The cold of winter and the rains of spring both take their toll on your roof. It’s a good idea to get your roof inspected at least once every few years.

Experts say the ideal time for an inspection is during either spring or fall. This allows a professional to assess the problems caused by the previous season and prepare for the upcoming changes in weather.

Regular inspections also allow your contractor to catch small problems before they become big problems. And where roofing is concerned, those can become very expensive if not caught before the roof starts leaking.

Roofing pros see their schedules begin to fill up early in the spring, so if you’re planing an inspection, it’s a good idea to call someone sooner rather than later. Expect to pay around $200 for this service.

A roof inspection can be done in a single day. Here are elements a reputable roofing professional should always address.

• Overall appearance of the roof, both exterior and interior.

• Evidence of ceiling cracks and leaks.

• Condition of fascia, gutters and drains, skylights, chimneys and vents.

• Curled, broken or missing shingles.

• Areas where water may collect, like roof valleys.

• Damaged or missing flashing points.

Any inspection should also include entering the attic to look for moisture or mold and check for proper insulation and ventilation.

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The part of the country where you live will affect your inspector’s areas of emphasis. Regions with frequent storms need to be inspected for potential blowoff and roof strength. More humid climates call for an emphasis on potential moisture damage.

The inspector should provide you with a written report within seven days that includes both photos and written descriptions of their findings, the overall condition of the roof, and itemized recommendations for potential repairs.

When hiring a roofing inspector, make sure they have experience with your particular type of roof. Different roofing materials can call for very different qualifications. Make sure they hold the proper license, bonding and insurance to work in your area. Insurance is always vital, but it’s particularly important with professionals who work on jobs where there’s a fall risk.

Don’t be afraid to ask for written proof of licensing and insurance, and to check it yourself. A reputable professional will always welcome such scrutiny of their qualifications.

You can also perform a self-inspection in between professional inspections to gauge the condition of your roof. If you do this, invest in high-quality fall protection equipment so you can stay safe while on the roof.

Look for these elements while self-inspecting:

• Integrity of shingles and flashing around pipes, chimneys and vents. Pay attention to soft spots and missing, broken or worn shingles.

• The quality of the gutter system. It should be attached properly and free of debris.

• Your home’s interior. Closely inspect top-floor walls and ceilings for leaks or stains. Check the attic for wet spots or rotting wood.