is also when they can do a basic visual check of the roof. Basically, how does your roof look? Does it have any obvious signs of damage at first glance? Are there any areas the roofer should pay closer attention to?
At this point, your roofer will begin the exterior inspection of your roof.
External inspections are when your roofer will climb up on the roof and check on the wear and tear of the roof. They’ll also advise you of the state of the roof based on what they see and any issues they want to inspect further inside your house.
For example, they’ll pay careful attention to your shingles. What condition are they in? Are any of them damaged or missing? That’s an easy sign that your roof needs repairs.
They’ll also check the condition of the chimney, which plays a critical structural support role in your home. If the chimney is in good condition, there’s a much better chance that the whole roof is healthy.
They’ll also check on the condition of your flashing (dormers, valleys, eaves, rakes, and side walls) as well as your gutters and fasteners. Any signs of damage may indicate a larger problem.
After walking the perimeter, your roofer will begin a walkthrough of your home.
This is the point at which your roofer will check the interior of your home for any signs of roof damage that may not have been obvious from the exterior, as well as any signs that external roof damage is more serious than it looked from the outside.
They’ll check your ceilings, attic, and even your walls for any signs of water damage or warping, as well as any indication of wind or hail damage. Let the inspector know immediately if you’re concerned about drywall or electrical damage.
Look for Broken or Missing Materials
One of the big things an inspector will look for is any broken or missing materials. Roofs start aging from the day they are installed, which means that the roof gets weaker with every successive day. It just takes a few missing shingles ignored for a while to create major cumulative damage.
It also means that materials may loosen and deteriorate with age, even if they aren’t subjected to extreme weather events. We’re used to a lot of snow and ice in Boise, but it doesn’t take a Boise winter to leave your shingles rough around the edges. Summer heat, for example, can cause materials to expand and contract, creating damage over time.
Moss, Mildew, or Mold
Moss, mold, and mildew create ugly patches on your roof, but the problem runs much deeper than aesthetics.
Moss, mold, and mildew all need moisture to thrive, which means that all of them are the result of water buildup. As they grow, they can also prevent water runoff, creating more pools of water that can damage your roof over time. If you ignore them for too long, they can even seep into your walls and ceiling, creating an expensive problem.
Also, keep in mind that moss, mold, and mildew don’t show up overnight. They’re the result of long-term exposure to water, which means that 1) your roof is aging and 2) it’s highly likely that you have water damage.
Most people think of water as a roof’s worst nightmare, but inadequate air is equally harmful to your roof.
When your roof isn’t getting enough ventilation, the heat inside your home will begin to heat your roof deck. If you recall science class, heat causes expansion and cold causes contraction. The net result is that shingles become brittle and cracked as they age (and the aging process happens much faster).
Plus, if moist air isn’t being filtered out, it will linger in your attic. This is practically an open invitation to mold and mildew, and the last thing you want is a mold problem rotting your roof from the inside out.
What Happens After an Inspection?
After the inspection is when the rubber hits the road, metaphorically speaking.
Once the inspection is finished, your roofer will have a chat with you about what they saw. They’ll give you an overview of your roof’s overall health and highlight any major issues they noticed that need to be fixed ASAP, as well as any smaller issues that may turn into big problems if left unattended.
Keep in mind that the end of a roof inspection doesn’t automatically mean you need to replace your roof. You may not need anything, and a good roofer will tell you that. An inspector worth their salt will speak with you honestly about what you need, rather than trying to sell you something.
From there, you can talk about the services you need and what your contractor can do for you, as well as discussing your options relative to your budget.
Why You Need a Roof Inspection
A roofing inspection is a lot of work, and like a home inspection, it can be quite stressful for homeowners. After all, there’s the threat of a possibly large repair bill looming over your head.
But you should never put off a roof inspection–at least, not if you plan on keeping your house healthy. And like doctor’s appointments, you should never wait until you have glaring health problems before paying a visit to your GP. Chances are, there were several red flags that you didn’t notice, and now you have to pay the price of a much bigger health issue.
Here are a few reasons why you need a roof inspection–before you have major roof problems.
Much like your annual checkup, roof inspections should be part of your routine home maintenance program.
Ideally, you should get your roof inspected (or, at the very least, perform a self-check) at least twice per year–once right after the weather is warmest and once right before the weather is coolest. These extremes are when your roof is most likely to sustain major damage.
Failing that, getting your roof inspected once per year is a good idea. Keep in mind that roofs go through a lot in the course of a year–especially in Boise, where we experience all four beautiful seasons! Getting your roof inspected and performing routine maintenance helps ensure that your roof and your home stays healthy for many years to come.
Catch Problems While They’re Small
Routine inspections also help you catch problems while they’re still small. In other words, while they’re still reasonably cheap to fix.
