Roofs are an integral part of any home. They keep the elements out and your family safe and dry below. Unfortunately, roofs aren’t immortal. Over a period of years, your roof will inevitably start to wear down—a fact of life that many homeowners are all too familiar with. Repairing or replacing a roof can be time-consuming and frustrating, but will always be necessary.
Of course, most homeowners are not roofing professionals, and odds are that you won’t know how or when to get your roof repaired or replaced. In fact, you may not know whether your roof needs fixing at all. This guide is designed to help you answer any question you might have about roofs and the many issues you may face with them.
Age is the most common reason you might need to repair or replace a roof. If your roof is 20 years old or older, then you should probably expect it to be wearing down. But, age isn’t the only indicator of roof disrepair. In fact, in some cases, your roof could start failing after only 10 or 15 years of use. There are plenty of signs that your roof may need to be repaired or replaced, including:
Most of these issues can be spotted from the ground without the need for using a ladder. In fact, you can use binoculars to spy most problems and remain safe on the ground.
Like the roof itself, gutters serve an important purpose for your house. Many homeowners simply decide to replace gutters at the time they’re getting a new roof. But, is it always the best idea? Gutters that are sagging, rusted, warped, or damaged in any number of ways could probably stand to be replaced. Most roofing companies, however, can work around your gutters if they are still in good condition.
You should always investigate the condition of your gutters for yourself as you don’t necessarily have to replace them when you replace your roof. If a roofing contractor suggests replacing your gutters, ask them to show you the problems. It should also be noted that some roofers don’t have as much expertise at replacing gutters as they do with replacing roofs. They also may have a limited selection of gutter materials, colors, and sizes. It certainly behooves you to do some research before deciding to replace gutters.
Whether a roof needs repairing or replacing is really up to the amount and extent of the damage it has incurred. Obviously, a full roof replacement is going to cost you more upfront, but may end up saving you money in the long run. In many cases, your insurance company will assess whether your roof has sustained enough damage for a full replacement. This is usually an option after a bad weather incident. Take a look at your policy to see how much is covered and if you have a warranty of any kind.
But, how can you tell if repair or replacement is right for you? An old roof (20+ years) has usually already sustained damage. Any new damage to that roof could be a death knell. Replacement, in that case, might be your best option. This is especially true if hail or fire damage has occurred.
Even so, most roof damage can be repaired fairly easily and inexpensively. Signs that you only need to repair your roof include:
In some cases, you can even replace one section of the roof rather than the whole thing. This can certainly help you save money, although you will likely have to replace the other part of the roof in the near future. Never opt for repairs if the cost exceeds that of a full replacement. Indeed, if replacing your roof is cheaper than repairing it, there’s no reason to not do it.
There are many different types of roofing shingles available, but in order to find the “best” ones, you’ll have to do your homework. Certain shingles do better in different environments. For instance, asphalt shingles are the most common shingles because they are inexpensive, resistant to heat and cold, and can last as long as 30 years. But, they can also be susceptible to high winds and hail damage. You should always take the following into account when deciding on shingles:
What types of shingles can you expect to find in your search, though? There are several options, including:
You can also forgo shingles altogether and opt for metal roofing. Metal costs more than traditional roofing styles, but it is virtually impervious to damage (including heat, cold, hail, and high wind). Whatever you choose, make sure that it makes the most sense for your unique situation.
It’s always a good idea to stay familiar with your homeowner’s insurance policy to know exactly what to do in the event of a roof emergency. When it comes to roofs, most policies are concerned with age, the area in which you live, what caused the damage, and several other factors. Most policies cover roof damage caused by:
After any of these disasters, you should try to identify any damage (with pictures) to your roof. Check your attic and the interior of your home for any possible leaks or holes in the roof, as well. Get in touch with your insurance company as soon as you can after noticing any roof damage. Waiting may reduce the chance that the insurer will cover the damage.
Insurance companies will also base their payout on the existing condition of the roof prior to the “disaster” damage. In many cases, insurers will deem roofs that are over ten years old to have depreciated in value, meaning that you’ll get less than you would have for a roof that is five years old.
Most roofing companies have plenty of experience dealing with a variety of insurance companies. You should also never ask a roofer to help you meet your deductible as that is illegal.
The cost of replacing a roof depends on a variety of different factors. These include:
All of these factor in to the final cost. On average, roof replacements will run you between $7,000 and $10,000, although this can vary widely depending on the pitch of the roof and various other factors. Indeed, even the type of shingles can drastically increase the price. Asphalt shingles are the most common partially because they are the least expensive (along with wood and fiberglass). Slate and tile shingles, however, can run the cost up to $30,000 or more. The same is true for metal roofs.
Additionally, underlying damage can turn a regular roof replacement into a full home construction project. Damage to the underlayment, deck, or underlying wood can prove to be costly. The region in which you live can also determine replacement costs. For instance, a roof replacement in Hawaii is going to cost more than one in Nebraska.
Repairs are typically cheaper than a full replacement, as you might expect. You might only need to repair a certain section of the roof or even just a few shingles that have been damaged. Shingle prices can be broken down like this:
Clearly, repairing asphalt, wood, or fiberglass shingles is much cheaper than repairing slate or tile shingles or metal roofing. It certainly helps if you have any leftover shingles from the last time your roof was replaced or repaired.
Repair costs can get sticky if there is underlying damage. Even a small leak in the roof can cause major damage and rotting to the underlayment, flashing, deck, or wood. This will, of course, increase the cost of any repairs. If the damage is determined to be widespread, then you may be better off replacing the roof as a whole.
Replacing roof shingles is fairly inexpensive if there are only a few that need fixing. But, replacing shingles isn’t easy and can cause more problems than it solves if you don’t do it right. Roofing professionals are your best option because they use the right methods and materials to keep your roof running at full capacity.
If you’re still interested in replacing or fixing shingles on your own, then there are a few things you should know. First, you should never go on a roof that is icy, wet, or too steep for your comfort. Any roofing should be done on warm, dry afternoons both for your safety and for the safety of the shingles. During this time, shingles are more pliable and less likely to fracture.
Replacing damaged shingles is essentially a three-step process. If you have extra shingles lying around from the last time you had a roof replacement, then you’re in luck. You can use those to replace damaged or leaky shingles. To replace shingles, you should:
If you don’t have extra shingles, then you may need to shop around for ones that match your roof. Again, it’s always a better idea to leave any kind of roof repair to the professionals. What looks like a simple damaged or missing shingle to you could signal widespread underlying damage to the roof as a whole. A professional can identify that best.
It is certainly possible to repair leaks in the roof without having to replace the whole thing. Roofers can patch and make minor repairs to prevent and fix leaks. Leaks are often the result of damaged:
These can all be repaired without having to replace the entire roof. If the damage is widespread due to an aging and deteriorated roof, then a full replacement may be necessary. Roofers can repair leaks while also identifying any major issues with the integrity of the roof as a whole.
Storms, fires, tornadoes, and hurricanes are all common reasons why someone might need emergency roof repair. Strong winds, fallen branches, and even animal interference can cause a roofing emergency. The best thing you can do to avoid leaks and further damage is to place a tarp over the damaged area. You can hire roofers to do this for you as they can maximize the coverage of the tarp.
You will obviously want to get the repair work started as soon as possible once you’ve mitigated the damage with the tarp. You may also want to take pictures of the damage to send to your home insurance company. The insurer may be able to cover the cost of the repair or potential replacement.
Most people know common roofing terms (like shingles), but there are plenty of other components that may not be self-evident. Some of these include: