Give It To Me Straight, Doc!

The Roof Doctor Answers Homeowner Questions: Part 1

Oliver Olinger, Writer
Reading Time: 5 minutes
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We talk about how lucky we are to have a roof over our heads, but we rarely consider the role that the roof plays in our daily lives, keeping our families dry and comfortable. While many people think of the roof as simply shingles, there are related parts — underlayment, deck, attic ventilation and insulation — that all have to work correctly to maximize roof performance.

When there is a problem with one or more of these components, you could experience a roof leak, elevated utility bills, or even tens of thousands of dollars in sudden repair costs. With this in mind, the Roof Doctor answers common homeowner questions regarding roof-related issues:

How often should my roof have a checkup?

The Roof Doctor Says: Typically, a roof should be inspected every five years after installation for the first 10 years, then every year after that, unless an unexpected weather-related event takes place. After a tropical storm, hurricane or hailstorm, even a recently inspected roof will need another inspection to assess the damage. Additionally, if you notice missing shingles, a roof leak or something usual on or around your roof, call a roofing professional as soon as possible.

Always have a licensed roofing professional inspect your roof because he or she will know exactly where to look and what to look for.

Why do I need to hire a roof inspector when I can do it myself?

The Roof Doctor Says: You can begin the process yourself by examining the interior attic area, but leave the exterior, on-roof inspection to a licensed professional contractor. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) requires that roofing professionals use proper fall protection when they are on walking on a roof. Depending on the height of the roof, the slope and the condition of the ground, a mistake without protection could easily mean a trip to the hospital, or worse.

Safety aside, a professional roofer will know exactly what to look for on your roof. A professional will see evidence of leaking, buckling, ice dams, storm damage and other roofing issues that a typical homeowner might miss entirely or misinterpret as not being serious problems.

So, not only will licensed professionals better know what to look for on your roof, but they will also adequately protect themselves from a dangerous fall. If you climb on your roof without protection, you might not be so lucky. Walking on a roof is not as easy as it looks.

Could my rising energy costs and moisture in the attic be related?

The Roof Doctor Says: Rising energy costs and moisture can be directly related, but they can also occur independently of each other. Ventilation is an important part of a complete roofing system because it minimizes the temperature differential between the attic and the outside air.

Ventilation at the eaves or lowest portion of the roof accounts for about half of a properly ventilated roof system. Blocked intake vents, covered exhaust vents and improper insulation can all lead to rising energy costs and attic moisture. A balanced ventilation system that meets or exceeds the Federal Housing Administration minimum requirements or a Net Free Ventilation Area ratio that follows industry guidelines is recommended.

A professional roof inspector will be able to make a determination on your ventilation system.

Water is leaking into my house, but I can’t see any damage, such as holes or missing shingles. What could cause this problem?

The Roof Doctor Says: If you have water leaking into your home, contact a roofing professional immediately to inspect your roof and attic.

The professional will look for the following:

  • Damaged (torn, cracked or loose) shingles
  • Rotted or cracked roof vent pipes
  • Improperly installed or missing flashing
  • Clogged drains

They will also check the attic to see if you have too much or too little insulation, causing condensation issues or creating an unbalanced ventilation system.

Improper insulation can also cause ice dams in the winter. Heated air from the living areas of the house can escape into the attic, warming the roof deck. The snow melts turns into water and drips down toward the cooler eaves. The water freezes again, forming a dam along the eaves and gutters. As water backs up behind the ice dams, it can seep into the shingles and through the roof deck, causing interior water damage.

How can I repair the hail damage to my roof and prevent it from happening again?

The Roof Doctor Says: If the roof is severely damaged, it will have to be replaced. Large hailstones can damage shingles, crack or break your roof deck, and even put holes in your roof. If a hailstorm comes through your neighborhood, have a roofing professional check out your roof.

To help prevent hail damage in the future, consider installing class 4 impact-resistant roofing shingles such as StormMaster® Shake or StormMaster Slate. Many insurance companies will offer reduced premiums if you install class 4 impact-resistant shingles.

Professionals Know Best

Only a licensed professional can answer specific questions about your roof. When in doubt, contact a roofing contractor in your area to schedule an inspection.

If your roof is in need of replacement, visit to begin your journey toward a beautiful new roof.