When a Roof Replacement makes more Sense

When you see missing tiles, you replace them. The downspouts are detached from the gutters, so you reattach them to the gutter outlets. The roof has some damp spots, you patch them up when doing regular home maintenance tasks. If something is wrong with the roofing system, you take care of it. But if you constantly have to DIY or hire a pro to fix the roof or the damage is extensive, it might make more sense to replace the roof rather than replace it.

Common Roofing Problems

Common roofing problems that impact the decision to repair or to replace a roof include leaks, missing or damaged shingles, missing or damaged flashing, tree damage, and pooled water.

Leaks: Leaks are sometime a tricky problem to pin down. Often the source of the leak is not readily evident, which means by the time you find out where it’s coming from, the leak has been around for a while.

Missing or damaged shingles: Roofing shingles stop moisture from getting into the other components of the roofing system that protects your home. Worn, broken, cracked, or curling asphalt shingles can let water in behind the roofing tiles. Significant rainfall such as we experience in the lower mainland can result in leaks, wood rot, and even structural damage.

Missing or damaged flashing: Flashing is typically used as a waterproofing barrier around chimneys, other roof protrusions such as skylights, and under the first two rows of shingles to prevent water infiltration as runoff enters the gutter system. As with missing shingles, missing or damage flashing allows moisture in where it can collect, causing issues with mold and wood rot.

Tree damage: If a tree falls on your house, it is probably time for a roof replacement. But it’s not just falling trees that can damage a roof. When trees grow close to your home, overhanging branches can scrape across asphalt shingles, removing the protective granules that keep them from cracking or curling. Branches on a windy day can harm the waterproof finish of a metal roof.

Pooled water: A roof that has a slope of 30° or less is prone to pooled water when the conditions are “right.” If gutters are clogged and water is not able to drain properly from out of the downspouts, damp debris remaining on the roof can trap more water, eventually forming a pool of standing water. Pooled water on a roof causes problems like damage to roofing materials, the formation of leaks, and mold/mildew/algae growth. Pooled water on a flat roof requires immediate attention.

Age and Type of the Roof

When determining whether you should keep repairing your roof or investing in a roof replacement, take into consideration the age of the roof. A roof constructed of asphalt shingles, cedar shakes, or wood composite panels has a lifespan of 15 to 30 years. Other roofing materials have a longer lifespan – slate roof up to 100 year; fiber cement roof 30 to 50 years; metal roof 70 years.

If you are constantly fixing a roof made of asphalt shingles, cedar shakes, or wood composite panels, roof replacement will be the most cost-effective solution. Asphalt, cedar, and wood composite roofs might need replacing before the manufacturer’s stated lifespan, depending on the amount of annual rainfall, location (near/not near salt/lake water), and microclimate.

It is generally more cost-effective to repair a roof that lasts 30 or more years. However, when your roof material is slate, metal, copper, or fiber cement and you are patching and repairing often, roofing contractors suggest that you consult a professional, who will inspect the roof. If damage to the roof has caused structural compromise to your home, you will most likely need a roof replacement.

Type of Roofing Problem

When deciding roof repair vs replace, take into consideration the type of roofing problem you constantly have to fix. When a roof is leaking, especially if there is more than one leak, hire someone to do the repairs. If you end up having to keep calling in a pro to fix leaks in the same or nearby area, replace the roof.

Extent of Damage

Assess the extent of the damage done. The windstorm removed a few shingles. Before thinking they can be replaced with a handful of shingles, roofing nails, and a good sealant, make sure that water hasn’t infiltrated the moisture barrier; the deck didn’t become exposed; or there are no damp patches that haven’t dried up. Even a fallen tree, once removed from the roof, might reveal that repair vs replacement is possible. A simple rule of thumb is if the damage is limited to a small area, it can be repaired. On the other hand, when the damage is extensive repairs might end up costing almost as much as a roof replacement,