As a homeowner, a problem with a major area like the roof can be a nightmare. However, you can save yourself some pain and money if you keep an eye out for signs of trouble. If you notice one of these issues, you can speak to a certified professional roofer right away, potentially saving lots of money and time. Most homeowners figure they need a new roof if they spot a leak in their ceiling. But what other signs could you be missing? To avoid expensive and extensive damage, here’s what you need to look for:
Roof leaks are one of the most obvious signs your roof is going to need repairs or replacement. To check for roof leaks, go up to your attic regularly, preferably right after a rainfall. Look closely for any signs of water intrusion, as serious leaks in your home are most likely to originate here.
If the leaks are confined to a certain area on your roof, you may not need a complete roof replacement. Whether you think you can get by with a repair or you need a new roof, a certified roofing specialist can help explain your options. Any time you are concerned about a potential leak, time is of the essence. That’s because putting off roof repairs may cause the problem to become more serious and require more extensive and costly repairs. Small pinhole leaks may not do much damage. However, if ignored they can continue to grow and eventually demand your attention at a higher cost. Keep in mind that professional roofers tend to offer affordable roof inspections, so you can look into potential issues.
Leaks are a definite sign that something is wrong with your roof. However, water exposure of any kind a serious red flag. If you’re noticing any of the following watery factors, you need to act quickly:
- Water stains in ceilings or walls
- Dripping sounds
- Mold growing in ceilings/walls
- High humidity levels indoors
- Musty smell indoors
Cracked shingles are often caused by wind damage. If the cracks are limited to just a few shingles, replacing them is the most practical and cost-effective solution. However, if there are cracks dispersed randomly all over the roof, a roof replacement is likely necessary. If you notice widespread cracks on your shingles, you may make small repairs while preparing for the future. In that case, we recommend that you plan to have your roof replaced within three to five years.
You can also check for cracks by going up to your attic, turning the lights off, and looking up at your roof. Light coming in is a sign that you have holes and cracks in the roof. This is something you should have fixed as soon as possible. Some cracks and holes can be fixed relatively easily, but a widespread issue will require a roof replacement.
A rotting roof can lead to serious structural issues in your house. Wood rots when exposed to moisture for prolonged periods. Such exposure allows the growth of fungus, which can deteriorate a structure. It's essential to identify a rotting roof quickly so the damage can be minimized.
Torn flashing or missing shingles can indicate roof rot. Roof flashing is a thin material, usually galvanized steel, that professional roofers use to direct water away from critical areas of the roof, wherever the roof plane meets a vertical surface like a wall or a dormer. Flashing is installed to surround roof features, such as vents, chimneys, and skylights.
Water is a roof's biggest enemy, and if your roof has a breach in its moisture protection system, it's only a matter of time before it starts to rot. Take a close look at your roof with binoculars to see if there are any gaps in the shingles or tears in the flashing. If so, this means that the underlying roof deck is vulnerable to the elements and may start to rot. If this happens, immediately call a professional to have the problem fixed.
Water damage on the ceiling is another indication of roof rot. In most cases, water coming into your home is a result of a breakdown of your roof system. If there are water stains on your ceiling, this could be the result of a roof leak.
If you discover mold or mildew growing on your walls or ceiling, this may be a sign of a few issues. It could indicate a leaky roof, condensation issues, or just a simple plumbing problem. Make sure that your insulation is dry, your house is ventilated, and your plumbing lines and bathroom fixtures aren't leaking. Correcting any of these things are less costly than a roof replacement. But if these aren’t the root of the issue, you may be at risk for growth problems.
There are a few different types of growths to worry about:
Algae is a black and green organism that can eat away at your shingles and eventually cause your roof to rot. This problem is caused by deposits of moisture on shingles or shakes, which allows spores to spread into algae. Algae is also commonly found in gutters, due to the water that is often present there. Algae is most likely to grow on roofs in damp and humid climates, such as that of the Southeast.
