How to Conduct a DIY Roof Inspection

Do-it-yourself roof inspections are simple and can end up being free, assuming the homeowner already owns a pair of suitable binoculars -- the only tool necessary to conduct the inspection. Using binoculars to survey the roof while standing on the ground, homeowners should check the overall condition of their roof, keeping an eye out for debris, damage, or deformations. Any obvious trouble areas should be noted and addressed immediately.

It is easy to spot shingle damage, which includes torn, missing, cracked, and brittle shingles, or shingles stripped of their protective granules. Individual shingles are easy to replace, especially if they are made of a common roofing material like asphalt. Wood shingles are sometimes hard to color match, especially on older homes. All repairs to a slate roof, meanwhile, should be carried out by a professional. Slate is very heavy and difficult to install properly, and flawed repairs are just as bad as a damaged roof.

Leaks are more difficult to spot, especially if they originate from an area that's hard to observe from the ground. A leaking roof doesn't always bring water into the house, so it can sometimes be difficult to detect from the inside. It's a good idea to get an up-close look by climbing on the roof with a ladder. This ladder should be sturdy with no rust or missing rungs and able to support the weight of the person climbing it. In addition, both legs of the ladder should lie flat against the ground, and the ladder itself should extend above the edge of the roof so the climber can grasp on and pull him or herself up safely. When checking for leaks, inspect the roof for small holes and missing nails or shingles.

A ladder helps homeowners find leaks and other problem areas.A ladder helps homeowners find leaks and other problem areas.

Homeowners should also inspect the gutters, soffits, fascia, and flashings. Water that doesn't drain properly causes major damage to the roof, walls, and foundation. In addition to the potential for overflow, standing water from clogged gutters can become a breeding ground for mosquitoes. The excess weight also causes the gutters to sag and pull from the fascia.

To clean gutters, remove debris and flush them with water to make sure they drain properly. Sagging gutters also result from poor hangers or fasteners, both of which are inexpensive to obtain. Leaky gutters should be sealed, patched or replaced.

Bees, hornets, and wasps like to make their nests around soffits and fascia. These parts of a home also collect water and eventually mold if they aren't treated properly, so homeowners should be certain they are painted, sealed, and caulked.