When Does My Roof Need Replacing? Lifespan, Signs, A Guide

When Does My Roof Need Replacing? Lifespan, Signs, A Guide

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We all need to check the integrity of our roof from time to time but knowing when it needs replacing is another matter. How often or when does my roof need replacing is a common question we get asked.

It’s mainly dependent on the type of material that your roof is made of and your climate, but here’s a quick summary answer to start us off…

When does my roof need replacing? Most roofs typically last at least 10 to 30 years under normal conditions. Some roofing failures can reduce the life of a roof further, which is why the National Roofing Contractors Association recommends that a thorough inspection of potential problems should be conducted at least twice a year.

That’s the simple answer, but this can change based on the roof type and other conditions, so let’s get into the weeds a bit more on this topic so you can figure this out for your particular roof…

Signs to look for to know when you need a new roof

Roofs tend to be one of the most ignored parts of our house. Unless it begins leaking or breaking apart, we probably won’t notice that something is wrong up there for some time.

But for every homeowner, it’s important to keep in mind that all roofs have a certain lifespan, and if you’re in the property for a long time you will have to replace it eventually.

Deciding whether your roof needs replacement – or not – can be tricky at times, but it could be made a little easier if you know what indicates a need for the replacement and what to look for.

Here are the few things you should look for when inspecting your roof:

  • Loose, damaged, or cracked shingles
  • Missing shingles
  • Mold or rot
  • Sagging areas
  • Soft spots on the roof
  • Holes or darkened spots
  • Signs of water damage or leaking

Periodic roof inspection

If you’re afraid of heights, ask a family member or friend for help. Otherwise, you can contact a trusted local roofing contractor to inspect it.

Hopefully, an inspection every year will help you detect minor problems before the roof starts leaking or cracking, or worse, it completely fails.

Therefore, it’s important to conduct regular inspections to maintain the roof in good condition. It’s always wise to pay for a small repair and restore the roof. Otherwise, a collapse of large roof failure can be damaging to both your pocket and your property.

The underlying framing structure of your roof should ideally have a long lifespan similar to your house framing.

However, a complete replacement might become necessary after a certain period. How long it lasts depends on the material that have been used in covering the roof framing.

Unless the roof is made of concrete, then it only requires visual checks for withering or cracks. Roofs made of tile are extremely durable as well, and rarely need a complete replacement.

Roof lifespan guide

In general, the National Roofing Contractors Association recommends the following replacement schedule depending upon the material used.

Here is a table outlining the expected lifespan of a typical roof based on its material:

Roof MaterialExpected Lifespan
Composite Shingles12-20 yrs
Wood Shingles20-25 yrs
Asphalt Shingles15-30 yrs
Rubber30-50 yrs
Metal50-70 yrs

These recommended lifespans will vary greatly based on the climatic conditions that your roof is exposed to, so lets looks at that next.

Climate influences on roof lifespan

In extreme humidity and extreme cold, roofs tend to wear out more quickly. Following heavy rainfall or storm, you should ideally inspect the roof for any possible damage.

A roof plays an essential part in the protection of your house, loved ones, as well as other possessions, therefore, make sure that it’s structurally sound.

If you live in a place where winters are particularly harsh, then a roof inspection at the start of spring becomes even more critical in order to check whether the accumulation of snow has caused any significant damage.

Most of us don’t really pay attention to the roof over our heads unless cracks appear, or it springs a leak. Don’t wait until the water is dripping through the ceiling and damaging your property. Ideally, a thorough regular roof inspection should be conducted twice a year, in the fall and spring.

Homeowners should remove debris from drains, rooftops, gutters, and downspouts. And at the same time, look for signs of visible damage.

Carrying out an initial roof inspection

Following are a few important things to look for that might indicate whether your roof needs a complete replacement and whether you need to call in the professionals to check further:

Start from the inside

If you think that your house needs a new roof, then the first place to check is not your house exterior, it is your attic. Gather up some basic tools and a flashlight and climb up under the eaves. Search for cracks by looking for beams of light coming through the top of the house. Rain can get into the slightest cracks, so check these areas thoroughly. Also look for streaks and stains, which indicate a major leak.

Review the documentation

Another important thing to do is to go through your home improvement records in order to see how long ago the roof was re-shingled or replaced. Having information regarding when your roof was installed and what it’s made of offers some good insight into how much life it has left in it. For example, a full replacement roof made of asphalt shingle lasts for almost 20 to 30 years, whereas a roof that is installed over an already existing layer of shingles needs replacement after about 15 years.

Check the shingles

Cast an eye along each row of your rooftop to ensure that it is in good shape, especially after heavy rainfall and thunderstorms. Shingles should be lying flat against the roof. If you find areas that are damaged, buckling, or cracked, then this indicates that a repair is needed.

While you are at it, inspect the downspouts and gutters for shingle granules. If your roof tends to lose a lot of granules, then an urgent replacement is needed before a larger area of it collapses. If you’re concerned, then get a quick quote so you at least know what the cost might be.

Examine the flashing system

The flashing around skylights, vents, and chimneys seals the seams of the roof from the harsh climatic conditions.  Thoroughly examine these points to make sure there are no breaks or cracks – as they could lead to leaks. In older homes, flashing is typically made up of cement or tar. We normally recommend that you should upgrade to a metal flashing system for increased strength and durability.

Sagging roof

A sagging, droopy roof is one that certainly needs complete replacement before it does extensive damage to your property. You will notice this as a dip in the contour of your roof, mostly between roof supports, it might be difficult to spot but take a close look. Check all surfaces of the roof for these sagging spots and even signs of trapped moisture, particularly at the lowest points in the roof.

Check for fungi and mold

Moss undoubtedly looks great in a shady corner of your backyard. However, it creates trouble on a roof.  The presence of moss, fungi, and mold indicates that there is likely trapped moisture, over time and if left unattended this can destroy a roof.

Use a hard brush, soap, and water to get rid of the moss that grows in shaded corners of your roof. But beyond this, make sure that you address all the underlying problems.

Do not panic!

Just because you may have discovered a minor leak or a few damaged shingles, does not automatically mean that you need a complete replacement of the roof. If your roof has been installed properly and is younger than 18-20 years, a few minor repairs should suffice instead of a full replacement.

If you still have doubts, it is best to contact us to get an expert opinion. Email us at [email protected] or call 734-429-0616 to schedule an appointment and we’ll do our best to help.

To close…

Re-roofing your house may not be considered one of the most glamorous home improvements, but you would be surprised how much it can increase curb appeal and house value. Re-roofing is a sensible, and solid investment, and an opportunity to reduce the cost of repair and maintenance for years to come. Get in touch now and we will do our very best to help.