Roof Inspection Checklist: What to Look For

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Roof Inspection Checklist: What to Look For

The roof is an integral part of any structure, and yet it is very vulnerable to the elements. In many areas, maintenance personnel are required to perform informal visual inspections after any severe wind, rain storm, or snow event. Yearly inspections are typically completed yearly.

While homeowners are under no legal responsibility to complete seasonal roof inspections, it is an extremely good idea. Catching and repairing early damage is a great way to keep the roof in excellent shape and save money on larger repairs, water damage, or higher heating and cooling bills. But what does a person look for during a roof inspection? Here is a simple checklist to follow when performing a roof inspection.


General Roof Condition

The first thing you’ll want to do is check the general condition of the roof. This includes things like:

  1. Looking for any debris (tree branches, materials from other buildings, etc.)
  2. Checking for physical damage. This can include loss of shingles, peeling shingles, or popped roofing nails
  3. Drainage. Make sure the gutters aren’t backed up and are running smoothly.
  4. Attic conditions. Make sure the attic fan is functioning, that no water is leaking through the cutout for the fan or any other openings.
  5. Structural deformation. Make sure that there is no warping, cracking, or any other deformity in the roof.


Items to Address for a Sloped Roof

A sloped roof will have slightly different issues to check for than a flat roof. Look for missing tabs, granular loss, or corrosion of the metal aspects. Also ensure that the roofing materials are in good shape: no curled or buckled shingles.

Fading is not as critical at the moment, but a roof that has fading is a roof that’s getting older. It may be a sign that you may need to think about roof replacement in the near future.


Checking a Flat Roof

A flat roof has a few extra factors to address, as the shape doesn’t naturally repel precipitation or have even indirect protection from sunlight. When dealing with a flat roof you’ll need to look for:

  1. The condition of the coating (is it smooth and completely intact?)
  2. Cracks or alligatoring. This is a condition that is generally caused by the sun and gets worse as the roof ages. UV rays will dry out the roof coating and create a series of cracks that look like alligator skin (hence the name).
  3. Blisters or fishmouths. This kind of damage is when the roof raises up in blisters due to water vapor trapped under the coating.
  4. Ponding. This is caused by rainwater or snow melt collecting in pools (or ponds) on a flat rooftop.
  5. Check for metal corrosion. This will look like rust, pitting, or cracking in the metal structures of the roof.


Inspect the Individual Roof Features

Take some time to scrutinize some of the roof features to make sure that they are intact. This will include:

  1. Fascia. These are the horizontal boards that hang under the edge of the roof. It protects the rafters and supports the gutter system
  2. Soffit. This is the siding found underneath your roof’s overhang. The soffit protects rafters from the elements.
  3. Skylights. Check the seal around the skylights to ensure that there are no leaks or cracks. Also that there is no damage to the skylight itself.
  4. Gutters and drains. Check that these are intact, without rust or holes, or major denting. Clear out any debris. Gutters and drains need to move water swiftly and smoothly from the roof so that water damage doesn’t occur.
  5. Chimneys and vents. Look for any cracks or broken seals around the chimney or vents. Water that is able to leak in can cause mold or damage.
    Flashing. This is the waterproof material that is applied to joints, edges, valleys, or any other gaps to prevent leaks. Make sure there is no cracking, pitting, or other damage to the flashing.


Interior Structural Checks

A good way to determine whether the roof is functioning at optimal levels is to see what’s happening in the structure interior. There are two places inside the building that you should check; the ceiling and the walls.


Ceiling Conditions

Look for any areas of water damage. This could look like water staining (patches of discoloration–anywhere from pale yellow to black), water leaks (obvious water pooling on the ceiling, or even dripping down), or cracks in the ceiling. Check closely, as sometimes hairline cracks can be difficult to see at first. If you don’t catch water damage early it can create far bigger problems and more expensive repairs.


Interior Wall Conditions

You want to look for the same kinds of things on the walls that you did on the ceiling. Check for any leaks or water stains. Give a careful look to the areas around windows. If there are leaks you may notice deformed finish or cracks and bubbles near the joint of the ceiling and wall. Make a note of the door and window alignment.


The Bottom Line

One of the signs of a healthy structure, whether residential or commercial, is a healthy roof. Because it is so continually exposed to the elements, you need to be sure that it is solid and whole. Any breach in a roof can create water damage issues: cracking, buckling, discoloration, and blistering. More importantly, water damage can lead to larger structural issues and the biohazard of mold growth.

Businesses and homes should have their roofs checked periodically to ensure that they are functioning at peak capacity. You can give it a look yourself using this checklist, but it’s always a good idea to have a professional give it a look…especially if you notice anything that seems amiss.


If you see any of the problems outlined in this article, call your roofing professionals to be a second pair of eyes and to quickly resolve a smaller issue before it becomes a large and costly one.

Horizon Roofing – serving the Orange County, CA area – is your reliable local roofing contractors. We specialize in residential roofing and commercial roofing and have been in the industry for over a decade. We have excellent reviews and look forward to serving your need.



Call us on(714) 328-1967, email us at, or contact us here today.