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Your Comprehensive Guide to Roof Inspection in Los Angeles

by Uneeb Khan
Roof Inspection

A roof inspection is an important part of maintaining your home in Los Angeles. With our warm climate and occasional heavy rains, it’s crucial to periodically inspect your roof to check for damage, deterioration, and necessary repairs. Knowing when to schedule a roof inspection, what the inspector looks for, and how to interpret the results will help you take care of your most essential asset – your home.

When to Schedule a Roof Inspection

The general rule of thumb is to have your roof professionally inspected every 2-3 years. 

However, there are certain circumstances that call for more frequent inspections:

  • After major storms with heavy rain, wind, or hail
  • If you notice any interior ceiling stains, water spots, or leaks
  • If shingles are cracked, curling, or missing
  • If you see dark streaks on your roof caused by algae or moss growth
  • If there are holes or deterioration around vents, skylights, chimneys, etc.
  • Before buying or selling a home identify issues

Inspecting your roof on a regular basis catches minor problems before they turn into expensive repairs. It’s recommended to schedule professional roof inspections in the spring or fall when the weather is milder. Avoid the height of summer when roofs are extremely hot.

What the Roof Inspector Checks For

A comprehensive roof inspection in Los Angeles examines all elements of your roof system. The inspector will check:

Roof Flashings

Flashings provide a waterproof seal wherever the roof plane intersects with a vertical surface like a wall, chimney, or vent. The inspector looks for:

  • Cracked, loose, or missing flashings
  • Signs of leaks at intersections
  • Rusting or deteriorated metal flashings
  • Missing sealant

Roof Penetrations

Any areas where equipment penetrates the roof surface are checked to confirm proper sealing:

  • Skylights
  • Plumbing vents
  • Heating/cooling vents
  • Chimneys
  • Satellite dishes
  • Exhaust fans

Roof Sheathing

The roof sheathing (often plywood or OSB boards) is examined for:

  • Warping or buckling boards
  • Rotting or soft areas indicating interior leaks
  • Exposed nail heads

Shingles

Shingles bear the brunt of exposure to weather and sun. Inspectors look for:

  • Brittle, cracked, or curled shingles
  • Loss of granules exposing asphalt underneath
  • Moss buildup
  • Missing or broken shingles
  • Improper shingle alignment

Gutters and Drainage

Clogged or overflowing gutters can lead to costly roof leaks and water intrusion. Inspectors check:

  • Gutter debris buildup
  • The proper slope for water runoff
  • Leaks in gutter joints
  • Secure gutter attachments
  • Downspout connections

Ventilation

Proper airflow under the roof prevents moisture and heat buildup. The inspector confirms:

  • No noticeable odor indicating poor ventilation
  • Ridge and soffit vents are present and unblocked
  • Attic ventilation fans are functioning
  • Insulation baffles are properly installed

Chimneys

Chimneys require special attention to avoid leaks. Inspectors look at:

  • Mortar between brick/stone for cracks or crumbling
  • Flue piping condition
  • Flashing around the chimney base
  • Spark arrestor/rain cap at chimney top

Fascia and Soffits

These roof trim components are examined for:

  • Rotting wood
  • Peeling paint
  • Warping or buckling
  • Vent holes clear of obstructions
  • Damage from pests or birds

What to Expect in the Roof Inspection Report

Once the inspector completes the roofing inspection, you will receive a detailed report highlighting any issues found and recommendations for repairs. Standard items in the report include:

Overview

This summarizes roof type, age, layers, condition, and expected remaining life. The inspector notes any major defects, damage, or areas of concern.

Description of Roofing Materials

The specific types of roofing materials are listed, such as asphalt shingle brand and style, tile type, metal type, etc. Inspectors often include photos of roof materials in the report.

Areas Inspected

The report lists all parts of the roof system examined, including roof surfaces, flashings, penetrations, sheathing, gutters, vents, skylights, chimneys, and any other relevant components.

Observations and Defects Noted

This is one of the most important sections, listing any issues found during the inspection. This includes damage, deterioration, improper installation, code violations, etc. Photos help document any problem areas.

Maintenance Recommendations

Routine maintenance extends the life of your roof. The inspector may suggest cleaning areas of moss/algae growth, checking and resealing flashings, clearing debris from gutters, pruning overhanging branches and other maintenance tips specific to your roof.

Where the inspector found deficiencies or damage, the report outlines recommended repairs and likely causes. For example, curled shingles may indicate insufficient ventilation. Photos clarify the locations needing repair.

