Your Guide to a Roof Inspection

by | Feb 22, 2022

A roof inspection is best done visually while atop the roof covering. Walking a roof covering is discouraged by the roof manufacturers, but the infrequent traffic of an inspection is necessary to ensure the quality of the materials and to gain an idea of the age of the roof. 

As a roof ages, it starts to lose its granules. These granules are in place to protect the layers below, but largely to reflect sunlight. As the granules wear away over time due to direct exposure to the elements. The roof covering and the attic below will increase in temperature, and in turn, will degrade at a faster rate. The degradation and loss of service life becomes clearer when a home inspector is on the roof inspecting the materials closer than he or she could from the ground.

Roof Inspection: When to Stay on the Ground

Ground inspections of a roof are sometimes necessary. If the roof is elevated high above the ground surface, it may be too much to ask a person to climb up to the surface and risk their life doing so. In that case, you should find it acceptable for an inspector to stand below with binoculars to review the surface. A roof inspection could also be limited by the weather, the condition of the roof covering itself (that the roof is deemed to be in too poor condition to walk upon), or the materials used. Wood shake roofs, slate roofs, and tile roofs are all examples of roof coverings that should not be walked on during a general home inspection as the weight of the inspector could cause damage to the roof covering, albeit, unintentional.

Important Things to Check During a Roof Inspection

During a roof inspection, the inspector should be reviewing the roof covering materials themselves. This includes the roofing installation style, the fasteners, the metal flashings, the rubber seals around the plumbing penetrations, and the ridge cap. In addition to the roof covering, there are other areas that require a visual inspection. These areas include; the gutters, the chimney, any skylights, any exhaust vents for gas-burning appliances, the upper and lower attic ventilation, and the fascias and soffits.

The gutters will be reviewed for materials used (metal vs vinyl), debris trapped inside, a slope for proper drainage, and connection security to the structure. Along with the gutters at the eves of the roof slope, the downspouts and their termination points will also be noted. 

The chimney, should one be installed, will be reviewed for the materials used, the termination point, the quality of the mortar joints and bricks if applicable, and the metal flashing at the base of the chimney to prevent leaks into the attic.

Skylights, should any be installed, will be reviewed for their connections to the structure. Proper rated screws are expected, but often times roofing nails are used. Should the skylight not be secured, it will simply lift up and off the mount when lifting force is applied. Any loose or missing fasteners will be noted. The skylights are also reviewed from the interior of the house as well as the attic for moisture leaks into the living space.

Exhaust vents for gas-burning appliances will be reviewed for the quality of exposed materials. Often, these vents will begin to rust after being in use for many years without replacement. These vents are not replaced with the replacement of a gas furnace or gas-burning water heater, but rather just re-hooked into for the ventilation needs. The tip of the exhaust vent is what usually started to rust first, and if the rust is bad enough, to the point where holes have begun to form, it is best to have this portion, of the entire vent system itself, replaced with new materials,

The wood facias are reviewed for rot, splitting, or twisting. These facias are often installed at the bottom of the rafters at the drip edge of the roof’s eaves as well as at the gable ends of a house should it have been constructed with a gable style roof that only has two planes. The fascia is installed to hold up the overhang of the roof covering. Should a roof have been built without it, the overhangs would sag over time and create a pathway for leaks into the attic. 

Upper and lower attic ventilation should be installed for proper attic ventilation of moisture. A convective loop should form inside the attic where cool dry air should be drawn into the attic from the lower eve vents as the warmer moist air inside the attic would be drawn to the upper vents and pushed to the exterior. Simply put, for every cubic foot of air that enters the area, a cubic foot of air must leave. Lack of proper ventilation will result in the biological development of fungus and mold. Fungus and molds are always present, but it is the addition of moisture that will allow them to grow and nourish on the biological surface materials in the attic space.

Get a Roof Inspection with Octopus Home Inspections

At Octopus Home Inspections, we are committed to upholding a strong code of ethics, including professionalism and integrity. Our home inspections are extremely thorough, fairly priced, detailed, and accurate. We provide each client with a comprehensive written report, document our observations with numerous color photographs, and offer unlimited follow-up support to ensure any and all concerns you may have are addressed. Overall, we strive to be a home inspection company that you can trust completely, knowing we have your safety and wellbeing in mind. If you’re looking for a home inspector you can trust in Portland, Oregon, contact us here.