When it comes to the roof over your head, don’t take any chances
A sturdy roof keeps you and your family safe and at ease, which is why damaged shingles or growing moss patches might cause some concern when you first spot them. But before you start panic-calling roofing companies, do a little more digging into the problem.
A few dinged-up spots on your roof don’t necessarily warrant a roof replacement, but there are a few other signs you will need a new roof. If you do, the average price to install a new roof is $8,000, with some paying up to $20,000.
Here’s when to call the roofers:
1. Your Roof Is Old
The life expectancy of any roof will depend on the material it’s made of. According to HUD and the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors:
Asphalt shingles: 20–50 years
Metal: 40–80 years. Copper can last 70 years or more and zinc can last around 100 years.
Wood shakes and shingles: 25–30 years, but can last up to 50
Clay/concrete tile: 50–100 years
Slate: 60–175 years
If your roof is getting up there in age for its type, it’s probably time to call a local roofing company to get an estimate. You can either replace your roof completely or, if you have an asphalt shingle roof, overlay the existing shingles.
Overlaying is when a new layer of shingles is installed over the old. It can be about 25% less expensive than a total roof replacement and give your house a new look, but it’s usually better to tear the old roof off and start fresh.
“You cut the life of the new shingles in half when you lay them over the top of another layer,” says Ami Feller, Angi Expert Review Board member and owner of Roofer Chicks in New Braunfels, TX. “Also, carefully read the manufacturer installation instructions to see if overlaying shingles negates their warranty.”
Replacing your roof lets you catch any problems lurking underneath the shingles and has a longer lifespan than overlays.
2. Your Notice Exterior Damage
Even if your roof is not yet considered old, it’s worthwhile to do a visual inspection every couple of years to check for worrisome damage. If your roof has asphalt or wooden shingles, exterior damage can look like shingles that are curling or buckling, missing, or appear work or warped. If you have a metal, slate, rubber, or clay or concrete tile roof, you’ll want to look for spots that look thin or cracked, missing pieces, or areas that seem dented or worn.
As you examine your roof, pay close attention to areas that are more prone to damage. These can include the slopes of your roof that receive direct sunlight as well as the valleys, which are where your roof slopes meet. As a vital part of your roof, valleys direct water runoff into gutters (instead of inside your walls). If you spot damage in your valleys, your roof is susceptible to leaking. You’ll also want to check out your gutters and downspouts.
If you notice shingle or roof granules, it’s a good bet that your roof is wearing away. “If you have a lot of granules coming off, it can be indicative of hail damage. Ask your roofing professional if they notice any hail damage since it might be worth opening up a claim for coverage on the roof replacement,” says Feller.
3. Your Roof Has Saggy or Droopy Spots
Droopy or saggy spots are a sure sign your decking (the support structure that holds the roof up) is weakened from moisture, and the roof needs to be replaced. If it’s safe for you to walk on the roof, ask yourself how it feels. If it feels spongy or has a little bounce like you’re walking on a trampoline—get off and reach out to a roofing pro right away.
4. Your Chimney Flashing Is Damaged
Flashing is a type of roofing material that makes a water-tight seal around the chimney or other penetrations. Usually made of aluminum or steel, the flashing can last 30 years. But if this rusts or cracks, water can seep into your chimney and your home. A local roof inspector can tell you if the flashing needs fixing.
5. You Can See Daylight
An obvious place to look for roof damage is in the attic. You shouldn’t be able to see daylight coming through the roof boards—if you do, you have a problem. While you’re poking around in your attic, check for any sign of moisture, too. Water stains on the roof boards or moisture in the insulation are indicative of a leaky roof.
6. Your Roof Is Turning Into a Greenhouse
Vegetation on your roof doesn’t necessarily mean it needs to be replaced, but it does mean it needs to be cleaned. Plant life can cause damage to roofing materials—and invite other things (such as creepy-crawlies and other pests) to move in up there, too. You can clean your roof yourself with a ladder, a store-bought cleaning solution, a broom, and a hose, or find a local roof cleaning company.
What to Do If You Need a New Roof
If you’ve gone through the list and signs point toward needing a new roof, a roofing company can assess your current situation and make recommendations for a repair or replacement. It’s always wise to get three quotes before choosing a company.
If your roof is still in good shape (or you’re starting fresh with a new one) it’s important to know that you can prevent many of the issues listed above with routine maintenance.
“A sealant helps protect roofs against the weather and even helps increase their lifespan,” says Mark Soto, professional roofer at Roofing MKE. “As a rule of thumb, roofs should be sealed every five years. Another way to prevent roof leaks is to trim tree branches that rest close to the roof. During storms, branches will often fall off and cause a hard impact on the roof, which can damage shingles and create openings for water to pour in.”