Inspecting Your Cedar Shake Roof
Your home. Your castle. Your safe haven. The roof on your home is the first line of defense against the elements. A simple visual inspection twice a year will help you maintain your roof, identify issues early, and extend the life of your roof. It will also keep small, easy to fix problems from escalating to becoming large, very expensive problems. Here is what to look for:
Before you get started, know some basic information about your home like when was your home constructed, has the roof been replaced and, if so, when. Have a means to record and save potential issues you want to watch from inspection to inspection. Keep your visual inspections on the ground. Climbing a ladder and walking on the roof can be dangerous and most of what you need to see can be observed from the safety of the ground.
Inspecting Your Roof from the Outside
As you get started, have a place to make notes whether that is a notebook or the notes app on your phone. With your phone, you can take pictures if you desire a visual record of your findings. Binoculars can be helpful but are not necessary.
Start by finding an area where you can get a wide-angle view of your roof. Observe the general health of the roof. Do you have trees nearby that rub up against the roof or drop debris? Do the shingles or shake look even and tidy? Is there any discoloration from moss, water discoloration or uneven bleaching from the sun? Walk around your home. Look from as many vantage points as possible. The good news is you don’t need to see the whole roof to have an idea of its general health.
Here are a few specific things to look for and what it means for your roof.
Missing shingles or shakes
This will be easy to see. You will to want to call a trusted local roofing contractor immediately because missing shingles or shakes means your home is exposed to the elements. This can lead to roof leaking which can damage the structural integrity of your home.
This can be harder to see with the naked eye than missing shingles. After even a short time in the sun, your shingles will change color. So, if you see a shingle that has the original coloring where the others are showing the sun-bleached color, that is a good indication there are broken or severely split shingles.
Curling or cupping shingles or shakes
For wood roofs some curling (the end of the shake point curl upward) or cupping (where the sides of the shake curl upward and form a cup) is the result of natural weathering of your roof. However, if you can see the underlayment under the shakes, there is a greater issue and it is time to call your roofing contractor. Upward curling is a result of overheating and an indication that your attic is not venting properly. This can shorten the life of your roof, but by itself, is not an imminent threat.
Your shakes will lighten in color with the bleaching of the sun. However, if you see green you may have moss or algae growing amongst the shingles. Black may indicate the growth of mold. Both can be chemically treated either a roofing contractor who can also get up on the roof to check the integrity of the shakes.
Dark areas that do not dry out despite days of dry weather can indicate an issue with the underlayment (the protective layer between your shingles and wood structure of the roof) or the shingles themselves. This is an issue best left to a professional contractor to inspect.
Areas of rust on the metal pieces connecting the various planes of the roof (this is called flashing) or in the gutters will indicate problems with drainage or wear. Check the vents for signs of rust as this may indicate humidity build up in your attic and a need for additional venting.
Wear around the vents
The plastic piece around the vent is called a boot. The boot keeps water from leaking or seeping down the vent into your attic. Signs of wear of the boot such as chipping or cracking may indicate the need to be replace the boot. A good pair of binoculars will help you look more closely at the boots, vents and the area around the vents.
Check your roof from the Inside
A check of your attic for signs of leaks or water damage is a must for your inspection. Use a flashlight to check the beams and walls for water stains and moisture. Observe the nails coming through the roof for signs of rust, a sure indication of a water damage issue.
Outside of getting to your attic, your inspection can be done from the ground without the use of a ladder. If you really feel the need to get a bird’s eye view be sure to follow proper safety techniques (found here or here).
If any of the issues from above arise in your visual inspection, it is time to contact a roofing professional to complete a through inspection. Even if you are not certain, many reputable local contractorss will assess your roof for no or very low cost.
SPeak to an Expert
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