The expense and hassle involved with a new roof is something that most homeowners would rather not think about.
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However, roofs don’t last forever. In fact, if it’s been 20 years or more since its last replacement, it may be getting close to the time for a new roof. The longevity of this structure partly depends on the materials used to construct it. Some last much longer than others:
- Asphalt shingles: 20 years
- Wood shingles: 30 to 40 years
- 3-tab shingles: 25 years
- Wood shakes: 20 to 40 years
- Metal: at least 70 years
- Slate: at least 100 years
- Clay tile: 50 years or more
These numbers are only estimates. High winds, trees, sunlight and water all work to break down a roof over time. Mold, mildew and algae can contribute to wood rot and reduce your roof’s lifespan. Although many homeowners like the rustic look of moss on the roof, it’s not good for it and should be cleared off regularly. It can hold moisture against the roof and encourage rot and wear. Here are some common signs of a failing roof:
These may not be as obvious as water dripping through the ceiling. Small leaks will likely first show in the attic area, especially after a recent rainfall. Checking the area thoroughly with a flashlight may reveal signs of water intrusion. Sniff for the telltale odor of mold. Other signs of a leak include dampness or mold and mildew on the interior walls and ceiling. However, this can also have other causes not nearly as costly as a new roof to repair. If your home is properly ventilated and your insulation is dry, suspect something other than a roof leak, such as a plumbing leak issue.
Ice dams can also cause roof leaks. An ice dam occurs when snow on the roof melts, runs down to the shingles and freezes again. When more melting snow water runs into the frozen dam, it can work its way under the shingles and into your home. This type of leak is sometimes fixable with a local repair. A sagging ceiling with or without dark streaks or stains may also indicate a roof leak, too.
Granules of Sand in the Driveway and Damaged Shingles
If you’re noticing a significant, sudden appearance of sand particles on your driveway or in your yard, this can also indicate a failing roof. The sand may be coming off the roof’s shingles, degrading them and causing faster wear. This sand may also collect in roof gutters, causing them to become clogged. Also look for missing, cracked or curling shingles and shingles on the ground.
Wildlife, especially raccoons, can also cause significant shingle and roof damage. A few damaged shingles may not be a cause for concern. These can be easily replaced. However, widespread evidence of shingle damage may indicate a roof replacement will be needed soon. Torn or missing flashing is another sign of a failing roof. Flashing is a type of extra protection near vulnerable areas, such as around the chimney. While damaged flashing can sometimes be replaced, it can also be part of the whole picture that indicates the need for a new roof.
Sagging Roof Ridge
The top ridge of a roof should be straight. If it’s sagging at all, it may indicate wood rot in the support beams beneath it. Although this problem can have other causes, such as excessive weight from ice and snow and the use of substandard roofing materials, it’s best not to guess. Call a roofer such as Tip Top Roofing immediately.
Excessive Algae Growth
This may look like dark, slick patches on the roof. Algae and similar organisms grow when moisture is present. Spores of different species are attracted to the moisture and will bloom and grow there into algae, moss, fungus and mildew. All of these can erode shingles and contribute to roof rot and wear. Algae prefer damp, humid climates. However, molds are a natural part of the environment and can grow anywhere conditions are favorable. They like warm, dark, moist areas. A roof without a good drainage system is more likely to have problems with these types of organisms. It’s a good idea to have a professional roof maintenance company come out to periodically clean algae and moss off your roof, especially if you live in a warm, damp climate.
You can check for serious roof cracks by looking up into the attic. Turn off all lights. If you can see areas of light coming through the attic ceiling, it’s a clear sign of shingle cracking and failure. A new roof will be needed soon.
Increased Utility Bills
If you’ve noticed steadily increasing heating bills each winter, the problem may not be your windows and doors. It could be a gradually failing roof, which allows air to get into the home more easily.
Shingles Are Different Colors
If the once-uniform shingle color of your roof has changed and you’re seeing different colored shingles, it’s a sign of serious wear and may indicate the need for a new roof.
If your current roof was simply nailed on top of the old one, you may need yet another new roof sooner than you think and sooner than you should. The old roof should always get a tear-down and then be replaced with fresh shingles and roofing materials. Placing new shingles over weak, old ones is a bad idea. It adds extra weight and stress to your home, and the extra heat generated by the additional shingle layer may contribute to the quicker deterioration of the new shingle layer.
Removing all shingles before installing new ones is also important because it’s the only way to detect and repair other roof problems. It may seem cheaper to avoid a tear-down, but it’s really not. Serious problems may go undetected, the new shingles may wear faster, and it will cost even more to install the next new roof.