How to Tell if a Roof Needs to be Replaced

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roof water leak

A good roof can increase the curb appeal of your home. It is one of the best home improvements and can increase the resale value of your home by 56%-60.7%, as per the Cost vs. Value Report (2021). Depending on the location and the roofing material, it can even be more than that. Potential buyers are willing to buy more for a home with a new roof since they do not have to shell out money soon.

Your roof is the only thing that stands between the interior of your home and the exterior world. It serves as a barrier between the forces of nature such as rain, snow, hail, and other debris. However, a small leak in your roof can create large-scale issues in your home. The longer you’ve had your roof, the more likely you are to run into problems.

Keep reading to find out the warning signs that warrant a complete roof replacement. The article also walks you through the consequences of not replacing your roof.

15 Warning Signs You Need a New Roof

The significance of an excellent and reliable roof can never be overstated. This is why it’s essential to look for any possible issues it may have. Without a reliable roof, your home is open to the elements of nature, causing damage to your property.

If you know the following warning signs, begin action right away. You could then avoid expensive repairs to your home and even your foundation. Here are the potential problems that require you to replace your roof.

Rotting Roof

A rotting roof is never a good sign. It could cause structural damage and even to the foundation. Water is one of the greatest enemies of any home. And if it breaches your ceiling, it takes only a matter of time before your roof will rot. If you see darkening along the beams, mold, and damp spots, odds are that it is already rotting. Roofs that are sagging or dripping may also have rot set in.

A soggy or rotted roof is not only unattractive but also has less efficacy. It can also pose a severe threat to children, older adults, and immunocompromised. In addition, a rotting roof has a way of producing and spreading mold. Mold illnesses include lung disorders, bacteriological infections, or even pneumonia.

Roof Leaks

Leaks pose a significant issue to your roof and can also damage the structural integrity. You need a new roof or at least repair the existing one. If not, even the smallest of leaks can grow and contribute to more significant problems.

You may not see water damage on roofs during winter. However, it is more prominent during spring. Leaks happen due to the formation of ice dams. An ice dam forms in a roof as snow melts and then freezes up when it hits the colder parts of the roof. When water meets with the melting ice wall, it flows under your shingles and enters your home.

If the leaks are restricted to a specific area on your roof, you do not need replacement. You can repair most cases with suitable flashing and roof edge heating cables. However, we would recommend hiring a professional as it is a pretty complicated situation.

Roof Cracks

roof replacement warnings

Go into your attic, turn off the lights and look through the roof. If there’s any light coming through the roof boards, it could suggest cracks. It’s not possible that they get sunlight for their roofs otherwise. Be aware of moisture also. Water stains on roof boards or moisture in insulation also indicate a leaky roof.

If you notice widespread cracks on your shingles, we recommend replacing the roof within three to five years. If the damage is restricted to a couple, the practical solution is to replace the damaged ones. In case you see random cracks across the roof, it signals that a full replacement is needed.

Exposed Nails

Exposed nails in roofing systems might indicate any potential leaks or cracks. If there are many places with exposed nails in your roofing, the integrity is in question. The contractor you worked with may have done a poor job installing the roof. It also indicates that your roof may need further inspection. Chances are there may be more exposed nails in the roofing structure or even at the base.

Note: Always carry suitable protective gear when inspecting your roofing exterior from outside.

Damaged Shingles

Damaged shingles are a thing for concern at first thought. However, as long as the damage is restricted to just a few shingles, there is no need to panic about it. As long as you can find matching roofing materials and shingles, you can replace them yourself. That is, if you’re not afraid of heights yourself.

On the other hand, a host of cracked shingles is horrifying and can cause immense destruction. If it is widespread, you will need a complete replacement. Missing shingles are also a telltale sign that it is time to replace the roof.

Curling Shingles

Curling shingles may be a sign of larger issues like leakage, in which case you will need to replace the roofing. Shingles curl when it is not properly installed or if it is too old. The edges of the shingles begin to curl, creating a valley between the shingles. It may also happen when there’s poor ventilation in the attic. Layered roofs also have higher chances of shingles curling. If you are looking at curling, it’s best to have it checked as soon as possible.

Missing Granules

Excessive shingle granules in the gutter are a sure sign that replacing your roof is in order. Granules serve as protection for the shingles. Losing the granules may result in your roof rotting. Besides, granule loss indicates that the roof is losing its strength and durability. Weather and age can also cause the shingles to lose granules.

Streaks and Discoloration

Looks out for streaks where they do not belong. Streaks and discolorations are some of the signs that show your roof needs attention. Take pictures and mark the location of any visible streaks on your roof. Then, ensure that you have the right spot.

Although some streaks need a lot more attention, some indicate deep-rooted causes. For example, dark streaks on roof shingles are indicative of airborne algae. Most times, it doesn’t need replacement, only a roof repair or clean-up job which you can do by yourself. A solution made of bleach and water can kill the algae and arrest the spread.

Saggy or Droopy Roof

Drooping or shaggy spots, if visible, show you have water damage and your roof needs replacing. The saggy roof, when touched by hand, gives a glistening bounce like walking into a trampoline. This generally happens due to an excessive leak. These obvious signs should not be ignored, and the roof should be replaced.

Roof Cement

A professional roofer uses metal flashings to form a seal and prevent water from leaking. Sloppy roofers sometimes replace it with roof cement instead. It doesn’t last long before hardening and cracking. The site starts to leak, making the repair more challenging.


