How Roofs Work
Thank you for stopping by to learn more about your roof! Before we dive into the article on 9 signs your roof needs repair it makes sense to give a little background on how roofs work and what their purpose is.
If you'd prefer to jump right to the article, 9 signs your roof needs repair, click here.
From sun, snow, rain, hail, the wind, debris from trees, and more, your roof protects your home. The constant beating your roof takes every day makes it one of the most important pieces of your home's structure and that's why roofing costs aren't cheap. In order to better understand how roofs work, we need to break it down into layers.
First, you will need a roof deck which is often made of plywood or oriented strand board at its core. This is the bottom layer of the roof. In sunnier/warmer climates, builders may use foil-faced panels to reflect heat away from the roof. This will help the insulation by keeping a cooler attic and reducing energy costs.
To protect the actual plywood an underlayment is installed. The underlayment is a type of felt and sometimes reinforced with fiberglass to protect the roof from water that the shingles may not have been able to stop.
Once the roof structure is up aluminum or steel is attached to the outer edges of the roof to help protect from wind and water. This is called the 'drip edge' of the roof and is installed over the underlayment.
Once those three layers are up the shingles will need to be installed on top. Asphalt shingles are the most commonly used for homes in our local market of Raleigh, North Carolina. The shingles are made from a type of felt or fiberglass mat that's easy to cut, nail and install. Once these shingles are made they become highly resistant to water and sunlight. The shingles on your roof are the first line of defense against mother nature.
Mother nature is what dictates the type of roof and shingles you will need in order to best protect your home and energy costs.
Types of Roofs
Every roof is different. The roofing materials used can be anything from metal to shingles and the materials used for shingles will be different. Where you live plays a big role in what type of roof is best for your house because of the local weather conditions. If you live in Southern California your roof will have different materials than if you live in upstate New York.
Among the most popular and affordable is the asphalt shingle. These shingles are made from organic materials and sometimes fiberglass. They come in different shapes and sizes to allow for different styles of roofs and are great when it comes to saving on your energy costs.
A few things to keep in mind about asphalt shingles is that they don't fare well in climates that have fluctuating temperature changes. In these situations, the shingles are likely to crack. The asphalt shingles are made of weaker materials than some other types of shingles and they can only be used on a roof with a steep slope.
Fiberglass shingles are a type of asphalt shingle that is made with different materials. They are made with fiberglass base and a waterproof coating. The singles are given an asphalt coating and mineral fillers over the base that allows it to be water resistant. They add an additional layer of protection that normal asphalt shingles do not.
Along with fiberglass shingles, organic shingles are also a type of asphalt shingle made with wood chips, recycled cardboard, paper, rags, and other organic materials. These shingles will not last as long as fiberglass shingles as they only have a 20-year life expectancy. Areas that have a high level of moisture and saturation are not good candidates for organic shingles because they begin to degrade and break long before the average life expectancy. Most homeowners opt for fiberglass because of the lack of durability organic shingles have.
TIle shingles are a great roof material for those that are looking for a bit more style. Tile shingles will give your home that Spanish and Mediterranean feel. These shingles are some of the most stylish AND the most durable with an average age of 80 years. Although tile shingles are among the best they also come with a hefty cost, albeit that over 80 years makes it more attractive.
Things to consider when selecting tile shingles is that they do come with their own set of problems. Tile shingles are heavy and your roof may not be able to support their weight so make sure to have an experienced roofing contractor take a look beforehand. These stylish shingles can also crack, leak and create holes for water to get through. You'll have to replace them similar to the way you would with asphalt shingles.
The middle of the road shingles when it comes to cost is wood shingles. The wood shingles are more environmentally friendly and average age can be anywhere from 30-50 years. Wood shingles are durable, energy-efficient and available in cedar and redwood.
The biggest drawback for wood shingles is that they are more likely to catch on fire and suffer from termites and mold more often than the other shingle materials.
Similar to the other roofing materials they can be cracked, missing, broken, and in most scenarios, you will be forced to replace the shingles entirely.
