By S.E. Slack

Got a roof over your head? There’s probably some damage up there. If you haven’t had your roof inspected in more than a year, or if you’re planning to sell your home in the near future, it’s time to call someone in to get that pesky job done.

A roof inspection can uncover problems with the roof’s structure, drainage and even the insulation in your attic, says Allstate Insurance.

Most roofing companies will inspect your roof free of charge in the hopes that you’ll call them back when repairs are needed. Inspectors work all year long, in homes in earthquake-prone San Francisco or right here at home, where hail can ruin an entire roof in minutes.

A detailed examination can locate problems with flashing, the metal pieces that protect your home where the roof meets siding or where curves are present. Bent or broken flashing lets water seep under shingles into underlayment, soffits and fascia. Once there, wood can rot and water can continue its damaging trek all the way into the walls and ceilings of your home.

A full inspection will also determine whether disproportionate quantities of asphalt grains or even shingle pieces have fallen into your gutters. While some of this is normal, excessive amounts could mean that your shingles are wearing out and should be replaced. Extreme weather can also cause this to happen.

Even roofs with lifetime guarantees, such as metal roofs or cement tiles, can be damaged during storms. Those require slightly different inspections to ensure the roofing itself isn’t damaged during the examination.

Ask for an inspection of eaves, soffits, overhangs and porch ceilings, too. Sometimes water damage can be spotted in those locations when it’s not apparent from the rooftop. Most inspectors will take photos of what they see so you can better understand what’s happening over your head. If your inspector doesn’t offer or can’t do that for you, get a second opinion before you agree to any repairs.