Deciding when to replace your roof requires achieving the right timing. If you do it too soon, you could be wasting your money. If you wait too long, the roof decking could be damaged to the point where more of the structure needs to be replaced, resulting in a costlier project. In order to know when to replace your roof, you need to be able to recognize the signs of a worn roof and be willing to check the condition of your roof once every month or two.
How Long a Roof Lasts
One factor in roof replacement is knowing how long a typical roof lasts. The lifespan of a roof depends on the materials. Asphalt shingle roofs are common throughout the USA, and they have an average lifespan of 20 years. Wood shakes may last from 5 to 15 years. A metal or clay tile roof could last up to 50 years. Slate roofs have the longest lifespan, averaging 100 years with proper care. If you notice a localized problem with your asphalt shingle roof, and the roof is only 11 years old, a spot repair makes sense. If you see the same problem on a roof that is 22 years old, it is a good idea to go for the replacement.
Be Aware of Roof Warning Signs
Roofs provide you with a few clues that it is time for a replacement. On the inside of your home, feel around your fireplace. Dampness is a sign of a leak around the flashing. Check ceilings for stains. If you see paint bubbles or peeling areas, this could be due to a roof leak. On the outside, use a pair of binoculars to scan the shingles. Curled corners, bubbles or missing shingles are problems. Rusted flashing, water stains on vent pipes or moss growth also suggest that the roof is due for a replacement. Access the gutters and check for grit or granules. These are bits of the finishing material on asphalt shingles. If there is a lot of this debris in the gutters, the shingles may be wearing out. When a bad storm has passed through, consider a professional roof inspection.
When to Repair
A simple repair such as fixing a piece of flashing is inexpensive and worthwhile. Doing small repairs could prevent a major roofing catastrophe. Storm damage is typically covered by homeowner's insurance, though you may have a deductible to pay. You will need to mitigate the damage until the roof can be replaced. Most roofers will put tarps over the damage until they can fit your replacement project into their schedule.
Replacing Your Roof
In some places, two layers of shingles are allowed. Putting a new layer of shingles on could save you some money, but it may be a false economy. The new layer of shingles will have a shorter lifespan than if you had the first layer removed before putting new shingles on. Replacing the metal flashing and underlayment also helps a roof to last longer. The cost of replacing a basic asphalt shingle roof is around $20,000. This includes the tear-off of the old materials, the labor and the materials for the new shingles and the cleanup of the work area. A new metal or clay tile roof has an average cost of $38,000.