The Good, The Bad & The Ugly Side of Roof Shingles

Roofs can be one of the largest problems facing a real estate transaction in the Tulsa area (and just about any other area as a matter of fact). This is because roofs are expensive to repair or replace. They also keep the elements out of our homes (at least they’re supposed to if functioning properly). I’ve seen bad roofs cause more grief than just about any other component of a home.

Here are some roof conditions I find on a regular bases when inspecting homes in Tulsa or the surrounding areas.

Since homes here in Northeast Oklahoma compromise mostly of asphalt composition shingles, that’s what I’m going to concentrate on in this article.

Spider Web Cracked Shingles

roof repair tulsa
Cracked shingles on a roof in Tulsa Ok

During a recent roof inspection in Tulsa, I found these cracked shingles (photo to the left). This is normally due to an excessive heat build up in the attic. Notice I said “normally”. The excessive heat is caused by a lack of proper venting. Please, don’t get me started on venting! I hardly ever see adequate venting on newer homes!

This spider web cracking can also be caused by a defective shingle. Some manufacturers have had recalls due to bad batches of shingles.

Whenever there are problems noted with the roof during a transaction, it’s my opinion that you should notify your insurance company. Some companies wouldn’t insure a roof like this, while others could care less. Make sure yours is aware of the problem prior to signing off!

Lack of Proper Roof Flashing

Although not technically a shingle problem, during many roof inspections, I see poor roof flashing (or the lack of) on a regular basis. Vents and flue protruding through the roof need to be properly flashed or you run the chance of having a roof leak.

Unfortunately, even some “experienced” roofers don’t know how to properly flash a vent or flue!

broken arrow roof jack flashing
Improperly installed roof jack

Here’s a few pictures to illustrate my point. For example, in the first pic we see vent pipes with improper flashing. The lower edge of the metal flashing should be OVER the shingles, not below. This is so rain running off goes out OVER the shingles, not under them!

attic vents tulsa
Improperly installed roof vent

Next, roof vents and flues also need their lower flashing OVER the shingles, not under them! This is not rocket science folks!

I see this a lot on new construction as well, and nearly every time, the city inspector has passed the home. Makes you wonder if they even crawled on top to look at the finished product!

If any of these types of discrepancies are found during a roof inspection, then they need properly repaired, and that usually means a REINSTALLATION, not simply applying caulk around the vent or flue like I’ve seen some “roofing” companies do.

Failure to properly flash and seal roof penetrations can lead to leaking. And we all know a leaking roof that isn’t discovered quickly can lead to mold and water damage. Then you could be stuck with having to have a mold inspection and possible mold cleanup. It’s just better for everyone to prevent roof leaks before they happen!

Multiple Layers of Shingles

multiple layers of shingles
I counted at least 3 layers of shingles on this home and I suspect it had 4!

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard Sellers or the Sellers agent say “Oh, the Roof is new” or “The roof is only a few months old.” Only to find out during the inspection that either it’s new and was added over 2 other layers of shingles or it’s new “like it was new back in 1989 when we had it installed.” Yeah, I’ve seen that one a few times!

The problem with multiple shingles are a few.

  • Multiple layers add weight to a roof structure. It isn’t designed to take constant loads that 3 and 4 layers of shingles may cause.
  • Few insurance companies will insure roofs with 3 or more layers. In fact, some won’t even insure some roofs with 2 layers of shingles! Another reason it is always a good idea to check with your insurance company about the insurability of your roof.
  • Multiple layers of shingles can cause leaks. Usually, a roofing company will use the same length of fastener when installing the 2nd or 3rd layer as they did the first. This means more of the fastener is anchored in the multiple layers below it than into the decking, which makes your roof weaker and more susceptible to damage, which can lead to more leaks.

Just for the record, 2 layers is the max in my book (as well as many insurance companies). More than that, I’m calling it out. If I find 2 layers of shingles during a roof inspection, it will get a mention in my inspection report that you have two layers. The reason behind this is because insurance companies know that a roof with 2 layers will need to have a tear off down to the deck the next time the roof needs shingles. This adds quite a bit of expense to a roof job and they don’t want to be on the hook for it!

Hail Damage to Roof Shingles

Well, I know somewhere in my hundreds of thousands of home inspection pictures that show hail damage. But since I can’t put my hands on them at this moment, I’m just going to share a link with you about things to look for if you suspect you have hail damage to your roof and shingles.

Asphalt Shingle Roof Hail Damage

As you can see, it’s fairly easy to spot major hail damage. Small indentions into your shingles. What isn’t easy to spot is minor hail damage.

Now the hail storm we had a few weeks ago here in Coweta left major hail damage. Even to some metal roofs! But like I said above, it’s the minor damage that can be hard to spot. Some insurance companies will just try and “replace” a few shingles if they suspect you’ve had minor damage. Others won’t. Again, check with your company!

If you think you may have any kind of roof damage, give me a call and I’ll be happy to come out and inspect your roof for you. If I can’t, then I can recommend someone who can.

Don’t take someone else’s word that the roof is new, or a few years old or in perfect shape. Always have a professional check it out for you!


I'm a professional home inspector who serves Tulsa, Broken Arrow, Owasso, Jenks, Bixby, Coweta and all of Green Country in Oklahoma.

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