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4 Wintertime Roof Issues that Inspectors Should Be Prepared to Spot

Home inspectors

Winter is coming? Say it isn’t so! Unfortunately, frigid temperatures and everything that goes with them will be here before you know it. And that can mean roof issues for unfortunate homeowners and buyers.

Here are some issues that might not be obvious when the weather is warm. Once snow and freezing rain starts to fall, they’ll be much easier to spot.

#1: Ice Dams

Sparkling icicles tumbling over the roofline might make a home look like part of a winter wonderland scene. But they can indicate a major problem. Ice dams don’t often happen consistently throughout winter. But when the conditions are just right, they can tear off shingles, pull down gutters and even create ice inside the home.

Proper ventilation, good gutters and properly installed insulation combine to help prevent ice dams. You might not see any evidence while inspecting a house. But you can spot the issues that can cause them to happen.

#2: Poor Gutters

Part of the ice dam equation, bad gutters can also contribute to issues that include siding damage, roofing damage, water infiltration and even a wet basement. For such simple devices, they’re surprisingly sophisticated. Or at least they should be.

Proper installation needs a roof apron or drip edge to prevent water from backing up under the shingles. Proper slope, which is about 1/2 inch per every 10 feet of gutter, moves through the gutter toward the downspout. And gutter hangers prevent sagging.

Home inspectors

Almost every roof issue can contribute to the ice dam phenomenon.

#3: Inferior Attic Insulation

For such a basic building material, insulation stumps a lot of homeowners. When it’s installed correctly, it keeps heat inside the living area where it belongs. When it’s not, it can create condensation issues in winter.

Aside from the mold that can emerge from damp conditions, condensation can also mimic a roof leak. Watch for proper orientation of the vapor barrier, too. Installed backward, which is a surprisingly common defect, it can compound condensation issues.

#4: Snow Loads

In areas where heavy snows are more common than not, the structural integrity and design of the roof can be the difference between just another ordinary winter and one that causes serious roof damage. Snow drifts caused by poor design can add to the load problem in winter.

Snow buildup can also pose another hazard: the avalanche. It might sound remarkable, but the perfect storm of the roof slope and roofing materials can allow excessive snow to build up. Then with the slam of a door, it might come crashing down at once. Small, peaked snow guards or snow breaks peppered throughout the roofing helps prevent the avalanche effect.

Winter might seem like a far away season, but summer is already practically over. On no time, frigid temperatures will spread throughout the country. And that’s when roof issues that might otherwise go unnoticed can come to the forefront.

When the temperatures dip this year, you can provide clients with valuable information that identifies roof and related defects or even prevents expensive roof repairs later on. And your ICA School home inspector education is the best way to prepare for it. Enroll now and start training right away at the pace that suits you best.

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