Part 1: Roof Issues

Home inspectors can find a wide variety of defects in a home. They can be anything from minor issues that the homeowner can fix themselves to major structural issues that will require a professional contractor. Being aware of common problem areas can help you inspect your own home periodically and plan maintenance accordingly. A main area of inspection and common defect noted on home inspections are roof issues. I will review areas of roof inspection, common problems and proper maintenance tips.

What Roof Issues do Home Inspectors Look For?

Exterior Roof Inspection Checklist

  • Severely blistered, curled or split shingles
  • Loose or missing shingles
  • Loose nails
  • Exposed nails
  • Broken or loose shingles at the ridge of hip lines
  • Signs of missing caulk to seal flashing
  • Rusty or corroded metal flashing
  • Damaged or missing flashing
  • Bagging on the ridges

Common Causes of Roof Issues

Improper Installation

Improper installation of flashing or shingles can lead to problems and drastically lower the life expectancy of your roof. The best way to avoid costly repairs later is to hire a professional from the beginning.

Hail, Wind and Other Weather

Living in the midwest means unpredictable weather. One of the most common causes of damage to a roof is hail or wind damage. After a storm, there are many fly by night contractors that will show up in an area to make a quick buck off roof issues. Be sure to check credentials of roofing contractors so that you know you are getting quality work done.

While severe weather can cause immediate damage, any wet weather conditions can cause roof issues over time. Rain, snow, ice and wind can cause wear on the roof layers and cause things like leaks or rot.


Low hanging trees that consistently brush or rub on your roof can gradually wear away at the top layer of the roofing material. Over time, this can cause significant damage to your roof. Those branches can do quick major damage if they land on your house during a storm. It is best to trim tree branches away from the house.

Drainage Issues

Not keeping your gutters clean or HVAC draining issues can cause ponding water on your roof. Ponding water on a roof is a clear sign to a home inspector that the roof may have issues.

Damaged Roof Vents

Broken seams on metal vents and cracked housing on plastic vents can cause roof leaks. This is an issue the homeowner may be able to fix but don’t be tempted to take the easy way out. Caulking the vent usually won’t last long. It is best to just replace the damaged vent.

Maintenance Tips to Prevent Roof Issues

  1. Trim Trees:  Keep your trees trimmed away from the house to avoid rubbing on the top layer. This will also help prevent a branch from falling on the roof during a storm.
  2. Keep Roof and Gutters Clean:  Keeping your roof and gutters free of debris will help prevent roof issues.  Experts recommend cleaning them at least twice a year but it’s good practice to just take a look after a storm.
  3. Check for Damaged Shingles:  When you are cleaning your roof and gutters, be on the lookout for damaged shingles. Left unrepaired, damaged shingles can cause significant roof issues.
  4. Properly ventilate: Make sure your attic is vented properly to ensure good air flow to reduce excessively hot attics which can reduce the lifespan of your roof
  5. Buyer Beware: Having a certified home inspector examine the roof of your potential new home is the best way to determine if there are any roof issues.
  6. Hire a Professional:  If you do have roof issues, it may be your best bet to hire a professional roofing contractor to fix it.  

Keeping your roof clean and maintained will help the life of your roof and avoid becoming a defect on a home inspection report.