What to Expect From A Roof Inspection

Roof Inspection Safety Tips You Should Know

Have The Right Tools For Roof Inspection Safety

Using the right tools for a roof inspection is easy enough. But how about roof inspection safety? Sure these tools are optional, but one of them could easily just save you from a nasty fall from the roof. These tools make sure that you’re either firmly planted on the roof, safely get up to your roof or safely get off of your roof. These tools include:

  • Safety Boots. If you were to choose footwear with roof inspection safety in mind, you should choose shoes with rubber soles. Hiking boots or military boots come to mind here as these are made to provide unmatched traction on most surfaces. This is especially useful when your roof is slanting or it’s raining. 
  • A Safety Harness. Slips can sometimes be unavoidable. So having a second line of defense from falling off of your roof is a good investment. One other thing is to make sure that the harness is attached to a stable anchor point. Because you could still end up on the ground, no matter how good your harness is if the anchor point comes loose during the slip.
  • A Stable Ladder. Ladders are what can get you to your roof in the first place unless you have roof access through your attic. Make sure that your ladder is free from any loose parts or rusting components as it could end up failing while you’re climbing up or down.

Never Work Alone During a Roof Inspection

This is one job where having friends matters. A companion is not a second set of hands helping you plug up that hole in the roof, but also another safety net. Having someone back you up in case something wrong happens can be a lifesaver. They can grab you in case you slip, make an already stable ladder even more stable by bracing it into the ground as you climb, and even call for help if something goes wrong. Having a friend just makes your roof inspections safer.  

Avoid Inspections During Harsh Weather

It can be very tempting to go up on your roof during rain to seal up the leak that’s been dripping into your living room. However, many accidents happen during unstable weather. This is because not only is your visibility hampered, but your roof also becomes more slippery because of the rain. You could also get blown off of your roof because of strong winds or because of the debris flying around in strong winds. Regardless of the reason you want to go up on your roof in that weather, you should just wait out the storm and put a bucket under those leaks.

Consider the many risks workers are exposed to while on the roof:

  • Ladders – If your building doesn’t have interior stairs and a doorway to the roof, workers must use caution when using ladders. These can become unstable if they aren’t properly secured or tied off to the building, notes Brian Impellizeri, senior product manager with GAF, a roofing manufacturer.
  • Exterior Egress – Beyond ladders, staff should exercise situation awareness when accessing the roof via hatches, elevators, penthouse doors, scaffolding, or power equipment such as scissor lifts and aerial work platforms, says Brad Richardson, a certified safety professional and director of environmental health and safety for D. C. Taylor Company, a roofing contractor.
  • Skylights – While great for natural light, these fixtures can give way if too much weight is put on them. A worker may accidentally step on them or trip on the edges.
  • Parapet Walls – Buildings that have no barrier on the roof ledge pose an immediate risk and others may have walls that are too short to prevent someone from tumbling over.
  • Loose Debris – Tree branches, leaves, construction materials, and tools can all pose a tripping hazard. In windy conditions, they may also become flying debris.
  • Extreme Heat – A cool roof can be a hot place for workers surrounded by reflected heat. Roofing repairs and renovations are also a tiring activity and technicians are susceptible to something as simple as dehydration when performing tasks for hours under the sun, reminds Impellizeri.

Up On The Roof: Rules And Safety

On the roof. Those inspectors who do are usually trying to get up close and personal with any issues they believe are affecting the roof. It’s a personal decision, and it’s rare to see any home inspector walk roofs that are steeper than a 6-in-12 slope.

Staying off the Roof Keeps Home Inspectors Safe and Out of Trouble

Walking the roof can involve insurance and legal issues if the inspector has employees or permits the customer or realtor to climb onto the roof. Anyone could get hurt. OSHA (the federal job safety agency) rules clearly state that the home inspector is not to work at more than 6 feet off grade without a proper harness installed by a trained technician. Insurance companies support the criteria of OSHA, so in the event of an accident to a customer or realtor, it would be very unlikely that an insurer would pay a claim.

If They Don’t Go Up, How Do They Inspect?

Inspection from the ground using binoculars is very effective. The type and condition of the roof surface can largely be seen from the ground. A good pair of binoculars helps inspectors get a close look at details, such as the flashing around chimneys and the use of chimney crickets.

Inspecting the roof from a ladder is another effective way to judge its condition. Gutters, the life expectancy of the roof, number of layers, and condition and location of fasteners can all be seen from a ladder. Number of layers can also be assessed by examining the shingles on the rake edge. One of the newest and increasingly popular methods for inspecting a roof  is by drone.

Home inspectors simply need to make sure their report on the roof is accurate and clear, and they’ll have no need to walk a roof—even if they think the homeowner is expecting it.

Roof Safety Signs: What They Mean and What to Do

According to OSHA, safety signs are generally categorized in three types—danger signs, warning signs, and caution signs. When working on rooftops, roofers will usually encounter the following examples of roof safety signs and what they should do:

Danger Sign

When there is a roof safety danger sign, there are immediate hazardous conditions that will lead to serious injury and death if not avoided. Upon seeing this sign before any roofing work, avoid it at all costs.

Warning Sign

When there is a roof safety warning sign, there are existing life-threatening hazards that can lead to serious injury or death. Accessing roofs by permit means that only authorized personnel or trained employees can be on it. Warning signs represent a hazard level between danger and caution, needing specific precautionary measures to be taken.

Caution Sign

When there is a roof safety caution sign, there are minor hazard situations where a non-immediate or potential hazard or unsafe practice presents a lesser threat of employee injury. Roofers should be mindful of caution signs and apply necessary control measures in any roofing work.

Here are the key concerns you should search for:


Look for misshapen shingles that are curling or blistering. Also, notice if there are any missing or broken shingles. All of these will need to be replaced.

Grit in the Gutters

If you find piles of grit that may be coming from your shingles, you may need to have all of your tiles replaced. The grit you see is supposed to protect your shingles from the sun’s strong rays. When it starts wearing off, your roofing may quickly become compromised.


Notice if there are any rust spots or cracked caulking surrounding your flashing. Recaulk old caulk and replace worn flashing.

Rubber Boots

Around any puncture spots on your roof such as vent pipes, there’s a rubber piece to keep water from getting in. Over time, these can age and crack, meaning they need to be replaced.

Moss or Lichen

Notice any patches of moss or lichen that could indicate moisture accumulation and even rotting just under your roof. Don’t worry about black algae, though, that’s a cosmetic issue. You can have it washed off if you like.

Make note of the damage you notice on your roof. Then, you can make plans to continue to DIY or call in the professionals to help with any repairs. Remember, be safe and know your limits!