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How To Inspect A Roof Like A Pro: A 7 Step Tutorial

May 10th, 2019 BY First American Roofing

Recently, we talked about the real cost of cheap roofing companies and some telltale signs that a contractor isn’t worth your time.

Along those same lines, today we’re going to talk about one of the biggest cardinal sins a contractor can make: not properly inspecting your roof.

If a contractor simply walks around your home and doesn’t even both to take a look at the roof, then you know that they are not going to provide a high-quality service. However, it takes more than simply hoping up on the roof to know that they are going to get the job done right.

In this post, we’re going to provide some insight into what a proper roof inspection should consist of, as well as what to look for in their estimation summary to determine if they actually looked at your roof.

So, what exactly should a roof inspection look like? Let’s find out!

1. Inspect Your Roof’s Gutters

The first thing we always do when doing a roof inspection is to look at the gutters. If your contractor has a detailed report on the gutter situation of your roof, then that is a good sign they know what they are doing.

inspecting gutter guards for damage
Gutter guards.

A contractor should always look at how the gutters are attached. This is because the drip edge cannot be replaced if the gutters are attached through the drip edge.

In addition, if there is a gutter guard, then it may need to be removed if a new drip edge is needed — which will cost more in terms of time and labor.

While looking at the gutters, the contractor should also take a peek at the underlayments to see what exist there and to get an overall better picture at how the roof was initially constructed.

2. Make Sure To Inspect Your Roof’s Flashing

The flashing is another important detail a contractor should carefully consider when giving an estimate. Without getting up on the roof, they will not be able to tell whether or not it needs to replaced, as well as what kind of flashing it is.

If the contractor doesn’t bother to check out the flashing, they are is no way they can accurately estimate the cost or what the process will be like. As a result change orders will likely be necessary which can be a major headache for homeowners.

how to inspect your roof for damage
Proper flashing is key to the sturdiness of a roof

We always replace the flashing because it is the main entry point for water and it needs to be kept in great shape. We can not stress enough how important this is. It is a very small aspect of a roof, but damaged flashing can cause immense damage under the surface. If you see damaged flashing, do what you can to inspect it further and detect the damage that may be lurking under the surface.

3. Inspect Any Skylights, They May Need To Be Replaced

During the time of a re-roof, most skylights will likely need to be replaced. You can expect an 18-22 year life span for an individual skylight, so if the contractor’s recommendation is the opposite of this rule of thumb, make sure you ask them about it.

roof intake vents on roof
Inspecting skylights for wear and tear

While your skylight may be working fine now, if it is near the end of its life it may be easier and more cost-effective to replace it with the rest of your roof. Removing and replacing a skylight is an intrusive process for your roof and is easier to do when you are already in the process of repairing or replacing a damaged roof. Depending on the homeowner, it could be worth including in your estimation – presenting it as an option that would benefit them but not as a requirement.

4. Look Closely At The Soil stacks

The contractor should also investigate the sol stacks for any cracks or other issues. This is another small but important detail of the roof that needs to be secure. You don’t want to replace the soil

how to inspect soil stacks on roof
Soil Stack On Roof

stack boot with a cheap alternative. Here at First American, we use boots that last 50 years because they are made of silicon.

If you notice damage on or around a soil stack this should be factored into your estimate. While there is a range of replacement options, we opt for making an investment as opposed to a quick fix. Reinstalling a soil stack that will go bad before you need to replace your roof again will only cause more problems down the road. Taking the time and money to get this right will save you in the long run.

5. Chimney Inspection

The chimney is also an area that cannot be properly assessed without being on the roof. This is especially true for ensuring that the chimney has a saddle or cricket that diverts water away from it. Otherwise, during have rain or snow, you’ll have the precipitation landing or sliding right into the chimney which can cause damage and leaks.

inspecting the chimney saddle on your roof
Chimney saddle.

If there is damage around or on the chimney you’ll need to factor that into your estimate. The homeowner will have repair options to make depending on the kind and scale of damage sustained by the chimney. We recommend talking them through this. Obviously, there will be more expensive and less expensive repair options available. Just make sure they choose something that will work well with the rest of their roof.

6. Inspect The Attic Closely

Make sure that the contractor looks around your attic as well. Specifically, they should be looking to see how the ventilation is in your attic, as well as if there is any rotten wood on the roof.

how to inspect a roof in attic
Inspecting the roof from the attic

A quick look in the attic can tell you a lot about the condition of the roof, as well as the risk its been subjected to in previous years. If there is poor insulation, you should look closely for excess wear on the roof from the additional heat that would leak through. During the winter this heat can cause serious problems by causing the formation of ice dams. Essentially the snow melts on your roof, and runs down freezing to the end of it.

Breaking Down The Estimation

Overall, a contractors’ estimate should definitely include these smaller details in addition to the higher overview information — such as the type of shingles to use, when the job will be done by, etc.

Don’t be afraid to question a contractor who didn’t take the time properly inspect your roof. Your roof is not something you want to settle for when it comes to who you choose to work on it.

For a high-quality roof inspection, call First American Roofing and Siding today. We have the experience and knowledge to give you an accurate estimation, as well as get the job done right the first time.