Inspecting the Roof: The Dangers and Rewards
As home inspectors, we often find ourselves in precarious and dangerous situations as we go about gathering information about the condition of the home and its systems. In a routine home or condominium inspection, we check the property from stem to stern which many times means roof to crawlspace. The roof is a challenging area as sometimes they are accessible and sometimes not for various reasons. The roof on a one-story ranch home is routinely walked, weather permitting, because it is lower, more easily accessible, and considered overall safer than a two or three-story home. Recently for a condominium inspection in Virginia Beach, I climbed a two-story fixed-rung ladder just to view the tag and get the age of the air conditioner condenser for the unit. Our educational organizations such as ASHI and InterNACHI offer literature and courses in ladder use and safety. I have taken the courses and intently implement the outlined procedures and safety precautions. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2020 there were 22,610 injured and 166 fatally from ladder-related falls in the United States. According to OSHA, most of the deaths occurred from falling off the ladder from 10 feet high or less, proving it’s not the height that’s the significant factor. The point is, we are in danger when using a ladder to walk a roof and must be extremely careful because it’s an important part of the job.
With all this said, walking on a roof is certainly the best way to gather information. Nothing beats the close view for analysis of shingle condition and inspecting for any roof covering damage. We can see if there is granule loss, delamination, curling, prior repaired areas, or missing shingles first-hand. Walking the roof or climbing a ladder is also helpful when gauging the condition of the shingles as you are physically close. It is also a great way to inspect the gutters, chimneys, flashings, and vent and roof penetrations. Walking on the roof can also reveal spongy or damaged sheathing which may indicate leaking areas.
The second best way to inspect a roof is with the use of drone technology. As stated earlier, if a roof is over a single story, we usually don’t walk it. However, if the shingles are wet due to recent rain, if the pitch or slope is too steep and not climbable, we employ the drone (as long as it’s not in restricted air space). Summit Home Inspections is trained in drone operation and photography and registered with the FAA. The drone allows us to see things that would be virtually impossible otherwise like moisture-damaged fascia, eaves and soffits, chimney and chimney crown damage, missing rain caps, and various roof and shingle damage. Many of these things are often not visible from the ground even with binoculars so the drone is great to have in the quiver.
Inspecting the roof is a very significant part of a routine home inspection. If you are buying or selling a home, a home inspection is a great way to gauge the condition of the home for safety and maintenance. Call Summit Home Inspections today – our experienced, fully licensed, and insured home inspector is ready to help you with your purchase.
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