When is it time to replace your roof?

Shingle Roof BeforeFor a homeowner, a brown spot on the ceiling is very bad news. It means you have a leak in your roof and the possibility exists that, by the time you see the evidence, you’ve already suffered some damage.

To protect the structural integrity of your home, you want to take care of your roof before it develops a leak.

Most residential roofs are covered with asphalt or fiberglass shingles. This flexible roofing material is relatively easy to install and contains granules that help the material repel water. These shingles come in different grades with guarantees often lasting 20, 25 or 30 years, depending on the grade.

That means your roof has a limited lifespan, depending on the type of roofing material that was used. For that reason, it’s important for you to know the grade of shingle that was used and when it was installed.
Ask a home inspector

Shingle Roof AfterIf you are purchasing a home, the seller will usually tell you when the roof was installed. A good home inspector will give you an assessment of the roof’s condition and how many years it has left before you have to start thinking about replacing it.

There are also ways for you to keep up with your roof’s condition so that you don’t get blindsided by that brown spot on the ceiling. Most can be done with a visual inspection from the ground.

Walk around the house looking for missing shingles. That’s an obvious sign that there is a problem.

Other signs include a dull, flat appearance. The granules should give the shingles a shiny surface. When the granules wear off, the shingles lose a lot of their water-shedding ability.

When the edges of the shingles begin to curl that’s also a bad sign. Curling is usually the result of poor ventilation or a dried-out asphalt shingle base. When you see curling, it’s usually time to replace the roof because once this process begins, there really isn’t a way to reverse it.

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This article was written by Mark Huffman

Mark Huffman has been a consumer news reporter for ConsumerAffairs since 2004. He covers real estate, gas prices and the economy and has reported extensively on negative-option sales. He was previously an Associated Press reporter and editor in Washington, D.C., a correspondent for Westwoood One Radio Networks and Marketwatch. Read Full Bio >>