Keep in mind that many major roof problems start with a small problem. One loose shingle. An overfilled gutter after your trees lose their leaves. But if left unattended, that small problem can fester over time.
A missing shingle, for example, leaves a small patch of your roof exposed to the elements. This makes it an open wound inviting infection (or, in the case of your roof, water damage).
A good roofing inspector can recognize these small warning signs and help you repair them before they turn into expensive headaches.
Make Course Corrections
Unfortunately, not all roofing issues come from Mother Nature.
Sometimes, people engage in bad habits that contribute to expedited roof damage. For example, commercial buildings where employees often tramp around the roof can quickly turn into excess wear. An inspector can spot this issue and help you install walkways to prevent additional wear and tear.
Or, in the case of residential homes, something as innocuous as a large old tree can cause roof damage if the tree is constantly scraping against your roof. Roofing inspectors can help you recognize these problems and correct them while they’re still relatively easy to fix.
Protect Your Home from Secondary Damage
If basic roof health isn’t enough of a motivator to invest in an inspection, keep in mind that the cost of repairing or replacing a roof comes with a lot of secondary costs that drive up the price.
Replacing a roof, for example, means that the roof is so old or extensively damaged that it has to be torn out and replaced altogether. This also means that you may have damage in your ceiling and walls, which means those have to be repaired.
It’s an expensive problem, and it only gets more expensive the longer you ignore it.
Peace of Mind
But most of all, getting a roof inspection helps provide you with some much-needed peace of mind.
The reality is that most people don’t know how to inspect their own roofs, nor do they know how to spot early signs of roof damage. When you get your roof inspected by a professional, you can rest easy knowing that you’ll catch anything that’s wrong with your roof and get quality advice on how to fix it.
Better still, you may find that your roof is in tip-top shape and doesn’t need any additional work done. That allows you to face down any harsh weather without fear or worry.
What You Need to Know About Inspections
With all of that in mind, there are a few things you need to know before you get an inspection (and before you call a single roofing contractor). These are three common questions we see among customers who are considering a roof inspection or roof repairs–or whether they need a professional for either of those things.
Here’s a quick look at a few common concerns for customers and how to make the right call for your roof.
Professional vs. DIY
For many homeowners, the first question about inspections is whether they should pay a professional or do it themselves.
To be honest, unless you have experience working with roofs, you’re generally better off bringing in the professionals.
Most homeowners don’t know how to recognize the subtle signs that something is wrong with their roof. Plus, you live in your house every single day. You’re used to its quirks. And that makes it far easier for you to overlook problems as salient features of the house, or ignore them as minor irritations–after all, you’ve lived with them this long. They should be fine, right?
A roof inspector can give you an honest assessment of whether something is a harmless quirk or a sign of damage that needs to be fixed ASAP, and they can give you realistic options for how to deal with the problem.
And if you’re thinking of DIY roof repair or replacement, do yourself a favor and forget about it. Your roof is way too important to the structural integrity of your home to leave it up to DIY video watching skills. What if you repair the roof incorrectly and that causes major problems for you the next time a storm hits? Or what if something falls apart and hurts a family member?
Save yourself the headache (and heartache). Call the professionals.
When to Schedule an Inspection
When is the best time to schedule an inspection? After a storm? After winter is over?
The best time to schedule an inspection is before anything goes seriously wrong. Most roofing issues are the result of long-term damage, which means that they accumulate over time. Getting a roof inspection even when you think everything is fine is the best way to catch minor issues before they have an opportunity to fester into expensive repairs.
That said, if you have recently experienced a major storm or similar event, get in touch with roofers ASAP. You don’t want to take the risk that something may be seriously wrong with your roof, and event-based inspections are quite common.
And if you’re not sure? No worries. Talk to a roofer about your options and ask them whether you might need an inspection. Figure out the last time you had roof repairs and discuss any major weather that may have caused roof damage. A good roofer will give you an honest assessment.
Legitimate Roofers Don’t Charge for an Inspection
Last but not least, here’s a word of friendly advice: legitimate roofers don’t charge for an inspection.
Or, put another way, if a roofer wants to charge you for an inspection, run the other way.
A roofing inspection is both a learning experience and a trial period. It’s a chance for you to learn about any issues with your roof, but it’s also an opportunity for you to compare and contrast what various inspectors notice. One inspector may play up issues that another says are relatively minor.
The key is assessing the quality of the inspection and, as a consequence, the quality of the contractor. A good roofing inspector will walk you through your roof’s issues and offer you an assessment based on services you actually need, rather than trying to sell you something.
Need a Roof Inspection?
If you need a roof inspection, we’re here to make the process stress-free and straightforward. We’re a team of dedicated roofing experts with an A+ Better Business Bureau rating, and we’re proud to offer our customers top industry warranties, outstanding customer service, and a family-first mentality.
If you need to speak with our team about your roof, get in touch today for a free inspection and quote.