Your home’s roof is your first line of defense from the elements and is a critical part of the home’s structure. It safeguards the remainder of the house from water damage and exposure to the weather. It’s a good idea to develop a practice of evaluating your property’s roof frequently. A proper home maintenance routine ensures that it remains in excellent shape. Now I’m not going to lie to you, every roof will fail, and a leak will develop at some point. However, you can detect roof issues before they turn into leaks by just checking it often, especially after heavy winds storms and hurricanes. As a home inspector we evaluate roofs every day, in this article we are going to share some signs to look for when determining if it’s time for a roof replacement. Please remember ladders and walking on a roof has some risks, using binoculars to check your roof from the ground is an option or having a professional roofer check your roof can be a safer alternative.
Now, it’s time to determine if your roof is in need of a replacement as you garner knowledge from this article. Let’s dive in to get started!
Is Your Roof Beyond Its Life Expectancy?
Knowing when your roof was installed might help you anticipate how long it will last. If you bought or inherited an older home, it’s likely that you don’t know when it was installed. Your homes closing paperwork and seller disclosures typically lack this information. If your home has had a home inspection or has undergone a wind mitigation inspection, you should be OK. Just make sure to refer back to either of these reports; they routinely outline the age and life expectancy of the roof. As a home inspector, we normally visit your local property appraiser’s office or the county’s building permits office to determine when your home was last re-roofed by reviewing its permits. If your house is relatively new, the roof should be original to the structure and of the same age as the home. (0-10 years). You should not, however, wait for your roof to start giving you warning signs. If you are concerned about the age of your roof, contact a roofing professional to have it evaluated to determine whether it needs to be replaced. Another indicator that it’s time for a roof inspection is if you see your neighbors’ roofs are being replaced.
Is There Granule Build-Up in Gutters?
Although it may appear that your roof is not shedding granules, a buildup of granules in the gutter indicates that it is. The protective coverings of roof shingles tend to separate when a roof ages due to constant exposure to sunshine, long-term use, and moisture from weather. Debris falling from trees on the roof could also speed up its deterioration. We look for these symptoms of separation on the entire roof during a home inspection. When you can see the underlying base material of the shingles or the asphalt covering behind the granules, this is an easy sign. This often looks like black or balding spots on the shingles.
Do You Have Cracked Shingles?
On your roof, cracked shingles are fairly frequent and easy to spot. They are most commonly found on the roof’s ridge or peak. Roofing material is frequently bent over each side and fixed down when it is installed at the ridge. When walking on a roof, the ridge is usually the most heavily trafficked section. Cracks are also common along the gutters and at the edges of the roof. As the water sheds down to the ground, these locations see the most water discharge. These cracked shingles can be replaced individually by a roofing contractor but could lead to additional issues if left neglected.
Do You Have Missing Shingles?
Shingles might be missing for a variety of causes. High winds are the most common cause of this phenomenon. Although not all roofing materials are created equal, asphalt shingles are known for blowing away in high winds due to their low wind resistance. As previously discussed, fractured shingles can cause sections of the shingle to fall off completely. This not only exposes the fasteners / nails underlying the missing shingle, but it also exposes the sublayer of shingle materials. These are simple water intrusion locations.
Weak Spots in The Roof?
Every week, I walk a lot of roofs, and the sheathing underneath the roof is typically the most telling symptom of a weak roof. The sheathing on your roof is the wood that makes up the roof’s support structure. This is usually plywood sheets or actual boards underlying the roofing materials on most roofs. Observing bounce or hearing snaps or pops in the material is a very severe symptom of sheathing problems. This could be the result of shoddy installation, old sheathing that hasn’t been changed, or previous water intrusions. A roof’s sheathing can often inform you if there are present or prior water leaks when you’re within the attic.
Any Moss or Dark Streaks?
Dark streaks, or algae-caused roof discoloration, occur in varied degrees across the United States, particularly in places exposed to warm, humid temperatures. This can be mistaken for soot, dirt, or tree droppings, albeit most of these only cause limited discoloration. It’s most frequent in the eastern United States, where it grows on roofs with a northern exposure. Moss can be identified by its green hue and the fact that it grows on roof surfaces that don’t get much sunshine, particularly in cool, moist areas. Moss growth isn’t always only a cosmetic concern, it holds moisture against the surface of your roof and, if ignored, will harm your roofing components over time. It’s crucial to remember that your roof’s purpose is to drain water off and away from your home, not to hold it and cause leaks.
Has the Roof Been Re-Roofed?
While “re-roofing” may appear to be a blanket term for having your roof replaced, it is not. It’s a unique procedure. Roof replacement is both expensive and time-consuming, but “re-roofing” can achieve equivalent effects for a fraction of the price. Re-roofing is the process of replacing an old set of shingles with a new set. Because the roofing contractor will not have to remove and replace the existing roof, it will be far less expensive. One thing to bear in mind while re-roofing is that you can only do it once. A roof that has already been re-roofed cannot have shingles placed to it. If you’ve had your roof re-roofed before, you’ll almost certainly require a complete replacement.
As a home inspector, I’ve seen houses with three levels of roofing shingles stacked on top of one another. This can be a serious problem because it implies that the newest layer’s life span will be drastically shortened as a result of the two layers below it. This can also occur if the work is being done by an unqualified roofer.
Any Moisture Damage in the Attic?
A leak is often undetected until it appears on the drywall ceilings or walls. The damage might be significantly more serious than simple drywall damage at that stage. Multiple elements, such as roofing insulation, trusses, wood framing, and roof sheathing, might be harmed by a leak. When moisture damage is ignored, it can lead to mold and poor air quality. When you discover a leak, the first thing you should do is climb into the attic to assess the extent of the damage. After that, contact your homeowner’s insurance and a skilled roofing contractor to determine the cause of the leak.
At times, while your roof may look alright it is better to call a trusted roofing company to inspect for hidden leaks and other unnoticeable signs. Are you thinking about their fees? Stay calm! Most roofing contractors provide free inspections. However, if it requires a cost for maintenance, it’s worth it. Often there are many repairs that can be made instead of fully replacing a roof. I strongly recommend though that you research your roofing contractor and the quality of their work.
It’s good to have a home inspection, for figuring out the issues with home maintenance ahead of time can prevent future problems or plan for bigger repairs such as an aged roof.
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