When to Replace Your Roof

October 19, 2010 | by Ethan (email) |

ShinglesPaslode took a hard look at the roofing market before announcing their new cordless roofing nailer. Their research indicated that more and more, homeowners want to repair their roof rather than replace it. This comes as no surprise as homeowners look to save every penny in today’s economy, but there comes a time when replacing the roof is the better choice to avoid repeated roof leaks.

I’ve spoken with roofing contractors that walked away from repair jobs because the roof is in such bad condition. If they perform a repair, a new leak will inevitably appear and their name is on the line. It’s important for homeowners to be realistic and replace their roof when the time comes. Read on to learn the signs that you need to replace your roof.

Finding a Roofing Contractor

Jocie and I had a new roof installed in the summer of 2007. We obtained several bids, compared contracts and checked references. I firmly believe that following these steps enabled us to select a great contractor, saving time and money. If you’re looking to get in touch with a roofing contractor, follow the link below for free estimates.

Signs it’s Time to Replace your Roof


The age of your roof is a good indicator of when you can expect to start seeing problems. Depending on the materials used, some roofs can last over 50 years. Here are typical roof life-spans in order of longevity:

  • Real wood / Shakes have poor long-term performance, only lasting about 15 years.
  • Three-tab asphalt shingles are a very common choice with warranties ranging from 20 – 40 years. It’s important that homeowners understand that these warranties protect against manufacturers defects and not poor installation. Average three-tab roofs last about 17 – 20 years.
  • Architectural asphalt shingles have additional asphalt making them more durable than three-tab. Warranties range from 20 – 50 years with an actual life expectancy of 30 – 50 years.
  • Metal roofs are extremely durable, often lasting up to 50 years.
  • Synthetic roofs are becoming a popular choice for homeowners. They can last up to 50 years and require minimal maintenance.
  • Slate shingles have a great look and superb lifespan. Some slate roofs last up to 100 years!

Brittle Shingles

Near the end of their life cycles, asphalt and real wood shingles become more brittle. On an asphalt roof you should be able to gently lift a shingle and verify that it is well adhered to the top of the shingle underneath. Brittle shingles will break and crumble.



Another important factor to examine is roof ventilation. Poor ventilation can trap heat and moisture, opening you up to lots of potential problems.

  • Prolonged exposure to moisture results in deck deflection and warped plywood.
  • Insulation can trap moisture creating a breeding ground for mold and mildew.
  • Ice dams form as a result of repeated freeze-thaw cycles. This can result in leaks and damaged shingles.
  • Water vapor will cause metal to rust.
  • Roofs can actually rot from the inside out.
  • Poor ventilation can accelerate shingles becoming brittle.

Heat Cracking

Heat cracking, also called thermal splitting, is another sign that your roof needs attention. Thermal splitting occurs because of temperature changes that cause asphalt shingles to expand and contract. Dramatic temperature swings occur so quickly that the shingle tears apart.

Additional Resources

For leaks around a chimney, Rob over at A Concord Carpenter provides information on building a roof cricket.

What do you think? What are other signs a roof needs replacing?
Images courtesy of striactic and John-Morgan, respectively.

6 Responses
  1. Great list. Very helpful for people to read! We have an architectural asphalt roof that was installed in 2006, so we’re good for quite a while (had a great roofer.)

  2. Another time sensitive point worth mentioning is if you get your new roof installed, (keyword installed), before 2010 and opt for a green product, you can receive up to $1500 back. There are many cool roofing options available for consumers to choose from. This includes asphalt shingles, metal roofs, and flat roofing systems. If you are looking to replace in the near future, it is probably worth fast-forwarding your search before this tax credit runs out.

  3. Joaquin Erazo, Jr. says:

    This is a great article. Here are some tips on how to extend the life of your roof. First, inspect your roof following the winter and summer seasons since these are the two roughest seasons for roofs. You should also inspect your room after any major storms. While performing an inspection, first check the underside for possible holes or damage. It is also important to remember to walk on the roof as little as possible.

  4. HANDYMAN51 says:

    Some basic roof inspection can be done with binoculars. If you must get up on the roof, do so when temperatures are moderate. It is also better to secure your ladder. I have fond memories of waiting up on the roof for quite awhile after the ladder fell – family eventually came home!

  5. Icarus says:

    Yeah definitely time to replace your roof if it looks lie, picture1

  6. Bill KIng says:

    our shed roofs are 26 years old {flat roofs with 30 lb. tarpaper no shingles}) 5/8″ plywood over 2 by 4 rafters. Side walls 5/8″ plywood covered with stucco. dimensions 8 by 6 by 7 foot high. The walls have never been painted and the caulking around the window had died out and rain had rotted the plywood. numerous plywood roofs had rotted. the handyman coated the wasted tarpaper on the roofs to stop the leaking. Roofs still leak and the rotten plywood is still there. would you consider this the proper way to repair the sheds? Our president {engineer] thought it was OK. Repaired about 35 sheds the same way>

Leave a Reply