From leaks to water spots and more, here are some foolproof ways to determine if your roof needs professional help.

By Caroline Biggs
January 27, 2020

No matter how sturdy your roof may seem, outdoor elements—large or small—can cause critical damage over time. "High winds can cause shingles to blow off," explains Zach Shoffner, Project Manager for Farha Roofing. "Even nesting birds and tree debris can cause damage to your roof." But when do these factors weaken the roof to the point of repair? How often should homeowners be replacing their roofs?

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"Well, there are only two types of roof systems: Those that need replaced, and those that will need to be replaced in the future," Shoffner explains. "A good answer is about every 15 to 20 years, but some tile roof systems can last for 50 years or longer. It's hard to say, but, if you do believe that your roof has been damaged, it is an excellent idea to call a professional roof company to look at your system to see if it has been damaged." Not sure whether or not your home is due for a new roof? We asked Shoffner to help us identify some signs of serious roof damage, so you'll know when to make that call.

Related: Expert Tips for Keeping Your Gutters Working All Year Long

Look for Leaks

As a rule of thumb, if your roof is leaking, then there's a good chance it needs to be repaired—or possibly replaced. "Shingle roof systems shouldn't leak due to the nature of the system," Shoffner says: "Rain should flow down the roof and drain into the guttering without leaking inside the house. If you have a leak and it's near the gutters, then check them to make sure they are free of debris. Water could just not have a place to drain and is going back into the roof or your home. If it's leaking elsewhere, then call a professional and have them inspect it."

Identify Any Granule Loss

Shoffner says one surefire sign that your roof is in trouble is discovering tiny granule rocks in the gutter. "Shingles have granules and over time they can loosen and fall off the shingle," he explains. "This is due to weather damage and age. If you notice little granule rocks in your gutters, or if it's bad enough, on the ground around your house, then your shingles have lived their life and it's time to look into replacing your system."

Search for Missing Shingles

If your roof is missing more than a few shingles, you might want to consider calling a professional to investigate. "If you have an area with shingle blow off, and it's concentrated in one area, then that is an easy fix," Shoffner says. "Any professional company can come inspect the damage, match the shingle, and replace it for you. But, if multiple areas of your roof system are blowing off then that means that the system may have not been installed correctly and needs to be inspected immediately."

Check for Flashing Deficiencies

"Chimneys and pipe penetrations are installed through the roof system by what is called 'flashing,'" Shoffner explains. "A pipe flashing is normally a small flat square of sheet metal with a rubber gasket on the top that you can put around a pipe and make it waterproof. Chimneys are made water-tight with step flashing—which are pieces of angled sheet metal that are stacked along the chimney and sealed with caulking—so if you notice from the ground that the rubber looks ripped or loose, then it's time to have it inspected."

Inspect for Water Spots

Like it or not, Shoffner says even the smallest water spots on your ceiling can indicate a larger issue brewing on your roof. "If you notice water spots, or dark spots, on your ceiling, then you may have water coming into your system but not enough to cause a leak inside the house. This needs to be addressed as soon as possible so that more damage isn't done to your ceiling or insulation."

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