You’re hearing water drip. Your heating bill is mysteriously higher. Maybe there are loose shingles in the yard. Could that hailstorm last week have damaged your roof? Is there really anything wrong to begin with?

There’s only one way to know: someone needs to inspect your roof.

We all eventually need to have our roof inspected. It’s an essential part of your investment in your home, and helps protect both your family and your possessions from damage from the elements and other outside forces.

You might be thinking you can save money by inspecting your roof yourself, but that would be a mistake. Inspecting your own roof is both dangerous and may cause further damage if you aren’t professionally trained. It’s always best to hire a professional roofing company to inspect your roof for several reasons.

To make sure you get the best experience from a roof inspection, here’s what you need to know:

Can you perform your own roof inspection?

In a word, no. There are ways for homeowners to do minor inspections safely. But a proper roof inspection process can only be completed in full by a professional. Even just walking on your roof incorrectly can cause damage.

It’s always worth it to hire an expert to take a look at your roof. An expert can offer insight and deep diagnostic info you might not ever be able to discern or figure out yourself. How can you keep your roof safe without knowing what you’re looking for?

Why you need a professional roof inspection

On average, homeowners need to have their roof inspected every 3-5 years. Annual inspections may be necessary if your roof is older than 10 years, roof or has general overriding problems. It’s important to know the typical lifespan of your roof’s materials so you can predict when repairs and maintenance will most likely be necessary.

However, there are certain circumstances where a roof needs to be inspected immediately. If there are water stains evident in the inside of your house, or strong winds or hail just went through your area, call for an inspection as soon as possible. If there is a tree branch or other object piercing directly through the roof, an inspection is immediately necessary.

Professional roofers are trained to see the details

It is best to hire a professional roofing company to complete an inspection for one simple reason: they see things non-roofers will not see.

Even if you (or a general home inspector) use a drone to inspect your roof, an expert will see things that you may not. They have a system and experience that helps them know where to look and what to look for, and will often climb onto your roof to inspect it up close. They also have the experience and training to understand the subtle signs of damage, and what work needs to be done to protect your investment.

It’s a prerequisite to any roofing job

If you think your roof needs repair, a professional roofing company will always start with a comprehensive roof inspection. Even if you can get up on your roof yourself (hint: you shouldn’t), a reputable roofing company won’t just take your word for what you think is wrong. They will always want to take a close look at the problem themselves so they can get to the heart of the issue. If you suspect your roof is damaged, it’s a good idea to be proactive and call for an inspection sooner than later. It may save you a lot of money if the roof problem is diagnosed early.

Roof inspectors can help with insurance claims

A professional roofing company is a valuable resource in dealing with insurance companies and damage claims. If your roof was damaged due to wind, hail, or something else out of your control, you’ll want to book your own roof inspection before your insurance company does. Insurance companies will try to save as much money as possible, even if that means diminishing the reality of the damage done to your roof. You’ll want to book your own inspection with a professional roofer to make sure someone is on your side about the state of your roof. Here at Baltic Roofing, we help homeowners through the entire insurance claim process and provide our insight to the insurance adjuster in person.

What happens during a roof inspection?

When a roofer shows up to your house for an inspection, they’ll usually show up with tools and a clipboard. They’re there to look at everything and take detailed notes to report to you after the inspection.

Typically, roofers conduct inspections in units of “roofing squares.” A roofing square is a 10ft x 10ft space, typically drawn in chalk on the roof. Roof damage is often measured in these units to determine the extent of the damage and the cost of repairs. Roofing squares are also a useful tool for determining whether or not your roof needs a repair or a full replacement.

During a legitimate inspection, roofing inspector will look at:

  • Your attic ventilation: First, a roofing professional will look at your attic ventilation. It’s essential to look at an attic, because you need to know if it has improper air circulation and sufficient attic floor insulation (which can cause damage over time).
  • Wall or ceiling stains. If you’re worried about a leak, the roof inspector will look deeper and try to find where it’s coming from. There are likely signs both inside and outside of your home, such as dark stains on the wall or ceiling. These can indicate a hole in your roof. It’s important to assess and locate a leak as soon as possible to guarantee that the entire roof isn’t at risk of deterioration.
  • The small details of your roof: This includes your shingles, roof decking, soffit, fascia, flashing, and even the sealant on the roof’s nails. A professional roofer looks at the details up close and determines what needs to be fixed most urgently. They will also check for any damage hiding in the lower layers of your roof, which isn’t immediately visible by walking on it.
  • The whole roof’s construction: From there, the inspector will go on to examine the roof decking, the fascia, the rafters, and other structural elements. In this case, the roofer is looking for signs of decay or any place where the roof’s integrity is compromised.
  • Your chimney: A legitimate roof inspector will pay special attention to your chimney and where exactly it connects to your roof. They’ll check the flashing surrounding the base of the penetration, as well as the condition of the mortar. Sometimes flashing in these areas can become disconnected and/or rusted out, and mortar may crack with changes in temperature over time.
  • Gutters and downspouts: Any roof inspector worth their toolbelt will check your gutters and downspouts when inspecting your roof. They play an important role in drawing water and debris away from your home — and any damage to them could quickly spread to other parts of the roof.
  • Your roof’s extra features: The inspector will also check the condition of your chimneys, any skylights or penetrations, and any other add-ons to your home. Degeneration in any of these could compromise the integrity of your roof if not dealt with quickly. They’ll also look for debris on your roof that could prevent proper water runoff or any issues with standing water, which can quickly weigh down your roof decking and create leaks.
  • Other connected/relevant parts of your house: An inspection also includes looking at the seams, exterior walls, and the locations where the roofing meets the walls of the home. This is to address any issues of condensation, improper ventilation, the condition of the drip edge, and/or any openings that could become larger over time.

