The I.O.U. Method: Inspect Your Roof Like a Pro

Human beings are creatures of habit—and our lives require regular maintenance. We schedule annual health check-ups, semi-annual dental cleanings, and quarterly oil changes for our vehicles. And since our roofs protect our homes—and everything we love that lives inside—a (semiregular) roof inspection belongs on our home maintenance calendar.

Plan to inspect your roof at least twice a year—and always after a major storm. Strong winds, freezing rain, ice, and heavy snow all signal our cue to gather a notebook and a pen, and start assessing for damage. Even minor roof issues can snowball into serious structural damage. The sooner you can spot any type of roofing problem—the better.

Even the worst roof damage can go undetected—especially under the watch of a homeowner’s untrained eye. However, anyone can learn how to spot and stay ahead of the most common and notorious warning signs. In the roofing business, we trust and recommend the I.O.U. method—which stands for Inside. Outside. Up the ladder. And King Quality is here to give you the crash course.

What to do: Crawl inside the attic.

Inspecting your roof like a pro means starting from the inside, straight to the top of your home interior. Crawl up in the attic, armed with a flashlight, to uncover signs of weakness and the many telltale signs of roof damage that can trickle down to the ceilings on the top floor of your home.

Tip from the pros: If small spaces make you claustrophobic or uncomfortable, hire a qualified roofing contractor to do the dirty work.

What to spot: Gaps or cracks in the plywood.

During the daytime, look around for sunlight peeking through the plywood, signaling cracks or holes in the roof or damage to the roof deck. Aside from causing leaks and water damage, holes expose your home to animals, insects, rainwater, and more. Plugging the holes keeps harmful outside elements and pestering intruders from infiltrating your home and daily life.

What to spot: Dark stains or streaks.

Grab a flashlight and inspect your attic for these common signs of moisture damage and poor ventilation. Don’t panic if you spot some stains or streaks. But consider calling a professional to inspect your attic for any signs of mold or rot.

What to spot: Sagging or buckling in the roof.

Excessive moisture can weaken the roof deck enough to cause a major structural problem. Call a qualified roofer the moment you spot sagging or buckling, which both could mean you need a new roof.

What to do: Inspect outside the house.

The fresh air feels good after you crawl out from that cramped attic. Swap your flashlight for a pair of binoculars, walk the perimeter of your home, and inspect your roof for signs of damage from the ground up.

What to spot: Cracked, curled, or missing shingles.

Cracks and curls caused by high winds or flying debris can expose shingles to the underlayment, making your roof and home vulnerable to leaks and water damage. Missing shingles pose an even greater threat. (Shingles act as a coat of armor for your home’s top layer, serving as your roof’s first line of defense against damaging UV rays.) If you spot any of the three culprits, call a qualified roofing contractor to repair or replace the shingles.

What to spot: Large dark patches or spots.

Every shingle has a granule to protect the underlying asphalt from UV rays and weather conditions. Dark patches and spots can surface when hail knocks off the granules, when overhanging tree branches rub against the shingles, or when the granules simply fall off over time. Shingles without granules can dry out and crack. Hire a roofing contractor to replace shingles missing granules.

What to spot: Debris on your roof.

High winds can scatter debris across your property and roof. The urgency depends on the situation. A branch on your roof could pose only a minor threat but could also cover up cracks or impact damage leading to a more serious problem. Debris can also rub granules loose from the shingles. Keep your roof clear of debris to maintain a safer, healthier roof.

What to spot: Bent, warped, or detached flashing.

Large hail or flying debris can also damage flashing. These metal pieces act as sealers between the joints of the roof to help prevent water intrusion around chimneys, vents, skylights, and other penetration points. The longer flashing remains unfixed, the larger the potential damage. Hire contractor to repair or reseal bent, warped, or detached flashing.

What to do: Climb up the ladder.

Climbing up on a ladder places you front and center for an up-close view of your roof.

Tip from the pros: Always put your own safety first. When in doubt, follow the three-point rule: always keep two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand, on the ladder. Keep the ladder—and yourself—away from power lines and wet branches that may conduct electricity. If you’re not completely comfortable, hire a professional to safely climb up a ladder and inspect your roof for damage. Visit for in-depth roofing safety information.

What to spot: Loose nails.

Nails are the glue that secure shingles to the roof. High winds can get beneath shingles and lift them away from the roof deck. Loose nails or nail heads may leave your shingles one storm away from blowing off the roof completely. Always keep nails and shingles nice and tight to maintain a strong, healthy roof.

What to spot: Gutter debris.

Gutters play an important role in protecting your roof as the drainage system for water and debris. Wind can blow debris into the gutter and cause major issues such as ice dams. Clean gutters can add years to the lifetime of your roof. If you’re not comfortable cleaning the gutters, call a roofing contractor for help tackling the project.

Place your biggest asset in our hands.

Ready to repair or replace your roof? Need help with a roof inspection? Let our certified roofing specialists help you identify roof problems from the inside out. Our complete home walk-around and professional inspection diagnoses and treats all the trouble spots putting your roof and home at risk. Reach out to King Quality today and discover the royal treatment for you and your home.

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