How to Tell It’s Time for a New Roof & What to Expect?

Do You need to Re-Roof Before Selling Your Home?

Like anything else, a roof will wear out over time.  Just being exposed to the sun’s rays, the snow, the rain, freeze-and-thaw cycles, and the occasional hail storms can batter the roof overtime.  Barring major hail or storm damage, how do you know when it’s time to put on a new roof?  If you’re planning to sell your home soon, should you re-roof it as a way to entice buyers?

Replacing a roof is a big task; it’s one that most people don’t want to tackle themselves.  Fortunately, with most architectural type shingles rated to last between 20 and 30 years, you won’t have to do it often.  Let’s explore some of the tell-tale signs that it’s indeed time for a new roof.

Inspect for Damage from the Inside

Ideally you will want to have your roof replaced long before damage is visible from the inside.  But sometimes things look great from outside, but there’s clearly a problem that shows up when you’re looking from underneath.  You must have access to the attic, and make sure you’re wearing protective clothing.  Dust, animal droppings, and asbestos (in older homes) can all cause health issues down the road.  With a bright light to help you see clearly, look for the following signs of roof damage.

  • Discoloration – When water gets into the house, it will stain and discolor wood, insulation, and other building materials. Once inside, the water will lead to rot and mold, so you need to take care of the problem as soon as possible.  Look for dark spots, crumbling materials, and wood that feels soft to the touch.
  • Visible Water – If the water is still present, in the form of wet wood or other materials, it needs to be taken care of right away. You may even have to get fans into the attic to dry it out before the mold starts to grow.
  • Outside Light Coming in – Turning off all the lights should allow you to be in complete darkness. Any little pinhole will be highly visible, and if light can get in, then so can water.
  • Rotten, Missing, or Sagging Boards – Even an old house should be standing just as straight as it was when built. If the boards are rotting, sagging, or completely missing, then you have some problems that need to be addressed.

If there isn’t damage to the underside of the roof, then your roof hasn’t failed yet.  But that’s not to say it doesn’t need to be replaced.  You’ll want to make sure to get a new roof to protect your home before the damage occurs, not after.

Now it’s time to head outside to look for the signs of damage to the roof.

Inspect for Damage from the Outside

The condition of your roof on the outside will tell you how close the shingles are to failing.  While they may still be holding up, if you notice these warning signs, you could be close to having more problems.

You will need a ladder, and if you’re not comfortable getting onto the roof, you can either inspect it from the ladder or use a pair of binoculars to inspect it from the ground.

Caution: old and damaged shingles can give way beneath you; it’s better to have a licensed roofer who knows what to look for and how to maneuver safely on the roof.

  • Visible Damage – Missing, broken, or uplifted shingles are pretty easy to spot. If they’re gone, they need replaced.  But there’s more to damage that isn’t as readily visible.  Do you notice small marks on the shingles that have fewer granules on them?  It could be due to a hail storm.
  • Missing Granules – Shingles are made with tiny rock granules stuck to them. Over time rain, wind, sun, and other weather cause these to come loose and roll off.  That’s completely normal.  But the more granules that come off, the closer the shingle is to needing replaced.  Are your gutters filled with them?  Are there noticeable bare spots on the shingles?
  • Curled Shingles – A curled shingle can be an indicator that they need replaced, but it can also be an indicator of a bigger problem with your roof. The attic space needs proper venting. A poorly-vented or unvented attic space can get up to well over 100 degrees.  When it gets too hot, the shingles will curl away from the heat.  If you see curled shingles, a thorough inspection should be done.
  • Anything Out of Place – If you haven’t put a roof on a house, you might not know exactly what to look for. But if something just doesn’t seem right, then have a professional come and take a look.  Most roofing companies will do a free inspection, especially after a hail storm comes through the area.

Suppose you have looked at the roof, and it does need to be replaced.  You now have to determine if it’s going to be worthwhile to take care of replacing it before you list the house for sale, or if you should disclose that to the buyer, and price the home accordingly.  What it comes down to is how you can leverage the repairs or replacement.  That starts with understanding the costs:

Repair or Replace Your Worn Out Roof?

An honest roofing company will be able to look at your roof, and tell you if you just need some spots repaired, or if the whole thing needs to be replaced.  Sometimes you can get more years from the life of the roof by simply repairing problem areas.

If the roof is nearing the end of its service life, you may be better off replacing it.  When a prospective buyer looks at the home, they will be more likely to make an offer (and a better offer) if the home has a new roof on it, rather than it having an older roof that has been repaired.  Of course you want to make sure that you recoup the costs you put into the house in order to sell it and that’s where a knowledgeable real estate agent would be most helpful.

Working with a Trained Real Estate Agent

Working with a trained Realtor, you can come up with the best plan for selling your home quickly, and getting the best offer possible.  In some cases replacing the roof will make more sense, in others repairing it, and in others letting the buyer determine what they want to do.