I noticed a filthy tree rat (squirrel) poking its head out from a hole in my gutter leaf guards today. Gotta get up on the roof to clean and repair that mess.

Since I'm two stories up already, what else should I inspect while I'm up there?

So far I can think of:

  1. Gutters - clean and soundly attached
  2. Roof openings - all vents attached properly, sealed well, etc.
  3. Chimney - chimney cap attached and in good repair, good seal where it meets the roof
  4. Trim - check for peeling paint, rot, etc.
  5. Pests - check for insect damage, check for varmint holes
  6. General survey of my yard - Might spot something from high up that I can't see from the ground

What else should I look for? Anything specific to the roof shingles I should look for?

  • Stay off the roof when it's hot, e.g. over 90 degrees F and between the hours of 11AM-4PM. It's bad for the shingles.
    – Michael
    Aug 31, 2011 at 0:10
  • 2
    Shovel off any reindeer poop accumulated by the chimney. Aug 31, 2011 at 17:44

3 Answers 3


Any attached worn, frayed or fatigued wiring such as cable TV, phone or electrical supply. As always around electricity, be careful.


On shingles, look for shingles that might be broken, cracked, or missing, that are curled (no longer flat), and any that have lost their stone coating. The last two are important; this is the first sign of an impending roof failure and that your entire roof will shortly need to be replaced.

If you have rubber seals around your vent stacks (between the metal flashing and the stack itself, make sure that the rubber is still pliable. If it is not, it is time to replace either the flashing with a lead one, or replace the flashing and seal unit with a new one.

If you have roof turbines, make sure that they spin easily without noise. The bearings in these are sealed; they will need to be replaced if they do not spin easily.

Look for nails that have popped up through the shingles, or loose nails on flashings. These need to be sealed with either an elastomeric roof sealer or "3 hour" silicone caulk. Don't try to pound them back in.

If you have a chimney, make sure that the cap/spark arrestor is firmly attached and is not rusted out.

Remember that water MUST be able to flow down and out of things, so if you seal anything, seal around the top sides. You cannot seal, for instance, a dormer window where the siding meets the roof deck.


Check the ridge tiles - assuming you have them - make sure they're properly fixed on.

For slate and tile roofs they should be cemented. Not sure about shingles.

Check the flashings where the roof meets any brickwork rising above the roofline. This will be chimney stacks, dormer windows and occasionally parapets.

Check that there's no build up of leaves and other crud in gulleys and against brickwork so that no water can get caught up there. If it can get stuck it will build up and potentially overflow the flashing and enter the brickwork. This will cause water damage elsewhere in your house and can be hard to track down.

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