Roof replacement can be an overwhelming and frustrating experience for homeowners. There’s uncertainty about the process, needing to find and work with contractors, and, of course, concern about the cost of the entire project.
Iron River Construction understands the stress that roof replacement causes homeowners. They take tremendous pride in working with every homeowner individually and in-depth to make the process as stress-free as possible.
Do I need roof repair or replacement?
When the possibility of roof replacement comes up, you may begin to wonder, “When is it time to replace my roof?” Thinking about the expense involved, it’s also typical for a homeowner to question whether a repair is a possible solution rather than a whole-roof replacement. It’s important to remember that your roof protects your home from the elements 24 hours a day, 365 days a year without a break. It’s subject to variations in temperature (which may be extreme) and changing weather patterns.
So, not only is your roof exposed to mild, 70-degree sunny, breezy days in the spring or fall, it’s also subject to scorching summer heat, frigid winter cold, snow, rain, wind, and hail. Animals and blowing debris can also damage it, too. Unfortunately, your roof’s quality is going to degrade over time.
Here are six signs that you might need a roof replacement:
Sign #1: Your roof is old
If your roof is a typical roof, it’s probably covered in asphalt shingles. Most asphalt-shingle roofs last 12–15 years. (If you have a metal or tile roof, that is likely to have a longer lifespan.) But, if you’re in the former camp, and your roof is nearing the 12-year mark, you should start thinking about preparing to replace it.
This is especially true if roof repairs have been made over the top of an existing roof— a process known as “overlaying.” They may inadvertently be hiding bigger problems underneath the roof’s shingle layer.
Sign #2: Shingles are curling or missing
Roofs are exposed to the elements and havoc of Mother Nature. Over time, this exposure wears down the shingles, and you may discover that some are broken, missing, buckling, or curling. If you discover granules from your shingles in your gutter, that’s a sign you shouldn’t ignore: The shingles are being compromised, and damage to them leaves your home at risk for greater (and more costly to fix) problems.
Sign #3: Flashing is broken or damaged
Flashing is material (usually roof cement, tar, or metal) that keeps moisture out of the joints in your roof. You’ll have flashing in places where the roof and chimney meet or where you have dormer windows, for example. If flashing is missing or damaged, your roof, and consequently, your home, are at risk for water damage.
Sign #4: You have ice damming
While a line of icicles along a roof might look pretty in the winter, it is the sign of a big problem. If your roof is not properly ventilated, heat in your attic can melt the snow that is on your roof. This runs off the roof and into your gutters where it immediately freezes again thanks to the cold air; this is an ice dam.
An ice dam causes the next round of melted snow to likewise backup and freeze. Eventually, icicles will form along your roofline. They can pull apart your roof, and the melted snow can start seeping into the inner layers of your roof and eventually, into your attic.
Sign #5: You notice discolored ceilings and walls
If you suddenly notice unexplained water stains on your ceilings, walls, or your home’s exterior or you hear an unexplained dripping in the ceiling, you could have a roof leak.
Check the insulation in your attic. If it’s soggy, there’s a near-certainty that you have a roof leak that needs to be addressed immediately.
Sign #6: You have uninvited animal guests
If you happen to go up into the attic to get holiday decorations or the next season’s clothes and discover that animals have taken up residence, it’s highly likely that they’ve entered your attic through a breach in the roof. Animals search for warm places to build their nests, and will happily take advantage of roof damage to make themselves at home.
If you notice one or more of these signs, a qualified roofing contractor can perform an inspection and will let you know whether a roof replacement is necessary. You’ll want to make sure that any contractor you work with offers a warranty.
Can’t I just repair the roof instead of replacing it?
Roof repair is an option that homeowners understandably prefer over roof replacement. And there are times when it is definitely possible to repair a part of your roof rather than replace all of it.
Whether you can skip a roof replacement and repair it depends on the nature of damage that has been done and how much of your roof has been impacted.
If you notice after a storm that a shingle or tile (or two) has been damaged, broken, or is sagging, or has been blown off, it may be possible to just replace the broken or missing ones. You should still check with a roofing contractor so that you can be sure that the damage doesn’t extend into the deeper layer of your roof.
If there is damage to more than just the shingle layer, it’s a safer (and more cost-effective in the long run) choice to replace your entire roof. If there are leaks, depending on their severity, you may be able to do a simple repair rather than replace the entire roof. Again, you should have the damaged area inspected by a professional who will be able to determine what the best course of action is.
Keep in mind that it may also be hard to blend in any extra shingles that you might have saved to the ones that surround the damaged spot on the roof, as those have been exposed to the elements since their installation while the extra, saved shingles have not.
Patching damaged sections
Patching a damaged or degraded section of your roof might be possible, though again, a professional can tell you for sure whether this is a viable option that won’t further compromise the integrity of the entire roof or whether you’ll need to opt for a roof replacement.
As with using extra shingles to replace a handful of missing or broken ones, a patch may also not be as attractive, because it will cover a larger and more visible section of roof.
We mentioned overlaying, the process of putting a layer of shingles over existing shingles. If your current roof hasn’t been overlaid, while it is possible and allowable–most local building codes allow for homes to have two layers of shingles–it’s not always advisable, as the damage is still underneath that layer and can worsen over time.
Additionally, you’ll pay more in time and labor costs when you replace your roof as two layers of shingles will need to be removed. As with previous repair options, you’ll want to talk with a contractor about what the effects of overlayering will be.
How does weather affect the life of a roof?
