The first place to look when trying to determine the shape of your roof is NOT the exterior. It’s your attic. That’s right, grab a flashlight and climb up under the eaves. Look for beams of light coming through the top of the house, or stains and streaks, which signals a leak.
Keep an eye on your roofs exterior to make sure it’s in great shape, especially after heavy storms. Shingles should lie flat against the roof; if you find patches that are cracked, damaged, or buckling, you should consult a professional. While you’re at it, check the gutters and downspouts for shingle granules — a roof that is losing a lot of granules may be at the end of its useful life.
A droopy, sagging roof is one that surely needs replacing before further, even more costly, damage occurs to your home. Check the surface for signs of trapped moisture, rotting boards, or sagging spots—especially at the lowest points in the roof.
The flashing around vents, skylights, and chimneys seals the seams of the roof from rain and weather. Examine these points make sure there are no cracks or breaks, which could lead to leaks. In older homes, flashing is often made of roof cement or tar, but it’s a good idea to upgrade to a metal flashing system for added durability.
Review your home improvement records: When was your roof last replaced? Knowing when a roof was installed (and what it’s made of) offers insight into how much life it has left, if any.