When your roof starts leaking it's a bit late to be considering repairs or a new roof.
And, how many people want to climb on their roof to find out, especially if it's not a flat one? Now, however, a roofing material manufacturer has developed a roof inspection system that anyone can undertake.
It simply requires walking around the house looking for signs of deterioration. A discerning eye can spot telltale clues, and there is no need to risk life and limb on a tall ladder.
Here's how it's done, according to Nils Djurklou, president of MaxiTile Inc., a major international producer of building materials:
If you have an asphalt tile roof, look for areas that are black. This indicates a loss of the colored granules, which means the asphalt will soon be burned out and crack from the sun's rays. Leaks will follow.
"If you have wood shakes or shingles, look for pieces that are curled up, split, broken off or simply missing," Djurklou says. If it's a rock roof, try to spot areas that are black, signifying missing rock.
"Also, look at the ground, especially after wind or rainstorms, and if you see a good deal of rock lying about, you are looking at an important warning sign," he says. Also, look for heavy wear around the valleys, the area where water runoff from the roof heads to the gutter.
Direct your attention to the metal or asphalt material around the chimney or vent pipes known as flashings, advises Djurklou, and check for cracks, gaps and missing or fractured caulking. Check all eave overhangs for water damage and any noticeable stains on board or plaster soffits.
Look down as well as up for clues, counsels the roofing expert. When cleaning out the gutters, he suggests looking for loose granules or fragmented chips that have washed down.
If the accumulation of these broken pieces is substantial it may indicate the roof is balding with age.
So much for the outside inspection. Now, look at the interior. An internal inspection can also be revealing.
Look for stained or discolored wood, a sign of leaks. This is not only an early warning sign of a serious roof problem but also an indication that you may be confronted with damage to your ceilings, interior paint, walls and household furnishings, according to Djurklou.
Assuming you've found enough indications that the roof needs repair or replacement, then it's time to decide which direction to go with your new roof. Until recently, the options of homeowners with wood shake or shingle roofs have been limited as far as re-roofing is concerned.
Their homes were not built to support the weight of clay or concrete tile, so they were limited to using a lightweight material. But Djurklou's firm has developed a lightweight, durable, fireproof, weather resistant tile that can be used for re-roofing shake or shingle installations without any reconstruction or reinforcement.
The product is MaxiTile, which weighs less than 4 pounds per square foot installed and is half the weight of conventional clay or concrete tile. Being fireproof, it adds a safety factor and reduces the fire insurance premium.
Djurklou says that some roofing materials can provide up-front savings but have a long-lasting negative impact on the resale value of the house.
"For example," he says, "re-roofing with asphalt shingles over an original cedar shingle roof lowers the price of the property, while replacing shake with tile increases the value."
He says MaxiTile has a 30-year warranty against damage caused by wind, rain and sun, contrasted with the usual standard roofing warranty of 20 years.
Though Djurklou's firm is a manufacturer only and does not do roof work, it will provide the name of an independent contractor who will offer free estimates. MaxiTile is located at 15000 Staff Court, Gardena, Calif. 90247.
For most people, re-roofing is not a do-it-yourself project. Call reputable, established contractors for free estimates, ask for references and get recommendations from friends.
And, oh yes, if you have a flat roof, you'll have to use that tall ladder after all to see if re-roofing is needed.