When was the last time when you inspected your roof? Some people inspect their roofs before winter sets in for good reasons. A neglected roof can cost much more than what would normally do if roof boards and studs have to be replaced or interior ceilings and walls repaired. The rule of thumb is to inspect either annually or bi-annually unless your area went through extreme weather events such as extreme heat, violent storms, large quantities of snow, etc. In these cases, inspecting your roof as soon as possible after the event can save you thousands of dollars.

So, you conquered your fear, took all the precautions and you are now up on your roof. What next? Looking around is ok but do you really know what to look for?

Here are the things to check out and what to do, depending on your roof type:

Metal Roof

metal roofing

If painted and maintained properly it should last approximately 50 years. Metal roof can be made out of galvanized steel, aluminum, copper and even lead in older homes.

Do you see any signs of pitting, rusting and corrosion?
Do you see any loose or open seams and joints?

Taking Action: If the damage is extensive and cannot be easily repaired, consider to redo the entire roof.

Asphalt roofing

asphalt roofing

Do you see lots of fine gravel-like granule in the gutters?
Do you see signs of shingle tearing or warping?
Do you see bare spots on shingles, no gravel-like granules?
Are the shingles curled?

Taking Action: Replace any curled and bare spotted shingles. If the damage is spread to around 30% of roof surface consider replacing all shingles.

Clay tile, slate and cement shingles


Should last the lifetime of the home if cared for properly

Do you see any broken, chipped or missing pieces?

Taking Action: All broken, chipped or missing pieces should be replaced as soon as possible.

Caution: Because they are so brittle do not get on the roof to inspect them. Use binoculars instead.

Wood Shake or Shingles


Wood shakes are hand-split on at least one face and either tapered or straight while wood shingles are mechanically cut and tapered.

Do you see rot or warped shakes or shingles?

Taking Action: If one third of the shingles or shakes show signs of rotting or warping, it is time to replace the roof.

Caution: It is never recommended to walk on wood shakes or shingles, your will be much safer taking a peak from your lawn with a pair of binoculars.



Flashings are metal pieces of the roof which cover the roof valleys and around dormers, vent pipes and chimneys.

Inadequate or faulty flashing allow rain water and melted snow to enter the attic and cause water related damage to the roof infrastructure, attic insulation and even to the interior walls.

Do you see damage in the flashings?

Taking Action: Repair or replace faulty flashing as son as possible.

Regardless of your roof type

Always inspect under eaves and overhangs to look for damage that might indicate water leakage.

Words to the Brave

If you are not comfortable climbing on your roof, do NOT get a beer and act bravely. If you would like to impress someone, be smart, do not endanger your life! I urge you to use binoculars to inspect your roof from the ground and hire a qualified contractor, if required.

In the same series of articles:

Why ventilate your attic?
How to Control Moisture in Attics
Attic Moisture and Your Climate
How to Fix a Water Stain on a Ceiling
How to Prevent Icicles and Ice Dams on Roofs
Why and how to install an attic vent
13 possible spots for your roof leak
20 point roof inspection check list
How to replace faulty roof shingles

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