If the roof is over 20 years old, it’s time to replace it. Most roofs last between 20-25 years at the max. Beyond that, you can see a telltale sign of age creep up. It is time to call a roofing company for an estimate. If you haven’t noticed any warning signs, keep a watchful eye on them and be ready for a replacement.

You have two options: either replace the entire roof or overlay. With an overlay, you install a layer of new shingles over the existing shingles. It is close to 25% less expensive than a roof replacement. Having said that, it is safer to replace the roof since you can catch the issues lying underneath the shingles. The lifespan is also more than the overlays.

Hail Damage

Hailstones can cause minor dents on the shingles, which at first sight is not a thing of concern. However, as the days go by, they can cause leaks. These shingles damaged by the hail will lose granules faster. And therefore, it is harmful to the structure. However, the damage is often not apparent at first. So if you see hail damage, ask a roofing contractor to inspect it. Most offer free Hail Damage Inspection services.

Wind damage

A solid roof in good condition would remain flat even over massive storms and heavy winds. However, should the shingles in your house curl up and split or crumble after a storm, it might be a good time to conduct an inspection. It will help examine the general health and condition of your current roof.

If you live in an area susceptible to strong winds and a major storm, your home’s roof could need more attention. It always pays to consider the climate and temperature when installing a new roof.

Mold or Mildew Growth

If you notice mold or mildew accumulating on your roof, it could mean a leaky roof. Plumbing problems and condensation issues also cause mold growth. Mold is a serious problem and may be associated with health problems.

Mildew is a cancerous growth that grows in wet conditions and is harmful to your health. Roofs with inadequate drainage are especially vulnerable to mold and mildew. Both of them thrive in a moist environment and can eat away the surfaces they live on.

Before making a roof repair, ensure that your home’s insulation is dry and that your plumbing lines are free of leaks.

Plant Life

plants growing on roof

Plant life can damage roofs. Nature tends to grow over any structure on its path if it isn’t managed and maintained. Unfortunately, plant life can also invite other creatures and pests up there. Often treating and eliminating the roof is an easy and inexpensive way to fix the issue. You can wash them on your own using a ladder or using a commercial cleaning agent. Alternatively, find a local roof cleaning company to perform roof cleaning tasks.

If you notice excessive growth on your roof or even inside your house, hire a professional. They can help determine the source of the growth. Once nature overtakes a roof, you may have to replace it to stop the progression.

You can also find moss growth in cool, shady, and moist places. While they may be attractive, they can bring a host of other issues. It can hold on to moisture which can cause further damage to the shingles. A solution with equal parts of bleach and water can help remove moss and algae growth. While moss is superficial, it pays to have a professional check it out.

All Your Neighbors have Replaced Their Roofs.

Another reliable way to determine if it is time to replace the roof is to look under it. If you are new to a neighborhood or are unsure about the age of the roof, ask a neighbor. A long-time neighbor will give you valuable insights into when it was last installed. They can also tell you if it’s a complete roof replacement or over an existing roofing system.

Moreover, if one of your neighbors has already been replacing their roofs, it may be time to look into yours.

What Happens if You Don’t Replace Your Roof?

Your roof is essential to the structural integrity of your entire home. You need to look out for issues like leaking and cracks to continue to be in good shape. Aging roofs should be replaced as such. If not, you can start to see the following things go wrong.

  • Water Damage: Your old roof can leak, letting water into places where it should not be. This can affect the stability of the roofing. In addition, the moisture can rot away the roof, beams, and in the worst case, the floor itself.
  • Structure Damage: Your leaking roof can undermine the structural integrity, especially the foundation. It can also lead to a collapse, at which point your home is deemed dangerous to live in.
  • Health Risk: Old and leaking roofings let in mold and mildew, which can cause huge respiratory issues. They also encourage rodent issues which are a danger to you and your home.
  • Fire Hazard: By delaying a new roof, you put your home at risk of fire. Leaking roofs can cause a short circuit which is a fire hazard to you and your family.
  • Devalues the Home: A damaged roof can affect the curb appeal and reduce the resale value of your home. If you want to sell your home, missing shingles are not what potential owners want to see.

How Long Should a New Roof Last Without Leaking?

The standard timeline for a roof to last is between 15-25 years. However, this varies depending on the roofing material, climate, and maintenance. Here are some of the popular roofing materials and their life expectancy:

  • Asphalt Shingles – More than 20 years
  • 3-tab Shingles -25 years
  • Wood Shingles– 30 to 40 years
  • Clay Tile – 50 years or more
  • Wood Shakes- 20 to 40 years
  • Slate- 100 years or more
  • Metal- 70 years


It can be daunting when you come across a leaking roof or a damaged shingle. However severe the damage is, the chances are that you would not need a roof replacement. A professional roofer can repair it and restore it to its former glory.

professionals fixing cracks on roof

Consult with a roofing company that you can trust and rely on. They will guide you in choosing a solution that works for the long run. Also, keep in mind that professional roofers generally offer affordable inspections. 

The roof is the foundational element and is vital to the structure of any house. A full replacement is an expensive affair and not a decision to be taken without consideration. However, you may want to make a decision that you are comfortable and confident with.

If you are looking for a stress-free painting experience, you need to choose the right contractors – contact Nelson Greer Painting Contractors for your FREE quote today. We will make sure that your home is properly painted inside and out to last you for years to come. With over 220 years of experience in our company’s history, you’ll love what we can do with our professional painting contractors.

Nelson J. Greer

Nelson J. Greer Painting Contractors, Inc. is committed to Excellence, Quality, and Dependability. Our experience in both the commercial and residential markets speaks for itself. Whether it’s painting your home, business, or new commercial construction project, we want to do the job right for you!

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