Appraising a Roof’s Condition
A roof appraisal is performed to inspect the functioning components of a roof and to determine how many years the roof is likely to last. An inspector usually performs roof appraisals before a home is sold, but it’s a useful procedure for existing homeowners, too. Learn the various points all roof appraisals should cover.
Exterior of the Roof
Start the appraisal process by looking at the exterior roof as a whole. Walk far enough away from the home to get a good vantage point and look at the roof from a few different angles.
Look for any slopes that sag or are uneven. Do your best to access if the roof ridge is level. If you notice any spots that sag or drop down, make a mental note of where they are and look at them again once you’re inside the attic.
Use binoculars to critically assess the shingle condition. Binoculars make it much easier to see blisters, cracks, granule loss, and other problems unnoticeable from the ground. Curling shingles are a surefire sign of damage and should be replaced.
Walk around the entire base of the home to look at all sides of the roof. Look for degrees of wear-and-tear along the sides that receive the most sunlight.
Gain access to the roof and inspect the metal flashing around the chimney, any ventilation pipes, and sidewalls. The flashing should be free of rust and cracks. If the roof is free of flashing, check the shingles around these areas of any signs of wear and tear.
Check the edge of the roof for shingle layers. It’s typical of most building codes to prohibit installing more than two layers of shingle materials on a roof. A second layer underneath the top layer isn’t necessarily a bad sign, it’s just helpful to know how many layers the roof has.
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Interior Roof Components
Checking the underside of the roof is just as critical as examining the exterior components.
Climb into the attic if it’s accessible and evaluate a few crucial areas.
Once inside the attic, carefully inspect the ridge beam. If the beam is at all warped or uneven, that calls for a professional repair. Do not attempt to fix it yourself as it’s a serious structural problem.
Next, look for any signs of water stains or mold on the underside of the roof decking. If you noticed any problem areas outside, look at the corresponding interior decking and examine it for moisture penetration.
Finally, check that no warping of the roof sheathing has occurred. This points to a lack of proper ventilation.
The roof will have some form of a ventilation system, which helps circulate air and prevent moisture damage and heat accumulation. A well-functioning ventilation system will add to the life of the roof while keeping utility costs down.
Start by looking for the intake vent located on the underside of the roof eaves in the soffits and exhaust vents close to roof ridges. Exhaust vents take many forms, such as turbines, gable vents, and ridge vents, but they all allow hot air to circulate out of the attic. Look for mold, insect nests, or other signs that the vents are blocked.
If you can access the attic examine it for signs of proper air circulation and an absence of mold, rot, and other problems. If you cannot access the attic, or if the house has vaulted ceilings or finished lofts, be on the lookout for baffle ventilation installed near the peak of the ceiling. Baffles are made of either wood, plastic, or metal and create space for air to circulate between the insulation and roof sheathing.
As long as you’re in the attic, examine the underside of the roof for water stains, sagging areas, or mold. All are serious problems that need to be addressed.
Carefully inspecting the exterior and interior of the roof will reveal most problems potential (or existing) homeowners need to consider.
If the appraisal reveals no signs of serious problems and there’s only one layer of shingles, chances are the roof will function well for a considerable length of time. Of course, the type of roofing material you have, your local climate, the severity of the weather, and a myriad amount of other factors affect the longevity of the roof.
Considering handling the repair by yourself? Read onward: