8 Steps of a Thorough Roof Inspection

Inspecting a Roof for Damage

One of the best ways to ensure a long life for the roof of a commercial building, while also minimizing damage to the interior of the structure is to conduct both regular and event-based inspections. Here is a checklist that can ensure thorough surveys that define and address potential problems at their earliest stages.

Regular inspections:

  • Check previous repairs – Some roofs have spots that are more prone to repairs than others, so be sure that your inspections include an assessment of these higher maintenance areas to make sure that previous repairs are holding up.
  • Look for loose, broken, or missing materials – From the day they are installed, roofs start the aging process, meaning that materials may loosen or go missing without being subjected to extreme weather events. Additionally, loose materials in one area may be the precursor for the breakdown of the same materials other areas, which may call for a closer look at the total area of the roof.
  • Check the attic for signs of leaks – If the structure has a lowered ceiling or an attic, look for any evidence of leaks including water stains on acoustic tiles and/or a scent of mildew. Pay particular attention to any structures that penetrate the roof’s deck such as vents and ducts as these areas tend to be more susceptible to leaks.
  • Inspect the flashing on the roof – Look for visible signs of distress on flashing to make sure that seals are intact. Vents that fit loosely inside their flashing would also indicate the potential for leaks.
  • Inspect gutters and downspouts for clogs – While a visual inspection of open gutters will likely suffice, enclosed drainage components such as downspouts may require the pouring of water into them to ascertain that they are clear.

Event-based inspections:

  • An event-based inspection should include all the steps listed above – While regular inspections focus on detecting the gradual breakdown of the roofing system, an event-based assessment should be purposed in part to look for damage that occurs suddenly to the same aspects of the roof.
  • Look for pooled water – Accumulated water is an indication that drainage is being impeded, either by clogged gutters and downspouts or an ice dam if temperatures are low enough.
  • Inspect for hail damage – Large hail can crack shingles and damage flashing, so take a look at the entire roof for damage.

The first objective of a roof inspection is to define potential problems as early as possible. If this step reveals damage to the roof, a plan for repairs should be developed and executed as quickly as possible to minimize the extent of necessary work as well as to protect the interior of the structure.