Repair or Replace? Evaluating Your Roofing Needs

If you are like most homeowners, you don’t pay a lot of attention to your roof. Probably not as much as you should. By the time you realize there is something wrong, it is because you looked up and saw something obvious. By then, you might have a big problem.

You should physically inspect your roof both inside and out twice a year. If you see something questionable or that you do not understand during those inspections, you should seek the help of a professional. Because when you do spot problems, you have to weigh the advantages of home roof repairs vs. roof replacement.

Old Shingles vs. New

One of the first things you need to look at is your shingles. Are the curling or coming up in places? Are there differences in colors between shingles? Are you finding granules (gravel-like pieces) in your drains or rain gutters?

While sometimes it is okay to just replace shingles that have been damaged or are aging, you need to look at the ratio on your roof when making your decision. Can you get away with just replacing a few worn or missing shingles and still keep the integrity of the roof?

If more than 30% of your shingles need to be replaced, you probably want to have a professional come and do an inspection for you, as there may be more issues with your roof than you can visually see.

Evaluating the Hole Roof

When looking for holes, you will need to go inside and up into your attic. There you will look and see if there is light coming through the roof anywhere. This can indicate holes, even small ones, that you cannot see by looking from the outside.

Take note of both the position and size of these holes. Many may not be large enough for much water to enter, at least at the moment, but they do indicate gaps in both shingles and other roofing materials. The size and number of these holes can tell you how badly your roof needs to be replaced. A few holes can be patched, but a number of them, even small ones, might require more extensive repairs and even a roof replacement.

Peaks and Valleys

Two of the places where roofs get the most wear is on the peaks, where shingles are exposed to both wind and rain, and the valleys, where much of the water that lands on the roof runs through. These are important places to inspect for a number of reasons. If shingles are curled or bowed, if the roof is springy in these places in any way, it may mean there is hidden water damage.

Also, missing or damaged shingles in these areas can leave the area below the roof open to water damage from leaks, and can also provide an exit for heat in the winter. A careful inspection of these areas can determine whether they can be repaired or not, or you need a full roof replacement.

The Downside

Another place where your roof can see a lot of wear is on the edges. This wear can often be mitigated or prevented by thorough maintenance of drains, gutters, and downspouts. Not cleaning these can cause the buildup of debris including leaves, pine needles, and more.

This can mean that gutters fill and don’t drain and that moisture pools around the shingles on the edge of the roof. Water that gets under those shingles can not only cause rot on the edge of the roof but can seep inside and cause water damage inside the exterior walls of your home.

Debris in gutters can also indicate other issues with your roof. If you see granules, little gravel-like pieces of debris in the gutters, it may indicate that your shingles are beginning to age and wear. A large amount of these granules means you may need a roof repair in some areas or a replacement.

The Age Factor

Modern roofing materials are designed to last a long time, from 15-50 years. However, you may not know what materials were used on the roof of the home you now own. Once your roof reaches the age of about 20 years, you will want to do more thorough inspections annually, and you may want to begin planning for the cost of a new roof.

You can tell how a roof is aging in part from the granules mentioned above, but you can also tell by the discoloration and warping of shingles especially when those discolorations cover a large area of the roof.

From the inside, you can spot aging issues on the beams in the attic and the other wood there. Are their dark spots and runners? Is the wood springy or stained in some locations? Can you see light through the places where the boards join?

If you have any of these conditions, and your roof is over the age of 20, replacement may be much more viable than repair.

When do you replace your roof, and when do you repair it? There are several factors to take into account, from age to the weather in your area. By following the steps above, you can determine what the best roofing options are for you.

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