Many residential roofing companies conduct free inspections and offer free advice on a roof inspection. They advise starting with an interior roof inspection armed with a good flashlight. Some research is helpful before buying batteries and heading to your attic. Municipalities often allow a review of your records online. If your city is not there as yet, please call or visit their office. You may need proof of ownership before the information is released to you. This can be cleared up with a phone call. Ask for a copy of all permits and violations on record. Pay attention to any documentation on roofing permits. Also, take a second look at your mortgage documents and insurance policy. There may be dates relevant to roof replacement. Collect information from your city, mortgage, and insurance policy to discern last roof replacement or major repair. Roofing experts recommend that most roofs should be replaced after 20 years. Modern improvement to roofing materials and installation techniques increase the lifespan of roofs to 25 and even 30 years. Much depends on the weather, tree coverage and major events such as hurricanes, earthquakes, hail storms and other naturally occurring disasters.
Now is a good time to cash in on your good neighbor relationships. Ask your neighbors if there recall any roofing activity before you became the homeowner. Also, ask them about their roof repairs and replacement. In many neighborhoods, houses were built within a year or two of each other and it had similar roofing materials. It is common for houses to need new roofs along with a similar timeframe. Now it is time to don the mantle of Sherlock ‘Homes’. Tools of the trade are one heavy duty flashlight with new batteries. Locate a ladder and the opening to your attic. Please be careful of roof nails that protrude through the shingles and into the attic. I often wear a helmet to protect from these nails or bumps to the head from low ceilings and support beams. Start with your flashlight and attic light off. Looking around in the dark, you would notice any daylight coming through the roof. Streaks of daylight are a sure sign that your roof’s integrity is compromised. If daylight is getting in your attic, then water is close behind. Now would be a good time to call a reputable residential roofing company.
Apart from daylight, there are other tell-tale signs. You may see leak and water damage. There may be watermark lines running from the water’s point of entry to wherever gravity dictates. Sometimes you cannot estimate the true extent of damage from the point(s) where the leak is located. The water may run to other areas and settle so causing a streak of damage along its path. The more leaks increase the urgency for a new roof. Urgency is more apparent if leaks are located not only in one room but throughout your home. Leaks will eventually lead to the rotting of wooden surfaces and rusting of metallic surfaces. Installing a new roof becomes more urgent because structural damage to support beams and interior fixtures will require even more money.
An inspection of the roof exterior may reveal new roof needs. Safety is paramount here. You should not go on a roof that is wet. If it is raining, then wait for a sunny day. Please remember that there may be lightning strikes when it is not raining. There are apps for smartphones that warn of imminent lightning strikes. Also, inspect your latter and make sure it is the right height. It is recommended that someone hold the ladder. Roofs with more pitch may present more risk. The danger is increased if there is mold or lose shingles from rotting. Both are signs of a roof in poor condition. Old shingles with settling water are prone to grow mold and mildew. These create a slippery surface. Old shingles sometimes crack, curl or buckle. You may see shingle coatings and fragments (shingle granules) in your gutter or at the base of walls. These are signs that your shingles are deteriorating and replacement or a new roof is needed. Older chimneys and roof flashing are done with roof cement or tar. These substances will degrade over time. It may require an upgrade to metal flashing which is more durable. Pay attention to roof valleys. This is where 2 sloping roofs converge. Roof valleys can be problematic because rain and snow flow through valleys and enter the gutter system. Erosion and leaks occur in these areas. Please note that patch these areas may be a solution known as ‘kicking the can down the road’. You may stop known leaks or larger leaks but that does not fix overall roof integrity. Eventually, you will need a new roof. Sometimes it makes more sense to a new roof replacement instead of a series of roof repairs. A roof repair job may come with a warranty on labor and materials. However, the warranty does not cover a leak that springs up a few feet from the spot that was just repaired. A new roof job covers that entire roof. New roof warranties cover 10, 15, 20 and 25 years. You can enjoy considerable peace of mind when you do not need to worry for a decade or more about roof leaks.
Please keep in mind that poor workmanship may accelerate the need for a new roof regardless of the quality of materials. If you observe several layers of roofing, this may mean corners were cut. If the roof is covered in patches or tiles are layered unevenly, there is a high likelihood that poor workmanship is to blame. Many roofing firms who perform substandard work go out of business and warranties are voided when this happens. Several residential roofing companies should be called for estimates. A reputable roofing company will do a thorough inspection and provide a written analysis of roof issues. It will also provide a written estimate for your new roof with various options and prices. Most roofing companies do not charge for this service. Do not sign any roofing contract before calling references and researching the integrity of the roofing company. Choose one that is in business for at least 10 years. Roofing companies with 20 and 30 years unblemished experience are more desirable. Buy with confidence.