Unless there is a leak in your ceiling or a noticeable tear in your roof, it can be a challenge to know when your roof needs to be replaced. Many homeowners use time as a guide to replace their roof, but how long is the right amount of time wait to replace it? Others wait until it is too late – a leak has come through their ceiling and has caused damaged to their home.

According to the National Roofing Contractors Association, homeowners should check and inspect their roof twice a year – once in the spring and once in the fall. Do a visual check from the outside – remove debris from the rooftop, drains, gutters and downspouts, as routine maintenance can extend the life of your roof.  Check the flashing around chimneys, vents and skylights to ensure there are no cracks or breaks which can lead to leaks.

Go into your attic and check your roof from the inside. Check the sheathing and beams for stains or leaks which are signs of a faulty roof. Check to see if beams of light are coming through the rooftop. This is a sign that shingles may be missing, and the wood has rotted through.

When inspecting your roof look for visible holes, missing shingles, mold, rot or moisture, leaks or water damage or sagging in the roof deck. If you notice any of these signs, call a professional to schedule a formal inspection. This will help you avoid any further damage to the interior of your home.

To determine how often your roof needs to be replaced, consider the average lifespan of the roofing materials that were installed on your roof.

Composition and asphalt shingles last approximately 15 to 30 years. These 3-tab shingles are the most common and most affordable types of roofing materials.  They are easy to replace and can keep your roof replacement costs within reason. These types of roofs typically come with a 20, 25 or 30-year manufacturer’s warranty.

Wood shingles last about 20 to 25 years. Wood roofs like cedar are beautiful, however, the longevity of the material is affected by the climate. The variance of moisture in the air can cause wood products to either split easier or rot faster.

Rubber roofs, known in the roofing business as an EPDM (ethylene propylene diene terpolymer) roof, have a lot of advantages and only a few disadvantages. These roofs are easy to repair, are inexpensive and last about 30 to 50 years. However, these roofs are not very common in 1 or 2 family residential applications and are typically used for commercial buildings.

Metal roofs are durable and can sustain turbulent weather well.  They provide energy efficiency and are environmentally friendly. Furthermore, metal roofs will not spark and can protect your home from lighting strikes.  Metal roofs can last about 40 to 70 years, however, they are costly and can run about two to three times the cost of a standard asphalt roof.

A properly cared for tile roof can last up to 100 years, although individual tiles are more prone to breakage. This is one of the most expensive roofs, however, it offers architectural and visual appeal.

When considering your roof replacement, there are a few key things to keep in mind.  Just because you have a leak in your roof or you are missing shingles, doesn’t mean you need a new roof.  A licensed and insured professional can assess its condition and offer their advice.  In many cases, the surface can be repaired.

If you have recently purchased a new home, and you are having problems with your roof try to contact the builder or manufacturer of the roof. They may be able to assist with the repairs with limited out of pocket costs.  If you are in the market of purchasing a new home, make sure the roofing warranty is provided to you prior to closing.

As soon as you notice that your roof is missing a few shingles, don’t wait for it to get worse. Shingles are there to protect your roof’s decking from moisture and wind. Even a small exposed area can allow water to seep into the underlayment and into the deck, where it can cause rot and eventually leak through into your home and cause further damage.

Most local building codes allow homes to have up to two layers of shingles, so you can install a new shingle roof over an existing one. However, after two layers of shingles there is a risk of putting too much weight on the structure of the home. For this reason, the majority of building codes do not permit a home to have more than two layers of roofing materials.

There are some disadvantages to installing a new roof on top of an existing roof.  If your new roof leaks after a few years it is more difficult to find the source of the leak. In most cases, placing shingles on top of shingles can void a manufacturer’s warranty that protects you in the event of a defect in the new shingles. If a problem arises in the future, you won’t be able to rely on a warranty to cover the cost of repairs or replacement.

When it’s time to replace your roof, price shouldn’t be the only factor that influences your choice of roofing contractor. You wouldn’t choose a “discount” heart surgeon. Likewise, you shouldn’t choose a roofing installation company based solely on the cheapest price. By investing in a quality product and expert installation now, you can rest easy knowing your home is protected for the long haul.

As with any home improvement or project, consult with a professional that is licensed and insured, and holds a valid Home Improvement Contractors License with the NYC Department of Consumer Affairs.

Kamil Maras, President – B&B Siding LLC

(718) 757-2904    www.bbsiding.com