How old is that roof? Roofs last a long time, with the typical asphalt-shingle roof lasting between 15 to 25 years, depending on the type of installation. Estimating roof age is difficult. Obviously the best way to know your roof’s age is by keeping records from the last time the roof was replaced. However, if you’re looking at a new home or uncertain of your home’s pedigree, there are warning signs you can look for before your roof starts damaging your house. Keep in mind that it’s only when the roof nears the end of its lifespan – or if the roof is defective – that these seven signs of roof age will show.
Looking at the Roof Before You Buy
When you’re with an agent looking at a home and you’re thinking of buying, ask for the “Seller’s Description of Property” and the “Disclosure Statement” for the house. These will give you a general idea of the state of the roof, as well as any damages or problems that have occurred during the life of the roof. If these documents list “unknown” or other vague statements, check for signs of wear or damage yourself, and make sure the home inspector can give you an estimate. The seller might also have documents as proof of a warranty for the roof, which you should request to see.
The Seven Signs of Roof Age
There are generally seven ways to tell if a roof is reaching the end of its lifespan. Some of these require you to get up onto the roof so that you can inspect it, as well as the gutters. Other areas require you to be inside the home, in the attic or in the crawlspaces beneath the roof.
Leaks and Water Damage
If there are active water leaks or signs of water damage visible on the ceiling or interior walls of your top story, this is a sign that the protective layer of shingles is not doing its job.
Curled or Buckled Shingles
Shingles that have started curling or buckling are another sign. Look at parts of the roof that receive the most sunlight and see if they are warping and/or losing granules.
The valley of your roof gets a lot of traffic from water. If there’s a lot of wear, including missing shingles in this area, it’s a sign of both old age and an increased risk of roof leaks.
Singles can come loose due to damage from high winds, but can also be a sign that the underpinnings are wearing down. If you find a loose shingle, check to see if the tabs are intact.
While missing or rusted flashing is an obvious sign of an old or poorly maintained roof, there are other signs. Look for lifting or separating, which could allow water into your home. If the current flashing material is roof cement or tar, it may need to be replaced with metal fittings.
Gutters Filled with Granules
While a small amount of granules from shingles will end up in your gutters, larger amounts can signal the end of the roof’s lifespan.
Daylight Through The Roof Boards
Climb up to the attic or crawlspace beneath the roof and see if there is any sunlight coming through the roof boards. Also check for signs that the insulation is suffering from moisture damage, such as mold or mildew.
If you find these signs and you are purchasing the house, you can ask the seller to replace the roof before the sale. If it is your own home, have a qualified roofing contractor inspect the roof to determine if you should repair or replace the roof. All Weather Tite of Port Charlotte, Florida, provides free roof inspections and free estimates.