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How to Know When It’s Time to Replace Your Residential Roof

April 12, 2019

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A new residential roof is often a costly investment, but one that homeowners should never overlook or put off indefinitely. A home’s roof not only keeps the structure dry and protected but also provides added insulation while helping to support the overall framework of a house.

A residential roof should be replaced once it has reached the end of its expected lifespan, even if it seems in good repair. Extensive damage such as from storms or exposure to extreme weather also indicate the need for a new roof.

If you’re a homeowner and aren’t sure if your home’s roof is ready for replacement, note some information about the importance of a high-quality roof over your home, as well as some factors you might discuss with a roofing contractor as needed. You might also note some helpful tips on how to keep a roof in good repair and looking its best over the years, to avoid otherwise unnecessary roof repair and replacement costs.

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The Average Cost to Tear Off and Replace a Roof Is Worth It!

A home’s roof does much more than simply keep the house dry, which is why the average cost to tear off and replace a roof is often worth it! To better understand the importance of replacing a home’s roof when needed, note the importance of a high-quality, well-maintained roof for your home:

  • Since heat rises, a tremendous amount of interior heat is lost through a poor-quality roof or an aged roof in disrepair.  An old roof with thin, brittle shingles can then result in a home that is often cold and drafty during wintertime, leading to expensive heating costs.
  • A high-quality roof provides a layer of insulation against outside cold during wintertime and excessive heat during summer. After installation of a new roof, you might pay less to heat your home’s interior throughout the winter and to cool the home during summertime.
  • A damaged roof with thin, brittle shingles often allows mold, moss, mildew, and algae to grow between those shingles and tiles. This debris can loosen shingles and increases the risk of having roofing tiles blow away in a storm.
  • Moss, mold, mildew, and algae hold water against the surface of a roof and its building materials, leading to water damage and eventual cracks and leaks. Water damage and cracks on the roof’s surface can also increase the risk of mold growth inside the home.
  • Squirrels, chipmunks, hornets, wasps, bees, spiders, and other pests find cracks and holes in a roof somewhat easily and use these openings to burrow inside the home, looking for a comfortable environment to build a nest or store food. A solid roof in good repair helps keep unwanted pests out of your attic and your home!
  • A home’s roof keeps the framework of the home in place. An old and weak roof doesn’t provide proper support for interior and exterior walls; in turn, the home is more likely to shift and settle, leading to cracks along the ceilings, walls, and floors. Plumbing pipes can also be shifted out of proper alignment and angles, increasing the risk of plumbing clogs!
  • The roof of a home adds to its overall curb appeal. Unsightly water stains, missing shingles, worn shingles, soft spots, dark spots, and other roof damage can make your entire house look dingy and dull.
  • The condition of a roof affects a home’s overall value. A new roof can increase your property values and protect the equity you’ve accumulated over the years.

How Do You Know If a House Needs a New Roof?

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Only a local roofing contractor can determine if your home needs a new roof, but note some signs that your home’s roof is suffering severe damage and needs repair or replacement:

  • When shingles become old or damaged due to exposure, their edges or ends often curl up. If your home’s roofing shingles are curled on either edge or the front edges look thicker than normal, this often indicates it’s time for a roof replacement!
  • Granules along the surface of roofing shingles help direct water off the roof, but these granules tend to get brittle or soft with age and then crumble away. If you notice roofing shingle granules in the home’s gutters or collecting along the home’s exterior walls, it’s time for a new roof.
  • Cracked, broken, or split shingles need immediate replacement. If shingles have been cracked or broken for some time, your home has probably suffered water damage under the shingles and you might need to schedule a roof tear-off and replacement.
  • Dark spots along the roof’s surface often indicate soft spots or water damage under the shingles. In these cases, a roof might be structurally unsound and need immediate replacement.
  • Because a roof helps to insulate a house, an uncomfortable interior environment can sometimes indicate the need for a new roof! If your home is drafty and cold, hot and stuffy, overly humid, or otherwise uncomfortable throughout the year, have the roof checked for needed replacement.
  • Excessive growth of moss, mildew, mold, and algae along roofing shingles often indicate the need for a new roof.

