Drones Are Not A Substitute For “Walking The Roof”

drone roof inspection

There has been a growing trend toward the use of drones in construction and roofing, including in use for roof inspections. There is an advantage to using drones – mainly from a safety standpoint, but they have their limits and should not be a substitution for a physical inspection.

Drones can provide a good visual starting point.

The best use for a drone inspection is as a compliment to a physical one. If you have recently had an inspection and want a quick view, drones are ideal.

They can readily spot clogged gutters, obvious storm damage, the amount of moss or algae growth on a roof or major problems. This saves time and potentially an expense depending on the company hired to fly the drone. Based on what the aerial view shows, you can decide if a further inspection or cleaning is necessary.

Significant limits.

Relying on a drone for regular inspections is not recommended.

  • Unless the drone operator has experience in spotting the smallest of details, they can easily be missed. Even with years of experience, a camera doesn’t always capture everything. Sometimes a trained eye will catch something a drone won’t.
  • Cameras can’t record what they cannot see. Debris on a roof can hide cracked or damage shingles and valleys.
  • Not everything that appears to be a crack or damage really is. How many times have you walked past your car and thought you saw a scratch? Light can play tricks on cameras as well as the eyes. That means a purely visual inspection may still lead to a physical one.
  • Drones cannot feel, only see damage. Part of any good roof inspection requires ‘walking the roof’.

‘”Walking the roof”

More than a visual inspection, this is about feeling for soft spots and potential weaknesses in the decking. A roof can look perfect yet be damaged. Water soaking into the decking over time from around flashing can soften the wood structure underneath. A perfect looking roof can mask hidden damage. Not catching soft spots early on could lead to a costly repair or worse.

Thermal and infrared cameras

Many drone inspection companies will use thermal or infrared cameras. While these significantly increase the quality of the visual inspection and make leak detection possible, but at a significantly increased cost. Plus, there will still be the need to hire a company to clean your roof or perform repairs.

A compliment, not a substitute

Drone roof inspections are a great compliment to the traditional approach. They should not be a substitute for an annual, physical inspection. There is still no replacement for experience.


“From the naked eye this house doesn’t appear to have any hail damage. But until you get a professional to see it up close, […] you’ll have trouble knowing the extent of the damage.” – News 4 Nashville


There is no substitute for a professional getting on your roof. A visual inspection (untrained eyes, drones – is limited to what can be seen. Not all damage is visible.

Get in touch with us today to schedule an inspection and all of our inspections are provided free of charge. 

3 replies

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] the drone. Drones have some advantages over humans but they aren’t perfect. There is no substitute for […]

  2. […] A physical inspection is still the best way to properly determine the health of your roof and its related components. […]

  3. […] worse still, cleaning a roof and inspecting it for damage which could void the warranty! (Drones could help here, but they aren’t a substitute for the real […]

Leave a Reply

Want to join the discussion?
Feel free to contribute!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.