Property owners and property managers should never walk on their roofs to conduct an inspection. Roofing is not a DIY job. It’s dangerous to both you and your roof.
However, there are obvious signs – safely observed from ground level – that can indicate a problem. The most obvious is looking up at the ceiling to see a wet spot or stain. Another way is peeking inside the attic or crawl spaces to look for moisture. The smell of mildew can be overpowering.
Clues on a property’s exterior walls often are overlooked, though. In fact, Target Roofing & Sheet Metal’s certified inspectors start their inspections by walking the building’s perimeter.
Here are four tell-tale signs on your exterior walls when inspected that might indicate a problem with your roof:
(1) Evidence of Stains:
Roofs are designed to channel rainwater away from a building and its foundation. Sloped roofs can send rainwater over eaves directly to the ground or into a gutter and downspout. Flat roofs also can use gutters and downspouts in connection with scuppers, as well as interior drains. Rainwater should not drain directly down the side of a building. That can leave stains along exterior walls, as indicated by paint colors. It also can create pools of water at the foundation.
(2) Evidence of Mold and Moss:
Mildew and mold can grow on any surfaces that are frequently wet. Water running down the side of a building is a frequent cause for mold on the exterior walls. Mold can start growing in the cracks and crevices on concrete, stucco and bricks. Eventually, it can cover entire sections of a structure, including the roof system. Mold is most common on walls facing north because they receive less exposure to the sun. Moss can also severely damage the structural integrity of a building. Moss commonly thrives in environments that are damp and shaded along parapet walls and sloped walls. The moss growth can spread, lifting roof tiles and enlarging cracks in the entire roofing systems, allowing leaks to occur.
(3) Evidence of Paint Peeling:
Building interiors are climate controlled, which helps paint last longer. Exterior paint, on the other hand, is subject to high temperatures, high humidity and UV rays. Florida’s subtropical environment is the primary reason many painting professionals recommend a new exterior coat every five to 10 years. Paint that is continuously exposed to moisture can peel or crack, and colors fade much quicker.
(4) Evidence of Poor Drainage:
Gutters and downspouts should channel water from the roof into the grass or onto pavement. If collections of granules from shingles or chipped pieces from tiles appear, that can indicate a problem. Drainage systems should only be transporting rainwater and occasional leaves or twigs that land on a roof. Mud or puddles also can indicate a problem. A well-designed roof should direct water away from the foundation, generally a foot or so from the structure.
Target Roofing recommends semi-annual roof inspections. An inspection at the start of rainy season helps catch issues before they become problems, like potential leaks. Another inspection after rainy season evaluates how your roof held up against the elements. Between those formal inspections, though, walk the property every month or so and make notes of any potential causes for concern. The exterior walls often provide clues.