The Acrophobic's Guide To Roof Health

The Centers for Disease Control state that almost 32,000 people die each year from unintentional falls and falls from ladders leads that list. So, it is no wonder that those with a fear of heights would be wary of climbing a ladder up onto their home's roof to check on the asphalt shingles up there. Yet, as a responsible homeowner, keeping a vigilant watch over all your major mechanical systems, from the foundation to the roof, and everything in between. What's an acrophobic to do? Luckily, there are many ways to stand guard with your feet still firmly planted on terra firma. 

1. Look Up: A little-known tip to roof health is that you can stand directly below the roofline and look up to inspect the shingles. If you notice that the edges are curling up, it is an indication that the shingles are aging and may need to be replaced soon. They are designed to be flexible and move with your roof but, as asphalt shingles age, they become brittle. This causing the edges to curl and, eventually, break off, leaving your home unprotected from the elements. 

2. Take a Walk: Another easy way to check on the health of your roof without the use of a ladder is to walk around the perimeter of your home. Look in the garden beds and behind the bushes for broken pieces of shingles. Don't make the mistake of blaming this on the weather. While a severe storm may loosen a shingle or two, the normal antics of Mother Nature should not wreak havoc on your roof. In fact, the average shingle is expected to withstand winds of up to 90 miles per hour, and specialty shingles can be purchased for coastal zones that stay put in winds up to 150 miles per hour. 

3. Look Down: Shingle manufacturers put a gravel-like substance on the surface of asphalt shingles to help protect it from the elements. Rain, hail, snow, sleet, and even salt spray can wear down this protective coating over time. The easiest way to tell when this is happening is from the ground. Rain usually washes the loose gravel down into your home's gutters and out onto the splash guard. Typically, it pools in the splash guard while the water expels into your yard. If you see fine gravel in your cement splash guards, you should call in a professional to take a closer look.

The acrophobic can also inspect his or her roof from the attic. Yes, your roof can be inspected from inside your home. While it may sound odd at first, your attic's ceiling is technically the underside of your roof. It may have some secrets to share with you. 

4. Let There Be Light: When you first enter an unfinished attic, leave the lights off. If you see rays of sunlight entering the space, you can bet that precipitation -- rain, snow, sleet -- is also entering through those same minuscule holes. This is a clear indication that you need to take action. 

5. Mold: Look for darkened spots on the plywood as well as damp insulation. Both indicate that your shingles have failed and water has entered your home. Both a roofing professional and a mold specialist need to be called immediately. In fact, the Environmental Protection Agency states that mold can grow in your home if the source of the water leak is not resolved in 24 to 48 hours. 

Basic home maintenance can be accomplished safely and from the ground if you use the above steps and not steps of a household ladder.