Winter is hard on your home, and a major part of getting it through the winter is doing proper prep. Because your residential roofing is above your normal range of vision, it is easy to forget. However, if there is an issue, this could turn out to be an expensive oversight.
Look Around Inside Your Home
Your roof inspection doesn't actually have to start on your roof. The easiest sign of leaks to spot is ceiling stains. If you feel comfortable getting up into your attic this is even better. The closer you get to the underside of the roof, the easier it will be to find leaks. It takes time for a small issue to grow enough to be noticed downstairs, but you will be able to see it right away if you go up in the attic the day after a storm.
However, you do need to have a professional confirm your diagnosis before you order a new set of shingles. In some homes, there are exposed nails that reach deep into the attic. In addition to being a hazard when you are doing your inspection, the metal nails will cool faster than the surrounding material. Since attics are often very humid places, the cool metal can collect condensation which drips to mimic a small leak. Rather than having to repair the shingles, this problem can easily be remedied by trimming the offending nail.
Look For Missing Shingles
Asphalt shingles hold up pretty well during violent storms, but it is normal to lose a few as the roof starts to age. Getting these shingles replaced in a timely matter will prevent leaks and damage to the roof deck. While you can spot problems from the ground with the aid of some binoculars, it is best to get up on the roof an look around. If you don't feel comfortable doing this yourself, you can ask a friend or family member for assistance, or you can hire a roofing company to handle the inspection.
Check the Flashing
There are strips of metal, called flashing, that surround your chimney and the edges of your roof. What many people don't realize is that this flashing often fails long before the rest of the roof is ready to be replaced. This, and the fact that you really have to get close to spot any problems, make it one of the most common causes of roof leaks. If you don't feel the need to climb up on the roof to look for missing shingles, this should get you motivated. If you suspect a leak, it is best to let a professional handle the repair. They have tricks that allow them to replace the flashing without damaging the surrounding shingles.
Inspect and Clean Your Gutters
Your gutters are there to protect both your roof and your foundation by carrying water away from your house. If you let them get clogged, they won't be able to provide this important service. Since the most debris is gathered from the leaves that fall in autumn, the best time to clean the gutters is after the trees are barren. This can also give you an opportunity to look for cracks or holes that could get worse because of the severe winter weather. Replacing the damaged gutters will ensure that they are ready to go for the spring runoff.
There are plenty of things on your fall to do list, but this is no reason to leave off a roof inspection. Taking a few minutes to perform an inspection could save you hundreds of dollars when you catch a problem before it does any serious damage.