Note, too, that a residential roof always has an expected lifespan. Most asphalt shingle roofs will last twenty or thirty years on average. However, harsh weather conditions, neglecting regular maintenance and repairs, and storm debris can shorten that lifespan so that your roof needs replacing sooner than you might expect!

Should You Opt for Roof Repair or Replacement?

Only a roofing contractor can note if your home’s roof is so severely damaged that it needs replacement rather than repair, but to help you make the decision about the best option for your home’s roof, first note its overall age. If a roof with a lifespan of 20 years needs extensive repairs after 17 or 18 years, you might consider a roof replacement rather than repair, as that roof will no doubt need replacing in just a few years anyway!

Note, too, the cost of repairs overall. If your home’s roof has been damaged severely, perhaps due to a storm or because of years of neglect, the cost of repairs may be close to the cost of a new roof. Those repairs might last just a few years while investing a few extra dollars in new shingles altogether can mean having a solid and durable roof that lasts another 20 years if not even longer.

It’s also good to consider the benefits of a new roof versus repairing an older and potentially low-quality roof. Newer roofing shingles and tiles or even a metal roof can mean added insulation inside the home. In turn, you’ll pay less for utilities throughout the year.

A new roof can also improve your home’s overall curb appeal, and even its value. An updated style, such as clay tiles or painted metal, can change the entire appearance of your home! Take all these factors into consideration when deciding between repairs and replacement for your home’s roof.

Simple Ways to Maintain a Home’s Roof

Every home’s roof needs eventual replacement no matter its overall quality and condition, but keeping a roof in good repair and maintaining it properly ensures that a roof lasts as long as possible. Note some simple ways to maintain a home’s roof and keep it in good condition over the years.

  • Regular cleaning or power washing will remove damaging dirt, soot, dried dust, bird droppings, acid rain residues, and other debris from a home’s roof.
  • If you live in a humid environment, hire a pressure washing company that specializes in removing algae, mold, moss, mildew, and other debris that grow easily along damp surfaces, including rooftops.
  • Replace missing or worn shingles quickly. Cracked or split shingles fail to protect underlying materials as well as the home’s framework from water damage; the longer you wait to replace worn shingles, the more damage your home suffers!
  • Roof sealant is an added barrier against water damage. Have the roof’s sealant examined every year and replace that sealant or reapply it as necessary, and as soon as you notice areas of wear.
  • Trim back tree branches so there is no overhang. Trees drip damaging sap and moisture onto roofs and provide a perch for birds, allowing for corrosive bird droppings to build up on the surface of roofs. Lack of sunlight along a roof’s surface also encourages the growth of moss, mold, and algae.
  • Clogged gutters allow rainwater to collect along the edge of a home’s roof, loosening shingles and encouraging the growth of mold, moss, algae, and other contaminants. You might not associate clean gutters with a roof in good repair, but keeping gutters free of clogs so that rainwater is directed to downspouts protects every inch of your home, including the roof!
  • Maintain the home’s chimney. Crumbling brick can hit the roof with excessive force and then slide along the surface of shingles, scraping their granules and leading to eventual cracks and leaks.
  • If your home has a metal roof or any metallic elements along the surface of the roof, check for rust regularly. If left unchecked, rust will spread along the surface of a roof and cause corrosion to shingles, tiles, flashing, roofing paper, and other building materials.
  • Remove excessive amounts of heavy snow from your roof every winter.
  • Prevent ice dams from forming. An ice dam forms when the bottom layer of snow melts and then freezes before it can run off the roof. To prevent ice dams, remove snow if the weather is expected to get warmer and then drop again, and ensure your home’s attic or crawlspace is insulated adequately.

Related Questions

Why replace the roof if you’re selling a home?

Homes with old roofs needing extensive repairs or replacement are often overlooked by potential buyers, or might receive extremely low offers. A roof replacement makes your home more attractive to homebuyers and can allow you to fetch a higher asking price.

How long do roofs last on houses?

The manufacturer of your home’s roofing materials will note the expected lifespan of those materials, but most asphalt shingle roofs last 20 to 30 years, fiber cement shingles last 25 years on average, and slate, copper, and other metal roofs often last 50 years and even longer.

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