When was the last time you inspected your roof? If you’re like most people, it’s probably been awhile.
Don’t wait until you start seeing water damage and leaks to check the condition of your roof. Inspect your roof twice each year, once in the fall and once in the spring, and take an extra look after any storms or heavy snowfall.
Inspecting your roof doesn’t necessarily mean pulling out the ladder. It’s a good idea to get a closer look if you can, but you can use a pair of binoculars and keep your feet firmly on the ground if need be.
Here’s what to check.
Inspecting Your Roof
1: Do a Walkaround With Binoculars
Take a walk all the way around your house and use binoculars to examine trim, flashings, and around chimneys for cracks or other signs of damage.
Pay close attention to any places where shingles are starting to come up, as loose shingles expose your roof to further damage.
Look for signs of wear at any points where your roof is likely to be weakest.
2: Look for Shingle Damage
Shakes and shingles can be damaged by high winds, hail, fallen objects, and ordinary wear and tear. If your shingles are showing signs of damage, it might be time to think about a new roof.
If you have asphalt shingles, look for dark spots. These spots are signs that your shingles are starting to crack.
For wood shakes or shingles, inspect carefully for pieces that are split, missing, broken, or pieces that are starting to curl upwards.
Slate shingles might be cracked or missing.
3: Check the Valleys
Valleys are the places where water runs off of your roof and into your gutters.
Water and debris can cause these areas to sustain more wear than the rest of your roof, so take a closer look at those valleys to check for damage and heavy wear.
4: Inspect Caulking
Materials around vent pipes and chimneys can deteriorate over time.
Look for gaps, cracks, missing caulking, or places where caulking is starting to fracture.
If your caulking needs work, but the rest of the roof is in good condition, you may only need to caulk. It’s best to catch before water damage turns into a big problem.
Speaking of water damage…
5: Check for Water Damage
Your eave overhangs should be free of water damage. If they aren’t, you should start looking for the source of the problem.
The same is true for your ceiling.
Walk through the interior of your house and look for signs of water damage on your ceilings.
If you have an attic, you might want to poke your head in and look for symptoms of a leaky roof. If you smell mildew, find damp insulation, or see water spots, that could indicate a need for roof maintenance.
6: Take a Step Back
A change of perspective helps you identify problems you might not be able to see from your own yard.
Try crossing the street to get a broader view, and take note of the condition of your roof as you’re driving up to your house.
Things like missing shingles, discolored patches, and other signs of damage are sometimes easier to see when you’re far enough away that you can see the whole roof at once.
Average Roof Lifespans
Roofs don’t last forever. If your house is more than 10 years old and has asphalt shingles (which are the most common type of roofing material because they’re cheap for builders) then you should make regular inspections a priority.
Here’s how long you can expect your roof to last, on average:
- 3-Tab Asphalt Shingles – 15 to 25 years
- Architectural Asphalt or Fiberglass Shingles – 24 to 50 years
- Wood Shingles and Shakes – 30 years
- Metal Roofing – 50 to 80 years
- Stone Tiles, including Terra Cotta, Concrete, and Slate – 40 to 80 years
Remember that a roof which was poorly installed or that has sustained damage might not last as long as the average numbers indicate.
It’s always better to spot signs of damage before a compromised roof causes more problems with your home and property.