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The best way to extend your roof’s life span is to keep up with maintenance and get it inspected regularly. A roof inspection will identify trouble spots before they worsen to keep your roof looking good and functioning properly—without having to invest in a new roof prematurely. Here’s what to expect from the inspection process.
What Is a Roof Inspection?
A roof inspection involves a visit from a professional inspector, who will come to your home and thoroughly examine your roof from the inside and outside. The inspector may also need access to your attic, garage, and other areas. Once the inspection is completed, the professional will write up a thorough inspection report detailing any damage or signs of potential trouble.
What Does a Roof Inspector Look For?
Here’s what a roofing professional will look for while conducting an inspection:
Inspectors will check roofing materials for signs of damage, such as cracks, splits, curling, and missing granules on shingles; cracks and chips on slate and tiles; and rust, corrosion, and split seams on metal roofs. An inspector will also look for signs of water damage and moss or algae buildup. They will pay special attention to roof valleys, which are potential weak spots for leaks.
Decking and Frame
The inspector will observe your roof’s wooden decking and frame for structural stability. They will inspect any potential weak or spongy spots for sagging or rot. They’ll also scan rafters and joists to ensure they’re still supporting the roof without cracking or splintering.
The inspector will check for rust or cracks in the thin metal flashing that lines penetrations, which have the potential to create leaks. Penetrations include skylights, chimneys, and vent pipes. Inspectors will also check associated features such as chimney caps and masonry to ensure they’re in good shape.
Fascia and Soffits
The inspector will examine fascia, the horizontal boards that run along a roof’s edges, and soffit boards, which cover the underside of the roof overhangs, for rot, cracks, warping, or other types of damage. These boards play an important part in protecting your roof from water damage and pest infestation.
The inspector will evaluate the roof structure’s underside and pay close attention to the rafters, joists, and decking. An interior inspection also includes checking the attic itself for mold, pest infestations, water stains, and other signs of roof leaks.
A roof must be properly ventilated to maintain a consistent temperature and regulate humidity. If your attic is unfinished and accessible, the inspector can check this from the interior. If there is no attic or if it’s sealed off, the inspector will examine exterior ridge vents, soffit vents, and gable vents to ensure proper airflow.
The inspector will complete the process by examining gutters and downspouts for any blockages, cracks, or broken seams. They’ll also check gutters for shingle granules and other aggregate materials that indicate shingles are deteriorating.
How Often Should You Inspect Your Roof?
The fall is usually the best season for a roof inspection so that you can ensure your roofing system is in good condition before ice and snow arrive. Here are additional factors to consider when planning for your annual inspection:
Age of Roof
If your roof is less than five years old and you’re not experiencing any problems, you may not need a professional roof inspection. Instead, you can perform a visual inspection from the ground, checking for obvious issues such as loose or missing shingles. After you pass the five-year mark, opt for regular roof inspections from a professional.
If your home incurs damage from a hurricane, tornado, tropical storm, or other weather event, call your insurance company to schedule a roof inspection as soon as possible. Since these are often covered events, homeowner’s insurance may pay for an inspection and roof repair costs.
Signs of Leaks or Damage
If you suspect your roof has sprung a leak, call a roofing contractor for an inspection. You can save on repair costs in the long run by addressing roofing problems as soon as you spot them. Here are some signs of roof damage to look for:
- Dripping sounds
- Ice dams
- Missing or damaged roofing materials
- Pooling water on roof edges
- Visible mold or mildew
- Yellow or brown water stains on ceilings or walls
Selling or Refinancing a Home
If you need documentation related to your home’s value, an official report on the condition of your roof is typically necessary. Ask your realtor or bank about hiring a qualified inspector.
Roof Inspection Cost
The average cost of a roof inspection is $225, but the price can fluctuate between $125 and $340. Here are some factors that contribute to this cost:
- Accessibility: If your roof is especially steep, complex, or difficult to access, an inspection will take longer and cost more.
- Inspection type: Specialty inspections, such as those that use a drone or infrared imaging, may cost up to $600.
- Roofing materials: Shingle roofing costs are standard. Materials such as slate, which is difficult to walk on without causing damage, may cost more to inspect.
- Roof size: Inspectors typically charge a flat fee, but they may charge more for large roofs.
Note: Cost data in this article was sourced from HomeAdvisor.
How to Hire a Professional
Here’s how to find a quality roofing company for inspection or repairs:
- All contractors should be bonded and insured.
- Ask about a warranty on workmanship as well as materials.
- Ask the company for proof of up-to-date licensure.
- Check out customer reviews on reputable sites such as Trustpilot and Google Reviews.
- Look up the company on the Better Business Bureau website for information on its rating, accreditation status, and customer complaints.
- Get estimates from at least three local contractors before making your choice.
- Some companies offer free inspections but may require you to use them for repairs. You may want to opt for a no-obligation inspection or an independent inspector.
What to Expect: Roof Inspection Process
A typical roof inspection takes about an hour and focuses on four key areas: structure, materials, interior, and workmanship. The process may vary slightly from contractor to contractor, but the National Roof Certification and Inspection Association (NRCIA) recommends the following process:
- The inspector begins by examining the home’s interior, including accessible attic space and attached garages, for any evidence of leaks.
- They walk around the exterior perimeter, looking from the ground for obvious signs of damage, rot, or other problems.
- The inspector takes pictures of actual or potential leaks.
- Using the information gleaned so far, they get up on the roof and visually inspect any potential trouble spots and critical areas, such as roof valleys and penetrations.
- Within a day or two, the inspector compiles a thorough written report including photographs, analysis, and recommendations.
A roof inspection provides a thorough, expert analysis of your roof’s condition and is useful whether you actively suspect a leak or just want to keep up with routine maintenance. Roof inspectors are trained professionals who know what to look for and can help you find potential issues before they become expensive problems. If your roof is more than five years old and hasn’t been inspected in more than a year, we recommend scheduling an inspection soon, no matter the type of roof you have.
Roof Inspection FAQ
How do I know if my roof needs replacing?
Here are some signs that your roof needs replacing:Moss or algae is growing on the roof.Shingles or other roofing materials are cracked, bald, or severely damaged.The deck is visibly rotting or sagging.Your shingle roof is more than 15 to 20 years old.
How long does a roof inspection take?
A roof on a mid-sized, single-story home takes anywhere from 30 minutes to one hour to inspect. Larger homes with two or more stories may take up to two hours.
Will my insurance cover roof damage?
Homeowner’s insurance will only cover roof damage if it occurs during a covered event. For example, damage sustained during a hurricane is likely covered. However, damage that’s a result of the roof’s age or lack of maintenance isn’t covered.
What is the difference between a roof inspection and a home inspection?
A home inspector checks all parts of a house for signs of structural damage and other problems, while a roof inspector only checks the roofing system. A roof inspector has more specific training in spotting roof damage, so this is your best bet if you suspect a roof problem.
How can I prevent roof damage?
Here are some tips for lengthening your roof’s lifespan and preventing damage:Fix minor problems as soon as you spot them.Get a yearly roof inspection.If you live in a cold climate, check for ice dams in the winter.Keep the roof clear of leaves and other debris.Kill moss or algae blooms immediately.Make sure gutters and downspouts are unclogged and in good repair.Trim tree branches so they don’t overhang the roof.