Roof Inspection May Head Off Expenses

Just when you thought it was safe, you discover even your roof has enemies. They come unarmed, but the sun, wind, and rain, among others, can inflict costly damage to a roof nonetheless. That’s where your local Louisville Home Inspector can save the day.

The heat and ultraviolet rays of the sun can degrade roofing materials over time, especially on the sides of the roof facing west or south. In some climates, rain, or moisture from melting snow and ice can work its way underneath shingles to the roof deck, causing the roof structure to rot. Eventually, extra moisture can lead to mildew and rot in walls, ceilings and insulation as well. Wind damage is not subtle. It can lift shingles up and force water or debris underneath them. Extreme wind can lift the shingles and other portions of the roof right off.

Flashing, or sheet metal (usually galvanized steel or aluminum), is placed over joints in roof and wall construction to prevent water from seeping into the house. One primary cause of residential roof leaks is loose or deteriorated roof flashing. If the flashing has been installed correctly, gravity will work with the flashing material to shed the water onto the regular roofing materials, where it is then directed harmlessly to the ground. Roof flashing is also commonly used around chimneys, plumbing vent stacks, and other items that project out of residential roofs. Checking the flashings should be a part of a regular roof inspection – at least two times each year and after a bad storm.

Because of the danger associated with ladders and working on roofs, homeowners should hire a professional for close-up inspections and repairs, unless they are experienced working on roofs and are familiar with working on their own roof. Depending on the configuration of the roof, and if there are no skylights, a homeowner can inspect the roof quite well using binoculars.

Some ways to lengthen the life of your roof and defeat the enemies are:

  1. Trimming back overgrown vegetation.
  2. Cleaning Debris off the roof.
  3. Securing any loose flashing to the siding with roofing cement.
  4. Using roofing cement to secure any loose shingles.

But roof cement is not for big repairs. Roof cement dries out, cracks and separates over time.

An asphalt roof may become brittle with age, and the granules it contains may begin to clog gutters. If these shingles become bare in spots, or appear to be tearing or warping, they need to be replaced. Wooden shakes or shingles also need to be repaired if they are warping or suffering from dry rot. If over a third of the shingles or shakes need to be replaced, the whole roof probably needs to be replaced.

What about nuisances in the attic? Signs of animal infestation in the attic may include noise in the ceiling. A visual inspection will uncover feces from a raccoon, squirrel, mice or even attic rats. While all animal infestations are a nuisance, they are also a potential health concern, contaminating food, carrying disease and they can bite.

There are two types of rats that can be found in an attic – The Norway rat and the roof rat. The Norway rat is up to a pound in weight and six to eight inches long. It has brown, shaggy fur. A roof rat weighs up to about a half-pound, has a pointed nose and black fur.

Attic rats can gain entrance through a door threshold, windows, utility lines and inlets, rooftops and downspouts, and can squeeze through a hole the size of a quarter. The picture shows one caught on infrared by a home inspector.

If any openings are visible, steel mesh can be used to seal openings, since a rat will chew through wood or concrete. Cover the steel mesh with the appropriate covering to match the surrounding area.

The problem with leaving the inspection to your local roofing contractor is simply this: If you made your living selling roofs it could start to look like everyone needs a new one. That’s why it is so important to bring in an independent home inspector to give you unbiased opinion. As a Louisville Home Inspector I am committed to helping you make great decisions.

Posted in Home Maintenance.