Do I need a new roof?

Weather damage, age and current roofing materials are all important factors to consider when making a roof repair or replace decision.(Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Kathy D. of Cincinnati)

Weather damage, age and current roofing materials are all important factors to consider when making a roof repair or replace decision.(Photo courtesy of Angie's List member Kathy D. of Cincinnati)

Should you repair or replace your roof? The simple answer is that most homeowners aren’t equipped to answer that question without having a professional inspect the roof.

However, if you are asking the repair-or-replace question about your roof, it’s most likely because of one of the following reasons:

-There is an obvious leak from the roof somewhere in the house.
-There was a recent weather event that resulted in roof shingles either on the ground or missing from the roof.
-The roof is 15 to 25 years old or older.

Even if you see damage to your roof there may be more damage that is harder to detect. For that reason, here are some tips to follow to help you make a roof repair or roof replacement decision:

1. Make sure you work with a reputable roofing contractor. Prior to a roof inspection or estimate, do some research to make sure they have information available about their company and that the company has a history in your area.

There are some roofing contractors who are “storm chasers” that use crews that specifically go into areas with recent weather events that have caused damage roofs. They typically do the roofing work and then leave town with no forwarding address. There are also some companies that take money for roofing work upfront and then leave without doing the work.

2. Get your roof inspected regularly. The best way to ensure that you don’t get an obvious leak at some point is to have your roof inspected annually or after a major weather event. Weather events can include hail storms, tornadoes and high winds – all of which can damage a roof.

A reputable roofing company will inspect your roof free of charge and give you a detailed report of their findings, including photos if damage is found. Not all damage is obvious and if the inspection is free, you have nothing to lose. Just don’t sign anything agreeing to any future work before the inspection.

3. Know your roof’s age. The age of your roof is a big factor in deciding to repair it or replace it. If it’s a new roof, getting repairs would be the first choice. A qualified inspector can tell whether the damage is due to poor workmanship, poor roofing material quality or by weather damage. In any of those cases, there should be either a warranty or insurance coverage to cover some or all of the cost of repairs.

If the roof is more than 15 years old, a detailed inspection by a qualified inspector is in order. With photos and sketches, the inspector can work with your insurance company to see what will and won’t be covered. The insurance adjustor will have the final say on whether repair or replacement will take place.

4. Know what kind of roof you have. Another important factor that will help you determine whether to repair or replace your roof is the type of roof or roofing material your current roof has. Here are the most common ones:

 - Metal roof – These roofs feature long life spans and any repairs would most likely take place at the seams.

 - Concrete roof tiles – Concrete roof tiles generally have a life of close to 50 years. However, a yearly inspection for broken tiles is very important. If a broken tile is not replaced, a leak can result, causing damage to a larger number of tiles and resulting in a larger repair.

 - Wood shake shingles – Wood shake shingles are no longer covered by insurance in many areas. Checking in with your state’s office of insurance regulation will be an important factor in determining repair or replacement.

 - T-lock asphalt shingles – These are a type of asphalt shingles used in the past and no longer installed on new roofs, so in most cases if there is any damage, roof replacement is required and may be covered by insurance.

 - Asphalt shingles – There are many grades of three-tab asphalt shingles. Age and damage from weather and the elements will determine whether to repair or replace.


About this Angie’s List Expert: Bob Swartz is sales manager at BIC Exterior Designs. Serving customers in Cincinnati and Dayton, Ohio, BIC Exterior Designs is a proud recipient of the 2012 Angie’s List Super Service Award. The company, based in Loveland, Ohio, specializes in windows, doors, siding, gutters, leaf relief and roofs.

As of March 18, 2013, this service provider was highly rated on Angie's List. Ratings are subject to change based on consumer feedback, so check Angie's List for the most up-to-date reviews. The views expressed by this author do not necessarily reflect those of Angie's List.


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