The life of a roof varies immensely by the types of materials used to build it. If your existing roof is constructed of asphalt shingles, for instance, it can last anywhere from about 14 to 20 years, depending upon the climate. A metal roof, on the other hand, can last 50 years or more. If you know when your existing roof was installed, this can help you determine when it requires replacement, but if you live in an older home whose history isn't readily available, there are other ways to deduce whether it's time to call a roofing contractor:
Perform a Visual Inspection
The first step in determining whether your current roof needs attention is to take a walk around it, and do a visual inspection. If you notice areas that appear suspicious, grab a ladder and take a closer look.
- Shingles: If your roof is shingled, look for any that are missing, bent, or flapping freely in the wind. Just one or two might mean a repair is in order, but if you see more than just a few, it might be an indicator that your roof has reached its limit. Another way to determine the life of shingles is to check the rain gutters for debris. If your shingles are wearing out, you may find the fallout hiding here
- Wood: If you notice moss or algae growing on areas of your wooden roof, take a closer look. If the wood feels like you could easily poke a screwdriver through it, it could be rotten. If this is the case, you should call a professional right away.
- Tile: Tiles roofs are especially strong and long-lasting. Unless you live in a storm-ridden area, or something like a tree falls on your tile roof, regular inspections every few years should be sufficient. If you do notice broken tiles, it's typically easy enough to have them replaced individually.
- Metal: Standing seam metal can fail before it should if the screws used to hold it down pop out. This can happen in extremes of weather or temperature. Examine your metal roofing up close to look for popped or missing screws.
Check the Attic
Visit your attic on a sunny day. If you can see sunlight through the roof, it's time to call in a roofing contractor. Other signs that may not be overlooked include a musty smell where water has permeated the attic or wet or moldy insulation. All of these indicators mean it's time for repair or replacement.
Don't wait until you see water stains on your interior ceilings and walls to have a look at your roof. At this point, your cost to repair includes insulation and drywall—two unexpected expenses that can be easily avoided by performing regular inspections and maintenance.