How can you tell if your roof needs to be repaired or replaced? There are no hard and fast rules about roof repairs and replacement: everything is decided on a case-by-case basis.
While assessing roof damage, a contractor from a roofing company will take into account these factors:
Your Roof’s Age and Estimated Lifespan
Different kinds of roofing materials have different estimated lifespans. Here’s an overview of the most common roofing materials:
- Wood shakes or shingles – With proper maintenance, wooden shakes and shingles can last up to 30 years. Some homeowners are hesitant about installing wooden shakes and shingles because of wood’s vulnerability to rot and other forms of moisture damage. However, wood shakes and shingles’ durability depend on the variety of wood used to manufacture them. For instance, white oak and cypress are resistant to rot.
- Asphalt shingles – Conventional asphalt shingles have an estimated lifespan of 20 years while higher-quality shingles can last up to 50 years. Asphalt shingles happen to be the most popular kind of roofing material because they’re affordable, relatively durable and easy to install.
- Architectural shingles – Architectural shingles are essentially the same as asphalt shingles. The only difference between the two is that the former has an extra layer or tab that increases its durability and lifespan to about 30 years.
- Metal roofing panels – With proper maintenance, metal roofing panels can last 40 to 80 years. Modern metal roofing panels are usually manufactured using steel, aluminum or copper. Steel roofing panels have a thin coating of zinc and paint to protect them from corrosion. On the other hand, copper and aluminum panels don’t need coatings because these metals are naturally resistant to corrosion. Some homeowners are concerned about how their property’s curb appeal will be affected by metal roofing panels, which are commonly used in industrial buildings and backyard sheds. However, manufacturers have since made numerous improvements to metal roofing’s aesthetic appeal and introduced a wide variety of design options to the market.
- Slate and clay roofing tiles – In terms of durability, nothing can beat slate and clay roofing tiles. Slate and clay roofing tiles have an estimated lifespan of at least 100 years. Keep in mind that these tiles are not suitable for all homes as they’re quite heavy. If you’re considering installing them, you might need to have your home’s structure reinforced. Slate and clay roofing tiles also have a hefty price tag, but given their exceptional durability and lengthy lifespans, they’re well worth the cost.
As a rule of thumb, if your roof is nearing its estimated lifespan, you should have it replaced as soon as possible.
Factors That Can Shorten Your Roof’s Lifespan
Keep in mind that the aforementioned are just estimated lifespans – several factors can drastically reduce your roof’s lifespan. These include:
- Extreme weather events – No matter how durable your roof is, it may suffer some form of damage after a storm. That’s why as soon as the storm has passed, you should have a contractor inspect your roof and conduct emergency roof repair work. Left unattended, minor roof storm damage can affect the other parts of your home.
- Climate – Your roofing system won’t last long if it’s not suited to your area’s climate. For instance, contractors don’t recommend installing galvanized steel roofs in coastal homes. Prolonged exposure to salty sea air can speed up the corrosion process and drastically reduce your roof’s lifespan. If you’re living near the coast, aluminum roofing panels that are resistant to saltwater corrosion would be a better choice.
- Quality of the material and roof installation – Off-brand roofing materials won’t last as long as premium-quality materials from reputable brands. Remember, when in doubt, it’s best to stick to tried-and-trusted brands like GAF. Keep in mind that even a high-quality roof won’t last long if it isn’t installed properly. That’s why you need to make sure only an experienced contractor handles your roof repair and installation project.
- Frequency of maintenance – Routine maintenance is a must if you want to keep your roof in good condition. Routine inspections and maintenance ensure that minor roof damage is fixed before it can affect other parts of your home.
The Importance of Keeping a Roofing File
A roofing file can help you keep track of your roof’s lifespan and maintenance record. It should contain the date of the roof installation, your roof’s maintenance record, the inspections your roof underwent and reports made by roofers. Keep in mind that the only way to get an accurate estimate of your roof’s lifespan is by having a contractor inspect your roof.
Warning Signs of a Failing Roof
Certain signs can tell you if your roof is starting to fail and needs to be replaced. These include:
- Increasingly frequent repairs – If your roof only suffered minor to moderate damage, roof repairs should be enough. However, as your roof ages, it becomes more susceptible to all kinds of roof damage that will require more frequent repairs. At a certain point, a roof replacement starts to become a more practical and cost-effective alternative to scheduling several roof repairs in a single year.
- Granules in your gutters – The granules embedded in asphalt shingles protect your roof from ultraviolet (UV) rays, which can slowly break down the roof’s surface. It’s normal for an asphalt-shingle roof to lose a few granules over the course of its lifespan. However, if the granule loss becomes so severe that bald patches start to appear on your roof or large piles of granules end up in your gutters, you’ll need to install new asphalt shingles.
- Curling, cracking or blistering shingles – It’s not uncommon to see curling, cracking or blistering shingles on an old roof. However, if your roof was installed not too long ago, these may be a sign of an underlying roof issue. For instance, blisters start to appear when trapped moisture evaporates but can’t escape. Normally, adequate ventilation should prevent moisture from accumulating in your roof. However, if your roof isn’t well-ventilated, blisters on asphalt shingles are just one of several roofing issues you may encounter.
- Water stains on the ceiling – The first signs of moisture damage usually appear in the attic ceiling, the underside of the roof decking. If water has managed to infiltrate a failing roof’s underlayers, water stains might start to appear on your ceilings or walls. Keep in mind that since water follows the path of least resistance, the location of the water stains might not be where the leaks are located.
- Mold – Leaks create a damp environment that’s the perfect breeding ground for mold. Roofing components infested with mold should be replaced immediately. Otherwise, the mold infestation might affect other parts of your home.
- Wood rot – A damp environment is also conducive to the formation of wood rot. By breaking down cellulose and lignin – compounds that give wood its characteristic rigidity – the fungi that cause rot can weaken the roof’s support structure, potentially causing some sections of your roof to sag.
If you notice any of these warning signs, contact your local residential or commercial roofing services company.
Making the Most of Your Roof Replacement
If you need a roof replacement, you should do a bit of research first to maximize the return on your investment. Find out which roofing materials are suited to your area’s climate and fit your budget. While it’s important to stay within your roofing budget, you shouldn’t get too preoccupied with the costs. Focus instead on the features that can give you value for your money.
Looking for a roofing contractor? Here’s a tip: it’s best to hire local contractors – they’re more familiar with your area’s climate and can, therefore, make better recommendations.