Sooner or later, the day will come when you will need to replace almost everything in your house. It won’t all happen at the same time, thank heavens. For instance, you might need a new refrigerator a year or two before you need a new dryer. The water heater may give up the ghost when you least expect it, and one day the microwave is sure to short-circuit. Everything, no matter how good it is when you buy it, will one day wear out or break down.
The same is true of your roof. Roofs have a natural lifespan, just like everything else. Unlike many of the other things in your house, however, there are signs to tell you that your roof is showing its age.
And knowing when it’s time to replace your roof is essential for several reasons. Obviously, you and your family count on your roof to provide shelter. However, your roof’s condition can also affect things like your electricity bill, how often you need to paint your house, replacing insulation and if that family of squirrels that always lived in the tree in your front yard suddenly ends up living in your attic.
Understanding the Various Components of Your Roof
Most people think of their roof as one solid unit. But several components comprise an overall roof system.
- The deck: This is the structural, wooden surface of a roof.
- The drip edge: Found along your roof’s edge, this material guides water out of the eaves.
- The underlay: Installed as a way to keep your roof dry, this is a barrier under the shingles.
- Flashing: In older homes, flashing is often made from tar or roof cement. In newer homes, it is metal. Flashing seals protect important joints, and you’ll most often see them wrapped around a chimney where it connects to the roof.
- Shingles: The top layer of your roof. Shingles can be composed of a variety of materials, which you’ll learn about in more detail below. Shingles are the top layer of protection for your house and keep out water.
- Soffit: This excellent word for scramble enthusiasts describes the underside of where a roof overhangs.
- Fascia: You can find the fascia at the end of your roof rafters. It’s a horizontal board that in many cases will hold the gutters.
- Vents: The vents in a roof allows air to escape from your attic and help keep a roof dry.
What Are Shingles?
As we just learned, shingles are the top layer of your roof. Your shingles will also provide you with the earliest signs a roof needs repair or replacement. In most cases, people use one of five different kinds of shingles on the roof, depending on their budget and the climate in their area.
- Asphalt shingles: Most American homes use asphalt shingles. They are lighter than most other types of shingles, and a professional can easily install them. They also cost less than the other options. Interestingly, shingles were once nonrecyclable, but advances in recycling technology have made recycling the shingles much more cost-effective, which also helps keep the installation cost down.
- Wood shake: Wood shake shingles are beautiful, but require a lot of maintenance. Wood shake shingles deteriorate faster than other types of shingles and are prone to fire. They are also susceptible to insects and mold unless they are pre-treated. But if you want the best look for your house, they fit the bill.
- Metal: If you want a roof that will last you for the long haul, think about a metal roof. In the past, people stayed away from metal as a roofing material because they were worried about its look. However, more and more people are discovering a metal roof can be just as attractive as almost every other kind of roof. And a metal roof stands up much better to the conditions that degrade the other kinds of roofing materials.
- Tile: This is another long-lasting material. The biggest advantage to a tile shingle is that it is relatively easy to replace. If the design and look of your roof are important to you, tile is another option because tile shingles come in a variety of colors and shapes, including custom shapes when requested.
- Slate: Slate is a popular option for people who might be interested in a metal roof, but want something with a more natural look. It is also long-lasting.
How to Know When You Need a New Roof
How long can you expect your roof to last? The answer to this question depends upon the type of shingles you use on your roof. The asphalt shingles most Americans use need replacing every 20 to 25 years. That’s why it’s essential to know the age of the roof when you buy a home. If you have an asphalt shingle roof that’s 10 years old when you bought the house, you probably have about another decade before you’re going to need to think about replacing it. Not every roof is the same. Some may need replacing sooner, while others may last a little longer. But the longest an asphalt shingle roof can go without being replaced is about 25 years.
A tile, metal or slate roof can last 50 years. That’s one of the reasons you pay more for them when you install them. Wood shake shingles last about 30 years. But remember, wood shake is high-maintenance. Your wood shake roof will only last this long if the wood is pre-treated against insects and mold, and you will still need to replace individual shingles regularly as they warp.
Signs That a Roof Needs to Be Replaced
As we noted above, you can look for signs you need roof repair or replacement. Some of the symptoms only signal repairs will suffice, rather than a full replacement. But they are also strong indicators it’s time for a whole new roof.
1. Roof Age
Wear and tear on an older roof are sure signs it’s time to call for a replacement. Other factors include when the roof got its last replacement, the number of layers of shingles and how the roof ventilated.
If you didn’t build your home, and the sellers aren’t quite sure how old the roof is, a good trick is to find out if all the houses in your area are around the same age. If you’re buying in a new or old subdivision, gated community or something similar, there’s an excellent chance many of the roofs were installed around the same time. If you notice your neighbors are getting new roofs, it is probably a sign you need one as well.
