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Now is a good time for homeowners to survey their roof’s condition. “It’s important to properly maintain your roof because your roof is key to your home’s energy efficiency,” said Scott Cline, owner of J&B Construction. Even though it’s vital to inspect your roof, many homeowners are deterred by the idea of climbing a ladder 25 feet or so, especially in inclement weather. This is where your attic comes into play.

The space you’re probably using mainly for storage can substitute, as a fallback, for the eyeball roof check normally recommended to be done every pre-winter and spring. “Roofs actually create an insulated barrier that helps trap heat inside, and most attic spaces are located right below them,” Scott said. As a result, attics are ideal for spotting potential problem areas and damage without the worry of falling off a ladder.

The first clue to look for while you’re in your attic is water leaks. During a storm, shine a flashlight in the attic to check not only for dripping water and condensation, but also for water stains on the ceiling, walls, and floor. All of these indicate that water is finding its way beneath your roof’s shingles or behind its flashings.

Next is ventilation. Imagine your attic as the lungs of your home. Your attic has to be able to breathe in order to function properly. In other words, vents clogged with debris need to be cleaned.

Animal damage follows. Birds, bats, squirrels, and raccoons are all animals that have the potential of seeking refuge in your attic. In order to avoid the havoc they can create, call a pest-control professional if you spot any of these telltale signs: nests, droppings, and gnawed wood, wires, or insulation.

Last on the list are structural problems. Just the mere hint of a sagging roof can indicate potential structural weakness requiring professional repair.

“Remember, your roof takes care of you, so return the favor with a biannual roof inspection so you can identify any potential problems before they become serious,” Scott said.