Do I need a new roof?

If you’re like most homeowners, you probably don’t give the roof of your home much thought from day to day. It just sort of sits up there, keeping the rain and snow out of your house.

Maybe you notice over time some stains or streaks appearing. But it changes so slowly, and really, you have more immediate concerns. So you don’t really pay much attention.

And that is normally the way it should be. Your roof should give you years or even decades of worry free protection from the elements. But in the back of your mind you know, eventually something will have to be done with it. The only question is when.

Because of this, there are two errors homeowners most frequently make. One is to wait too long to replace your roof. Once leaks become visible, chances are you’ve actually had small leaks for years and will have damaged your house structure and end up spending much more than you would have had to when you finally replace it.

How to avoid being scammed?

But the other is getting scammed by unscrupulous contractors who come through and convince people that they need a new roof years before they actually do. This is all too pervasive in the industry. And the solution is to empower you, the homeowner, to be able to assess for yourself when your roof really needs replaced.

So what to look for?

First, a common misperception. Remember those stains and streaks we talked about earlier? While these can be unsightly, this typically by itself does not mean that your shingles have failed. There are chemical washes that can be used to clean these off your roof, both to improve the appearance and extend the life of your shingles. But do not allow a contractor to talk you in to replacing your shingles just because of these stains or streaks.

  • Frequent blow-offs. Even a brand new roof can lose a shingle or two in a very bad storm and need to be repaired. However, if you find yourself losing shingles and needing to repair your roof after every moderate storm, it is almost certain that your entire roof should be replaced.
  • Cracked shingles. This failure is hard to see from the ground, but will be quite visible from a ladder. If you can see a spiderweb of hairline cracks in the face of your shingles visible from two feet away, they are very near the end of their useful life and should be replaced within the next six to twelve months.
  • Curled shingle edges. Your shingles should lie flat on your roof. If the edges of your shingles are starting to curl up, it is time to start saving up to replace them. You may get another year or at the most two years of life out of them once this starts to appear.
  • Lost granules. The gritty top coat of your shingles will shed lightly over time, especially the first year after installation. But when your shingles are failing at the end of their useful life they will begin to shed quickly. When you clean your gutters and find a thick build-up of shingle “grit” collected in the bottom, that is a sign that your roof only has a few years of life left.
  • Hail damage. Hail damage is visible as small pits in the surface of your shingles. However, this can be difficult for someone unfamiliar with the roofing trades to spot. If you suspect your roof may have suffered hail damage, call out your insurance adjustor. Hail damage is almost always covered by your homeowner’s insurance. Never sign a contract with a roofer who contacts you after a hail storm until your insurance adjustor has signed off on the claim.

Armed with this knowledge, you can avoid getting scammed by a contractor trying to sell you a roof you don’t need, and also protect your most valuable asset by knowing when you truly need a new roof.

Next time, we will discuss your different roofing replacement options and how to choose which one is right for you and your budget.