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How to Spot Roof Problems Before You Buy a House

In a previous blog, we gave roof repair advice ( to homeowners looking to sell their houses. This blog will cover the flipside of that situation. After all, prospective homebuyers want to move into a house with a solid roof overhead. You just might not feel comfortable making a quick roof assessment during a brief home walk-through.

It is possible to feel confident about assessing roof quality when you take home tours. Read this blog to learn how before you visit another home for sale.

Outside the House

You should pay closest attention to the state of the roof when you inspect the house’s exterior. Take a long look at how the roof adds to and detracts from the home’s front curb appeal, but don’t stop there. When your real estate agent shows you the backyard, pay attention to more than the view. Walk onto the lawn and examine the roof from the back and sides as well.

What are you looking for? Keep your eyes peeled for these signs of roof problems:

  1. Missing shingles. This problem is easy to spot and shouldn’t have a huge effect on whether you buy a home. Just ask a roof repair specialist to add a few missing shingles. But, large patches of missing shingles may indicate bigger issues. Be wary of shingles missing in a roof’s valleys, too. They leave a roof vulnerable to leaks.
  2. Damaged flashing, sof it, or fascia. These special roof parts need careful installation and maintenance. You’ll find them under the eaves and around features that extend through the roof, such as the chimney. Examine those parts as closely as possible and look for signs of bending, cracking, or buckling.
  3. Missing or damaged gutters and downspouts. A home needs rain gutters and down spouts to ensure that water drains away correctly. Look for bends or breaks in these roof elements. If you don’t see any, the home’s interior likely stays dry during wet weather.
  4. Shingle granules in the gutters. Asphalt shingles naturally shed their rough granules over time. But, if you notice excessive amounts of granules resting in gutters, the roof may be near the end of its lifespan. If you want to buy the house, you may need to negotiate with the current owner to cover the costs of replacing the aging shingles.

Many homes in Southern California have stone tile roofs. These can be more difficult to evaluate, so contact a roofing professional for help if you suspect problems beyond a few broken shingles.

Inside the House

You should still be on the lookout for roof problems once you enter the house. Thanks to our state’s plentiful sunshine, Southern California residents don’t have to worry much about wet weather exposing leaks in roofs, but they can still be a problem. Here’s how to spot roof damage from the inside.

  1. Look up every time you enter a room. Your first hint about possible roof problems will come from dark spots on the ceiling. When you see these, there’s almost certainly water damage somewhere above. It may come from leaky pipes or other past plumbing problems. But, you’ll want to rule out a leaky roof before you make an offer.
  2. Does the home you’re touring have any fireplaces? What about skylights? Check them for damage. These features connect directly to a house’s roof, so they can sometimes indicate roof problems not visible outside. If possible, examine the walls around fireplaces for dampness. Wetness could mean a hole in the roof is letting water inside.

Don’t buy a home without giving the roof a thorough inspection inside and out. Call a roofing professional to make the assessment for you if you have concerns about the roof on a home you love.