How to Look

at a House


A blog with answers
to your questions about
HOME INSPECTION
and HOME MAINTENANCE

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Welcome to our blog!
We want you to be an informed homebuyer, and each blog post is a question that we have answered for our friends and customers over the years. Hope they help you make a good choice for your next home.


More blog posts about roofing:

  1. I’m buying a ‘50s house with a “gravel” roof. Is the roof going to be a problem.

  2. Should I buy a house that needs a new roof?

  3. What is the cost difference between asphalt shingle and metal roofing?

  4. What is the minimum pitch of an asphalt shingle roof?

  5. What’s the difference between a gable roof and a hip roof?

  6. What do you look for when you inspect a roof?

  7. What is roof pitch?

  8. What’s the difference between a roof inspection and a roofing estimate?

  9. What are the most common problems with older houses?

  10. I saw some staining on the ceiling. Do you think the roof is okay?

  11. What is a “cool roof”?

  12. How can I be sure my roofing contractor got a permit?

  13. What is the minimum pitch for a metal roof?

  14. What does “lack of tab adhesion” in an asphalt shingle roof mean?

  15. What is a TPO roof?

  16. What is the difference between plywood and OSB?

  17. Does it cost more to roof a hip roof than a gable roof?

  18. What is an H-clip?

  19. Why is a popped nail in a shingle roof a problem? How do I fix it?

More blog posts on related subjects:

  1. How can I tell if a house has insulation?

  2. What are the warning signs of a dangerous deck?

  3. Does it make sense to buy an older mobile home and remodel it?

  4. How do you determine when the house was built?

  5. Should I buy a fixer-upper?

  6. How do I remove cigarette odor in a house?

  7. The house has asbestos siding. What should I do?

  8. How do I get insurance if my home can’t pass a 4-point inspection?

  9. There’s an old fuel oil tank underground in the yard. Is it a problem?

  10. What is “knob and tube” wiring?

  11. Why do the floors slope in this old house?

  12. The garage has been converted to a family room. Is that alright?

  13. What is the difference between galvanized and galvalume metal roofing?

  14. What is a “continuous load path”?

  15. Is a ridge board/beam required for a roof framed with rafters?

  16. Why is it a mistake to replace and roof not replace its flashings?

  17. What is a “square” of roofing?

Minimize roof penetrations - Each thing that pokes through the roof surface, such as a skylight, plumbing vent pipe, or gas appliance flue increases the likelihood of water leaks due to failed flashings, sealants and gaskets. Here’s several ways to minimize roof penetrations:

  1. 1)A minimum of one plumbing vent through the roof is required by the building code, but you reduce or eliminate the number of additional plumbing vent pipes through the roof by using air admittance valves (AAVs) and consolidating vent stacks below the roof where possible. See our blog post “What is an auto vent, air admittance valve, or check vent?” to learn more.

  2. 2)Exhaust fans can terminate through walls instead of the roof.

  3. 3)High-efficiency gas appliances can be vented through a sidewall

  4. 4)Choosing electric appliances for HVAC and water heater eliminates the flues required for natural or LP-gas units.

Install a premium underlayment - The underlayment is a secondary layer of water resistant material attached to the sheathing before the roof is installed. It is commonly a 15-lb. or 30-lb. asphalt felt paper that is laid in downlapped strips. But the new synthetic underlayments, which are manufactured from polypropylene and polyethylene, are sturdier and more tear-resistant. Popular brands include RhinoRoof®, Grace Tri-Flex®, and Titanium UDL30®. To find out more, go to our blog post “What is the difference between roofing felt and synthetic underlayment?”
    An even higher level of premium underlayment is a self-adhesive bituminous membrane that is also self-sealing for small punctures. If your roofer installs this material, you will get a discount on the windstorm portion of your homeowner’s insurance in Florida.
Grace Ice and Water Shield® is a popular brand.

    Roof replacement is the next opportunity to improve your roof’s water resistance. If the old roof is 3-tab shingle, you can upgrade to heavier-weight architectural shingle, and there are hail-resistant shingles on the market that offer improved impact resistance. Moving up to a metal or tile roof will provide a longer lasting surface.

    Be sure that your roofer replaces all the flashings along with the roof material. We have seen several budget roof jobs recently where the more difficult-to-replace flashings around the fireplace and roof-to-wall junctures were left in place and the new roof installed over them. Unfortunately, a new roof that starts its life with 25-year old flashings is likely to have flashing problems long before the roof itself deteriorates.

    Examining your roof and doing minor maintenance regularly is another way to prevent leaks or catch and repair them before that do much damage. See our blog post “How can I make my roof last longer?” for tips on roof maintenance, and visit our other blog post “How can I tell if the house needs a new roof? for ways to visually evaluate the condition of your roof.


While we hope you find this series of articles about home inspection helpful, they should not be considered an alternative to an actual home inspection by a local inspector. Also, construction standards vary in different parts of the country and it is possible that important issues related to your area may not be covered here.
©2016 - McGarry and Madsen Inspection

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