2014-02-27 / Lifestyles

Damage?

How to inspect your roof to avoid big repairs

Many homeowners do not think twice about their roofs. But when leaks develop, roof repairs and the subsequent costs of such work shed light on how important it is for homeowners to pay closer attention to the roofs over their heads.

Though certain roof issues, like shingles lost to inclement weather, are unforeseeable, many problems can be avoided with routine roof inspection. Checking roof conditions twice a year can help homeowners avoid potentially costly repair work or even more expensive roof replacement projects.

Spring is a good time to inspect roofs, which are often at the mercy of harsh conditions throughout the winter. Heavy snow, ice and biting winds can do significant damage, making spring the perfect time to assess if any such damage occurred and address any issues.

* Start the inspection in the interior of the home. Before breaking out the ladder and climbing up to the roof, inspect the home’s interior, pinpointing potential problems that may indicate roof damage. Check for stains on the ceiling which may indicate leaks that need to be addressed. Homeowners with attics should enter their attics and look for signs of water damage, making note of any damp or wet insulation. This will let you know if water has been entering the attic all winter. Pay attention to the location of any wet spots or stains so you can match them up to the exterior of the roof later on. Musty smells also may be indicative of moisture problems, even if there are no visible leaks.

* Inspect the roof outside. Grab a set of binoculars and inspect the exterior of the roof. Look at the roof flashing, including around the chimney and other areas of protruding pipes and vents. If the flashing is warped or damaged, moisture might be settling underneath. Sealant around dormers or skylights can also degrade, resulting in leaks. Check for spalling on masonry, such as the mortar of chimneys. Porous areas will allow water to infiltrate.

* Go directly on the roof and check. Work with a partner and carefully climb on the roof while someone holds the ladder below. Walk on the perimeter of the roof, looking for peeling or warped shingles, missing shingles, holes, or scrapes.

If the roof is compromised in any way, it will need to be repaired. The problem will only grow more significant and repairs more expensive if damage is ignored. Sometimes a repair can be as simple as patching a leak with a new shingle and roofing cement. Popped nails can be pounded down and any curled shingles can be nailed or cemented back into place.

* Consult a roofing expert. If you are unsure if your roof has made it through the winter unscathed and would like a second opinion or if you find there is considerable damage, contact a roofing contractor.

This person will offer a professional assessment of what can be repaired or if the roof should be replaced. If your roof is metal or features clay tiles, you may not have the expertise to make repairs yourself and will need to hire a professional.

* Check the gutters, too. While you are up on the roof, inspect the gutters and downspouts as well. Cracked or damage gutters will cause water to leak down the side of the home, potentially damaging the foundation. Clear any debris or leftover leaves from the gutters to ensure the rain can wash through unobstructed.

A post-winter roof inspection can protect homeowners and their families from the elements and reduce the likelihood of potentially costly repairs down the road.

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