How can you tell if a roofing company is trying to rip you off?

Like many homeowners, you may be suspicious of roof inspections (and for good reason). For the past 50+ years, the roofing industry has been given a bad name by cheap contractors that don’t know what they’re doing or scam artists that run off with your money without doing any work. These people have notoriously used roof inspections as a tactic to steal your money. They might tell you something is wrong with your roof when there really isn’t, or they may exaggerate the damage to get more money out of you.

At Baltic Roofing, we are working hard to change that perception. We’ve been a part of the Chicagoland community since 2004. Why? Because our commitment to quality, honesty, and customer service has earned us that privilege.

We want to make sure you get an honest roof inspection and only pay for the job that provides the most value to your home. That means staying away from contractors that don’t have your best interest in mind. Here are some signs that your inspection might just be a ploy to steal your money:

Look out for storm chasers

If a company that is not local to your area approaches you (usually at your front door) right after a storm, that’s usually a clear sign that they might not be the right fit for you. After a storm, you may be worrying about the condition of your roof — these companies know that, and they want to confirm your suspicions by saying your roof is “terribly damaged.” In reality, they’re using your stress and fear about potential roof damage to try to make some quick cash selling roof services.

These roofers are called “storm chasers.” You’ve probably never heard of their company before — that’s likely because they just rolled into town to make some cash. They use the opportunity of a major storm to make easy money on homeowners in a state of vulnerability, but they never deliver satisfying results (if they deliver anything at all). Often, they leave town without even touching your roof.

Instead, it’s wise to only deal with a local roofing company – established and with a good reputation. This puts you (the homeowner) in a more stable position to accept or reject their business (rather than being sold something you didn’t ask for).

An unusually low bid

After an inspection, if a company offers a surprisingly low bid to complete the repair or replacement, don’t hire them. This usually means that the company doesn’t care about the quality of their craftsmanship and are just out to get your money.

High-quality roofing costs money to do right. Companies need to pay enough to hire roofers that are well-trained and know what they’re doing. They need to pay for good quality materials that won’t fall apart in a few months. They also need to buy enough materials and not cut costs by using fewer nails or less sealant. They also need to pay for proper insurance and permits, among many other things. If a roofer is offering a surprisingly low bid that seems too good to be true, they’re probably cutting corners in quality or even legal regulations to win your business. That won’t produce a result you can trust to last for years to come and may even put you in a worse spot than before.

Instead, look for a bid that makes sense. Different bids for a roofing project will typically all fall within a range. If you receive an offer that’s drastically different from others you received, don’t go with that bid. It’s probably too good to be true.

No insurance or record of service

A roofing company should never be without insurance information. A professional roofing company should have workers comp and liability insurance. Period. They should provide the certificate when you ask for it as a way of establishing trust.

The company should also have more than “ghost insurance” that only requires a piece of paper. This kind of insurance doesn’t cover incidents that happen on your property and may leave you liable for damages or injuries caused by the contractor during the project.

What’s more, unprofessional roofing companies don’t typically last very long. If a roofing company has been around for less than five years, you might want to consider going with someone else. You’ll be better off trusting your roof and your money to someone who’s lasted beyond that important trial period.

Demanding full payment up front

It’s not unusual for companies to ask for a partial payment up front before completing work. But if a company wants you to pay up front for all the work, be suspicious. They may just be more interested in taking your money than they are with providing you with a valuable roofing job. This might also be the case if they try to upsell you after the roof inspection on more services you know you don’t need.

As we said, an initial upfront payment isn’t unusual. But a truly high-quality roofing company will be transparent about the invoice and may even offer flexible payment options. If you want to look at financing the roofing project, your roofing contractor should help you go through your options and select the best one.

No post-inspection paperwork

If a roofer doesn’t provide you with a complete inspection report (or they don’t get up on your roof to inspect it in detail), this is a sign they don’t care about doing the job right. They don’t care about your investment in your own home — they just want your money.

Instead, a trusted roofer should offer a detailed inspection report that they’re willing to explain. This report should include what’s wrong with your roof, what needs to be done to fix it, and an estimate for how much it will cost (depending on what option you choose). Your roofing contractor should explain anything that doesn’t make sense to you, and there should be no confusion about what needs to be done next.

What can you do between roof inspections?

Between inspections, your roof still needs to be cared for to reach its full potential and value for your home. The more you exercise proper roof maintenance, the less likely you are to see an issue with the roof during an inspection.

But much like regular roof inspections, DIY roof maintenance can be dangerous and ineffective. Instead, these tasks should be left to the professionals to make sure they are done properly every time.

The Baltic Care Club is designed for people who want to preserve their roofing investment in the best way possible. Members will enjoy several benefits, including:

  • Annual roof inspections
  • Debris clearing
  • Skylight cleaning
  • Regular minor repairs (e.g. sealing exposed nails)

As a care club member, you’ll receive priority when you call for help — we’ll move you to the front of all service calls. Members will also receive a 10% discount on all repairs and pay a reduced service fee during the length of their membership.

Final thoughts

Roof inspections are a necessary part of owning a home. A high-quality roof is a solid investment and can help to increase the value of your home in several ways. But just like cars, roofs are becoming more complicated over time and require more knowledge and experience to properly maintain.

Inspections are best done by professionals, because they will know what to look for and how to best service your roof. You need to focus on keeping your roof healthy and supported, and only a pro will help you know what to do and how to keep everything up to code.

Don’t leave the health of your roof up to chance. Contact Baltic Roofing today and let a professional take care of your roof.

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