Like most homeowners, we had a vague idea when we bought our home that the roof needed to be replaced. Our roof was ancient at over 30 years old. As we lived there it became more and more clear it was beyond time to replace our roofing.
While I am not a licensed roofing contractor or professional roofer, my husband Colby spent the first half of his career building houses. Currently, we both work in the building and construction industries while we DIY our home and renovate it.
How To Know When You Need A New Roof
You know it’s time to replace a roof when, after a roofing inspection, find it not to be in good condition anymore and the roof’s lifespan has run its course. There are several signs that it’s time to replace your roof but the most common include the age of the roof, missing or damaged shingles, and signs of water leaking.
A roof is an important asset to a home. It is a layer of protection from the elements and something that should be taken care of and inspected regularly. It’s important to repair your roof or replace it in a timely manner to prevent a minor issue from turning into more costly repairs.
Here are 10 signs that it’s time to replace your roof:
1. Age Of The Roof
The age of your roof is a good indicator of whether or not it’s time to replace your roof. The type of material used for your roof determines its average lifespan. For example, slate roofs are more durable and can last up to 50 years while standard asphalt shingles have a life expectancy of 15 to 20 years. If your roof’s age is beyond that, it’s likely time for a replacement. It’s also important to note if there is a single layer or a double layer of shingles on the roof. If your roof was installed over another layer and it’s been more than 20 years, it’s likely time for a full roof replacement.
2. Missing Shingles
Missing shingles or other visible signs of wear and tear to your roof is another sign it’s time to replace your home’s roof. We found roof shingles in our neighbor’s yard after a series of strong winds and started making plans to replace our roof. Sometimes you can repair minor damage or replace missing shingles, but if you consistently find damage, especially after high winds, it’s time.
3. Leaky Roof
If your roof leaks and you have buckets in your attic to catch the leaks, it’s time to dig a little deeper. Your roof is likely at the end of its useful life. Sometimes small leaks can be repaired. This can buy a little more time before replacing the entire roof. But leaks if not attended to can cause significant damage including structural damage that leads to rot and a sagging roof.
4. Water Stains
Sometimes you might not notice roof leaks but you do see water stains, damaged plaster, or cracked and peeling paint. These are often signs of water damage from a leaky roof.
In an old apartment we lived in, we notified our landlord of a potential leak when the wallpaper started peeling off the wall. She didn’t attend to the necessary repairs and during a severe rainstorm buckets of water started pouring into the home. Small leaks are a telltale sign the roof needs repairs or replacement.
5. Shrinking Or Curling Shingles
When shingles start to shrink, curl, or buckle it’s a sign that they are aging and are no longer properly attached to the sheathing underneath. This often goes hand in hand with water damage and other signs of roof damage.
6. Severe Damage
Severe damage to a roof, like storm damage, an ice dam causing extensive damage, tree branches falling, severe weather, or anything else causing structural problems is a sure sign it’s time for a new roof.
7. Moss Growth
Moss growth, mold, fungi, or other things “growing” on your old roof is another sign of trapped moisture indicating it’s time for a full replacement. You can try to curb the growth, which is especially common in darker corners of your roof, like around a chimney or dormer, but be careful when cleaning off the moss with a stiff brush so as not to cause further damage, and make sure to inspect the roof for further damage.
8. Energy Efficiency
Sometimes your energy bills indicate that the lifespan of your roof has run its course. Higher than usual heating or cooling costs may be a sign that air is penetrating through more than normal. Or the older shingles are no longer reflecting the heat and are absorbing it.
9. Pest Infestations
Pest infestations in the attic are warning signs of damage. Pests may not necessarily be getting in through a damaged roof, but they are getting in somewhere so it’s always best to investigate. Never underestimate the power of a squirrel!
10. Missing Roof Flashing
If areas of your roof are missing flashing, it may be time for a complete replacement of your roof. Flashing prevents leaks in the joints in a roof. Like where the chimney meets the roof, pitch transitions, or where the roof meets a wall. If flashing is missing and it’s causing a roof problem, it may be time for a total roof replacement. Minor flashing repairs may be done, although should be tackled urgently, as long as there hasn’t been any other damage.
