Universal Roof & Contracting Shares Seven Ways to Tell if a Home Needs a New Roof

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Your roof protects you from the elements; it is one of your most important investments. As a professional roofing contractor, Jared Mellick explains how investing a small amount of time to examine your roof can reduce your concerns about the normal aging conditions that affect it, and when to repair or replace it.

Your roof protects you from the elements; it is one of your most important investments. As a professional roofing contractor, Jared Mellick explains how investing a small amount of time to examine your roof can reduce your concerns about the normal aging conditions that affect it, and when to repair or replace it.

1.    Life Expectancy
Roof aging begins soon after shingles are installed and progresses rapidly during the initial curing phase of its life cycle. After this curing stage, the shingles enter a long period of slow aging which lasts for the major portion of the shingle’s natural life. Only after this long period of mid-life does the aging process begin to accelerate once again as the shingles enter their declining years. It’s during this period that homeowners normally think about replacing their roofs. A one-year-old roof can look markedly different from a brand new roof, but that is part of the curing process. If you notice that your roof is deteriorating faster than normal, a professional inspection will determine if the roof needs repairing or replacing. With this in mind, consider the average life expectancy of your particular type of roof:

  •     3 Tab Shingle: 15-25 years
  •     Architectural Shingle: 20-35 years
  •     Tile (concrete, clay, Spanish): 50 years
  •     Metal (standing seam, metal shingles): 50 years
  •     Slate: 100+ years

2.    Aesthetics
Look at the general condition of the roof; if it looks bad, it may have damage and be in need of repair or replacement. It’s a good idea to get an evaluation from a licensed roofing contractor. On the other hand, it may just need to be cleaned. When cleaning the roof, be sure to use the appropriate cleaner for your type of roof – check your manufacturer’s information or warranty. For example, do not pressure-wash asphalt shingles.

3.    Water Leaks
One of the most obvious indicators of roof damage is interior leaks. However, an interior leak may not be an early indicator, as it could take weeks or months for water intrusion of your roof to make it down through to your ceiling. Every once in a while, look up; check the ceiling for small yellow stains, bubbling or flaking, or peeling popcorn. If you suspect you have water infiltration, be sure to check attic space, walls and ceilings – especially at corners and seams – and near points of roof penetration such as vents, skylights, and chimneys.

4.    Storm or Tree Damage
Torn, lifted, and creased roof shingles are a common result of storm damage. Circular areas of missing granules resulting from high winds may be overlooked if not viewed by a properly-trained eye. If you don’t know what wind or hail damage looks like, it’s easy to miss; and most general inspectors are not certified to find storm damage. An older roof may not be secure or may have loose or missing shingles. Even newer roofs may have sustained recent hidden damage that you may not be aware of. These vulnerable areas will be more easily compromised by heavy wind gusts and rainfall. Now is the best time to have it inspected – before a storm hits.

5.    Missing Pieces of Tile or Shingles
This applies to both shingles and tile; portions of shingle or tile or entire shingles or tiles may be coming off. This is an indication of premature aging and possible damage, and should be checked out by a professional. Shingles are not supposed to fly off your roof; typically that only happens as a result of wind damage. It’s not uncommon to find that for every one shingle that is missing, there are a lot more that are damaged. In general, replacing an individual shingle is fairly easy, but before you do that, have the roof looked at by a certified roofing contractor just to make sure that there’s no further damage.

6.    “Bare” Shingles / Excessive Granule Loss
Large areas of granule loss that expose the underlying asphalt place the shingle at risk of premature failure because UV rays can now get to the asphalt layer. In situations in which hail has knocked off large areas of granules, you can expect the life of your shingles to be greatly reduced due to the effects of ultraviolet radiation from the sun, and should be investigated by your homeowner’s insurance carrier. Shingles with open blisters in which the asphalt becomes visible are also at greater risk for premature failure.

7.    Installation or Manufacturer Defects
There are only three things that would cause a roof to fail before its normal life span: installation defects, manufacturer defects, and storm damage. Installation defects are caused when the person who installed it did it improperly or used improper materials. Most of the time the workmanship warranty is going to be one or two years, then it goes back to the actual person that installed it. If it is an installation defect, it's unlikely you’ll get anybody to pay for it. Manufacturer defects are from incorrectly manufactured shingles or other roofing products. In the case of manufacturer defects or storm damage, either the manufacturer or your homeowners insurance would possibly cover repair and replacement costs.

Repair vs. Replace
If the roof can be patched and repaired, then that's what is usually recommended. A simple fix for a small problem is often all that is needed to keep the water from coming in. However, there is a point where a roof becomes so brittle that you can't separate one shingle from another without tearing, so larger sections of the roof have to be replaced. Furthermore, some state laws mandate that if you repair or replace a certain amount of a roof in any twelve-month period, the entire roof or roof section must be brought up to the existing building code. There gets to be a point where you can't do larger section repairs; you would by code or by law have to replace the entire roof.

About Universal Roof & Contracting:
Jared Mellick and his father Ken Mellick are the owners of Central Florida’s premier construction company Universal Roof & Contracting, a family-run business which has been serving homeowners in the Greater Orlando area for more than 20 years. Together they host a local radio home improvement and construction talk show called “In the House with Ken & Jared.”

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Laura Romot
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