Most experts agree that one of the best ways to avoid roof trouble is to inspect your roof twice a year: In the Fall, for sun damage and in the Spring for Winter damage. By doing this, you will be able to identify any problems early, before you start having leaks. Use binoculars from the ground to check for problems.
If you have asphalt shingles (petroleum based material covered with sand-like granule), look out for a roof surface that is not smooth and the edges of the shingles are curled and warped. Check for crooked shingles. Scan the roof for any shingles that may have been lifted by the wind or are missing altogether. Bumps can indicate that the roofing nails below have become loose. Look for bald spots where the mineral granules have worn away
With wood shingles, check for curled, broken, and split shingles and for spots where nails have become loose or rusted.
With tile or slate, individual tiles can chip and break and require replacement.
In valleys and in flashings around the chimney and vents, check for broken seals along the flashing's edges and for rust spots in the metal.
Check rafters and the underside of the roof for dark wet spots. These are signs of rot and will need to be replaced.
Climbing into your attic or onto your roof to inspect your home can be very dangerous. For that reason, we urge you to use the services of a professional contractor to conduct a close-up roof inspection.
Hometime has a whole roofing section for do-it-yourselfers that is great information.
ImproveNet has a calculator to help you determine the cost of a new roof.
Home Restoration & Remodeling Magazine offers advice on choosing a roofing contractor.
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