Arguably the most important exterior system in a house is the roofing structure. There are a lot of components to the roof, which will be covered in this post. All of the components are varied, but share the same overall goal of keeping the weather out of the home. Mostly, when thinking about the roof, think about controlling water shed. Roofing materials constantly improve and change, but the function of each roof is the same. To keep water from entering the house, and to allow that water to flow away from the house.
Why Get the Roof Inspected?
Getting a roof inspection allows for home owners and buyers to get a good understanding of the condition of the roof. Allowing for the prevention of leaks early and will save money. It is a lot easier and less expensive to prevent a problem than to have to clean up and fix that problem. Roof leaks can create a lot of deterioration to not only the roof and ceilings, but also interior walls, ceilings and even the foundation!
Making sure that the roof is properly maintained, and having the knowledge of what and when that maintenance needs to happen, will save lots of money down the road.
What Do Inspectors Look at When Inspecting the Roof?
- Drainage Gutters and Downspouts: Everyone knows what a roof gutter is, and should know that they have to be clear of any debris. But not a lot of people understand how vital gutters are for water management. Inspectors look to make sure that the water collected by the roof, and by extension the gutters, can flow correctly. Gutters need to have a proper slope towards the downspouts, be free of debris, and be properly attached to the roof. Inspectors also make sure that the downspouts are connected correctly, and are extended far enough away from the foundation.
- Soffits and Fascia: The soffits and fascia are two parts to a greater whole called the eaves. The eaves are where the gutters are attached. The fascia is there the gutter is attached to directly. The soffits are typically vents that are attached to the bottom of the eaves. Inspectors make sure that the fascia are properly attached and do not have any holes for water to get into the roofing interior. And they also look to make sure that the soffits are properly vented and do not have any gaps for water or small animals to penetrate the roof.
- Roofing Surface: There are many types of roofing surfaces like shingles and flat roofing membrane. The inspector makes sure that the type of roof is installed correctly, and that there are not any major signs of deterioration, such as missing shingles or gaps in the membranes. Inspectors also look at the general condition, and based on the type of material, can get a good estimate of how old the materials are.
- Flashing: Flashing is normally a metal transitional material. This is installed where multiple differing surfaces or materials meet. Flashing prevents water from getting into the gaps where those materials meet. Firstly, inspectors check to make sure flashing is even installed. Which, often times when it is called out, it is either not installed or installed improperly. Then the inspector checks to make sure it is the correct type of flashing, and that there are not gaps for water intrusion.
- Plumbing Boots and Plumbing Venting: Those white PVC pipes you can see sticking out of the roof line are the tops of the drainage plumbing lines. They allow water to flow to the sewer properly. Around the base of these vents are large sections of flashing called boots. Inspectors check to make sure the PVC venting is the correct size and that the flashing boot is installed correctly and not leaking.
- Chimneys: Chimneys are used for venting combustible gasses to the outside of the house. Typically, chimneys are vented up through the roofing. They can potentially be very expensive to fix if they have been left without maintenance for a few years. Inspectors look for general deterioration of the masonry, and all gaps and cracks that could let in water.
- Attic and Structure: Inspecting the interior of the roof is one of the best ways to find leaks. Inspectors can see all the penetrations of the roof such as the venting and chimney. Looking at the condition of the framing and wooden structure of the roof will let the inspector know if there are any hidden defects. Making sure that insulation and venting is installed and correctly functioning will help extend the life of the roof.
- Interior Ceilings and Walls: Beside inspecting the attic, looking at the ceilings and walls of the upper floor allows inspectors to determine if there are any roof leaks. Inspectors look for brown staining or active leaks if it is raining outside.
When to Get the Roof Inspected
There are a few recommended times to get the roof inspected. Getting an early understanding of the roofing structure when buying a house can help you understand any hidden costs. A traditional home inspection will include an inspection of the roof and should help the buying decision. It is also a great idea to get the roof inspected before you would sell a house. This way any hidden or unseen defects can be either brought to light, or fixed, prior to settlement. Every 3-5 years it is recommended to get the roof inspected in order to better understand the roof’s maintenance requirements. Hopefully, this will allow a home owner to get a head of any major defects. And lastly, after every major storm, as a home owner, go out and look at your roof from the ground to see if there is any noticeable damage. It is also a great practice to go into the attic after a big storm to see if there are any active leaks.