failing roof

How to Spot a Failing Roof

Rain, snow, sunshine – normally the changing weather doesn’t give you any more pause than whether to turn on the air conditioning or grab an umbrella. Worrying about how it’s affecting our homes isn’t even a blip on your radar. That is, until the unthinkable happens and the rain pouring down outside is dripping from your ceiling inside. Then it’s all cloudy skies and visions of dollar signs and the cost of roof repairs, or worse – replacement.

But how do you know if a simple repair will solve your problem or whether it’s time to replace your roof? Here are a few tips that will help you prevent some costly repairs…and keep those raindrops from falling on your head.

Inspecting Your Roof

If you’re like most people, you don’t give your roof a second thought except to glance up at it occasionally as you’re backing out of the garage on your way to drop off the kids or pick up groceries. But with your mind on other things, it’s easy to overlook some obvious problems.

We suggest you inspect your roof twice a year. Once in the spring when you’re freshening up the flowerbeds and again in the fall as you batten down the hatches in preparation for winter’s stormy weather.

Start your inspection inside the house on the highest ceilings. Often times this means an attic or crawl space. Use a flashlight and get as close to the ceiling as possible. Check for sagging or warped roof decking; outside light showing through the rafters; and discoloration of walls, ceiling or insulation in the form of dark spots or water trails. Manually check to be sure all material is dry. Any wetness felt or other visible staining are sure signs that your home has experienced water damage and needs immediate attention by a roofing professional.

Your outside inspection should be done with binoculars rather than a ladder. Not only is it safer, but it will give you a closer look at any potential problems.

During your visual inspection look for the following:

  • Curled or buckling shingles indicating they’ve reached the end of their useful life.
  • Loose, torn or missing shingles usually indicating the shingles are at the end of their life expectancy and have been torn by high winds from a storm.
  • Loose material around chimneys, pipes and vents where flashing is used. If the flashing is damaged or missing, water can leak into your home.
  • Loose or exposed nails which cause open holes and present the risk of water seeping under the nail head and causing damage.
  • Signs of moisture, darkening areas, mold or rot. Keep in mind that water travels down to the lowest spot before it drips and wet spots may not be directly under the faulty shingles.
  • Excessive shingle granules (similar to dark grains of sand) in gutters indicating advanced wear of shingles.
  • Correct drainage through gutters and downspouts which insures proper drainage of water off your roof.

Pay particular attention to roof valleys. Rain flows through valleys and into gutters, making them one of the most important aspects of your roof. You could be highly susceptible to leaks if any of the valleys is compromised.

Age of Roofing Material

The type of roofing material as well as the area where you live will also determine the need for a new roof.

  • Asphalt shingles typically last 20 to 25 years, depending on whether you have one layer of shingles or your current shingles were layered over an older roof.
  • Cedar shingles typically last 20 years. When they are in need of repair they tend to split and fall apart in dry climates and become mossy in moist climates.
  • Metal roofs can last 40 to 70 years.

Changes in Heating or Cooling Costs

Drastic changes in the cost of heating or cooling your home can be an indication of roof failure. A leak in the roof could allow outside air into your home, resulting in higher heating or air conditioning bills. Insufficient attic ventilation can also cause your heating/cooling system to run excessively.

If you do find water damage, don’t wait to contact a professional. If your roof was properly installed and is less than 15 to 20 years old, our licensed roofing contractors will be able to assess the damage and can often repair your roof rather than replace it. Making repairs as needed can prevent larger and more costly expenses down the road.

Sometimes however, roof replacement is either more cost effective or necessary. It’s never advisable to take a roof replacement on as a do-it-yourself project, especially if the old roofing materials need to be removed. Our roofing professionals will recommend a roofing solution that works for the climate where you live and fits within your budget.

Don’t trust the roof over head to just anyone. Give a roofing contractor call and rest easy that your roof is in tip-top shape and will remain that way for years to come.

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