Recognizing Roof Damage

The spring season is a time for many things, from rediscovering the great outdoors to clearing the clutter leftover from another long winter.

For many homeowners, that spring cleaning also means a careful examination of a home's exterior. Winter can prove especially harsh on a home's exterior, in particular the roof. While stains on the ceiling or obvious leaks are easy ways to detect roof damage, many times problems with a roof are not so obvious. For homeowners hoping to give their roof a thorough end-of-winter examination, consider the following tips for recognizing roof damage.

* Look on the ground surrounding the home. While it might seem odd to look down to see if a roof has been damaged, some of the most telltale signs of roof damage could be right in the yard, nearby bushes or driveway. Strong winds, common in many regions during the winter months, can blow off shingles. Those shingles can then land in the yard, trees, bushes, driveway, etc. In areas that receive heavy snowfall during the winter months, these shingles can get buried in the snow, all the while giving homeowners a false sense of security with respect to their roof. Once the snow clears, homeonwers should take a walk around the property and look on the grounds for any shingles, be it full shingles or pieces of shingle. This is best done as soon as possible and definitely should be done before the first lawn mowing of the spring season.

* Get on the ladder and get up on the roof. The best way to detect any roof damage is to go up on the roof. Certain roof damage requires careful inspection, as not all roof damage announces its presence via a leaky ceiling or blown off shingle. Roof damage from hail, for instance, leaves marks or dents on the shingles and can even crack the shingles' tabs. Oftentimes, such damage isn't noticeable to the naked eye, requiring a careful rooftop inspection.

* Inspect for fire damage. The obvious response to being advised to inspect a roof for fire damage is to ask, "Well, if my home hasn't been on fire, how can my roof have undergone any fire damage?" Unfortunately, even a neighboring fire can cause fire damage to roofs within its proximity. Heat from a nearby fire can cause damage to a roof that was never actually on fire. That damage will manifest itself via scorch marks on the roof or areas of the roof that seem inconsistent. Such inconsistencies might be the result of melting, which could also have caused damage to the material beneath the shingles, be it wood or metal. Homeowners living in neighborhoods where there was a fire over the winter should look for signs of fire damage.

* Inspect the roof's supporting cast. Homeowners living in regions where heavy snowfall is common should also look at the support beams in their attics. Roofs tend to take a beating in regions with heavy snowfall, as the weight of all that snow can take its toll over time. That toll can extend to support beams in the attic, resulting in sagging supports or cracks. Even if the roof appears to have made it through another harsh winter, it's still a safe and smart bet to see how well the roof's supporting cast handled the harsh weather as well.

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