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How to conduct a roof inspection

Roofs are one of the more overlooked areas of home maintenance, but they need just as much love and care as the rest of your property. Neglecting your roof can lead to many problems, so it is important to carry out regular inspections to stop any issues before they have a chance to take hold. Read on for some helpful advice on protecting your roof.

Start in the attic

You’ll be surprised by how much you can learn about your roof without even going near a pair of ladders. You’re looking for anything that indicates a leak or damage. Tell-tale signs such as sagging and water rings are suggestive of leaks; whereas dark patches might be rot, which can be caused by damp. It’s also important to check for any unwanted light, as beams of sunlight pouring through your roof are indicative of gaps, which can be down to loose tiles or simply age. If you encounter any of these problems it’s time to contact a roofing specialist such as to remedy the issue before it gets any worse.

Look for loose or damaged tiles

Loose tiles are one of the most common roofing problems and they’re usually quite easy to remedy. Nonetheless, leaving damaged tiles in place can lead to leaks, water damage, and even more serious problems if they fall off the roof completely. You should always exercise extreme caution when venturing onto your roof; use a pair of sturdy ladders, wear soft shoes with plenty of grip, and always use a rope with a safety harness for additional security. When you’re safely on the roof, position your feet at the bottom of each row of tiles (that’s the strongest point). Conduct a survey by looking for cracked, out of place, or loose tiles. These can be replaced by removing the tile (along with the nails that held it in place) and attaching a new one. Always use roof sealant to prevent leaks.

Pay attention to the flashing

Flashing is another area of potential trouble. Flashing is placed around chimneys, satellite dishes, and air vents to prevent leaks, but it can come loose over time, especially during bad weather. Loose flashing allows moisture into the roof which can cause damp and those dreaded dark patches that sometimes occur in the attic. Ensure that there are no gaps in the flashing, but also look for any rust or signs of movement. Flashing can sometimes shift from its intended position, therefore opening your roof up to water. Unlike tiling, flashing replacement is a job that’s best left to a roofing specialist.

Remove moss

A crucial but often overlooked aspect of roof care is removing any build-up of moss. Moss can grow alarmingly quickly, especially during the summer. While it looks innocuous enough it can damage both tiles and wood. Moss is moist and it can make your roof damp. Fortunately, it’s easy to deal with if you catch it early. Simply wait for a dry spell and then scrape the moss off with a brush. It’s worth contacting a professional if your roof is heavily coated, however. 

Check the gutters

Guttering is a big flash point on any roof. Gutters are easily blocked, easily damaged, and easily knocked loose by the wind. This can lead to all kinds of problems, including damp seeping through your walls, leading to mold. It’s vital to catch gutter problems early, so be sure to carry out regular checks and maintenance. Look for any cracks and also make sure that the gutter remains firmly attached to the roof. If everything is looking fine, you will probably still need to clear out dirt, debris, and fallen leaves. It shouldn’t take too long, and keeping your gutter flowing well has lifetime benefits.

Assess the chimney

Another area of potential problems, there’s a lot that can go wrong with a chimney. The first and most obvious issue that you should look for is any leaning. Ensure that the chimney is completely straight and then conduct a more in-depth assessment. Look for any flaking or deterioration and keep a special eye out for wet marks at the sides. These can indicate that the chimney is leaking, which requires professional intervention. There shouldn’t be any holes or loose masonry. Also, check the mortar joints and pointing for any signs of deterioration. Any problems should be immediately clear, and you’ll likely need a specialist builder to repair them.

Be extra careful with flat roofs

Flat roofs are notoriously unreliable and benefit from being checked by a qualified surveyor every two years. There are some measures that you can take yourself, however. Regularly check flat roofs for any standing water or puddles, as collected water can cause big problems because flat roofs aren’t designed to hold the same amount of weight as a traditional rooftop. Pooling water can cause the roof to sag, leak, or (in extreme cases) even fall in. If pools of water have begun to collect on your flat roof they should be cleared away immediately. Look for signs of leaks (dark patches or mold) on the inside and also check the pointing to ensure that the roof hasn’t begun to sag. 

Survey the skylights

Skylights are a great feature on any roof, but the sad truth is that they’ll probably need replacing at least once during the lifetime of your home. Skylights have a range of vulnerabilities that make them prone to problems. Look for areas of damp around the skylight. If you notice dark patches on the roof it’s a sign that the seals around the window are becoming loose, allowing moisture to creep in. Also check that the flashing around the skylight is still secure (loosening in this area is a common issue) and make sure that there’s no movement anywhere else. Skylights can move imperceptibly over time, making them unstable. Rust is another cause for concern that you should look out for. Skylights aren’t cheap to repair, and it’s usually more cost-effective simply to replace a defective one with a new version. 
Keep the above advice in mind in order to avoid problems with your roof including damp, fungus growth, and higher energy bills due to heat loss.

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