Catching a leaky roof before it starts—or when it’s still a minor leak—can save you lots of money on costly home repairs. As a homeowner, understanding the condition of your roof, its age, and its projected longevity, will go a long way toward catching those leaks. But before we discuss visual cues and warning signs, it’s important to understand the lifespan of a roof.
Traditional residential roofs in America are asphalt shingle roofs. These roofs typically last for 20 years, depending on a wide variety of factors: including, shingle quality, installer quality, and its environment.
If your asphalt shingle roof is older than 20 years, carefully checking for these warning signs might save you from a lot of unnecessary home repairs.
By this I don’t mean water spots on your ceiling (which is kind of obvious and a little too late). Instead, I mean actually going into the attic and checking the plywood sheeting for water spots. Not all leaks will lead to water damage on your drywall ceiling. Smaller leaks will damage the plywood sheeting without advancing through the plywood—at least at first. They may not penetrate down to your drywall, but they’re a ticking time-bomb.
If you see water marks, you still have a few options. If it’s only a spot or two, on a relatively new roof, you can always repair the leaks. If the installer messed up the flashing around the chimney, or something similar, there’s no need to replace the whole roof.
But, if there are multiple leaks and your roof is really old, you should just replace the whole roof now and save yourself a hefty repair bill as well as an (even worse) roof replacement bill in the future.
Algae Stains and Moss Growing on the Shingles
Algae stains and moss aren’t necessarily a kiss of death for a roof, but they’re usually signs that a roof’s lifespan is coming to an end. Most quality shingles come with an algae resistant coating, which typically lasts about half the roof’s lifespan. The bad news for Pennsylvanians is that our wet climate degrades the coating faster. The good news is that algae and moss are relatively easy to remove and a perfect DIY project for homeowners with limited technical know-how.
Algae stains are mainly just an eyesore. You don’t need to remove them. You also don’t need a new roof for algae stains (if the roof is still structurally sound).
Moss, which typically grows on old roofs in cool, damp climates, is not only an eyesore—but it also traps water onto the shingle and can cause major problems in the long-term. You might not need to replace your roof if moss is growing on it, but you do need to remove it.
Check out our blog post on roof maintenance for tips on how to get rid of algae stains and moss.
Asphalt shingles, also known as composite shingles, are made up of fiberglass or cellulose matting, combined with asphalt and topped with mineral filler. These shingles can break down in a number of ways.
- Curling or cupping around the edges
- Cracking of the shingle
- Broken tabs on three tabbed shingles
- Granules falling off
These are major warning signs that you can’t ignore. They affect the very foundation of the roof. They’re also the easiest warning signs to spot. Chances are, if your roof has these problems, you’ve already noticed.
Don’t ignore them.
Saggy Roof and Dips
Saggy roofs are caused by warped plywood sheeting—or worse, water damaged plywood sheeting—which causes the roof to dip. Looking straight-on can make it difficult to spot, but looking at an angle will cause it to stand out. It’s important to fix this right away and requires a new roof. You need to completely remove the shingles to replace the plywood.
Saggy roofs are usually found in combination with damage shingles and are a sign of major roof damage.
If you want an expert opinion and think you might need your roof replaced, make sure you contact us for a free estimate. We’re CertainTeed® SELECT ShingleMasters™ and offer the best warranties in the industry.