Silent Killers: Top 10 Signs of a Failing Roof

A roof replacement is probably one of the most expensive upgrades you’ll make to your home. Roofs don’t last forever, and an average of 7% of all houses in the U.S. have their roofs replaced each year. While roof replacement may be pricey, it’s a necessary part of homeownership. If you can spot the signs of a failing roof early, you’ll avoid even more costly repairs. Failing to take action on a roof system on its last legs can mean damage to other parts of the home. Here are the top ten signs of a failing roof. 

First, a warning about looking for signs of a failing roof. 

Think your roof may be failing? You might be tempted to grab a ladder and climb up there to have a look for yourself. Don’t do this. It’s dangerous, and you can spot signs of a failing roof from the ground with a pair of good binoculars. If you think the roof is failing based on your on-the-ground inspection, contact an experienced roofing contractor to conduct a thorough (and safe) inspection of the roof system. 

1. Damaged, Broken, and Missing Shingles

Damaged, broken, and missing shingles are some of the most common and easy-to-spot signs of a possibly failing roof. In some cases, a roofing contractor can replace a few missing shingles, but it’s a good sign the roof is on its last legs, and a total replacement will be needed soon. Shingles that are not intact or completely missing will lead to water ingress and can damage the ceiling and interior walls of the home. 

2. Missing Granules

This sign of a failing roof applies to asphalt shingles. These roofing materials are made up of tiny granules that help protect the home and give it a water-tight shell. Over time, asphalt shingles lose their granules and become smooth. You’ll notice the granules collecting in your gutters. 

3. Areas of Discoloration

Patches of discoloration on the roof can mean several things. With asphalt shingle roofs, it can indicate missing granules and old shingles. Asphalt shingle roofs and other materials of roofs that are discolored is often a sign of mold and algae growth. Mold and algae, if left to do their dirty work, will eat away at the roofing materials beneath, risking damage to the rest of the house. If you notice algae or mold growth on the roof, you’ll want to get rid of mold and algae asap. 

4. Curled, Cracked, or Blistered Shingles

Shingles that are starting to curl or crack indicate they’re reaching the end of their lifespan. If shingles are blistering, this can mean that the roof system is poorly ventilated. High humidity, heat, and moisture will blister the shingles and shorten the lifespan of the roof. 

5. Ceiling and Attic Stains

If you find water stains appearing on the ceiling or the walls, then there’s a good chance the roof is leaking and is on its way to roof heaven. A roof repair to fix a small leak is usually inexpensive and a quick job. But even if you have a roof replacement scheduled within the next year, it’s not a good idea to leave a small leak go. Failing to repair even a small leak can mean mold growth and damage to the interior walls. Insulation and framing can rot. 

6. Mold on Exterior Walls and Where Exterior Walls and Roof Meet

Mold on an exterior wall of the home can indicate a leaking roof. Also, it’s crucial to have kick-out flashing installed where the edge of the roof meets a sidewall. No kick-out flashing means that water will run down the roof and into the wall. If a door or window is placed below this area, water will get into the trim and cause rot and damage. If you find flashing pulling away from the roof and mold forming along walls that meet the roofline, the roof requires replacing. Ignoring this issue can lead to destroyed sheathing and framing, which is costly to repair. 

7. Problems with the Vent Boot

A plumbing vent boot can be made out of plastic or metal in either a one or two-piece unit. Plastic pieces can crack, and metal vent boot seams can break. Rubber boots that surround the pipe will rot or tear over time or with storm damage. When this happens, water can make its way into the house and around the vent pipe. Most of the time, you can get away with buying a new vent boot before replacing the entire roof if you notice this sign.

8. Stains Around the Bathroom Vent

A water stain around a bathroom vent can indicate issues with the vent boot. If this happens, have the vent boot inspected and replaced. In other cases, condensation may be the issue – not the vent boot. You’ll need to have the bathroom fan ductwork adequately insulated to prevent condensation, mold, and water damage to the bathroom ceiling. 

9. Higher Heating and Cooling Bills

If your heating or cooling bills have suddenly skyrocketed, a leaky, damaged roof nearing the end of its lifespan could be to blame. When the roofing system starts to fail, insufficient attic ventilation will occur. Good air can’t come in, and bad air can’t get out. As a result, your HVAC system will have to work harder to maintain the ambient temperature. 

10. You Know the Roof is Old

Some roofing materials are more durable and longer-lasting than others. Asphalt shingle roofs will last an average of 20 years. Slate can last for more than 100 years, and metal roofs last an average of fifty years. If you know your roof is at the end of its natural lifespan, a replacement is probably in order soon, even if you don’t notice any signs of damage yet. It’s best to prepare and begin budgeting for a roof replacement before signs of leaking and damage start. 

Call around to several contractors in your area with excellent reputations and insurance. Ask for multiple quotes so you can make the best choice on a roof replacement for your home. Reputable contractors are often booked for months in advance, and it’s a good idea to schedule a roof replacement so you have ample time to prepare. 

Have you noticed any of these signs of a failing roof? We can help. Contact us today for an inspection and get your free, no-obligation quote on a quality roof replacement. 

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