As the first line of defense against outside elements, your roof should be one of your top priorities. A solid roof protects the rest of your property by deflecting rain and snow, keeping out debris, and protecting the items inside your home. A weak roof will struggle to complete these tasks and may lead to unsafe living conditions or expensive repairs.
Roof damage can be hard to identify, so it’s important to conduct regular roof inspections. In this article, we’ll discuss what a roof inspection is, what is included in a professional roof inspection, and why maintaining your roof is important. We’ll also discuss three practical ways you can keep your roof in good condition, year-round.
What is a roof inspection?
A roof inspection is a thorough assessment of the condition of a home’s roof and the components supporting its daily functions. This includes evaluating roof shingles, gutters, attics, and their surrounding areas. A professional roof inspection aims to identify any potential issues and determine what repairs would help optimize a roof’s performance.
It’s important to understand that roofs are not passive components on a property, but rather roofing systems that work in unison with gutters, vents, and chimneys to keep out unwanted elements. Equally as important is getting ahead of roof maintenance whenever possible. Not only is delayed maintenance unsafe, but it's also expensive.
What is included in a roof inspection?
Certified roof inspectors will examine multiple aspects of a home’s roof, including its structural support, the quality of the roofing materials, and interior conditions. While it's possible to inspect the roof yourself, chances are you’ll miss a few warning signs. Professional roofing experts typically divide their roof inspections into three parts:
The first thing a roof inspector will evaluate is how well your overall roof system is holding up. Rather than focusing on finding roof damage, a structural inspection focuses on the strength of your roof’s layout. This will reveal if your home’s roof design is structurally unsound or sagging. Issues with your roof deck, gutters, soffit, or fascia can also be detected in a structural inspection. Homes with outdoor vent pipes, attic skylights, and chimneys will also have these areas evaluated for grout and signs of debris infiltration.
The second aspect of a roof inspection focuses on the quality of your home’s roofing materials, which may include asphalt shingles, metal plates, or clay. Inspectors will check for damaged shingles, missing shingles, water damage, rust, and moss. These signs put your home at risk for roof leaks and pest infestations. Roofing professionals will also check for signs of damage to the flashing underneath your home’s roof shingles. Most U.S. homes have asphalt shingle roofs. This roofing material typically lasts 15-25 years, depending on upkeep. An asphalt shingle roof should be inspected at least once a year and immediately after a natural disaster.
Lastly, a roof inspector will check the inside of your home’s roof to make sure no signs of damage are missed. Not all roof damage is visible from the outside, which means inspectors will need to evaluate your ceiling or attic from the inside of your home. In some cases, roof inspectors may also assess your home’s walls. They typically check for water stains, wood rot, mold, holes, pests, and beams of light coming in through the attic.
Why is roof inspection and maintenance important?
Not only is a home with a faulty roof unsafe, but it’s also difficult to sell. If you plan on selling or passing down your home in the future, you should prioritize your roof’s health. The average roof replacement costs $11,500, making it an expensive home improvement project for most homeowners.
Scheduling regular roof inspections and maintenance allows you to maximize your roof’s lifespan and save money on home repairs. A roof inspection can also reveal areas where your roof or other parts of your home are weak. This may prompt you to weatherproof your home through certain home improvement projects.
Cost of roof maintenance vs. roof replacement
Maintaining your home’s roof through regular maintenance is much more cost-effective than replacing it. On average, roof inspections cost about $220. However, depending on the type of roof you have and how thorough the inspection is, a roof inspection can cost from as little as $75 to as much as $600. Be wary of roofing contractors who offer free roof inspections. Sometimes, a roofing contractor does this only to suggest overpriced or unnecessary roof repairs in their estimate.
Any professional roofing company should be able to produce a clear estimate of necessary repairs. Ask for a written estimate before agreeing to any roof repairs. Average roof repair costs range from $400 to $2,000, depending on the extent of the damage. These figures put your roof maintenance costs between $470 on the low end and $2,600 on the high end.
In some cases, roof damage is so severe that it's best to purchase a new roof altogether. The average cost of a new roof is about $11,500. However, roof replacement costs vary greatly depending on roof size, style, material, and cost of labor in your area. Installing a brand new roof onto your home can cost anywhere between $6,700 and $80,000.
When issues arise unexpectedly, it can be difficult to cover the expenses from your savings. It’s worth exploring financing to cover the costs of roof repairs — consider a home improvement loan, home equity loan, HELOC, cash-out refinance, government loan, or Home Equity Investment.
3 roof maintenance tasks to keep your roof in shape
As you can see from the figures mentioned above, it's a lot easier to maintain your roof than to replace it. If protecting your roof is a priority for you, staying on top of maintenance and repairs is key. Here are a few roof maintenance tips.
Inspect your roof at least once a year
Professional roof inspectors will have a better chance of identifying roof issues. However, it’s not a bad idea to take a quick look yourself, once or twice a year. Homeowners should check for water leaks in the attic and loose shingles around their homes, especially after heavy storms. Some homeowners prefer to check for roof damage in the summer since it's easier to climb onto their roof and spot lifted or curled shingles.
Another way to avoid roof damage is to remove debris whenever possible. Dusting off fallen branches and leaves immediately after a storm will help keep your roof clean and free of drainage issues. Excessive debris creates the ideal environment for moisture to thrive. This can result in mold or moss growth beneath roof shingles, which compromises the safety of your roof.
Clean your gutters
Another important, yet often forgotten, aspect of your roofing system is your home’s gutters. Clogged gutters trap rainwater around the edges of your home’s roof, which can cause the edges of your roof to rot. Wiping away dirt and grime accumulated in and around your home’s gutters can help prevent water damage to your roof. If reach permits, rinsing gutters out with a garden hose is also a good idea.
Final thoughts on roof maintenance and inspection
Maintaining your roof doesn’t have to be difficult. Follow the tips mentioned above and prioritize professional roof inspections to make sure your home’s roof remains in optimal condition. Delaying roof maintenance can make it difficult to pay for roof repairs or require a full roof replacement in the future.
Extensive roof repairs and roof replacements can easily put homeowners in debt, especially if roof damage comes as a surprise. Regularly checking your home’s roof will help protect your interests as a homeowner. If, after conducting a roof inspection, you realize you need to replace your roof or make significant roof repairs, consider financing your home improvement project with a Home Equity Investment (HEI).