Depending on your roofline, whether it's steep or flat it's going to play a role in the type of roof that works best for you. Metal roofs are becoming more and more popular, especially if your roof is flat. The materials used in a metal roof is typically constructed from a low-galvanized metal, as well as copper, tin, zinc, and aluminum.
If you take good care of your metal rough it can last as long as 50 years. During rain and hail storms expect more noise with metal roofs!
The longest lasting type of shingle. Slate shingles range in age lasting anywhere from 80 to 100 years. Not only that, they offer some of the best protection in general. When it comes to water damage or resistance they are ideal, making them a great shingle for homes that suffer from frigid winters.
The average cost for slate shingles is far more expensive than their counterparts. They are expensive to repair and there aren't many companies that specialize in these types of shingles. When you have a slate shingle roof you will be forced to rely on professionals to fix the roof because there is a serious risk of injury when you try and do it on your own
Roofs become especially important when it comes time to buy or sell a home.
Before selling your house you may want to ensure that the roof is in good shape because it may prevent your home from selling. If your home goes under contract and there are issues found with the roof most insurance companies will not give the buyers for your home, home insurance. Not to mention that your real estate photos will look great with a new roof!
9 Alarming Signs Your Roof Needs Repair
- Roof Age
- Shingles Buckling or Curling
- Loose Ballast
- Valleys in the Roof
- Missing Shingles
- Chimney Flashings
- Shingle Pieces in Gutter
The age of a roof is a clear sign that it may need repair. The average age estimate for each roof is different, so pay attention to how your roof is constructed and the potential warning signs for the materials that were used on your specific roof. We mentioned earlier in the article that roofs made with asphalt shingles have an estimated lifespan of 20-30 years, while metal and slate shingles can go a full 80 years. Wood shingles estimates are typically 30-50 years though they can pose other issues before that age.
Besides the age of your roof, temperature fluctuation and storms are two of the larger problems that cause roof damage. No matter the age of your roof you should always monitor it, especially after storms and as the season's change. The amount of sunlight your roof receives also plays a large role in the age of your roof. If there are a lot of trees blocking the sunlight or even dropping debris on the roof this will allow water to sit for a longer period of time, increasing the chances of damage or mold growing. In general, it's better for your roof to receive sunlight than not, too much heat is what may cause issues.
Some people prefer to be reactive instead of proactive when it comes to their roof so they will wait until there is actually a problem. Once your roof starts leaking it creates internal damage within the house which can lead to much bigger problems than a new roof.
Your Roof's age matters when it comes time for home insurance as well as when you make an insurance claim. If your roof is past its average age estimate, it's common for the insurance company to ask for more proof the roof is ok by hiring a specialized roofing contractor, denying the coverage altogether or in some cases allowing the coverage.
There have been a lot of scams throughout the country that hurt the insurance company. What happens is, the roofing contractor allegedly says there is damage from a storm and that it needs to be replaced immediately. So the insurance company never has a chance to inspect the roof until it's already fixed. The insurance company is then slapped with the bill for the new roof. Keep in mind that these scams are becoming less and less likely to be insured as the wording in insurance contracts is being changed.
One clear indicator that your roof needs repair or that you need a new roof entirely is when the shingles begin buckling or curling. This poses a serious threat to your home because it will allow water passed the main level of protection.
Once shingles begin buckling or curling you should have a roofing contractor to your home immediately for inspection of the entire roof. In some cases, it may just be a few shingles here and there, where a patch job will work fine for a few years. In the case you need an entirely new roof you should ask for several quotes and the type of materials that will be used in the shingles themselves. How were the shingles constructed that the contractor intends to use? Is it appropriate for your home and the conditions of weather?
The main threat to shingles buckling or curling is water. Water is one of the most damaging things to homes in general and it's ability to leak into your house can cause much bigger issues. Make sure your shingles are well cared for!
Ballasted roofs have been around for over a decade. The problem isn't necessarily with the ballast being loose but with the connection to the shingles. It's relatively easy for water to fill up and stand if the ballast breaks loose from the shingles.
