There are several signs that your roof may need to be repaired or replaced. If you see signs of moisture inside your home, like dark stains or peeling paint on ceilings or at the top of walls, or your roof has been affected by heavy wind, hail, ice build-up, or a fallen limb, you should inspect your entire roof for damage and age.
You can conduct a preliminary inspection yourself—a pair of binoculars will help you see the condition of your roof from the ground. Shingles should lie flat, with no cracks, curls, dents, or bumps. The edges of the roof, peaks, and valleys should be smooth and even. Inspect the inside of your attic for water stains and wet insulation. If you see signs of damage or age, it’s time to call a roofing professional.
A professional roofer will inspect your roof in more detail, assess the damage, and help you decide whether to repair the affected area or replace the roof entirely. In general, repairs or partial replacements will cost more per square foot than the per square foot cost of a new roof. So how do you weigh whether it’s time for a new roof?
Extent of the damage
Is the damage contained to one area of the roof? If only one area or a few small areas are affected, it’s probably a quick repair to remove and replace the damaged shingles. But if leaks or damage are found in multiple locations or there’s doubt about the condition of the sheathing materials that are hidden beneath the shingles, it may be wise to consider a roof replacement. In general, if more than 30% of a roof has been damaged, a new roof is advised.
The age of your roof
Most asphalt shingles are warranted to last 15–25 years. If your roof is nearing the end of its lifespan, and especially if areas that aren’t acutely damaged are looking worn, it may not be worth repairing damaged spots. It will likely be more cost effective, while you’ve got a professional roofing crew on site, to replace the entire roof in one pass rather than hiring them back again in a few years. Consider, though, that you will also need to replace gutters and downspouts.
Depending on the age of your roof, it may be difficult to match new shingles to the old roofing material, resulting in an obvious patch that will reduce the curb appeal and perceived value of your home. Instead, an investment in an entirely new roof may be worth considering. A new roof will freshen the appearance of your entire home, and can raise its appraised value.
If your home was damaged by a natural disaster or weather event, you might be considering filing a claim against your homeowner’s insurance to cover the cost of repairs. There could be structural damage that isn’t immediately evident, so your insurance company will likely require that you hire a professional roofing company to closely inspect the structure and entirely replace the roof. A professional’s work and the materials they use are usually guaranteed for at least 15 years.
Most modern building codes allow up to two layers of shingles on a roof. So if you need a new roof and want to cut costs, some roofing contractors will apply a second layer of new shingles without stripping the old ones. Like a partial repair, this has the advantage of saving costs, but if your home already has two layers of shingles, you’ll need to remove the entire roof to meet code.
Stripping the old roofing and starting fresh allows your roofer to inspect and replace any damaged sheathing or structural elements, and to apply an ice and water shielding membrane to prevent future moisture damage. New roofing materials will perform better over time than replacement or old materials. They are often more energy efficient or better insulators than older materials, which can sometimes earn a tax incentive. New materials can even save you money on your homeowners’ insurance if they are certified resistant to fire, wind, or hail.
Roof repairs may be more affordable in the moment, but depending on the age and condition of the roof, the extent of any damage, and the opportunity to install upgrades that benefit your home’s efficiency or improve its value, a replacement may be the better investment. Whether you decide to repair or replace your roof, hiring a professional roofing company to do the work will ensure that your investment pays off for decades to come. Professional roofers will have the knowledge, expertise, equipment like scaffolding and ladders, and specialized tools like the Shingle Eater line, which will help them quickly and efficiently remove old roofing materials, pry away damaged sheathing, and pull nails, creating a clean slate for new roofing materials.