Many homeowners rarely think twice about what goes on above their heads, until water starts dripping on them, or through their structure. Even if you do not observe any obvious current problems it is wise to make an annual inspection of your roof, and make this a regular part of your homes maintenance program.
Roof damage can occur from a variety of reasons. Many homeowners create the problems themselves from within the inside of the structure by not installing proper ventilation, inadequate vapor barriers, lack of insulation, etc. This permits warm moist air to rise to the underside of the roof where it can condense. This can cause mold, and rot. Damage can occur to the rafters, sheathing, and even the roofing. Roofing materials also can perish from the outside elements, tree limb intrusion, hail damage, etc.
Inspecting a roof requires climbing onto the roof. This may not be feasible for all homeowners. Roofs should only be accessed by a homeowner that is comfortable with doing so. If you are not comfortable with accessing the roof Hancock Home Inspections recommends hiring a professional.
Ideally it is best to inspect the roof after a hard rain. Go into the attic cavity to examine the underside of the roof. Look for visibly wet areas as well as darkened spots, stains, or deteriorated wood areas. If you observe any of these areas trace it back to it's origin. Keep in mind that water entering a structure will follow the path of least resistance. You may observe a problem area inside the attic at one location when the source entry point is several feet away. Another good method is to shut off the lights in the attic and look for daylight entry points. If daylight can get in, so can water. Seal these areas accordingly.
On the exterior of your roof always check for deteriorated flashing around any roof protrusion. IE chimneys, skylights, vent stacks etc. These are generally the problem areas and often the source of a leak. It is very important to cut any tree limbs away from the structure. A lack of sunlight can cause constant wet areas resulting in wet rot, and moss build up which will quickly deteriorate a roof. Gutters should also be inspected and repaired if need be. It is crucially important to periodically clean your gutters. Keeping water away from a structure is probably the single biggest and best thing one can do to extend the life of your home.
Lastly, the time for a roof inspection is during the summer months, and early fall. Don't wait until winter approaches as it may be difficult to make the repairs, or hire contractors on short notice. Repairs and re-roofing should always be done before winter. Leaks often occur during the winter months and proper repairs may be impossible to make during the harsh winter months.