One of our client's had a home to sell in Cary which had a loose ballast. This caused the home insurance company to look further into the inspection and ultimately decide not to grant home insurance. The buyer for the home decided that it was a sign not to buy the property after being declined home insurance. Anyone who is selling their home needs to understand that the possibility of this happening is a reality. Make sure your roof is good to go when it comes time to sell your house. If you've made roof insurance claims in the past that may raise red flags as well!
A leaking roof is a clear sign the roof needs repair or that you need a whole new roof altogether. If your roof is leaking I would stop reading this article and start reaching out to roofing contractors. Some home warranties and insurance policies may cover a leaking roof and depending on the cause of the damage they may even cover an entirely new roof (don't count on it though).
In terms of ROI on the sale of your house a new roof is likely to be close to even. If you need a new roof because of leaking or internal damage, don't hesitate to buy one! The roof is going to help protect your house, your family and will help you sell your house fast.
Valleys in the roof are clear indicators the roof needs repair and is damaged. Valleys are often normal wear and tear that is caused by water sitting and weakening the strength of the wood below the shingles. These valleys need to be fixed immediately. The valleys could be from a storm, ice damage, or some other cause where the insurance company may even help with the repair. Hiring a roofing contractor to assist makes a lot of sense when this problem occurs.
Once a valley is formed the water is going to continue to move towards that direction thanks to gravity. Once the water continues to stand in the same valley which was already weakened from the water it exacerbates the problem and may even cause the roof to cave in at some point.
Missing shingles is a problem for a roof's health. If your roof is missing shingles you'll want to have that fixed as soon as possible. The first layer of protection (the shingle) is gone leaving your roof's adhesive exposed to water. It will only be able to protect the roof so much without the shingle's assistance.
When shingles go missing you should be able to see it if you're checking out your roof on a consistent basis. If you're able to fix it sooner rather than later it shouldn't cause any permanent damage to the roof, though it could be a sign that the actual roof needs to be replaced.
Chimney flashings are a good way to tell if your roof needs to be repaired or even replaced. When Santa comes down the chimney he may accidentally loosen or break the flashings!
The purpose of chimney flashings is to protect the home from where the roof meets the chimney. The flashings are to protect against any water, debris and other potential things that could cause damage. If the flashings become loose or are not properly sealed it's an easy way for water to sneak into your home.
Chimney flashings should be observed often to ensure that they are healthy and in proper working order.
When you're cleaning out your gutters and you find pieces of shingles in the gutters it's a clear indication that there is a problem. If pieces of shingles start breaking off it's likely you need to hire a roof inspector to determine the actual health of the roof, especially if your roof is reaching its average age estimate.
Hiring a roofing contractor when you find broken shingles can help with your home warranty and insurance claims on your roof as well.
If you're walking around on your roof and you find that some spots are a little bouncy it could be due to underlying water damage. Sometimes water may not even be able to be seen without actually feeling the roof for yourself. A couple of Raleigh Realty buyers have had home inspectors up on the roof where there have been valleys and bounces that cause initial concern and sometimes turn into larger problems.
If you're selling your home then you will want to make sure there is no bounce in the roof or it could lead to more problems down the road for the buyers, who will have inspectors looking at the roof and they will need to have home insurance companies approve them for the purchase!
Final Thoughts on Roofs, Repairs, Costs and Age Estimates
When you're buying or selling a home, the roof is going to play a factor in your decision-making. We have had clients, specifically buying a home in Clayton, who chose not to continue with the purchase based on roof damage in the inspection report.
The age and health of a roof are two of the main indications on whether or not a roof replacement is going to be needed in the near future. Your insurance company may or may not give you home insurance based on the roof's age and health alone so make certain that the home's roof is in decent condition!
The cost to replace the roof is another factor to be taken into consideration. With certain types of shingles, the cost to replace the roof may be a lot more significant. Always look to have a roof repaired immediately if one of these problems occur, you will be glad you did!
Have a problem or some advice on roofs? Let us know in the comments section below!
Hi there! I'm Ryan Fitzgerald, a REALTOR in Raleigh-Durham, NC and the owner of Raleigh Realty. Chances are you and I share a similar passion, Real Estate! I also have a passion for technology, sports, and people. Would love to hear from you. Drop me a note in the comments section below and feel free to share this article socially!