If the roof is actually leaking, it should be obvious from damage inside the house. A look in the attic may also reveal water stains on the rafters, indicating small leaking that will eventually cause damage. Damage inside the house is not always attributable to roofing, but could be caused by faulty flashing or result from condensation.


Asphalt shingles are the most common roof covering and are made in a wide range of weights and thickness. The most obvious deterioration of asphalt shingles is loss of the surface granules. The shingles may also become quite brittle. More important, however, is the wear that occurs in the narrow grooves between the tabs or sections of the shingle, or between two consecutive shingles in a row. A good asphalt shingle should last 18 to 20 years.


Wood shingles also find considerable use for covering of pitched roofs and are most commonly of durable woods. Such as cedar in No. 1 or No. 2 grades. A shingle roof should appear as a perfect mosaic, whereas, a roof with worn shingles has an overall ragged appearance. Individual shingles on the worn roof are broken, warped, and upturned. The roof with this worn appearance should be completely replaced even though there is no evidence of leaking. Excessive shade may cause fungus growth and early shingle deterioration. A good wood shingle roof will last up to 30 years under favorable conditions.


Built-up roofing on flat or low-sloped roofs should be free of bare spots in the surfacing and of separations and breaks in the felt. Bubbles, blisters or soft spots also indicate that the roof needs major repairs. Alligatoring patterns on smooth-surface, built-up roofs may not be a failure of the roof. The life of a built-up roof varies from 15 to 30 years, depending on number of layers of felt and quality of application in the felt.


Other than the surface of the roof itself, the most single ingredient of any roof structure is the flashing. Flashing consists of thin sheets of metal -- copper is best, aluminum more common,-- that are applied to angles curves and variations in a roof surface where the principal roofing material, which is generally less flexible, cannot provide a weather tight fit. In the case of most shingles, they will bend but would tear or break if they were to be fitted into a ninety-degree joint.

Flashing should exist where the roof intersects, wall chimneys, or vents, and where two roofs intersect to form valley. Corroded flashing should be replaced to prevent future problems. Likewise, corroded gutters and down spouts, which can be restored by patching and repainting unless severely corroded.


If the house was built with no roof overhang, the addition of an overhang should be considered in a remodeling plan, It will greatly reduce maintenance on siding and window trim, and prolong the life of both.

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