Your roof is probably the most important protective component of your home. So how do you know when it’s time to replace the roof? Age is the first clue…a roof is likely past its prime after 10 years or so. But there are other telltale signs to look for when it might be time for a roof replacement.
A simple visual inspection from a ladder or by viewing the roof through binoculars from the driveway and the backyard can reveal signs that your roof may be in need of repair or replacement.
Missing Granules. It’s normal to have some granules dislodge from the shingles and collect in the gutters, especially when the roof is new. However, if granules are missing on the surface of the shingle, exposing the asphalt or fiberglass mat below, it can decrease the life of your roof. On aging shingles, areas of missing granules indicate it might be time to replace the roof.
Buckling. A number of factors can cause shingles to buckle: improperly applied felt, wrinkled underlayment, poor roof ventilation or new shingles applied over an existing layer of shingles. If buckling is caused by wrinkled felt below the shingle, a roofing professional can simply remove the affected shingles, cut the wrinkle and replace the shingles. If the cause is poor ventilation, you’ll need to add ventilation to the attic space to allow heat and moisture to escape and keep attic temperatures lower.
If buckling shingles are left untreated, the shingles will begin to crack and tear and will need to be replaced immediately to avoid significant damage to the roof or roof deck which can lead to leaks and rotting. Consult a roofing professional for this job. If your roof has more than one layer of shingles, the top layer will eventually conform to and reveal any imperfections of the layer below. The only solution is a complete tear-off and re-roof.
Curling. Curled edges on shingles can be a result of improper fastening (such as high nails or too few nails), poor roof ventilation or lack of a back-coating on the shingles. Curling is more common in organic shingles such as wood and will often start at the bottom edge of the shingle. However, it’s important to note that if roofing is installed on a cold day, some temporary curling or cupping is natural. As soon as the temperature increases the shingles should lay flat. If the problem persists, contact a roofing professional as soon as possible to avoid further damage to the roof.
Rotting. Rotting is caused when the mat at the core of the shingle absorbs moisture. Rotting is more common when the mat is made from organic compounds. Replace rotted shingles with ones made from non-organic compounds, such as fiberglass, which resist moisture and are less likely to rot.
Detecting the warning signs of a rotting roof is easier than you’d think and doesn’t require a roofing expert. By simply standing on the ground and looking up at the roof, look for shingle irregularities. Depending upon the roof, these irregularities appear as discoloration, black spots or large spaces of missing color granules. Because granules protect the shingle from the harmful affects of UV light, without granules the asphalt is exposed to the elements and will turn black and begin to rot.
Blistering. Blisters are sometimes found in non-organic shingles and are caused by trapped moisture in the shingle. Not all blistered shingles need to be replaced. But, if blistered shingles break open they can leave shingles susceptible to other damage such as granule loss, color fading and may even lead to water leakage and should be replaced. While blistering shingles are rarely visible from the ground, a punctured blistered shingle will be easily spotted because it will likely appear to have black spots–which are actually the exposed asphalt shingle.
Ceiling Spots. Stains on your indoor ceilings may be caused by a leaking roof. Check your attic to find the source of the leak, and examine the rafters for leaks that travel away from the original source. On the exterior, check the chimney and vents for cracks in the flashing. Also, look for damaged shingles and check the eaves for ice dams that cause water to back up. It is advisable to have a roofing professional who is safely harnessed to the home, conducting checks on these key areas.
Roofs with wood shake shingles present additional challenges. Like shingles, shakes can experience many of the same problems mentioned above and it may be time for a roof replacement. Other problems to watch for with wood shake shingles include:
Moss/Algae growth. On a shingle roof, algae growth is unsightly but doesn’t affect the service life of the roof. With wood shake shingles, algae can reduce the long-term performance of the roof. Moss and algae growth are most common in damp or humid climates or on shaded areas of the roof. Replace damaged shakes with moss/algae resistant ones.
Splitting. Splitting can be the result of natural aging or caused by stress, such as walking on the roof. The condition is aggravated by water infiltration in wood, cement tile or fiber-reinforced cement shakes and is compounded in damp climates with repeated freezing and thawing. Small cracks can be caulked, but larger ones required the damaged shakes to be replaced.
Termite damage. Wooden shakes provide sustenance for termites. To exterminate termites, the home must be tented and fumigated. After the termites are gone, replace the affected shakes with new ones.
If your roof is ready for a redo, you may know that curb appeal is one of the most significant features when building, buying, selling or remodeling a home. Yet, you may not fully realize the large impact a roof has on curb appeal. In addition to protecting the home, the roof is one of the largest architectural features—in some cases up to 50 percent—and has the power to truly take a home from drab to FAB.
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