Not sure if you need a new roof? Here are some things to look for:
It’s not always easy to tell if you need a new roof. Sometimes a really bad-looking roof doesn’t need to be replaced at all. Sometimes one that seems to look good is already a disaster. So how can you tell the difference?
Fact is, you can’t absolutely tell the difference without climbing around your attic, scrambling across the roof, and knowing what you’re looking for. For instance, I have seen roofs where entire sections lift in the rain and cause terrible leaking damage that is completely invisible from the yard or even from a quick look in the attic. But there are many things that you can see pretty easily that are sure signs of current or imminent trouble.
Curling shingles – shingles that look like the edges are starting to “curl” or lift are a sign of serious wear that is either already allowing water into your attic or is about to start doing so. Curling shingles are just waiting for the right storm to hit either to take a flight into another county or to just allow water into your attic to cause damage to your insulation, roof plywood, or the things you have stored in the attic. They need to be replaced.
Cracking or broken shingles – this is a sign of brittleness, which is unpleasant. It is usually caused either by age or by excessive heat created by inadequate ventilation in the attic. You see, your attic needs to “breathe” in order to cool down your shingles, which are being beaten daily by the sun. Most people don’t realize that a shingle roof can burn your hand even on a sunny winter day, because it soaks up so much energy from the sun. Brittle shingles will disappear to another yard on a windy day and leave your roof open to rain and other damage. They need to be replaced, and your attic ventilation needs to be addressed.
Dark streaks – this is actually NOT a big problem. Those streaks are just algae. While they look terrible, they are not harming your roof. You have three choices to solve this: 1) ignore it, 2) have a professional wash it (never power wash or scrub a shingle roof), or 3) install zinc strips along with the ridge vent (these strips leach zinc when it rains, which kills the algae for years).
Lifting shingles – this is usually only visible on windy days, so most people don’t notice them until after they have blown away. The adhesive that holds shingles down can only hold so much, so if shingles were not installed with the proper overlap, wind can easily stress them to the point that they lift and no longer hold to one another properly. In some cases where the problem is isolated to a small area, a roofer may be able to re-adhere those shingles and you are good to go. If the entire roof was installed without proper overlap, it may require a replacement. Sadly, this often occurs on younger roofs that should not have needed either repairs or replacement for a long time. It was often the laziness or lack of skill of the roofer that caused this, but don’t expect too many roofers to stand behind this problem because it usually occurs soon after the “warranty” runs out.
Granular in your gutters – “granular” is the small stones that are adhered to the surface of a roofing shingle to protect it from the weather. It also gives grip for anyone climbing onto the roof. If you start to find lots of these small stones in your gutters, your roof is wearing quickly. Without granular, your roof cannot protect your home as required. It is also a sign that shingles are starting to get brittle, which we discussed above. These shingles are going to need to be replaced before long, so start planning for that cost now.
These are certainly not all the things you could look for, but they are by far the most common things a homeowner notices which means it’s time to call a competent roofer.
Then it’s just a matter of figuring out which roofer is going to give you the best roof at a fair price,… but that’s a post for another day.