A solid roof above your head is pretty crucial if you’ve become accustomed to having a warm, cozy, and leak-free home. Here’s how to notice and deal with potential issues before they become big ones.
1. Roof Age
“An asphalt shingle roof should last between 20 and 30 years,” says Claude McGavic, executive director of the National Association of Home Inspectors. “If you have a 40-year-old roof, there could be a problem — even if it looks good from the ground.”
How much time you’ve got left: Five to 10 years, depending on your roof’s condition. If you live in a development and your neighbors are all starting to replace their roofing, that could be a sign that you should do the same.
2. The Shingles are Curling
Shingles can curl in two ways: There’s cupping, which happens when the edges of the shingles turn upward; and there’s clawing, which is when the edges stay flat and the middle starts to come up. “Both are signs of weathering and indicate that problems — potentially leaks — are relatively close to fruition,” says Mark Graham, vice president of the National Roofing Contractors Association.
How much time you’ve got left: “Depending on the extent of the curling, it could be anywhere from a year to five years before you need a new roof,” says Graham.
3. Missing Shingles
From a functional standpoint, there should be no problem with just replacing a few shingles here and there. “What you do need to be prepared for is the fact that it’s just about impossible to get a new shingle to match the color of an old one,” says Graham. “Granule colors have changed pretty significantly over the years. Plus, the colors change slightly with weathering.”
How much time you’ve got left: You can keep patching until a bigger issue presents itself, but if a roof starts to look like a checkerboard, people often opt to replace the whole thing.
4. Shingles are Cracked
Cracked shingles are typically a result of wind damage. If just a few shingles are cracked, you can certainly replace them. “If the cracking isn’t isolated to one particular area and it’s random throughout the roof, that’s a telltale sign that you should start thinking about a new roof,” says Graham.
How much time you’ve got left: You may need to replace the whole thing within three to five years.
5. Finding Granules in the Gutter
If you just got a new asphalt shingle roof and you see a bunch of granules in the gutters, there’s nothing to worry about: Those are just loose, extra ones. But if it’s been 10 or 15 years, that’s a sign of a bigger problem. “Granules help keep the sun off the asphalt,” says McGavic. “Once the granules fall off and the shingles start to bake, the quality will deteriorate in a hurry.”
How much time you’ve got left: If you don’t have a new roof and you just started to notice the granules in the gutter, the shingles are probably halfway through their lifespan, McGavic estimates.