Your roof could be leaking right now, causing hundreds, even thousands of dollars of damage, and you don't even know it. In fact, many roof problems are only discovered after they've reached an advanced stage - after leakage or other serious damage has already occurred.
Roofs can leak for years before you see evidence
Most often, homeowners only pay attention to their roof if there's water leaking into the house, if they notice brown stains on the ceiling, or if there's cracked paint or peeling wallpaper - all obvious signs of a leak. But roofs can leak for 2 to 4 years before you see evidence on the inside the house. By this time, the leak may have caused dry rot, fungus and insulation damage - and the need for major repairs or even a completely new roof.
Have your roof inspected at least once per year
To add years of life to your roof, and to avoid premature roof failure, it is a good idea to have your roof inspected at least once per year. The National Roofing Contractors Association (NRCA) recommends two roof inspections each year - once in the fall and once in the late spring - before and after the tough winter season, especially in colder and rainy climates.
You can do a preliminary inspection yourself, looking for shingles that are buckling, curling, blistering or missing altogether; loose material or wear around chimneys, pipes and other penetrations; and excessive amounts of shingle granules in your gutters, which indicate advanced wear. But it is better to get a professional to inspect your roof - someone who knows what they're looking for, and who's used to walking around on the roof.
Get a written report of the damage
A roof inspection by a professional should include a complete inspection of the roof, parapets, flashings and drainage system. They should present you with a detailed report of conditions they found, including photographs and a sketch of the roof indicating the problem areas.
What about a free roof inspection?
Many roofing contractors will provide a free roof inspection, including a written estimate outlining the required repairs, as a means to solicit work. This is a fine approach if you already have a relationship with your roofing contractor. If not, to be cautious, get two inspections done by separate companies, or hire a roof inspector who doesn't also offer repairs. This way you can be sure that the inspector isn't recommending unnecessary work. Richard Boon, Deputy Technical Director of the Roofing Industry Educational Institute, recommends paying for a roof inspection. He figures you will end up paying for the inspection anyway, as it will be hidden within the cost of the repair.
A small price to pay for the "insurance" - and peace of mind
The cost of a roof inspection is negligible compared to the cost of repairing or replacing a roof which makes regular roof inspections a wise investment. Wouldn't you prefer to find potential leaks and related damage before they become real problems? And before they lead to major repair bills?
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