When Does My Home Need a New Roof?

When searching for a new home, savvy homebuyers will make sure the home’s structural elements are sound. The two most important items are the foundation and the roof. Damage to either of these structures can cause problems throughout the entire house that are very expensive to fix. If you want to prevent water damage in your home, you’ll need a roof in good condition.

But when is it time for a new one? You don’t want to pay for such an expensive repair if it’s not really necessary. Here are some signs to look for:

Age

Check your records to determine the age of the roof. Depending on the roofing materials, you’ll need to replace your roof every 15-25 years. Ask a roofing expert the age of a certain type of material to determine if it might be getting close to that time.

The longest-lasting roofing material is metal. A metal roof lasts between 50 and a hundred years and often has fewer problems over time. When getting a new roof, this material is certainly worth considering!

Wet Spots in Walls and Ceilings

The first step to determining if you need a new roof actually begins on the inside of your house. Inspect the walls and ceilings of each room, checking for wet spots in the corners or drip lines on the paint. This may indicate a plumbing problem in interior rooms, but if it’s an outward facing wall or located directly beneath your roof, it’s almost certainly a roofing problem.

Don’t forget to inspect your attic. This is the largest area in your house that would be affected by a roof leak. No one wants to crawl into this dark space, but if you suspect a roof problem, this is the best place to find evidence.

Mold

Mold is usually the result of unchecked moisture in your walls, insulation, or ceiling. Black mold is ugly and dangerous for your respiratory system if the spores are breathed in. If you have mold, you’ll need to make some interior improvements to eradicate the problem.

But before you work on the interior, make sure you can identify the cause. If it’s a leaking roof, it will probably be located in the upper corners, along the top edges of the walls, and over your ceiling. Replacing the roof will prevent a mold problem from continuing or reoccurring.

Missing or Damaged Shingles

A visual inspection of the outside of your home is also in order. Start by standing on the side of the road in front of your home and looking up. If you notice bald spots, cracks, or other damage, you’ll need to make repairs.

It’s especially important to check your roof after a storm. Wind, hail, and heavy rains can ruin even a brand new roof. The good news is that your homeowner’s insurance will probably cover the repairs.

Moss Growth

If your roof has moss growing in the cracks between shingles, it’s probably because that section of your roof doesn’t get much sunlight in a humid climate. It could also be the result of moisture working its way into improperly sealed cracks and producing the green fuzzy growth.

Moss can push apart your shingles, causing cracks and damage. It can also indicate an underlying problem of improperly sealed shingles or flashing problems.

Flashing Problems

The flashing of a roof is the metal parts and caulking that seal the shingles and seams so that rainwater, weather, and insects can’t get inside. The flashing is one of the most important parts of your roof, and it’s also one of the most easily damaged. Flashing problems can cause serious leaks inside your home, leading to mold and structural problems in your walls and ceilings.

Sometimes, a leak caused by damage flashing is a simple fix. But if you’re constantly repairing flashing areas to prevent leaks in your home, it’s a strong indicator that it’s time to upgrade your roof. Request metal flashing from your roofers rather than tar or cement for added durability.

After you’ve diagnosed the problem, contact a trusted roofing contractor in your area to get the job done!

Melissa Thompson writes about a wide range of topics, revealing interesting things we didn't know before. She is a freelance USA Today producer, and a Technorati contributor.