The 10 most common roofing problems found during inspections

When’s the last time you had your roof inspected? Unless water is dripping through the ceiling, it’s not something most people think about. Make no mistake though; your roof will be degrading over time, and the longer a problem goes unnoticed, the more money you might need to spend on repairs. A close visual inspection by a professional roofer will highlight any growing faults before bigger issues happen. Read on for the 10 most common roofing problems found during inspections, as outlined by our experts.

This is more than just a ‘top ten’ list. You’ll also find answers to some of the most frequently searched questions online.

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What is a roof inspection?

An Aspect roof inspection is a health-check of the whole roof, including the slates or tiles, gutters, flashings, parapet walls, internal timbers, and more. You’ll also receive the roofer’s recommendations and a quote for any roofing repairs needed.

Some people use it as a pre-purchase survey, carried out before buying a property. It pinpoints any roofing problems present, so they can negotiate the cost of repairs off the property’s sale price.

Roof inspections are very different to the homebuyer’s survey, which is usually done from ground level by a surveyor. Unless you call a professional roofer, you’ll never know what state your roof is really in.

Is a roof inspection needed for my home insurance

If you have a flat roof, your insurer will want it inspected by an NFRC-registered company, plus a detailed report with images. If you own a commercial flat roof, you’ll need to arrange an inspection each year without fail.

Insurers may ask homeowners to get their pitched roofs inspected too, so check your policy to be safe. Most firms won’t pay for damage that comes from ‘wear and tear’.

When does my roof need inspecting?

Unless your roof is under 5 years old, we recommend having it inspected annually. Ignoring your roof could mean small faults develop into major problems, costing more to fix in the long term. It’s also wise to get your roof inspected after high winds and other extreme weather conditions, because you’ll be able to address sudden roof damage before it affects the interior.

The 10 most common roofing problems found during inspections

1. A lack of insulation

Around 25% of your home’s heat escapes through the roof, so it makes sense that insulation can help lower your energy bills. Unfortunately, it’s common to find roofs that are either poorly insulated or not at all. It’s best to ensure your property is fully insulated, otherwise you’ll have to crank up the heat in the winter. If you’re having a replacement roof installed, it’ll need to be insulated in accordance with current building regulations.

2. Poor ventilation

Poor ventilation locks moisture into the roof space in the form of warm, humid air. This can cause mould to grow. It can also encourage timbers to rot (leading to structural issues) and make surfaces wet to the touch when it condenses into water droplets.

Good ventilation makes for a cooler space in the summer and improves air quality by reducing allergens. Together with insulation, ventilation is key to maintaining the right temperature and humidity balance, all-year round.

3. Mortar flashings

Flashings are typically made out of lead because of the material’s long lifespan. However, older homes can have mortar flashings that don’t contract and expand when temperatures change. This means they’re more likely to crack than lead flashings.

We sometimes find mortar flashings on new homes, too. That’s because mortar is cheaper than lead, and some roofing contractors like to cut corners. Rest assured, our roofers will never do this. If we find mortar flashings, or damaged flashings of any kind, we may suggest replacing them in order to prevent roof leaks.

4. Incorrect tiles for pitched extensions

Pitched extensions often feature the wrong type of tile. This often occurs when a general builder, rather than a professional roofer, installs tiles without checking they’re compatible with the pitch of the roof. They might match the main roof and look good to the untrained eye, but we commonly find this issue when we’re called to investigate rainwater leaks.

Tip: Make sure you call expert roofers for help with your extension project. A professional roofer will advise on the best materials for the job and prevent this type of leak.

5. Badly installed gutters

Most people think gutters are horizontal, but they actually need a slight pitch so water can reach the downspout. Our roofers frequently see gutters that aren’t pitched correctly or haven’t been properly installed with enough supporting clips. Gutters can also be the wrong size for the roof. This means water will overflow. Gutters that are too small are more likely to block up with leaves and other debris, causing water to spill over.

6. Damaged roofline boards

Timber fascias, soffits and bargeboards can rot if you don’t maintain them regularly. Rotting fascias will naturally affect the tiles, gutters and soffits they’re connected to. Holes in fascias and soffits can also provide access to squirrels and other pests to your loft space, so we recommend getting them fixed quickly.

Tip: UPVC fascias don’t need painting and they won’t rot away. As such, they’re great for homeowners looking to reduce some roof maintenance. If the damage is minor, we may recommend capping your timber fascias with uPVC instead of replacing them altogether.

7. Chimney damage

Chimney pots can crack, flashings can degrade, and a loss of mortar can eventually cause structural issues. If your chimney collapses and hurts someone, or causes damage nearby when it falls, you could be found liable. An Aspect roof inspection will check your chimney for structural chimney problems before they get worse, giving you peace of mind that it’s structurally sound.

Tip: If you’ve had the chimney breast removed but kept the stack, we’ll want to see it’s supported properly with steel brackets. These are stronger than timber brackets, which may not be able to take the structure’s weight in the long run.

8. Incorrect chimney capping

An inspection includes a check of the chimney caps. The wrong capping can obstruct the flow of air, causing damp problems inside. The best solution may be clay or metal capping that keeps the rain out, while still allowing the chimney to ventilate the property.

Important! Your flue must allow combustion gases from fires to escape. If there’s an obstruction, you could end up suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning, which kills hundreds of people in the UK each year. We have roofers and Gas Safe heating engineers who can work together to ensure your flue is clear and the right chimney capping is installed.

9. No weathering slate

A weathering slate is a collar placed around a ventilation flue to protect the home from water damage. They’re sometimes improperly installed or missing altogether, making it just a matter of time before rainwater finds its way into a property. Weathering slates are made from either lead, rubber or zinc. In our experience, lead is the more resilient of the three.

10. The wrong roofing materials on terraces

Some people turn their flat roofs into miniature terrace gardens but fail to get it done correctly. We’ve even been to homes where wooden decking has sunk into the felt below. EPDM and liquid rubber are more resilient than felt, so they’re better suited to roof terraces. That said, you should only walk on a roof that’s designed to support your weight. Otherwise, there’s always the risk you could fall through!

We’ve also seen decking that’s blocked the customer’s rainwater outlet. When we install decking on a flat roof section, we first locate the outlet and add the supports in a way that prevents standing water, e.g. by creating a small void.

How much does a roof survey cost?

We carry out roof inspection surveys and provide a detailed report at the fixed price of £250.00 + VAT. This option’s ideal for when you’re buying a house or having your roof checked after several years. Alternatively, we can send an expert to assess your roof at the half-hourly rate of £47.50 + VAT (one-hour minimum). We may recommend this option if you’d like us to investigate a specific issue.

We’re also available to repair and maintain your roof at short notice.

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