To repair or reroof? That is the question... Keeping a roof over your head can be tough enough, but if yours has been damaged or is simply getting old, deciding whether to repair or replace it. How do you know when it's time to patch things up, or just tear the lid off and put on a new one? We've assembled some simple guidelines to help make your decision-making process easier.
Keep it simple
Don't shell out thousands for a new roof when repairs may be in order. A properly-installed roof less than 20 years old may simply be a candidate for some TLC. Unless yours is in extremely poor condition (ex: bad decking, deteriorating shingles, serious water issues), repairs will take less time and cost loads less than installing a whole new roof. If you are unsure of what to do, consult a licensed contractor for their professional opinion.
Weigh the pros and cons
Both repairing and re-roofing have their ins and outs. Repairs will take less time and mean less spent on labor, materials, and disposal. Unfortunately, the lifespan of the materials used will be about 25% shorter than if used in a new installation. Have a new roof installed, and you may enjoy the protection of a warranty for materials, labor, or both. You also won't need to worry about re-roofing again for a long time to come.
Don't wait too long
If minor repairs can be carried out before a major rebuild is necessary, don't procrastinate. Why wait until water is pouring into your home through cracks you could have taken care of months ago? Wait too long and you might not have any choice but to replace the entire surface.
A material world
Roofing materials have different life expectancies. Knowing what yours is made of can give you a better idea of whether it is time to replace it.
Cedar - (About 20 years) Wetness encourages moss growth while dryness leads to cracking and crumbling, so condition will be affected by climate conditions
Wood - (About 30 years) May last longer in places with moderate weather
Asphalt - (20-50 years) Most asphalt shingles last around 20 years, but top-quality versions may be rated for up to 50
Metal - (40-80 years)
Tile (Concrete/Slate/Clay) - (100 years or more) While tiles may crack on occasion, most are long-lasting and virtually worry free
Take it from the top
Check the condition of your roof from the inside out. Grab a flashlight and head for the attic. While it's still dark, check to see if there is any light coming in from the outside and then use your lamp to scan for leaks, water damage, or sagging. Make sure that dryer vents lead outside ...not just into your attic space. On the exterior, missing or damaged shingles should be the first thing to grab your attention. Look for wear around chimneys, pipes, or other openings. Also check for signs of moisture, mold or rot, and make sure that downspouts and gutters are properly attached and debris-free. Don't forget to examine gutters for a large build-up of shingle granules which indicate advanced wear.
Heed the warning signs
Keeping your eyes open can help you spot trouble and allow you to take action before small problems turn into big ones. Blistering and peeling exterior paint or deterioration of siding and sheathing can be signs that your roof needs some attention ASAP. Leaks in the attic after periods of heavy rain or ice buildup are signs of trouble which will only get worse if not addressed properly. Interior ceilings and walls which display stain of signs of mold and mildew are also a cause for concern.