Moss is easily identified by its forest-green color and fuzzy texture. It is considered by many to be an attractive feature on a roof. But depending on the surroundings and design scheme of the homeowner, moss can also be problematic. As moss spreads, it brings more moisture with it. This can set into the wood of roof shakes and shingles, causing rot.
Unlike moss, which is considered harmless in the proper settings, mold is a problem that can cause health issues. Mold is easy to identify due to its foul odor and slimy appearance. It is typically characterized by brown, black, and dark-green blotches. Like many other types of growth, mold forms due to deposits of moisture. Mold most commonly develops on surfaces that can absorb water, such as wood and drywall.
Mildew is a cancerous growth found on wet surfaces. It has a powdery appearance, which ranges from light grey to black to sometimes even pink. It is harmful to your health if you're exposed to it for prolonged periods. Mildew is most likely to grow in damp, warm environments, such as those found in the Southeast. It will often spread on roofs that have inadequate drainage. Mildew spreads faster than other types of harmful growths.
Check your attic routinely for any signs of roof rot. Check if the insulation is soggy, you can smell mold, or see any fungal growth on the studs or the insulation. A moldy attic is caused by water, which could be the result of either a roofing leak or improper ventilation. In either case, the damage will get worse if you wait for rot to occur.
If you notice green and gray moss or algae on the outside of your shingles, moisture is present. While it may appear harmless, algae and moss can both cause your shingles to deteriorate. Regardless of whether the growth occurs from a ventilation issue or a blocked drainage system, you should have a professional check it out right away.
Curling or Missing Shingles and Tiles
As shingles age, they start to deteriorate. The most common sign that wood and asphalt shingles have reached the end of their life is curling edges. If you see this happening to more than a couple of stray shingles, you need to start planning for a new roof.
When a few shingles are missing, likely, the remaining shingles are also aging. For tiled roofs, missing tiles might signal another underlying problem. Perhaps the sealants, flashing, and nails need to be replaced. These deteriorating parts can let tiles slip out of position or even fall away completely, letting in moisture.
Metal roofs can last a very long time, but their biggest issue is rust. If you spot some rust showing through on your metal roof, it is time to treat that rust. Don’t just paint it! A professional roofer can repair and re-coat your metal roof. If left too long the rust will create pinholes very quickly.
Debris in the Gutters
Aging asphalt shingles will start to shed the embedded granules s they deteriorate. As your roof nears the end of its lifespan, granules and pieces from the shingles will fall into your gutters. The more granules, the sooner you need to consider a replacement. This is one reason why cleaning your gutters is important to do at least once a year.
For clay roofing, you may find pieces of mortar falling and getting stuck in the gutters. This is a clear indication that they’re no longer doing the job of connecting your tiles to seal out the elements.
Poor Energy Efficiency
Have your heating or cooling bills been increasing little by little each year? If so, it could be the result of a poorly insulated roof. Although most homeowners focus on insulating their doors and windows to decrease energy bills, the roof is often the real culprit. A poorly insulated roof allows air to come in and go out more easily. Thus leading to exorbitant energy bills, especially during the coldest and hottest months.
Age is one of the most important indications for when you will need a new roof. As a rule, your roofing materials will determine how soon you need a new roof. With each material having an expected life span, it helps to know what you’re working with so you know when to budget for a replacement.
Here are the typical life expectancies of roofing materials:
- Wood shingles: 30 to 40 years
- Wood shakes: 20 to 40 years
- Clay tile: 50 years or longer
- Metal: 70 years
- Slate: 100 years or longer
If you are seeing any of the signs mentioned above, you may be in the market for a new roof. In 2021 the typical cost of a roof replacement in Georgia is between $3.50 and $5.50 per square foot. This includes all material, labor, permit fees, and cleanup. But when you use a TrustDALE certified professional, you're always protected by Dale's trademark $10,000 Make-It-Right Guarantee. So don’t delay, and tend to any potential roofing issues today.