9 Signs You Need to Replace Your Roof

roof with moss growing on it

They say imitation is the highest form of flattery. When it comes to seeing your neighbors replacing their roofs, the old saying might be onto something. But what do your neighbors have to do with replacing your roof? 

Discover exactly how your neighbors play a role in your decision along with other signs it is time to replace your roof.   

What Are the Signs You Need to Replace Your Roof?

Many homeowners can prevent major problems and further damage by paying attention to visible clues from their roofs. Watch for these nine signs it is time for a roof replacement. 

1. Your Roof is Over 20 Years Old

Your roof makes up 40% of your home’s exterior, so it is important to keep it in good condition. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the average lifespan of a roof is 30 years. 

Naturally, not all roofing materials last the same amount of time. On average, you can expect your roof to last: 

  • Asphalt: 20 years
  • Concrete or clay: Over 100 years
  • Wood: 25 years 
  • Metal: 40 to 80 years
  • Slate: 60 to 150 years

Today, shingles are durable, but many factors speed up the aging process, including elevation, ventilation, roof slope and orientation, climate, and the number of layers on your roof

You can check your home inspection report from when you purchased your home to find out the age of your roof. If your roof is over 20 years old, it is important to have it inspected to determine your replacement or repair needs. 

2. You Can See Daylight

Unless it is Christmastime and you are searching for that lost strand of tangled lights, you are probably like most people and don’t check your attic very often. However, your attic can be a big help in determining whether it is time to replace your roof. 

Obviously, you shouldn’t be able to see light coming through into your attic. Another obvious sign it is time to replace your roof is moisture or water stains in your attic’s insulation. 

3. Your Roof Has Exterior Damage

Inspecting your roof for exterior damage is one of the easiest detection methods. Damage depends on the type of roof you have. For asphalt or wooden roofs, check for cupped, curled, clawed, cracked, loose, or missing shingles. Damage to metal, slate, concrete, clay, or rubber roofs will look like thin, cracked, or dented areas and missing tiles. 

Don’t panic if you notice a few missing shingles, especially if you’ve recently had inclement weather like hail damage in your area. Shingles weaken as they age because of thermal expansion, exposing their adhesive underlayers. Shingle repairs are a quick and relatively inexpensive fix. However, new shingles will not be an exact color match for your existing shingles. 

4. You Can See Moss or Algae Growth

Vegetation is not always an immediate sign your roof needs to be replaced, but it is a sign it needs to be cleaned. Moss and plant growth damage roofing materials and invite pests near your home. If you would rather not go the DIY route and climb a ladder to clean your own roof, you can hire a local roof cleaning company.

Moss naturally grows on roofs, but it holds onto water, weakening shingles. Similarly, the dark streaks you notice on your roof are not dirt. They are airborne algae growth. You should inspect mossy or dark areas of your roof for trapped moisture, which can cause future leaks.

5. You Notice Flashing Damage or Discoloration

Flashing, the roofing material that forms a watertight seal around penetrations, surrounds chimneys and skylights. It is the weakest point of a roof. Routine maintenance can help ensure your flashing stays secure

Properly maintained flashing can last up to 30 years depending on the materials. Many times contractors can repair flashing leaks so long as structural damage has not occurred. If your flashing is nearing the end of its natural life, it is best to replace your entire roof.

6. Your Roof is Sagging

Decking is the support structure that holds up your roof. If you notice drooping or sagging spots on your roof, moisture has weakened the decking, and your roof needs to be replaced.

Sagging roofs often occur in northern climates prone to harsh winters. An ice dam can form on the edge of your roof and prevent melting snow from properly draining, weakening the structural integrity of your roof.   

7. You Notice Water Damage

Attics often conceal water damage until the issue becomes much larger. If you spot water damage, it is a sign you need to replace your roof. Leaks occur for several reasons, such as damaged shingles, flashing deterioration, or poor installation.

8. You Notice Grit

About 80% of homes have asphalt shingles. They have granules embedded into the surface to protect the shingles from the sun and thermal expansion. Over time, the grit will loosen and fall off. 

If you notice large amounts of grit in your gutters or yard, it is time to replace your roof. Without the protective layer, your shingles will quickly warp, crack, and deteriorate, leading to a leaky roof.

9. Your Neighbors Are Replacing Their Roofs

Remember how we said imitation is the greatest form of flattery? If you notice contractors in your neighborhood replacing roofs, it is time to consider replacing your roof, too. 

Most homes in subdivisions and developments were constructed around the same time using the same materials, so all the roofs are the same age and will deteriorate at the same rate. If your neighbors’ original roofs have reached their prime, it is a safe bet yours has, too. 

Benefits of Replacing Your Roof

Our roofs work hard to protect us from extreme temperatures, high winds, and wet weather. Unfortunately, we rarely give them the attention they deserve until roof damage occurs. 

Deciding between total roof replacement and roof repairs is a big decision. Roof replacement may seem like an expensive and daunting task compared to simple shingle repairs, but a new roof can provide many benefits, including: 

  • Reduced energy bills
  • More curb appeal 
  • Increased safety
  • Lower insurance premium
  • New roof warranty
  • High ROI

FAQ About Signs You Need to Replace Your Roof

How much does a new roof cost? 

Roofing contractors consider factors like size, materials, structural components, unique features like chimneys or skylights, and old roof removal when determining the cost of your new roof. Typically, new roof systems cost between $8,000 and $21,500 for an average cost of $14,500.

Should I replace my roof before I list my home?

You should replace your roof before listing your home if it is in poor condition or nearing its 20-year lifespan. According to the NAR, 33% of Realtors recommend replacing your roof before selling your home, and it is possible to recover 100% of your investment. 

A new roof increases the selling price of your home by $15,000 on average. It increases curb appeal, signals to buyers your home has been well cared for, and helps reduce your home’s time on the market.  

Can I have a new roof installed on top of my old roof?

If you have an asphalt roof, yes, you can install new shingles on top of existing shingles. The process is called re-roofing, and while possible, professionals do not recommend it. 

You should only consider re-roofing if your underlying roof structure is in good condition. The process is faster and less expensive than a roof replacement, however; it presents many more cons than benefits, including: 
◉ Adding weight to your roof
◉ Impossible to inspect the underlying roof foundation without prior shingle removal
◉ Shingles are not designed to be installed over existing ones 
◉ Only works for asphalt roofs
◉ Re-roofing does not last as long as a full replacement  

What to Do When You Think You Need a New Roof

Mother Nature exposes roofs to freezing temperatures, pouring rain, gusting winds, and scorching sun. While there are many signs it is time to replace your roof, it can be hard to tell just what state your roof is in until a larger problem occurs. 

A few damaged shingles or a small leak may not spell disaster or signify the need for a total roof replacement. A roofing professional can inspect your roof and help you decide if a new roof system or repairs are right for you.

Main photo credit: Pixabay

Kimberly Magerl

Kimberly Magerl is a writer and data analyst specializing in home improvement, DIY, roofing, and solar technologies. She enjoys growing vegetables in her garden, getting outdoors, and transforming her space with DIY projects. A resident of Texas, when she isn't gardening, Kimberly enjoys trying new recipes and cooking with her home-grown herbs.