How Long Do Roofs Last? A Homeowner's Guide to Roof Replacement

The easiest home repair to ignore is roof repair and replacement. It's easy to shy away from the costs of a roof replacement so you can focus on other issues.

The problem is, ignoring your roof can lead to more expensive repairs down the line. When you compare the costs, an average of $7,500 for roof replacement is easier to handle than $13,000 for structural damage and painting over water damage if you ignore the problems. Plus, you'll still end up needing to do the roof replacement after all this expense.

The question is, how long do roofs last before they need replacement? The answer depends on many factors. General wear and tear, natural disasters, and seasonal damage all go into your roof's lifespan.

How Long Do Roofs Last?

While some types of shingles may come with a 30 or 40-year warranty, most will last about 20 years before you need to consider replacing the roof. This is under normal circumstances, though.

Many circumstances can lead to the need for replacing roof shingles earlier. Your roof is your home's first protection against the elements. This means the roof life can diminish due to extra damage.

Why Is Replacing a Roof Important?

An old roof can allow moisture into your home. If a roof is left in disrepair, your home's structure is in jeopardy from this water damage.

An old or damaged roof can also increase your energy costs. A damaged roof is not able to insulate your home effectively. This can cause an increase in your gas and electric bills as your utilities try to compensate.

An old or damaged roof is also cosmetically unpleasing. Cosmetic issues could cause problems with a homeowner's association. This could also reduce the value of your home if it comes time to sell.

When to Replace a Roof

An old or damaged roof can lead to further damage to your home. Replacing a roof as soon as possible is important to the structural quality and value of your home.

It's important to keep records on when a roof was installed. This will help you determine if you need a full roof replacement or just need to replace some of the shingles. If you're not sure about when to replace a roof, there are some signs you can look for.

Stains on the Shingles

Airborne algae can attach to your shingles, causing dark stains. Moss can also grow on your shingles. Moss is most likely in areas that don't get a lot of sunlight.

If you see darker spots on your shingles during a visual inspection, this is a good indication you have algae or moss growing there. These spots can cause water damage to the underlying structure.

Moss retains water. On older roofs, this moisture can seep through the shingles. Freezing in these areas can also cause cracking or stripping to your shingles, which leaves your roof vulnerable to further damage.

Bald Spots

Darker spots on your shingles could also indicate balding spots. Shingles have granules that help protect them from weather damage. Over time, these granules come loose, exposing the installation.

Another indication of balding shingles is finding the granules in your gutters or littered around your yard. These bald spots allow the elements to attack the underlying structure of your home.

Curling or Cracking Shingles

As your shingles age, the elements can cause cracks in the shingle structure. The shingles can also start curling up, leaving exposed areas to the underlying insulation.

If you see signs of curling or cracking shingles, this is a good indication it's time to replace roof shingles. If a large portion of the roof shows these signs, it's best to replace the whole roof.

Missing Shingles

Shingles can separate from the roof structure over time. You'll likely find the individual shingles in your yard or gutters over time. Even if you don't, you can still see where shingles are missing with a visual inspection.

These missing shingles leave large areas of your roof exposed to further damage. If your roof has several shingles missing, it's best to replace the shingles for the whole roof.

A Sagging Roof

As your roof ages, it's easier for water to damage the beams that hold it in place. This can cause these beams to sag as time goes on.

If you notice your roof is sagging in areas, this is a good indication of damage to the underlying structure. This is also a good indication that you need to replace the shingles.

Recent Natural Weather Phenomenon

The natural elements cause damage over time. Each season has its own damaging elements:

Hail storms and other natural disasters can wreak havoc on your roof as well. The largest recorded hailstone was 18 inches around. Imagine the damage an 18-inch ball of ice can do to your roof.

If your home has recently withstood a hail storm, a tornado, or other natural phenomena, it's important to check for serious damage to your roof. Left unchecked, damage from these storms can cause more serious damage later on.

Your Neighbors Are Replacing Their Roofs

In most neighborhoods, the houses are built around the same time. Houses in the same neighborhood also undergo the same elemental damages and general wear and tear.

If you notice that your neighbors are replacing their roofs, it might be time for you to replace yours as well. Even if you're not sure of the age of your roof, this is a good way to determine the need.

Repair or Replace?

Knowing the answer to the question, "how long do roofs last?" is the first step. But just because a roof can last 20 years doesn't mean every roof will last that long.

When checking your roof for damage, the bigger question is whether you need a simple repair or a full roof replacement. The good news is, you don't have to make that decision alone.

If you need help deciding your options, we're here to help. Contact us for a free evaluation and cost estimate on your repair or replacement needs.