Can your roof be repaired or is it past that point? How do you know which is the better route for your situation?
Many homeowners we talk with think they need a repair because they perceive the issue with their roof to be confined to a small area -- but is that right?
Here are some basic questions and considerations to determine if you need roof replacement or just a repair:
How old is your roof?
First, there’s the age of the roof as a consideration.
If your roof is leaking and the roof is 15 years old or older, then repairing only a portion of the roof may be putting “good money after bad”. It won’t make the problem go away. Why put money toward something that won’t solve the problem? This is just kicking the can down the road -- and not far down that road.
If it’s a newer roof in the 5-10 years old range and it has issues, then it’s likely the result of a poor installation and needs immediate attention before a broader issue arises. One common issue is when the shingles were laid ok, but the installer didn’t flash it properly so you’re seeing leaks in the edges. There are many issues that come up if your previous contractor cut corners. Issues with newer roofs should be evaluated immediately…unless you want to develop a closer relationship with your roofing contractor by seeing him every year or so.
If your roof is 10-15 years old, then it’s in a gray area and you should keep reading...
Do you have a leak?
First consider the location of the leak. If it’s near the chimney or a skylight, then the issue could be related to the flashing around that area and therefore could be an isolated issue that needs repair. But if it’s a broader issue or not near a point like a chimney or a skylight, then it doesn’t bode well for the health of your roof. It could be sign of a widespread problem and you won't know what you've got until you strip the roof.
There are things in life when it’s ok and even advisable to seek a short term solution -- but your roof is not one of them!
Do you see waviness in the roof or specific parts of it?
Irregularities in the spacing, flatness, texture or appearance of the shingles is at least a sign of a tired roof where issues are imminent or already there. Waviness can occur because the roof sheathing is lifting which leads to high moisture levels in the roof. When this happens, the plywood buckles and the shingles delaminate.
But even if you think you only see this confined to a region, you still shouldn’t assume the issue is only with that portion of the roof.
Is your roof curling or buckling?
Buckling happens when asphalt shingles are not laying flat on your roof due to the wrinkling of the roof underlayment or the movement of the wood deck. A buckling or curling roof means the roof has been compromised by moisture. The permanent solution is roof replacement that includes proper installation of underlayment, roof shingles and a ventilation system that will relieve and prevent the build of excess moisture.
Do you have missing roof shingles?
Missing roof shingles is often an indication of a deeper problem than your roof just being “tired” and likely goes beyond the scope of a repair. Again, this needs to be evaluated in person to say for certain.
If you have shingles missing in one or more areas then it's likely the shingles weren’t properly secured to the roof. There are many causes for this including some related to a sub-par installation or excess moisture build up.
Roof Repair: Final Thoughts
There are some instances where a roof repair can be a good, long-term solution, particularly if the issue can be isolated to the flashing in one location. But from our experience with homeowners facing these and other problems, that’s often not the case and there are other risks of waiting to do a replacement.
Many homeowners don’t realize the potential or existing risks of repairing what they think is an isolated problem. We see this with homeowners who have signs of rot in one area of their roof.
If moisture is constant month after month and year after year with ice dams or if you don’t have proper ventilation, then it could - in extreme circumstances - lead to larger potential issues like mold in the insulation or the windows, rot in the studs or the frame, or even electrical issues.
Homeowners frequently contact us for repair first, not realizing that a small leak can be a symptom of a much larger issue. This is your home, and in most cases homeowners who start on the repair road end up wanting to get their roof replacement done, and done right!