How often do
you look at your roof? If you're like me, you run in and out of the house, shuttle
the kids back and forth, and glance up at the roofline only occasionally as you
back out of the driveway.
inspecting your roof regularly and making little fixes as needed can prevent
some costly repairs down the road -- and keep those raindrops from falling on
your head. There's another benefit, too: Keeping your roof in good condition
will also be a big plus if you decide to sell your home.
Take it from the top.
should you look for when inspecting your roof? The National Roofing Contractors
Association (NRCA) recommends you do a roof inspection at least two times a
year -- spring and fall. The best place to begin is inside your house -- grab a
flashlight and make a trip to the attic.
four things to look for on the inside:
where the roof deck is sagging
2) Signs of
water damage or leaking
spots and trails
light showing through the roof.
take a look at the exterior of the roof, pay attention to such things as
damaged flashing, missing shingles, curling, blistering, buckling, rotting and
algae growth (which occurs most often in humid climates and appears as dark or
The Home Team Inspection offers these
tips on what to check on the outside:
inspect your roof for cracked, torn, bald or missing shingles.
6) Scan the
roof for loose material or wear around chimneys, vents, pipes or other
7) Watch out
for an excessive amount of shingle granules (they look like large grains of
sand) in the gutters -- this is a sign of advanced wear.
8) Check for
signs of moisture, rot or mold. Note that wet spots may not be directly under
your faulty shingle; water can travel down to its lowest spot before it drips.
Mold, fungi and bacteria can grow quickly -- within 24 to 48 hours of a
the drainage, and make sure gutters and downspouts are securely attached. Also
ensure all drains are open and allow water to exit, and all gutters and
downspouts are free of debris.
that all bath, kitchen and dryer vents go entirely outside of your home, not
just into the attic space.
What's the roof made of?
Bennett, president of Dean Bennett Design and Construction, Inc. in Castle
Rock, Colorado, says determining when you need a new roof also depends on
roofing material as well as the part of the country in which you live. With that
in mind, he offers tips on the following roofing materials:
cedar roof in need of repair or replacement will split and fall apart in dry
climates. In moist climates, it will get mossy. The lifespan of a cedar roof is
about 20 years.
"Look for broken or cracked tiles," Bennett says, "but don't
walk on the roof to do so or the tiles will break. Tile roofs can last up to
100 years, but individual tiles can break. They can be replaced, but only by a
should never need replacing
If you have
a roof with wooden shakes, you should also watch out for damage from termites,
carpenter ants and/or other wood-boring pests.
Check the simplest solutions first
If your roof
has water damage, don't jump the gun and assume you need to start all over with
a brand new roof. The California Contractors State License Board says that if
your roof was properly installed and is less than than 15 to 20 years old, it
can often be repaired rather than replaced.
Contact a licensed roofing contractor -- or three -- to find out what they think
needs to be done and to get an estimate. Starting over
If you do
decide to go ahead and replace the whole roof, keep weather and other issues
specific to your locality in mind when choosing materials.
wood and asphalt shingles aren't especially fire resistant -- and this could be
a problem if you live near a lot of dry brush and trees. Slate, tile and metal
are more expensive materials, but they are a worthwhile investment because of
the extra protection they offer against fire.
If, on the
other hand, snow loads are an issue where you live, you might want to consider
a durable and lightweight standing-seam metal roof. These can typically cast
off the snow before it becomes a problem.
But before setting
your heart on slate or tile -- and we know they look really gorgeous -- realize
that these are very heavy materials. Some house framing just isn't strong
enough to support the extra weight of this sort of roofing.
Start now -- before you have no choice
until water is unexpectedly pouring into your home by way of a leaky roof.
Start protecting your home by using some simple observation skills. If you find
problems, it doesn't necessarily mean you need to replace your roof. Many
repairs can be made before a major rebuild is necessary.
If you do
need a new roof, be aware that this isn't an average "do it yourself"
type of project. It's tough work -- especially if you're taking off the old
roof -- and can be dangerous, too. (Roofs slope and are up high... need we say
It's all looking up
list "Having a roof over my head" as one of life's essentials -- and
there's a reason for that. It's not just a matter of practicality or aesthetics
(though both of those play a part). Your roof is what keeps you and your family
safe from the sun and snow, lightning and rain.
So cozy up
with the knowledge that once your roof is in tip-top shape, it will stay that
way for years to come.
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