How to Spot Signs of Damage on Your Slate Roof

Slate roofs are renowned for their durability, classiness, and longevity. However, like any roofing material, they can suffer damage over time. Knowing how to spot signs of damage on your slate roof and understanding when to call an expert is crucial for maintaining the integrity of your home. Here’s a comprehensive guide to help homeowners inspect their slate roofs and recognize when professional repairs are necessary.

1. Regular Visual Inspections

Performing regular visual inspections of your slate roof can help you catch potential problems early. Here’s what to look for:

Cracked or Broken Slates

  • Visible Cracks: Look for slates with visible cracks, breaks, or chips. These can allow water to penetrate the roof, leading to leaks and further damage.
  • Missing Slates: Missing slates are a clear sign of damage and should be addressed immediately to prevent water infiltration.

Discoloration or Stains

  • Water Stains: Discoloration or water stains on the slate can indicate underlying moisture problems.
  • Algae or Moss Growth: While slate is resistant to algae and moss, their presence can suggest that water is not draining properly, potentially due to damaged or missing slates.

2. Checking Flashing and Gutters

Flashing and gutters play a crucial role in protecting your roof from water damage. During your inspection, pay attention to:

Damaged Flashing

  • Loose or Corroded Flashing: Check the flashing around chimneys, vents, and other roof penetrations. Loose or corroded flashing can lead to leaks.
  • Cracked Sealant: Sealant around the flashing that is cracked or deteriorated should be replaced to maintain a watertight seal.

Gutter Condition

  • Clogged Gutters: Ensure gutters are clear of debris to prevent water from backing up and causing damage to the roof edge.
  • Sagging Gutters: Gutters that are sagging or pulling away from the house can indicate underlying issues with roof drainage.

3. Interior Signs of Roof Damage

Sometimes, the first signs of slate roof damage can appear inside your home. Look for:

Water Stains on Ceilings and Walls

  • Interior Leaks: Water stains or damp patches on ceilings and walls can indicate a roof leak. Pay particular attention to areas near the roofline and attic.
  • Peeling Paint or Wallpaper: Moisture seeping through the roof can cause paint or wallpaper to peel or bubble.

Attic Inspection

  • Check for Moisture: Inspect your attic for signs of moisture, such as damp insulation or wood.
  • Visible Light: If you can see light coming through the roof in your attic, it’s a clear sign that your slate roof has gaps or holes.

4. When to Call an Expert

While some minor issues can be addressed with routine maintenance, certain situations require professional intervention. Here’s when you should call an expert:

Extensive Damage

  • Multiple Broken Slates: If you notice multiple broken or missing slates, it’s best to have a professional assess the extent of the damage and recommend repairs.
  • Structural Concerns: Any signs of sagging or structural weakness in your roof should be evaluated by a professional immediately.

Persistent Leaks

  • Recurring Water Damage: If you’ve attempted to fix leaks but they keep recurring, it’s time to call in an expert. Persistent leaks can indicate deeper issues that need professional attention.
  • Unidentified Leak Sources: Professionals have the tools and expertise to identify the exact source of a leak, even if it’s not immediately apparent.

Aging Roof

  • Old Roof: If your slate roof is approaching the end of its expected lifespan (typically around 75-100 years), regular inspections by a professional can help prolong its life and prevent major issues.


Regularly inspecting your slate roof for signs of damage can help you address minor issues before they become major problems. However, knowing when to call in an expert is equally important. At Shepherd Roofing and Renovations, our team of experienced professionals is ready to help you maintain the beauty of your slate roof.