Inspecting a roof is a complex process that you should never do on your own. Different roofs are made of different materials, and therefore, each roof can have it's own unique set of problems. If you have a problem, it's nearly impossible for the average homeowner to figure out exactly what is happening. Certified roofing companies use advanced imaging technology and are highly trained on safety precautions to inspect your roof.
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It's often difficult to gauge the health of your roof. For instance, if your neighborhood recently went through a severe storm, you might assume that the damage to your roof is the same as your neighbors'. However, the extent of weather damage caused by the same storm can vary greatly between homes and depends on the quality of your roof's materials and installation.
In other cases, you may think you have a perfectly healthy roof upon cursory inspection. But as time goes on you'll notice small problems, such as curling shingles, which point to a larger issue. The best roof maintenance is precautionary, meaning that it is easier to address the problem early, before you get a leak and seriously risk damaging your home's interior.
So how can you tell if you have problems with your roof? While each roof is different, there are some basic things to look out for. The following items can help you decide how soon to call an inspector. However, getting a certified roofer to come to your home for a complete inspection is the only way to get a definitive, expert opinion.
Assessing the Age of Your Roof
Do you really know how old your roof is? Generally, about 20 to 25 years is the average life span of any roofing material. During a typical roof replacement, asphalt shingles are completely removed and a brand new layer of shingles is set down. Other times, asphalt shingles just get placed over existing roofs, which covers up the problem, but doesn't deal with an underlying issue (i.e. rot). Many DC area roofing companies have even seen roofs with several old layers of shingles underneath! Especially in a case where you've bought an older home, it's a good idea to have the roof inspected to see how old it really is.
If the new layer on top is 20 years old, it's likely that you need a new roof. Note that you can't always tell that replacement is necessary by just by visual inspection. Damage can occur in areas that you can't see without a certified inspector using the proper equipment. Good roofing companies will use advanced technology to aid their assessment. For instance, thermal infrared cameras can detect hard-to-see moisture, which builds up and causes severe damage over time.
Assessing the age of your roof is important, and will allow you to better plan for a roof replacement down the road.
Curling and Bucking of Shingles
You can tell a lot about your roof based on its shingles. If they are curling and bucking, the shingles probably need replacing. Another easy way to tell their age is if their granules look worn. A surefire sign of shingles being past their life expectancy is if you notice shingle granules in your gutters. The more you see, the more likely your roof needs replacement as soon as possible.
Shingles also lose their color when the granules shed. These worn out shingles will look darker as a result, indicating the need for roof maintenance or replacement. Explaining these noticeable problems to your roofing company will help them prepare for your roof inspection.
Missing or Cracked Shingles
Perhaps you haven't looked at your roof for a while, but you just noticed some missing shingles. This kind of damage can occur to worn out or improperly installed shingles, especially after a windstorm. Unless you find them in your yard, missing shingles often go unnoticed. However, loss of just a couple shingles affects your home's insulation and can cause serious damage as they may result in a slow leak. Slow leaks are difficult to notice, especially when in an inaccessible area, such as your attic.
Shingle cracking is another issue you can't always detect on your own. Extreme weather can cause cracks in shingles, which are usually subtle. Several years of letting these cracks go could lead to leaks and other expensive problems.
While replacing a few shingles isn't difficult, it can look unattractive to have discolored shingles around the new ones. Therefore, some people elect to replace the entire roof to prevent having their shingle colors look like a checkerboard. Talk to your roofing company if this is a concern for you.
Moss and Algae on Your Roof
When you start seeing moss and algae on your shingles, it's a good sign your roof is aging rapidly. Seeing this may prompt you to go on your roof and power wash the algae off. However, that's the worst thing you can do! Pressure from the power washing removes shingle granules, which can in turn make your shingles wear out faster.
The good news is that most new shingle products are now algae and moss resistant, so when you decide to replace your roof, you won't have to worry about that unwanted ecosystem growing on your home.
Sunlight or Water in Your Attic
Spend some time inspecting your attic. It's here that you can discover many roofing issues, even more so than climbing on your roof. Any sign of sunlight coming through the top of your attic is an immediate indication that your roof needs replacing. Also, use a bright flashlight to look for possible water stains in your attic, as many leaks won't be big enough to make it past the attic.
Roof Collapse Warnings
Obviously, a roof collapse is one of the worst things that can happen to your home. The good thing is that you'll have clear warning signs before it happens. One of the most obvious signs is when sections of your roof begin to sag. In addition, bends or ripples in the roof structural support are a very dangerous indicator of a problem. Additional signs can be inside your home, which include cracks or sags in your ceilings and walls. Even doors and windows might become hard to open or will open on their own.
A certified roofing company will look for all of these warning signs, especially when you're not sure if anything is wrong. Never automatically assume your roof is going to be fine another year. Contact us at BRAX Roofing so that we can become your dependable roof inspector and repairer. Remember to ask about our expertise in asphalt roofing, cedar shake roofing, and flat roofing.