A home is more than just a building. It’s an investment and your family’s primary defense against the dangers and elements of the world. That’s why it’s so important to maintain your home’s roof.
Understanding how to recognize when a roof needs to be repaired or replaced is an important part of being a homeowner. However, most people have no idea what causes roof issues or how to spot the warning signs of damage.
To change that, we have compiled this simple guide to finding and assessing roof damage.
Other than outside factors like storms and fallen tree branches, age is the leading cause of roof damage. If your roof is more than 20 years old, you can assume that it has damage from natural aging and needs to be replaced.
If your roof is less than 20 years old, it may be more difficult to access whether damage has occurred without closer inspection. However, several factors will prematurely age a roof. You can evaluate these to get a base idea of your roof’s condition.
The most obvious of these causes is the improper installation of the shingles. While it may seem like a simple task to apply shingles to a roof, there is actually quite a bit of skill involved in doing it right. Utilizing the right techniques, materials and tools is critical to proper installation.
Ventilation is another key component in how quickly the roof ages. Without proper ventilation, moisture and heat from activities like bathing, cooking, and doing laundry will be trapped inside. Over time, this will cause the shingles and deck of your roof to warp and show signs of weakness.
Those outside factors such as storms, fallen tree branches, and the like all play a part in the early aging of your roof as well. If you live in a climate that is prone to weather patterns that can damage your roof, that added stress will also age it.
Areas that see a lot of rain, snow, hail, strong winds, or excessive heat are all prone to rapidly aging roofs. The same is true of areas with heavy tree coverage. The constant shade can lead to moss and algae growth that will rot away your roof.
If you live in an area like this — or even if you don’t — it is a good idea to perform regular checks of your roof to find damage. Finding damage early is the easiest way to prevent greater repairs down the road.
To find out if your roof is damaged, you need to check it from the inside as well as from the outside. Checking for some telltale signs of damage will help you to determine what steps to take next.
While the best way to find the damage is through a professional inspection, there is no reason you cannot look for damage beforehand. By locating areas of concern before the inspector arrives, you can be certain that all your concerns will be addressed.
Before you go outside into the elements, evaluate your roof’s condition from inside. Grab a flashlight with a good strong beam — LED is best — and go up into the attic. Get familiar with where you’ll need to put your feet for safety and then look for one or more of these four telltale signs that you need a new roof.
Daylight Through the Roof Boards
With your flashlight turned off, look for any beams of sunlight coming through holes or cracks in your roof. If there is light getting in, then water is too. Attics are meant to be pitch black; if there is a source of light coming into your attic, then there is a leak.
Patch any of these cracks or holes to provide some temporary protection until a professional roofer can assess the full extent of the damage. Be wary of large areas of light as the floor/ceiling beneath these areas may be damaged and unsafe to walk on.
Dark Streaks & Stains
Anytime you spot stains or streaks running down the walls or on the underside of the roof deck, you can bet there is a leak. The darker these marks, the longer the leak has been damaging the structure of your roof.
Worse, if the stains are running down the interior walls of your home, the damage is spreading to your living area. In this case, you need to take immediate steps to protect the interior structure of your home as well as the roof.
Prolonged or continued water damage will eventually cause the structure of your roof to sag. Inward bulges visible in the attic are a sure sign that your roof is suffering from water damage.
You can determine if the damage is old or ongoing with a broom handle. Gently prod at the sagging areas you find. If they are soft and bend easily, you know there is still moisture inside further damaging your roof.
If the spot is brittle, there is no current moisture, but the area is in danger of dry rot. Regardless, professional roofing services are necessary to find the full extent of the damage and determine how to best proceed.
Even if they are not listed here, if you see any other obvious signs of damage during your inspection of the attic, you should take note. Anything that does not look right should be checked by a pro to avoid bigger issues in the future. Write down concerns you have so that you do not forget them later.
Once you’ve given the inside a good look, it’s time to head outside and check for exterior signs of damage. While damage found in an interior check will likely require replacement, exterior-only issues usually only need repairs.
External checks require you to climb up onto your roof. If you are physically challenged, afraid of heights, or do not have the proper equipment to do this check safely, call a professional to do it for you. Most will do roof inspections at little to no charge.
