As a homeowner, problems in major areas like the roof are often a nightmare we would rather ignore until we’re forced to deal with it. But the are specific signs you need a new roof if you know what to look for.
Burying your head in the sand and waiting until there is an big problem can make the issue and its solution more costly and complicated. These are five surefire signs you need a new roof.
1. Regular Leaks
This may sound silly, but you’d be surprise how many people ignore leaks. Everyone knows that a big leak should be resolved immediately, but the little leaks are signs that your roof is ready for repair or replacement.
Small pin hole leaks that don’t do much damage can easily be ignored but they will continue to grow and eventually demand your attention.
Leaks are a definite sign that something may be wrong with your roof. However, water exposure of any kind is the most serious red flag. If you’re noticing any of the following watery factors, you need to sit up and take notice:
- Water stains in ceilings or walls
- Dripping sounds
- Mold growing in ceilings/walls
- High humidity levels indoors
- Musty smell indoors
With moss growing on your roof in particular, you can do something now that prevents future issues issues. Read this post to learn how to remove moss from your roof naturally.
2. Inconsistent Shingle Color
Your roof has a personality of its own. Healthy and strong, it will have a fluid color across its surface. However, once it starts to age, telltale signs will start to talk to you, like blotchy colors.
Check your roof for inconsistency as you look at the uniformity of its color. Are there areas where the wear and tear are more obvious? Perhaps in the valleys where leaves or snow sit longer?
The presence of drastic color changes paired with a roof nearing the end of its expected life span (like a 20-year-old shingle roof) are indicators that it may be time to get a new roof.
Are your wood shingles darker in some areas which may indicate rot?
3. Curling / Missing Shingles and Tiles
As shingles age, they start to deteriorate. For wood and asphalt shingles the most common sign that have reached the end of their life is curling of the edges. If you see this happening to more than a couple stray shingles you are in need of a new roof very soon and you need to make plans accordingly.
When a few shingles are missing, it’s likely that the other present shingles are also aging and not in the best of shape themselves.
For tiled roofs, missing tiles might signal another underlying problem. Perhaps the sealants, flashing, and nails are needing to be replaced, as they’re letting in leaks. These deteriorating parts can also let tiles slip out of position or even fall away completely.
Metal roofs can last a very long time, but their biggest danger is rust. So if you spot some rust showing through it is time to treat that rust (don’t just paint it) and re-coat your metal roof. If left too long the rust will create pin holes very quickly.
4. Debris in the Gutters
Aging asphalt shingles start to shed the embedded granules the last couple years of their life. When your roof is nearing the end of its lifespan, granules and pieces from the shingles will start to be present in the gutters. The more granules, the sooner you need to consider a replacement. This is one reason cleaning your gutters is an important thing to do at least once a year.
For clay roofing, you may find pieces of mortar falling down and getting stuck in the gutters, sending a clear message that they’re no longer doing the job of connecting your tiles to seal out the elements.
This is not a visual cue, but it is one of the most important signs you need a new roof. As a rule, your roofing materials will determine how soon you’ll need a new roof. With each material having an expected life span, it helps to know what you’re working with so you know when to budget for a replacement.
Many roofs are wood or asphalt shingles, with a life expectancy of several decades (around 15-30 years depending on the material used and the region your live). With shingled roofs, it will also help to know the history:
- Was the previous roof removed?
- How many layers of shingles are there?
- What’s the ventilation like?
For older houses, alternate materials like clay, metal, and slate may have been used. In these cases, often the sealants, nails, and wooden supports wear out sooner than the materials.
For example on slate roofs the nails holding the slate usually fail longer before the slate tiles ever will. Professional assessments to determine where the problems are would be invaluable in planning the best repair.
If you don’t know how old your roof is you can check the property appraiser’s website to see when the last permit was pulled for your roof and gauge it that way.
Think Long Term
When you’re taking the time to weigh whether a roof replacement or simply a repair is right for you, consider the long-term investment. Putting in a little extra now can turn into years of savings, as your roof stands on the front line as a defender against much of what Mother Nature will hurl at your home.
Keeping on top of things and look for these signs you need a new roof to avoid most costly repairs later. Whether it’s removing moss and checking flashing or weighing the best options for replacement, keep on top of your roof so it continues to protect your most important investment.
Founder & Editor-in-Chief
I love old houses, working with my hands, and teaching others the excitment of doing it yourself! Everything is teachable if you only give it the chance.
4 thoughts on “5 Signs You Need a New Roof”
I really appreciate your tips about how to find roof damage like leaks, misplaced nails, and sealants that are trickling out. There’s been a lot of storms recently and they’ve been doing a number on a lot of the houses in the neighborhood and we’ve become worried if our roofs will still stay intact. Now that I know what to look out for, I’ll be sure to recommend getting roof replacements to my neighbors in case the weather doesn’t get any better.
Hey Scott! Looking at replacing a roof on a house from 1925. It’s never been replaced. Has cedar, osb, plus three layers of shingle 🙁
My main concern is that it doesn’t have any ventilation. Just wondering if you have any articles on how to tackle this kind of project!
You definitely need to remove all the shingles and get back down to the sheathing and start fresh with the amount of build up on there. I don’t have a post on re-roofing though.
Scott, I really enjoy your articles and don’t tell you often enough. Here’s some information for your readers if I may.
1) have the roof (shingles/felt) removed to the deck. This way the roofer can replace any necessary boards.
2) know your warranty. Asphalt Shingles are not covered by their warranty if the existing material is not removed first. Besides that, most roofs are not able to carry the load of numerous layers. Most shingle manufacturers also state roofing nails need to be hand nailed, not nailed with a pneumatic nailer.
3) Metal roofs are not made to cover asphalt shingles. The metal is not thick enough and will eventually wave with the contour of shingles. The metal roof manufacture will not warranty their product if it is not applied to their specifications. Make sure any holding device is in the ribs and not the plane.
4) Go with the longest year span you can afford. For instance, we purchased 50 year shingles, the difference in price between the 30 and 50 year for our 2500 sq ft home was between $500-600. Labor was the same as was tear off. Understand that a 15 year shingle may last 10-12 years, a 30 year approximately 25 years and the 50 year…I’ll be long dead before it needs replaced as I don’t plan on living over 100 years.