Living in the Lower Mainland, homes need a roof inspection from time to time because they have to endure a rainforest-like climate with heavy rainfall; a variety of storms and vegetation related damage year after year. Some areas more than others. At Roofing Mission & its Neighbouring Areas (a.k.a "BulletpRoof Roof Systems"), we know from experience that the rainy weather is a lot of trouble for many homeowners.
As a homeowner, it’s not uncommon to wait until the first sign of leak or a storm event to take place before requesting a professional roof inspection; At this point, it may be too late, it means serious damage to the home and it’s occupants’ health may have been already been caused (due to structural issues, mold, damaged insulation, etc.).
Before getting to that point, the homeowner can look for warning signs that roof repairs are needed, prioritizing any areas that could cause a leak.
- On the exterior, look for missing or flapping shingles and damaged flashing where there are gaps between an air vent, chimney, plumbing, etc. and the roof, and look for debris and vegetation that is preventing the water from flowing (in the gutters and on the roof).
- On the interior, look for visible leaks, dark streaks and stains on the ceiling, and keep an eye out for energy bills rising, it could be attributed to the roof
For a relatively new roof, within 5 years, a minor visual inspection by the homeowner will suffice, unless your roof has been exposed to a major weather event. In that case, a minor visual inspection of the roof and a quick check of the attic for leaks; If there are excessive leaks, contact a professional roofer for further inspection immediately. While a home with a roof that is 10 or more years, consider inspecting your roof seasonally at the least.
To the untrained eye, catching any roof damage early will result in a roof repair instead of leaving it until it gets serious, resulting in a re-roof or worse an expensive roof replacement.
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Recommended Professional Roof Inspection Times
A professional roof inspection is recommended whenever the homeowner suspects the roof isn’t performing as it should, but the homeowner can’t pinpoint the cause via visual inspection themselves, as a general rule of thumb.
There are five times to consider:
- Roof leaks and Ceiling Stains - Look for dark stains slowly spreading on ceilings, or any roof or ceiling leaks; Indicating structural damage, rot and mold, damage to insulation, etc.
- Major Storm Aftermath - Visual inspection from the untrained eye is not recommended, there could be subtle roof damage that can’t be spotted and could be the cause of a leak
- Beginning of Fall - Uncovering any roof installation issues before the cold sets in and could compromise the roof; Preventing roofing professionals from working in treacherous icy conditions which could put them at risk along with your roof. Also, it provides an opportunity to treat moss and lichen, killing them off during the cold winter and then easily washing them off in the Spring.
- Purchasing a New Home - Home inspection and appraisal process are nerve-wracking already, additionally having a professional to check each of your home’s main systems is always recommended; The roof being one of them, an expert can catch any potential repairs early before it surprises you later with some serious damage to your home.
- Renewing Home Insurance or Changing an Insurance Carrier - Insurance premiums are calculated against the value of the home and it’s likely they will ask for a roof inspection because it is both a critical and expensive component of the home
Roof Inspection Process
During a roof inspection, the professional will prioritize looking for leaks, followed by:
- Any unusual wear and tear on the shingles, flashings, cracked and separated sealants, etc.
- Damage from windblown debris, tree branches, leaves in gutters, etc.
- Organic growth issues like algae, moss, rot and mold
- Problems with shingle installation or repairs; improper nailing of shingles, flashing installation, fascia damage, uneven gutter installations, etc.
Generally, looking for anything that prevents water from running off the roof, or causes the water to stick or stay in a place it shouldn’t.
There are 4 parts to the roof inspection process that will be documented with the support of pictures; First 3 parts look at the external roof itself and its immediate surroundings and the last part looks at the home’s interior:
- Structural inspection - An inspection for uneven roof planes and signs of sagging, where the water can slow down or pool; Checking the soffit, fascia and gutter system; Checking the masonry chimneys for cracks, crumbling grout and damaged chimney caps. May require an attic ventilation check to ensure moisture and heat build-up are being properly ventilated, otherwise it could reduce the roof’s life and run the risk of forming ice dams on the roof’s edge
- Material Inspection - An inspection of loose, missing or curling shingles, and for stains, moss, rust and missing flashings or fasteners that Indicate the roof is at the end of its lifespan; Includes looking for shingle aggregate or granules settling in roof valleys or on the ground at the bottom of gutter downspouts; Includes checking rubber boots, plumbing, seals around vent pipes and skylights for gaps or deterioration
- Workmanship Inspection - Inspecting for workmanship problems would be improper nailing or fastening of shingles, flashings, gutters, etc. for what was missed during installation and could increase the risk of a leak or future damage; Incorrect flashings and roof penetrations like skylights, pipes and chimneys are normally red flags here.
- Interior Inspection - Inspecting for roof leaks from the interior will appear in the attic and the interior walls in the form of water stains, mold, rot, dark streaks and other forms of water damage.
Roof Inspection Completed, What’s Next?
After a thorough roof inspection, the roof inspector will compile one or two documents for you depending on what they found during the inspection.
If they had found roof repairs, expect a written estimate for repairs with a scope-of-work document. Otherwise this document will be omitted.
If they didn’t find any roof repairs, at a minimum you’ll receive a written roof inspection report documenting each of the areas mentioned above; structural, material, workmanship and interior inspection.
When the roofing inspector is handing over the documents to the homeowner is when they should ask for any recommendations of preventative measures to take. With the documents in hand the homeowner can choose to pursue roof repairs, a re-roofing or roof replacement to solve the issues, if needed.
As a rule of thumb (for the future), anytime water sticks where it shouldn’t, the risk of a leak and shingle damage increases.
Finally, take some time to perform regular maintenance where possible like keeping debris off of your roof, keeping your gutters clean (consider hiring a professional to handle this twice a year) and have a professional roofer inspect your roof every 5 years. To avoid any serious damage from happening in the future.