What’s in a Roof? Here’s the Home Inspection Course Module Lowdown

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Homes are made up of numerous systems, none of which is more important than the roof. It blocks the heat of the sun, keeps out the wind and rain, and has important structural jobs, as well.

Roofs have ridges, vents, hips, and valleys. They might be covered with shingles, tiles or metal sheets. They might rarely get the same aesthetic attention as siding or other exterior features. But a strong roof is imperative to a strong and healthy home.

What are Some Common Roofing Terms?

When you think of a roof, you probably think of roofing materials. But they go much deeper than that. Here are some common roof terms that you’ll learn more about in ICA School home inspector training.

  • Rafters: structural framework of the roof.
  • Ridge: top edge of the roof where two sloping planes meet. A home might have more than one ridge depending on the design.
  • Valley: the opposite of a ridge. Valleys are formed where two sloping roof planes meet at the bottom.
  • Dormer: a window that projects out from the roof. Dormers are common features where bedrooms are located.
  • Gable: the outer edge of a sloping roof plane.
  • Ridge vent: a ventilation channel that runs all or part of the length of the roof ridge.
  • Step flashing: metal flashing used where roofs meet with a vertical surface.
  • Counter flashing: flashing that mounts on a vertical surface to keep water from dripping behind step flashing.
  • Deck or decking: plywood or another solid material that forms the roof substrate fastened over the rafters.
  • Underlayment: water-resistant materials sheeting, often asphalt based, that covers the deck before installing shingles or another roofing material.

Roofs are complicated systems. These are just a few of the terms you’ll learn about in home inspector training.

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What Function do Roofs Serve?

The answer to this question might seem obvious. But once you realize how many different components make up a roof, you’ll start to see all of the jobs it must do, and do well. If one component fails, it can affect the whole house.

The roof of a home protects the building from the elements. It helps maintain climate control, lends structural support and gives support for interior and exterior finishes.

Roofs are part of the building envelope, which Building Science calls enclosure components. The foundation, walls, windows, doors and vents work together to form the complete building sheath. And in perfect conditions, that sheath keeps out heat and water, retains indoor comfort and breathes well to keep humidity down and fresh air cycling through.

What Roof Defects are Most Common?

Probably the most common roof defect lies with the shingles or roofing material. Asphalt shingles wear down over time. They can also break or lift in high winds. Metal roofing can rust or dent under impact and seams might weaken.

Clay or stone tile roofing is durable, but it can also break or succumb to high winds. Left without maintenance, flat roofs are notorious for water leaks.

Some defects are much more common than others.

  • Water leaks
  • Uplift or blow off
  • Ponding water
  • Punctures and rust holes
  • General poor maintenance
  • DIY repairs
  • Inadequate ventilation

As a home inspector, you’ll eventually see miles of roofs with many interesting and potentially dangerous defects. Over time, you’ll gain the ability to spot them quickly. But it all begins with proper training, which is where ICA School comes in.

Inspection Certification Associates is a carefully designed education program that has one goal: to give inspectors the best shot at success. Because it’s self-paced, you can study when you like with no schedule rearrangements required. Once you’re a certified home inspector, the future is nothing but up.

Ready to get started on the path to a new career? Enroll now and you could schedule your first home inspection in a matter of weeks!

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