Cost Estimates

For major recommended repairs like replacing the roof or gutters, the inspector may provide rough estimates of project cost. This helps you budget and prioritize which projects are most critical.

Lifetime Expectancy

Based on roof type, age, condition and maintenance, the inspector evaluates its remaining life expectancy. This projection helps guide your repair versus replacement decisions.

Having a professional roofing inspection in Los Angeles gives you peace of mind that potential problems are identified before serious damage occurs. It also helps you determine which repairs are needed to keep your roof functional and extend its lifespan.

Hiring a Licensed Roofing Contractor for Repairs

If your roof inspection reveals areas that need repair, it’s important to work with a licensed roofing contractor. They have the expertise, proper equipment, and access to quality materials to fix deficiencies correctly.

Here are tips for hiring the right roofing company:

  • Verify they have an active license with the California Contractors State License Board.
  • Check they carry general liability insurance and workers’ compensation for employees.
  • Ask for a list of recently completed roofing projects, and call the homeowners.
  • Make sure they can handle permits and inspections for any major repairs.
  • Request a detailed written estimate outlining the scope of work.
  • For roof replacements, ask about manufacturer warranties on materials.

Before work begins, sign a contract clearly specifying project costs, timelines, work scope and material types. Avoid making large upfront payments. Reputable contractors agree to staged payments as work is completed.

Regular professional roof inspections and proper repairs go hand in hand to protect your home and avoid expensive emergency fixes down the road. Taking good care of your roof saves money in the long run.

Roof Types Found in Los Angeles

Los Angeles is home to a wide variety of roofing styles suitable for our climate. Common roof types include:

Asphalt Shingles

Asphalt shingles are the most popular roofing material in LA. Available in a wide array of styles and colors, asphalt is affordable and durable. Pros include fire resistance and algae protection options.

Clay Tile

Clay tile roofs are common in Spanish-style architecture. Though more expensive, clay is very durable if properly installed. Colors range from terra cotta to neutral shades.

Concrete Tile

Concrete roof tiles replicate the look of clay tile for less cost. They hold up well in our climate. Look for tiles coated to prevent discoloration.

Metal Roofs

Typically made from galvanized steel or aluminum, metal roofs resist fire and stand up to high winds. Long-lasting metal comes in multiple colors and textures.

Built-Up Roofs (BUR)

Used on flatter commercial buildings, BUR roofs have up to four waterproofed layers topped with stone ballast or reflective coating.

Wood Shakes/Shingles

Though prone to fire risk, wood remains popular for its attractive, rustic look. Naturally rot-resistant cedar or redwood are common wood roofing materials.

Single Ply Membrane

Single-ply roofing uses sheets of flexible compounded synthetic materials like EPDM, TPO, or PVC. This is an affordable commercial roofing option.

Low Slope/Flat Roofs

On flat or gently sloped commercial roofs, multi-ply systems feature overlapping waterproof membranes sealed with adhesives or hot asphalt.

Preventative Maintenance Tips

With proper care and maintenance, your roof can last for decades. Follow these tips to maximize your roof lifespan:

  • Inspect the roof annually and after major storms. Look for missing, curling or cracked shingles.
  • Trim overhanging tree branches to avoid debris buildup and puncture risks.
  • Keep gutters and downspouts clear of leaves and debris to prevent ice dams and water intrusion.
  • Clean areas of moss, mildew or algae growth with bleach or zinc strips. Avoid pressure washing.
  • Re-seal any flashings, vents or penetrations showing signs of wear using roofing sealant.
  • Install gutter guards to prevent clogs from leaves and debris accumulation.
  • Replace any damaged or missing shingles/tiles as soon as possible to avoid leaks.
  • Refasten any loose or raised nail heads sticking up from the roof sheathing.
  • Clear debris from flat roof drains and scuppers to allow proper drainage.
  • Consider preventative treatments to resist algae growth if your roof gets limited sunlight.

Following manufacturer instructions for your specific roof type is always recommended. Investing a little time each season maintains your roof and prevents avoidable repairs.

Signs It’s Time for Total Roof Replacement

Even with proper maintenance, roofs do eventually wear out. Typical roof life spans range from 15-30 years depending on materials. Here are signs your roof has reached the end:

  • Your roof is 25 years or older, regardless of the condition
  • Leaks are occurring despite repairs and flashing replacements
  • The roof deck feels spongy when walked on
  • Large sections of shingles are missing or rotted through
  • The roof structure is visibly sagging indicating the deck is unstable
  • Evidence of extensive water damage inside the attic or home
  • Shingles are brittle, cracked or losing granules
  • Moss buildup covers 50% or more of the roof

When deterioration is spread across large sections of your roof, repairs are no longer cost-effective. At that point, it makes sense to invest in a complete roof replacement. An experienced inspector can help assess when the time is right.