Your roof is impacted by weather and the elements all year round. Here are some of the more common weather-related issues that you need to be mindful of. If you keep an eye on your roof, you’ll be more likely to spot potential problems before they cause a lot of expensive damage.
How weather affects your roof in the winter
We’ve told you that one of the most common problems to befall roofs in winter are the formation of ice dams, which occur when your attic isn’t properly ventilated. Indoor heat melts the snow on your roof, which refreezes when it reaches the edges of the roof.
That melting-and-freezing cycle eventually leads to the formation of icicles along your roofline. Improving the ventilation in your attic can help. If your attic is cold, the snow and ice on it are less likely to melt and form ice dams and icicles.
You’ll also want to be aware of the potential weight of the snow and ice that is on your roof. Wet snow weighs more than dry, fluffy snow, and should be removed promptly if the weather isn’t warming up fast enough for it to quickly melt (and not re-freeze on the roof). While it might be possible for you to remove some of the snow yourself–depending on how accessible your roof is from the ground, and if you have the proper tools–calling a professional is safest.
How weather affects your roof in the summer
Summer heat can lead to roof damage, too. The Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association (ARMA) found that in a poorly ventilated attic, the temperature in the attic may eventually reach 140°F on a 90°F day. Extremely hot temperatures can, over time, cause your roof materials, including the roof shingles and decking (the wood surface underneath) to degrade. UV rays can also damage shingles.
When it’s time to replace your roof, make sure that you choose shingles that are made to withstand the effects of UV rays, and apply roof coatings that have high reflectivity and emissivity properties that will reflect the heat away from your home rather than trap it inside.
Should I be concerned about hailstorms damaging my roof?
You know that Minnesota weather can be brutal in both the summer and winter. It’s possible to have damaging storms here year-round, whether they are snowstorms or thunderstorms, and they may be accompanied by high winds. You’re also likely used to hailstorms and may be wondering whether you need to worry about hail damage to your roof.
Hail can do more damage to your roof than rain or snow; a single hailstone can weigh more than a pound, and, in combination with snow, sleet, wind, and rain, can put a lot of pressure on your roof that it wasn’t designed to support.
You should wait until after a storm to look for damage. You may notice broken or missing shingles or visible or damaged flashing. While your roof is meant to withstand a few dings and dents, your primary concern should be leaks. Check your second story or your attic to see whether you see signs of a leak or you have damp insulation.
As we’ve noted, a leak can require roof replacement. If you notice issues that concern you, it’s always best to schedule an inspection with a roofing professional who can accurately assess the damage and let you know whether you need a repair or a replacement.
You should also be wary of storm chasers. These individuals canvass neighborhoods after a storm and offer to repair damaged roofs at reduced or no-cost. Don’t get scammed–never agree to sign a contract with anyone who comes to your door without properly vetting them first. A reputable contractor is never going to show up on your doorstep after a storm and expect to get you to agree to a roof replacement on the spot.
Asphalt shingles are an attractive roofing option to most homeowners because they are inexpensive, durable, and some styles are aesthetically pleasing. But, the most important reason to choose asphalt shingles is that they are designed to withstand damage from the elements, whether that’s rain, wind, snow, fire, or hail; they offer more protection than other roofing materials.
Asphalt shingles are manufactured within different impact classes. If you’ve chosen Impact Class 3 or 4 shingles (at least), these are a great defense for your roof during a hailstorm. During high winds, for example, during a hurricane, Class H-properly installed asphalt shingles have a limited warranty that guarantees resistance in winds up to 150 mph.
This is dependent on other factors, such as nail type, tab adhesion, and flashing, but you can rest easier knowing that during excessively windy events, your roof is going to be protected. Finally, asphalt has a Class A fire rating, the highest commercially available, so you have that added protection in case of fire.
How much does a roof replacement cost?
After all this discussion of roof replacement and roof repair, we know that you’re wondering how much roof replacement is going to cost. There’s no straightforward answer, even for two homes in the same neighborhood made with the same roofing material.
Factors including roof size, pitch, height, the condition of your roof and its frame, and how many layers of roofing that are already on your roof impact the cost. If you have chimneys, skylights, or other protruding elements, these will also affect the cost of replacement. According to Home Advisor, nationally, the cost to replace a roof typically ranges between $5,219 and $10,068 and the average cost is $7,574.
What to watch out for when getting a quote
In addition to taking these variables into account when preparing to get a quote, there are other things to watch out for. We’ve already mentioned to be wary of storm chasers and make sure to find and work with a reputable contractor in your area.
Remember: There are no free roofs, as appealing as that sounds, and everything has a cost. Storm chasers are still around because distressed homeowners fall for their scams. Be aware that one of the most common claims that storm chasers (or other disreputable contractors may make) is that they will offer to waive your deductible. This is insurance fraud.
A contractor who agrees to this is risking losing his license and may be likely to cut corners elsewhere. If the contractor loses his license and goes out of business, who is going to honor the warranty for your roof if there’s a leak during the next storm? Your insurance company is never going to overpay on a claim that you make for storm damage, so you are going to be out even more money, and are going to have to admit that you’ve committed insurance fraud, even inadvertently.
We know that the prospect of roof replacement is a daunting one. If you’ve not recently taken even a cursory glance at your roof, take a walk around its perimeter, and see whether you notice any areas that are cause for concern.
Do you see flashing? Are shingles missing or damaged? Go into your attic and see whether you notice signs of leaks. Make it a habit to do a careful check after severe storms. If you notice damage, contact a professional roofer to schedule an inspection to get an accurate assessment of the damage and to determine next steps.