7 signs it’s time to replace your roof

Wed Apr 12 2023

Unlike other major household systems, a roof doesn’t come with a “best by” date. Roofs don’t age consistently, so there’s no set answer for how often a roof should be replaced. 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. 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 can reduce your home insurance costs.)

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. The list below provides examples of the typical longevity for several types of roofing materials.

  • Asphalt roll roof: 5 to 10 years
  • Composite shingle roof: 15 years
  • Wood shingle roof: approximately 25 years
  • Standing seam metal roof: 20 to 50 years
  • Wood shake shingle roof: 35 to 40 years
  • Clay tile roof / Spanish tile roof: 40 to 50 years (Underlayment lasts approximately 15 years)
  • Slate roof: 100+ years

How your roof was installed can also impact its longevity. For example, a roof installed over an existing layer of shingles usually needs to be replaced after no more than 20 years.

While you may be able to lengthen the life of your roof with spot treatments, these are the ages where the material in roofs starts to fail. Delaying installation greatly increases the risk of water intrusion and other issues that can cause real and lasting damage to a home. So really, you want to start thinking about a new roof before yours hits the upper limits of these ranges.

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.

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. Read about wind mitigation for more insight.

Why do roofs need to be replaced?

A home’s roof protects the structure and its contents from wind, rain, and other elements. It’s a critical component of shelter from the elements, keeping your family and belongings safe, and protecting the rest of your house from damage and decay that weather and other factors can cause.

That’s probably enough of a reason to replace your roof, but there are other situations where you may want to take a close look at the shape your roof is in. For example, you may want a new roof if:

  • You’re remodeling. Your roof can look mismatched if you add an addition without installing a new roof.
  • You have storm damage. Like we said, spot repairs may be okay for some damage, but they may not be enough for older roofs, so get a professional to evaluate damage after a storm.

Like anything else, the materials that comprise a roof break down over time. No matter what material it’s made of, a roof needs to be replaced periodically. Installing a new roof is also an opportunity to check the condition of your sub-roof, repair any hidden damage, and reseal peaks, valleys, vents, and other elements. This helps ensure that your roof will continue to protect your home and its critical systems, allowing your home to maintain its value into the future.

Are you surprised at how important your roof is? Get more details about what’s in a roof.


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