As a real estate agent, it is important to be able to identify potential problems with a property’s roof. However, you may not always have the opportunity to climb up and take a closer look at the roof. Fortunately, there are ways to identify common defects of asphalt roofing from the ground.
One type of roofing material that is commonly used on residential homes is asphalt shingles. While asphalt shingles are durable and relatively low maintenance, they can still develop various defects over time. Here are a few common defects to look out for when inspecting asphalt roofing from the ground:
- Granular loss: Asphalt shingles are coated with a layer of granules, which provide protection from the sun’s UV rays and help the shingles last longer. If you notice that the shingles appear shiny or spotted in areas or you can see the fibrous material of the single exposed in areas, this is a sign of granular loss. This can happen due to age, weathering, or sometimes a defective product (consider the age of the roof when observing granular loss). If the granular loss is severe, it may be necessary to replace the affected shingles. If the granular loss is widespread and in combination with other damages, those shingles are likely near the end of their life and your client should be considering a replacement in the near future.
- Cracking: As asphalt shingles age, they may start to crack. This can be caused by a variety of factors, including extreme temperatures, poor attic ventilation, or damage from hail or falling debris. If cracking is visible from the ground, it’s likely significant. Hairline cracks may only be visible from the roof. In some cases cracking or wind damage can lead to shingles missing entirely in areas. If the cracking is severe, it could lead to leaks and other issues, so it’s important to address it promptly. In many cases, small cracks can be repaired, but larger cracks may require the replacement of individual sections of shingles. If the cracking is widespread, that system may be at the end of its life.
- Nail pops/exposed nails: Asphalt shingles are held in place by nails (occasionally you see them installed with staples. This is a defect.), and over time, these nails may start to work their way out of the roof. This can cause the shingles to lift and eventually even wear a hole through the single above. You can often see lifting shingles from the ground, but may not be able to see the actual fastener. Nails that are exposed can corrode and become a point of moisture intrusion. If you notice nail pops or exposed nails, it’s important to have them sealed/repaired to prevent further damage.
- Moss growth: Moss is a common problem on roofs, especially in humid or wet climates (we see it in Montana. Look for it in shaded areas and north facing slopes.). While it may not seem like a major issue, moss can hold moisture against the roof, work it’s way under shingles, and cause damage over time. If you notice moss growing on the roof, you can suggest that your client have it cleaned off by a handyman or DYI. This can usually be done with a moss removal product or by physically removing it with a brush.
- Structural abnormalities: In some cases, defects in an asphalt roof may be the result of structural issues with the home. For example, if the roof is sagging, wavy, or has uneven areas, this could be a sign of a larger problem. It’s important to have a professional assess any structural abnormalities to determine the cause and the appropriate course of action.
- Ice Damming: Ice damming occurs when snow on a roof melts and flows down to the edge of the roof, where it then refreezes. This can create a dam of ice that prevents further melting snow from draining off the roof. Ice damming can cause water to back up under the shingles and damage surrounding materials. To identify ice damming from the ground, look for icicles hanging off the edge of the roof in combination with ice buildup at the roofs edge. The main cause of ice damming is insufficient insulation and ventilation in the attic, which can cause the roof to become too warm and cause the snow to melt.
- Moisture Staining / Moisture Damages at the Interior: When a roof leaks, that water has to go somewhere and often that means staining or damages at the homes interior. Keep an eye out for any moisture staining/damage at the ceiling and walls, but note that it could be the result of a previously remedied leak or a plumbing related leak if you are in a multi-floor residence.
In conclusion, there are a few common defects to look out for when inspecting asphalt roofing from the ground. Of course, this doesn’t replace a more comprehensive inspection by a licensed Home Inspector. By keeping an eye out for these issues, real estate agents can help their clients identify potential problems and take steps to address them before they become major issues.