Temporary Repairs in a Pinch

Major roof repairs take planning and good weather. But occasionally, small fixes are needed to prevent damage until permanent repairs can be made:

  • Leak patch: Seal small leaks immediately with a thermoplastic sealant patch. Choose a sealant compatible with your roof type.
  • Plastic sheeting: For larger leaks, temporarily cover with plastic sheeting sealed down with roofing cement or weighted objects.
  • Shingle replacement: Use roofing cement to secure a similar replacement shingle until proper fasteners can be installed.
  • Chimney flashing: Cover open joints around chimneys or vents with aluminum flashing temporarily sealed with roofing cement.
  • Hole plugs: Plug holes from falling branches/debris with a tapered wood plug dipped in sealant.

Though temporary, these solutions can protect your home for short periods until professional repairs are completed. Never walk on a roof yourself unless fully trained in fall safety.

Roof Safety Essentials

Roof inspections and repairs involve working at dangerous heights. Follow these roof safety essentials:

  • Only access roof areas within your capabilities, using sturdy ladders tied off for stability.
  • Wear shoes/boots with heavy grip soles to prevent slips, especially on steep pitches.
  • Place ladders on stable flat surfaces. Never lean ladders against gutters or roof edges.
  • Use fall protection such as harnesses and ropes when working near roof edges.
  • Avoid roofs after heavy rains or if icy/slippery conditions exist.
  • Always have someone monitor you from the ground when on the roof.
  • Clean up debris and tools promptly to avoid leaving obstacles in your path.
  • Stay focused and go slow. Many falls occur when rushing or not paying attention.

Inspecting a roof yourself may seem like a money saver, but the risk of injury makes hiring a professional the wiser choice. Safety should be the first priority.

Finding the Right Roofing Contractor in LA

With California’s large roofing industry, it can be tricky to locate experienced roofers you can trust. Here are tips for finding a reputable roofing contractor in Los Angeles:

  • Search industry association websites like NRCA.org to find qualified local roofers.
  • Check with the Better Business Bureau regarding any complaints against roofers you’re considering.
  • Only consider roofers who are licensed, bonded and insured in California. Verify before hiring.
  • Look for roofers who have been in business locally for at least 5-10 years minimum.
  • Ask for referrals from recent customers and inspect those roofs in person when possible.
  • Review their ratings on online review sites, but call references as well.
  • Require a detailed inspection report with photos outlining repairs needed.
  • Obtain a minimum 3-year workmanship warranty on repair work in writing.
  • Avoid door-to-door roofers who show up unsolicited after a storm.

Taking time to vet roofers protects you from shoddy work that can lead to even bigger problems down the road. Partner with roofing contractors who have a proven reputation in your Los Angeles community.

Roof Types Suitable for the LA Climate

Los Angeles experiences mostly mild weather, with moderate rainfall concentrated in the winter months. Summers are dry and hot. This Mediterranean climate suits certain roof types best:

  • Asphalt Shingle: Very common in LA, asphalt holds up well to intermittent rains but requires heat resistance. Look for Class A fire ratings.
  • Clay Tile: Though expensive, clay is extremely durable and fireproof. The weight demands a strong roof structure.
  • Concrete Tile: More affordable than clay and suitable for wildfire prone areas. Hold up well in high winds.
  • Metal: Withstands high winds and resists algae growth. Insulated metal roofing helps reduce energy costs.
  • Built Up Roofing (BUR): Multi-ply BUR systems work for commercial flat roofs with proper slope and drainage.
  • Single Ply Membrane: Relatively lightweight synthetic single ply materials like TPO resist sun exposure.

Avoid wood shingles and shakes in fire hazard zones. Ensure any roofing materials used meet LA City building codes. An experienced roofing contractor can recommend appropriate roofing solutions for your home or building.

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Roof Inspections Protect Your Investment

Your roof is a major investment in protecting your family and belongings from the elements. Proactively taking care of your roof saves money over the long term and prevents avoidable repairs. Regular professional inspections coupled with timely maintenance help your roof last decades.

We hope this guide gave you a helpful overview of proper roof care specific to the Los Angeles climate and conditions. Stay vigilant, follow expert recommendations, and address any issues promptly to keep your roof in tip-top shape for maximum longevity.

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