A leaky roof is proof enough that you need a repair. But how do you know when it’s time to replace your roof entirely?
Best practices state you should spot check your roof twice a year, typically in the fall and spring. How often you’ll need a full inspection depends on what your roof is made of. Different roofing materials decay at different rates, so composite, asphalt, and wooden shingles usually need a professional inspection every three years, whereas a tile roof may need one every five years.
That said, these factors may prompt you to call a professional and get your roof replaced. (Bonus: doing so will likely reduce your home insurance bill.)
1. Your Roof’s Age
The age of your roof is a good starting point to determine when it’s due for a replacement. Experts usually say a roof should last about 20 years, but that also depends on the composition of the roof. For example, this is the typical longevity of the following roofing materials:
- Asphalt roll roof: 5 to 10 years
- Composite shingle roof: 15 years
- Wood shingle roof: ~25 years
- Standing seam metal roof: 30 to 50 years
- Wood shake shingle roof: 35 to 40 years
- Clay tile roof / Spanish tile roof: 40 to 100 years
- Slate roof: 100+ years
The maintenance of your roof also matters. For example, a roof installed over an existing layer of shingles should be replaced after no more than 20 years.
2. Buckled and Curled Shingles
Your shingles should lie flat against the roof. If they are curling, buckled, or damaged, your roof is showing signs of substantial wear.
Another way to check? Inspect your gutters and downspouts for shingle granules. Roofs that are nearing the end of their life tend to shed these easily after a storm.
3. Rusted Roof Valleys
A roof valley is usually a V-shaped metal channel found in the “folds” of the roof. The valley helps snow and rain flow off your roof into the gutter. If your valleys are rusted, your roof can leak into your home.
4. Missing Shingles or Tiles
If your roof is missing shingles, tiles, or tabs, at minimum you need to repair the missing components. At worst, this may be another sign your roof’s useful days are numbered.
5. Gaps in Chimney Flashing
The flashing around the vents, skylights, and chimney on your roof help fortify these openings against leaks. That’s why it’s extremely important to make sure there are no cracks or breaks in the flashing, especially if it’s made of cement or tar, which erodes over time. Metal flashing typically has a longer life.
6. Daylight through Roof Boards
If you’re considering getting a new roof, a trip to your attic is in order. From here, you can check the roof deck and look for daylight through the roof boards – this is a sign that water has an entry point into your home.
7. Sagging and Moss
A roof that’s trapping moisture is usually one that needs a replacement. You can spot signs of moisture in your roof a few ways:
- Examine the insulation in the attic – if it’s moist, you likely have a roof leak.
- Check for moss, mold, and fungi on and around the roof.
- Look for sagging in the roof and for rotting boards.
Remember, some damage doesn’t necessarily mean you need to replace the roof entirely. But if you see a few of the signs listed in this guide, call a professional to get your roof inspected and to get an expert opinion. If you're in a hurricane-prone region, this might be a good opportunity for you to make your roof more wind-resistant, too. Learn about wind mitigation for more insight.