Hey guys, I’m Back! Sorry for the hiatus, it has been busy. Spring has sprung as they say.
When I do a standard inspection the third item I examine is the roof. Now, one thing to keep in mind is that the roof is directly related to the lots and grounds and basement inspections. Especially as it relates to the control of water runoff.
Asphalt shingles are the most common roofing type in our area but I do see Rubber membrane, Rolled roofing, built up, and occasionally tile. Many types of damage can be cause to shingled and rolled roofing materials during freeze/thaw cycles, and in fact, in the spring I see a fair amount of thermal tearing/fracturing. (The picture is from a new construction inspection done last year.) This is caused by the shingle seal being too great at the lower side of the shingle. This seal is designed to break free to allow the shingle to expand and contract during the temperature swings of the day. This is more prevalent in the spring when nighttime temperatures get into the low 40’s and afternoon temperatures approach the 70’s or higher. This damage is generally caused by someone improperly sealing the shingle tabs or lower portion of the shingle. This seal should only be done at 1/4 points on architectural shingles and on the corners of each tab on 3 tab shingles.
One other shingle related issue that I find is nail pops. These little buggers can cause extensive damage to your roof. As temperature and humidity changes take place, the roofing nails can work their way out, this pushes up the shingle above exposing that shingle to wind damage and puncture damage. I have been on many roofs that have holes in shingles caused by nail pops. To check your roof for this condition, you really only need to view the roof from the ground looking for any shingles that are elevated, 9 times out of 10, you’ll find a nail beneath. Now, if the nails have already poked through the shingles that is a little harder to see from the ground.
Also, Debris and fungal growth on the roofing surface should be regularly cleaned. This cover can trap moisture against the roofing surface and lead to premature failure of the shingles. Lichen and moss can also damage the shingles through their root system. Keeping vegetation and tree limbs from overhanging the roofing surface cal also prevent this condition from forming in the first place. There are also some products on the market to prevent this growth. Zinc strips are available to prevent fungal growth but must be replaced regularly. The composition of the metals will prevent the formation of moss and fungal growth. On many homes this is apparent beneath galvanized roof flashings and vents. Many times this is the only clear areas on the roof.
Rubber Membrane and Built Up Roofing
On flat roofing surfaces you will generally find rubber membrane surfaces or built up construction. When a built up roof is installed and the gravel coat is not present damage can be found easily. “Alligatoring” is a common defect which happens when the surface starts to dry out. In my inspections I find that most damage to flat roofing surfaces are caused by debris like leaves and fungal growth, lichen, etc. These surfaces must be kept clean in order for the roofing surface to properly dry after periods of wet weather. Rubber roofs are also prone to their splices detaching over time. It is a good practice to annually have these flat surfaces examined for these types of damage. Flat surfaces in our harsh climate tend to not last as long as a pitched surface, but with proper maintenance and monitoring they are a viable roof covering.
Gutters and Downspouts
Now, when it comes to gutters and downspouts a few things must be taken into account. The most important items are: Can the water make it’s way into the gutter from the roofing surface? and Does the downspout lead the water AWAY from the foundation?
On 80% of my inspections, the gutters are installed great, they are level at the roof line and free flowing to the downspout. (The picture shows an improperly installed gutter). When I follow the downspout to the base of the wall I find that the system is collecting water from a whole roofing surface a dumping it right next to the foundation wall. This is just begging for foundation leakage. One would be better off with no gutters than to direct all of this water to one area. Generally speaking the downspout should direct water runoff past the point where the soil was disturbed during the construction process. This information is not generally available so a good rule of thumb is 6 feet. Almost always when this condition exists, I find moisture staining in the basement area.
In summary, a quick examination of your roofing surface in the spring and fall can save thousands of dollars in repairs by heading off potential leakage and/or shingle damage. Roofing defects are one of he most common write-ups on home inspections. And I didn’t even cover chimneys in this post! Chimney flashing defects can be a whole post on it’s own. Hmmmm… Maybe I should cover that next.
As always, if you have any questions about your home send me message. I like to help and never get tired of talking homes and home maintenance. Check back soon for the next installment, Home Maintenance – Garages. Sounds exciting doesn’t it?
Aaron M. Zuehlke is the owner and inspector at Zuehlke Inspection Service, LLC, a full-service home inspection company serving Southern Wisconsin. Specializing in Home inspection, Radon Testing, Mold Testing/inspection and Residential Thermal Imaging. He can be reached by email at Aaron@Zuehlkeinspections.com or by calling the office at 608-931-7485.