If It's Not Leaking, Why Does My Roof Need to Be Replaced?

by Marcus Pickett

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A leaking roof is the most obvious sign that it's time to replace your roof, but it's hardly the only one. Many of these signs will eventually lead to a leaking roof, but identifying these problems early enough can prevent water damage and save you money for your roof replacement project. Sometimes this early intervention can also be the difference between repairing your roof and replacing your roof. You should consider part of this decision, however, the age of the roof, otherwise you may find roof repair a constant burden.

Signs of an Impending Leaking Roof

  • Missing or torn shingles expose the roof to water damage and rot, and make nearby shingles more susceptible to being blown away. Old shingles will curl, split and lose their waterproofing effectiveness. These weakened shingles are more likely to be blown away by wind gusts.
  • Rusted or missing flashing can result in a leaking roof. Flashing is the metal that surrounds chimneys, skylights and vent pipes and often is found in the valleys where roof sections meet.
  • Check gutters, downspouts and splash pans for evidence of decay or damage. Broken pieces of paint and scraps of roofing may be visible.
  • Indoors, look for discolored plasterboard or cracked paint and peeling wallpaper.

Replace a Roof without Removing the Roof
You have two main roof replacement options: You can either remove the old roof or put a new roof down on top of the old one. Putting a new roof down on top of the old one is almost always cheaper but often doesn't last as long—a typical situation where you get what you pay for. However, some considerations can make one choice better than the other. If you have more than two roofing layers already present, your roof can get heavy, cumbersome, and the sub-layers may end up rotting through to the point where your new roof is no longer stable.

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This is one of the reasons why repairing and replacing roofs are a frequent source of home improvement failure. You need to find a quality roofing contractor—this is a difficult enough task on its own—but you should also ask to see your roofing layers before you make a decision.

Removing and Replacing the Roof
If you need to remove and replace your roof, make sure to do it right. If you don't have the budget to do it on your own, consider financing the project through home equity. Some homeowners even decide to cheaply repair a roof with the knowledge the repair won't last more than 10 years. By that time, their house has appreciated enough to be able to finance the project. Once the old roof has been removed, there's a good chance the roof deck will need to be repaired if it has settled or shows sign of rot. You'll also want to review the slope of your roof to ensure you're receiving optimal drainage. All of these considerations are paramount to getting the most out of your new roof. A high quality roofing material and proper installation should give you a new roof that will last half a century.

Marcus Pickett is a professional freelance writer for the home remodeling industry. He has published more than 600 articles on both regional and national topics within the home improvement industry.