Because most homeowners don’t examine their roof on a regular basis, a roof leak is the first sign that maybe it’s time for a new roof. A leak due to a small area of damage or a minor flashing problem, in an otherwise sound, young roof, needs only repair. When the leaks are the result of deterioration due to advanced age, then replacement in needed.
Also, an older roof with clear warning signs of imminent failure requires replacement even if it’s not leaking yet. So it’s important to know the signs of a deteriorated roof covering before the roof leaks begin—whether you are looking at a house you are considering buying, with an eye to catching a big near-term expense for roof replacement, or simply monitoring the condition of a home you own
Some of these signs are:
Granule Loss – The rock granules that coat the surface of the shingles help to protect them from deterioration from the sun’s UV-light rays. A tell-tale sign of granule loss is when you see piles of the coarse sand-like granules in your gutter, or a faint ribbon of granules on ground under the roof’s drip edge. This is an indicator that they are coming loose and the shingles are no longer getting their protection. You can also tell if you’re experiencing granule loss by looking for a mottled granule texture on the surface of the shingles.
Curling – Look up the slope of the roof from the ground, and search for shingle edges that are beginning to curl upward. This is another sign of advanced age.
Cracked, Damaged, and Missing Shingles – As shingles age, they get brittle, are easily damaged, and begin to break loose in places.
Loss of Tab Adhesion – If you’re comfortable putting a ladder up to the edge of the roof, try carefully lifting the front edge of a few shingle tabs you can easily reach, a couple of rows back from the edge. They should be impossible or difficult to pull up, and make a ripping sound if you can pull one up. If they are effortless to lift, and make no noise at all–well, that’s not good. It means that the shingles are susceptible to being blown off in a windstorm.
Deteriorated Flashings – Any roofer will tell you that one of the most problematic areas on a roof system is flashings. They are the most difficult part of a roof job to do correctly and, when they start to rust and come loose, big-problem leaks follow. Look at the edges of the roof and at roof penetrations–like skylights, chimneys, and plumbing vent pipes–for any signs of damage or deterioration.