2. Your Attic
If you haven’t been up in the attic in a while, now’s a good time. Grab a flashlight and check under the eaves. If your normally dark attic has little rays of sunshine peeping in or if you notice water stains on the floor or the walls, you probably have a roof with holes and leaks. If you don’t have any streaks on the wall, but the insulation is wet, this is another sign you have a roof leak.
Here’s another tip. If you are up on the roof for any reason, such as to repair a shingle or flashing, and you notice the roof feels spongy or bouncy, that could be a sign of underlying moisture. When you’re back inside, go up in the attic and check for those water streaks and sunshine rays.
3. Curling or Buckling Shingles
Look at the roof slope on the side of your home that receives direct sunlight. If the shingles have curled or buckled, it can mean they have outlived their life expectancy. It can also be a sign they were defective from the get-go. A professional roof contractor will be able to tell you if this is a cause of the problem.
4. Roof Valleys
Roof valleys are a vital component of the overall roof system. These are the areas where snow and rain flow through to your rain gutters. If shingles are missing or falling apart in these areas of your roof, they can quickly lead to roof leaks.
5. Missing Shingles
You can tell just by looking at your roof if you’re missing a shingle. If you had a recent storm with a lot of wind or rain or even hail, you should do a visual inspection of your roof at the first opportunity. If you have missing shingles in your roof valley, as we just pointed out above, this is a potential moisture issue. If there are more than a few shingles missing, this is a sure sign your roof is getting older and needs replacement.
6. Cracked Shingles
While most shingles are manufactured with durability in mind, after a while, they all wear down. Other factors accelerate this wear and tear. For instance, if you lack proper ventilation on your roof, your shingles will crack much more easily and wear out far sooner.
7. Missing Granules
This issue particularly applies to asphalt shingles. Manufacturers will embed more granules in an asphalt shingle than necessary, because they assume some of them will naturally wash away. If you notice some asphalt granules in your gutters, it doesn’t necessarily signal a problem. However, it is a problem when you find a lot of granules in your gutters and your shingles look bare and exposed.
8. Moss, Algae and Dark Streaks
Algae is in the air all around us. When it lands and stays on your roof, it can lead to dark streaks. It doesn’t look very attractive, and it may harm your shingles. And where you find algae, you will often also find moss, particularly on the side of your roof that may not get as much direct sunlight as the other side. Moss also is a sign of more problems than its unattractive appearance. Moss traps moisture against the roof surface and damages a shingle’s granules. You can brush it off yourself, but you may harm your roof in doing so. If you notice a lot of moss on your roof, it’s a good idea to contact a professional roofing contractor to help you.
9. Flashing Around Vents, Skylights and Chimney Seals
Look for cracks or breaks in your flashing that could lead to leaks. If your house is old and used roof cement or tar for flashing, it is always a good idea to replace it with metal flashing that will fit better and last longer.
10. Unwanted Guests in Your Attic
That noise in the attic does not mean your house is haunted. It’s because your roof is old, and wild animals like squirrels, raccoons, birds or bats have taken advantage of gaps to move in and make themselves at home. They look for opportunities like this. This is another case where you need to have a professional roofing contractor inspect your roof. They will know whether you just need to plug up the holes or replace the whole roof.
Tips for Keeping Your Roof in Good Condition
Once you’ve decided to get a new roof, there are some things you can do to help it last a long time.
1. Make Sure the Roof Has a Warranty
If shingles are defective or granules fall off too soon, your roof warranty will cover the cost of any future repairs.
2. Abide by Its Terms
If you’re going to get a roof warranty, keep up your end of the bargain. Read the warranty carefully, and know what you must do to maintain the contract. That way, when you need the warranty, you will be able to use it.
3. Cut Down or Trim Problematic Trees
Falling tree branches can cause a lot of damage to a roof during a storm. They also provide animals with a sure path to your roof. Hire a tree trimmer to trim or cut down problematic branches or trees. Spending a little on tree trimming now can save you a lot on roof repairs later.
4. Become an Amateur Roof Inspector
After a big storm, or each spring, inspect your roof for any signs of damage. Even if you have a new roof, don’t assume you have another decade or more with no problems.
Contact Brothers Aluminum When You Need a New Roof
For almost four decades, Brothers Aluminum has been helping improve family homes on Long Island, in Westchester County, in the five boroughs and in Connecticut. All the members of our team of highly skilled roofing contractors are GAF Master Elite certified. When you choose us to repair or replace your roof, a dependable and knowledgeable group will use the highest-quality materials to get the job done.
If you want to know more about what Brothers Aluminum can do for you and your roof, visit our contact page or call us at 800-639-5665. A member of our friendly team will get back to you as soon as possible.