If you can safely get on your roof, do your inspection on a clear day with no wind. Look for one or more of these six warning signs.
Leaks & Water Damage
As you did in your internal check, look for clear signs of water damage like streaks and stains. Use that same strong flashlight from earlier to locate color variations in shingles that indicate water damage.
Keep an eye out for rotting tiles and sagging as well. These are clear signs that your roof has water damage and requires professional attention.
Asphalt and wood roofs often fall victim to rotting. Telltale signs of decay are missing and broken tiles, growth of mold, and tiles that are visibly degrading.
The growth of algae and moss on shingles is a sign that moisture is getting trapped within them. While these are not signs of current damage to a roof, they are an omen of things to come. Eventually, that moisture will cause damage.
Shingled roofs are susceptible to cracking and decay. Anytime you find shingles that are cracked, buckling, curling, or missing entirely, you have found damage.
Replacing the affected shingles will only put a band-aid of sorts on the problem. The decking beneath the damaged shingles may be damaged from exposure. A professional roofer can determine how much damage decaying shingles have caused.
Shingle Granules in The Gutter
You can also find signs of shingle damage by looking in your gutter. Pieces and particles of broken or damaged shingles will often wash down the gutter. These little pieces of flotsam are sure signs that you need a professional inspection.
Damaged Chimney & Roof Flashing
Flashing is the waterproof seal that adheres your chimney to the structure of your roof. It is meant to prevent moisture damage. If the flashing around your chimney — or the chimney itself — shows signs of damage, then the structure of your roof may be damaged as well.
Flashing that is made of roofing putty is prone to leakage. For the best results, use metal flashing to maintain the integrity of your roofing.
Shoddy workmanship is pretty easy to spot, even for non-professionals. A roof covered in awkwardly pieced-together shingles or tile work, patches, multiple layers, or other indications of improvisation is screaming for replacement.
While completing the interior and exterior checks of your roof’s integrity, make note of the damage you find. You’ll want a concise list when calling roofers for estimates.
Before you make any decisions, however, you should take advantage of the free — or nearly free — inspections that most roofers provide. Inform the inspector of the damage that you found during your inspections so they can validate your findings and look for further damage you may have missed.
While it is important to do your research and find a roofer that is right for your needs, don’t wait too long to schedule service. The longer damage persists, the worse it gets and the more money it will cost in the long run.
While the damage you found in your inspections may not look like much, you may have only scratched the surface of the damage. Literally!
The external signs of roof damage often hide deeper issues. If missed or ignored, these deeper issues can lead to further roof damage or even problems with the internal and external walls of your home.
For example, while the damage caused by strong winds may look cosmetic, the torrential rains that often accompany these storms may lead to water and moisture damage deep within the structure of your home.
The surest way to know that the integrity of your roof — and by association, your home — is safe from damage is to replace it after any damage. Even areas that show no outward signs of damage can become big problems over time. A thorough inspection by a professional can provide peace of mind in this regard.
The best way to avoid problems before they arise is to properly maintain your roof. That means regular inspections to identify areas of weakness.
It may also mean replacing your roof. If your roof is more than 20 years old or showing signs of damage, it’s time to consider an upgrade.
If nothing else, having your roof replaced provides the opportunity to have it reinforced with the newest techniques and materials to meet continuously improved industry standards. As an added bonus, a newer roof will improve the property’s value. In other words, your home will be worth more when you decide to sell. That’s why so many home sellers decide to upgrade their roofs before putting up a for sale sign.
If your roof is showing signs of age, wear, or damage, then you need to schedule a professional inspection. Replacing your roof can be expensive, but the cost of continued damage to your home’s structure will be more costly in the long run.
A damaged roof can lead to an entire host of structural problems that will need expensive repairs in the future and may cause a lot of inconvenience in your daily life. Get a new roof today to avoid the drama of greater repairs tomorrow.
Recognizing when a roof needs repairs or a complete makeover is important for homeowners. After all, your home is an investment as well as a primary defense against the elements of the world. You could be putting a lot at risk if you’re living with a shoddy roof. However, most people have no idea what causes roof damage or how to spot the signs that it has occurred. To change that, we have compiled a simple guide to finding and assessing roof damage.