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HOMEwork 101: Signs a Roof May Need to Be Replaced

Updated: Mar 7, 2023

The ridgeline of a damaged shingled roof  shows stains, debris and missing shingles.
Yes, This Roof Needs to Be Replaced

Home buyers frequently ask us how soon we think it will be before a home they’re considering will need a new roof. That’s a great question! Replacing a roof is a high-dollar repair.

According to Forbes Home, the cost to replace a shingled roof varies from $5,500 to $11,000, with the average roof replacement costing $8000. Two big factors that determine the cost of the job are the roof size and the type of roofing shingle you choose. The condition and the pitch (slope) of the roof also affect the total cost to replace it.

Mick worked as an insurance appraiser for several years. Many of the claims he inspected involved roof damages. He knows more than most people do about the signs that a shingled roof is getting old—or is damaged—and will need to be replaced.

Here are the warning signs that a shingled roof may need to be replaced soon:

The roof is approaching the end of its expected life.

Page 2 of the South Carolina Seller's Disclosure indicates that the roof was replaced in 2012.
A Page from the South Carolina Seller's Disclosure

This may seem like a “Duh!” response, but keep reading. In all but a handful of states (Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, North Dakota, Virginia and Wyoming, according to Rocket Mortgage), home sellers are required to provide potential buyers with details about the condition of the home. One of the items on most of those disclosure documents is the age of the roof. As a prospective buyer, then, you may know the year when the roof was replaced.

If that’s the case, you need to determine the type of shingle the roofers installed. Standard 3-tab shingles are often referred to as “20-year” shingles for good reason. Their average estimated life is 20 years. This number decreases in hot-weather states, like Florida, Georgia and South Carolina (where Mick and I live).

Architectural shingles lasts longer. They are also known as “30-year” shingles, again, for the obvious reason. They are more expensive than 3-tab shingles, but have a 50% longer expected life.

So, the first, easiest, and most-obvious sign that a shingled roof may need to be replaced is this: The shingle is nearing the end of its expected life. Unless you’re buying a home in Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, North Dakota, Virginia or Wyoming, you may find very informative details in the disclosure the seller is required to complete when the home goes on the market.

The roof displays telltale signs of damage.

Violent weather may be the arch enemy of a shingled roof, but any extreme weather can significantly damage a shingled roof.

Ice and snow damage

Lifted shingles are common in cold climates. Snow and ice left on a roof tend to melt. When that happens, drops of water can get under the shingles. If the drops refreeze, they expand and cause the shingle to lift a bit. After that happens once, it allows more water to seep under the shingle the next time and makes the problem worse.

Heat damage

Extreme heat causes a variety of issues for a shingled roof. These can include curling edges, buckling and peeling. Adequate ventilation and insulation in the space near the roof will help prevent heat damage.

Hail damage

Hail damage is relatively easy to recognize. It shows up as pock marks or indentations where the hail hit the roof and bounced off. Often, it takes part of the shingle grit with it, leaving the shingle susceptible to more damage.

Wind damage

If you live where hurricanes or tornadoes aren’t unusual, the odds are good that you, or someone you know, has experienced wind damage to a roof. This was the most common type of damage my husband saw as an insurance appraiser working in the Carolinas and northern Georgia, where the Atlantic Hurricane season extends from June 1 to November 30.

Wind damage often produces missing shingles, broken shingles or cracked shingles, especially after hurricanes and tornadoes because the winds swirl.

The roof looks old.

Sometimes a roof looks old simply because it is old. Even without heavy wind, snow, ice or excessive heat, shingles wear out. Years of rain gradually wash away some of the granules on the surface, and the roof gets a shiny look. The edges of outer shingles curl or crack. Algae that’s allowed to grow on a roof leaves ugly dark stains and/or rotting shingles.

Reviewing the HOMEWork

You may need to replace a shingled roof fairly soon if:

· It is nearing the end of its expected life.

· It shows signs of damage.

· It looks old.

As a buyer in all but a few states, you can check the seller’s disclosure to determine the actual age of the roof. Getting an expert opinion is a great option if you’re really interested in the home, but don’t want to risk the expense of a roof replacement in the near future.

That wraps up HOMEwork 101: Signs a Roof May Need to Be Replaced. If you found this helpful, please leave a comment.

And, of course, contact us if you’re considering buying or selling a home. We would be honored to do the HOMEwork for you throughout the buying or selling process.

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