One of the big mysteries when people buy a new home is the age of the existing roof. One way to find this information is to inquire about transferable warranties on either materials or workmanship, but you’re pretty much on your own if those documents aren’t available. At this point, it makes sense to assess 4 different areas to determine whether your roof is in relatively good shape or that a replacement is due.
1) Signs of leaks on the inside of the home – The most obvious signs of an aging roofing system are leaks that have already occurred. Any signs of paint discoloration on walls and ceilings should be examined closely to determine whether leaking water is coming through the roof or is the result of leaking pipes. Remember to check the attic for leaks as well. Pay close attention to the areas surrounding deck penetrations like vents, ducts and the chimney. As a roof ages, so will the flashing around these structures. The breakdown of the metal flashing and sealants make these areas a common ground for leaks.
2) Missing shingles – The shingles on the same roof surface should age evenly, with sun-facing south and west surfaces generally aging faster than surfaces that face north and east. Isolated missing shingles may be the result of hail or someone that carelessly walked across the roof. In these situations, replacing the missing shingles may provide a viable and less expensive solution than doing a full replacement. Rows of missing shingles, on the other hand, are usually an indication that the last phase of the breakdown of materials is underway and that the need for a full replacement will soon be necessary.
3) Curling shingles – Aging shingles will start to lift and curl at the corners and edges in reaction to long term exposure to direct sunlight and wide variations in temperatures. The curling of shingles is an indication that the materials are starting to break down in terms of their structural integrity as well as their ability to defend the structure against the elements. Curled shingles are a particular concern in areas where high winds are common, as the upturned corners make it easier for the materials to be lifted off of the roof deck.
4) Roofing debris at the mouths of downspouts – Wood chips and splinters, as well as sand-like granules at the mouths of your downspouts are indications that wood-based or asphalt shingles are wearing down fast. If you see these types of debris, especially if the quantity is increasing with each storm, the roofing materials don’t have much time left and should be replaced as soon as possible.
Don’t ignore the signs of an aging roof. Opting for a new installation now will be less expensive than replacing the roof after a major breakdown.