How Often Should You Have Your Roof Inspected?
It’s a good idea to perform regular inspections of your roof at least once a year. You should also inspect your roof after heavy storms or storms with high winds.
In our home, we break out the ladder and inspect our roof a couple of times a year because of its old age. We check for broken, damaged, or missing shingles and replace or repair as much as we can. We check flashing and drip edges as well as clean off any moss growth.
I am thankful that Colby is comfortable roofing homes and climbing on ladders as I am not. If not for him, I would definitely be setting up regular roof inspections with a professional roofer.
How We Knew It Was Time For A New Roof
Here’s the part where I share our roofing story and how we decided it was time to replace our shingles. I’ll also share our brief plans for re-roofing our home.
Age Of Our Roof
When we bought our home a couple of years ago, we knew the roof needed to be replaced simply by the age of it. But we also had a LONG list of other major home improvements and never enough money. It was the next major project we were saving for after getting our sewer pipe replaced.
We didn’t know the exact age of our roof, but we knew it was over 30 years old. It was at least 10 years overdue for a replacement. Thankfully, while we saved up, we didn’t have any other major signs of damage.
In the meantime, we gutted all the rooms underneath this roof and thankfully didn’t see any structural signs of water damage. We did inspect our roof a few times a year and made minor repairs, replacing damaged or missing shingles as needed until we had the money to replace the roof.
In retrospect, we probably should have replaced the roof before we built the new deck and stairs to the house. But we also had rotting, falling-apart stairs to our home that we had to deal with.
Here’s a pic of our home on move-in day with the old roof and the old stairs.
The Big Storm
So, there’s a reason we haven’t done anything in the guest bedroom since sheet rocking it. Shortly after we sheet-rocked the room, the roof started leaking like a sieve. Kind of like a University of New Hampshire men’s hockey goalie (my fellow Maine hockey fans 100% understand that dig).
I then vowed to not do any more work in the guest room until we fixed the roof since nobody likes to do finish work only to redo it months later after getting water damaged. We took the sheetrock down and set up some buckets.
We first noticed the leakiness in this room back in June during a torrential rainstorm with high winds. It was one of the worst storms we had endured at this home. Water was pouring into the room onto the dressers we were storing in there. Hence the bucket.
After the rain stopped, Colby went up on the roof to check things out and he found a roof in poor, poor condition. There were gaps and damaged shingles everywhere, especially on the East side of the house.
He knew there were way too many damaged shingles to just patch it, although he did temporarily patch a few spots with roof tar which made a huge difference in the short term. But the roof tar wouldn’t hold forever and we knew we had to shingle the upper level of our roof.
Saving Up For Shingles
While it would have been ideal to replace the roof right away, we also didn’t have the money for it. We were getting married in a couple of months and every penny we had went toward wedding expenses.
We waited until after all the wedding hoopla calmed down and until we saved up enough pennies to purchase roofing materials, which we budgeted at about $1,500.
So to all our friends and family who generously gifted us some money at our wedding, it went straight to roofing materials. So thank you!
Deciding To Replace Shingles Ourselves
In an ideal world, we would hire roofing professionals to tackle this project. But alas, if we want to replace our roof before winter, which would be ideal if not necessary at this point, we plan to do it ourselves.
We just don’t have enough cash saved up to pay a professional roofer and probably won’t until next summer. Colby and I both agree that it’s not a good idea to wait that long.
Thankfully, Colby has replaced an asphalt shingle roof before and roofed new homes during his time as a builder. My brother (who is also a builder and sub-contractor for professional roofing companies) has volunteered to help us install new shingles. We are beyond thankful for the help!
Our fearless roofing team:
A pallet of asphalt shingles, our roofing material of choice, arrived this week. Now we’re ready to start shingling the roof this weekend.
Be sure to check back for more stories from our roofing adventure.