When to Replace Roof

Your roof faces the brunt of the weather, be it scorching sun, relentless rain, strong winds, or hailstorms. Over time, even the toughest roof starts to show signs of wear and tear. A damaged roof is usually a leaking roof, which could mean damaged walls, mold, and compromised structural integrity. That is when you have to start thinking about roof replacement.

Replacing a roof is a big decision, both in terms of cost and impact. You need to consider the type of materials and the cost. Choosing the right time is also important. Do it too soon, and you might waste resources; wait too long, and the damages could multiply. This guide will help you determine when to replace your roof. 

Photo of Roof

How to Recognize the Signs of Roof Aging

Given the climate in Indianapolis, which includes cold winters, humid summers, and occasional stormy weather, roofs here have unique aging signs. If your roof shows any of these signs, consider a professional roof inspection:

  • Buckling/curling shingles: Warped shingles indicate roof aging or damage from moisture and heat.
  • Missing shingles: Due to wind, storms, or wear and tear.
  • Shingle granules in gutters: Granules in gutters or downspouts signal shingle wear.
  • Cracked shingles: Temperature swings can cause shingle cracking.
  • Algae/moss growth: Excessive growth indicates moisture penetration.
  • Sagging roof deck: A drooping roof deck suggests serious structural issues.
  • Attic leakages: Water stains, peeling paint, or musty smells in the attic point to roof leaks.
  • Sunlight through roof boards: Light in the attic reveals gaps or holes in the roof sheathing.

The Impact of Weather on Your Roof

Rainwater can seep under shingles, tiles, or other roofing materials, especially if they are damaged or improperly installed. Over time, this moisture can rot wooden structures, rust metal components, and cause mold and mildew to grow.

Continued exposure to the sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays and heat can also cause entire roof coverings to gradually decline. For example, asphalt roof shingles may crack, curl, or lose their granules, and wood shingles can dry out and become brittle.

If you experience cold winters with snowfall, the weight of accumulated snow can stress the roof structure. Ice dams can form at the roof’s edge, preventing melting snow from draining. This water can then back up under the roof and leak into the structure. Furthermore, the freeze-thaw cycle can widen cracks and gaps in materials.

Types of Roofs and Their Lifespans

There are a lot of different kinds of residential roofs, so when you are considering what is best for your home, make sure to contrast and compare the following:

Asphalt shingles

One of the most common roofing materials, asphalt shingles are popular due to their cost-effectiveness and ease of installation. There are two types: fiberglass (lightweight and fire-resistant) and organic (more durable but less environmentally friendly). An asphalt roof can last about 15 to 30 years, depending on the type of existing shingles and the quality of installation.

Metal roofing

A metal roof is durable, fire-resistant, and energy-efficient. It can be made from steel, aluminum, copper, or zinc. They reflect solar radiant heat, which can reduce cooling costs. Depending on the material, metal roofs can last 40 to 70 years. Steel or aluminum roofs are on the lower end of this range, while copper and zinc roofs can last even longer.

Photo of Metal Roof

Wood shingles and shakes

Wood shingles are machine-cut and have a uniform appearance, while shakes are hand-split, giving them a more rustic look. Cedar is a common choice due to its natural resistance to rot and insects. With proper maintenance, these can last about 20 to 40 years. However, they require more maintenance compared to other roofing types, especially in humid climates where there is a higher risk of mold, rot, and insect damage.

Slate roofing

Slate roofs are made from natural stone, so they are incredibly long-lasting, often enduring for more than 75 years. In some cases, they can last over a century. However, they are one of the most expensive roofing options and require a reinforced roof structure to support their weight.

Clay and concrete tiles

These tiles are known for their ability to withstand heat, which makes them popular in warmer climates. A clay tile roof has a traditional, reddish-orange color, while concrete tiles can be made to mimic other materials like wood shakes or slate. These can last more than 50 years. They are heavy, requiring additional roof framing, but are excellent for insulation and fire resistance.

If you have decided to get your roof replaced and you want to integrate solar technology directly into the roof’s design, consider investing in solar shingles or solar tiles. These are solar panels built into the roofing system.

The Process of Roof Replacement

If you have decided to get a new roof installation, make sure you know exactly what to expect from the process. 

  • It begins with setting up tarps around your house to collect debris and positioning a dumpster for waste.  
  • Next, the roofers will carefully remove the existing roof covering by prying up the shingles and stripping them off along with the nails and underlayment.
  • After the old materials are removed, the roof deck (the wooden base over the rafters) will be inspected for damage like rot or structural weakness.
  • Any damaged areas of the roof deck will be repaired or replaced.
  • A water-resistant or waterproof underlayment will be installed over the roof deck.
  • Installation usually starts from the bottom edge of the roof. For shingles, a starter strip is installed first to provide an extra layer of protection along the edges.
  • The new roofing material (e.g., shingles, tiles, metal panels) will be laid out in an overlapping fashion from the bottom upwards to ensure proper water runoff.
  • Flashing, which are thin metal sheets, will be installed around roof penetrations like chimneys, vents, and joints to prevent water leakage.
  • If your roof has a ridge vent, it will be installed along the peak of the roof to allow for proper attic ventilation. This is followed by the installation of ridge cap shingles.
  • If included in the job, gutters and downspouts may be installed or repaired.

Preparing Your Home for Roof Replacement

Before the roofers start working, take the following steps to create a safer environment for everyone and minimize the risk of property damage:

  • Remove or cover any outdoor furniture, grills, and decorations around the house to protect them from debris.
  • Park your vehicles away from the work area to avoid accidental damage from falling materials.
  • Cover flower beds, shrubs, and gardens near the house with tarps or protective sheeting.
  • Make sure the roofing crew has easy access to your home’s roof. Unlock any gates and remove obstacles that could hinder access to the work area.
  • Cover your belongings in the attic with sheets or tarps to protect them from dust and debris.
  • Let your neighbors know about the upcoming roof replacement. The noise and activity can be disruptive, and advance notice is considerate.
  • Make sure there are available electrical outlets for roofers’ tools, and they know where to find them.
  • Keep your children and pets inside or away from the site.
  • If you have satellite dishes or antennas mounted on your roof, arrange to have them removed or repositioned before the work starts.
  • Confirm with the roofing contractor how waste materials will be disposed of. Typically, a dumpster is used, but make sure its placement would not damage your driveway or lawn.
Photo of a Roof

When Repair is Not Enough

Here are a few signs that a complete roof replacement might be the necessary course of action, rather than just repairs:

  • Your roof is nearing or has surpassed its expected lifespan (e.g., 15-30 years for asphalt roof shingles, 40-70 years for metal roofs). At this point, the materials may have weakened to a degree where repairs are no longer effective or economical.
  • You are experiencing widespread or multiple leaks, especially in different areas of the roof.
  • A large number of shingles are missing, cracked, curled, or are losing granules excessively; in the case of a metal or tile roof, significant damage to a large portion of the tiles or panels may warrant a full replacement.
  • The roof deck is sagging.
  • There is major moisture or water damage, including widespread mold or rot in the roof deck or attic space.
  • Your roof has sustained severe storm damage, such as large areas of torn off shingles or a tree falling on the roof.
  • Your heating and cooling costs are unusually high (it could be due to an underperforming roof); you may need to replace your roof with modern, energy-efficient materials.

Jackson Contracting: The Trusted Roofing Contractors for Indianapolis Residents

As Indianapolis natives, our team at Jackson Contracting understands the local weather and architectural styles, ensuring your roof is built to last decades. Since we are fully licensed and insured, you can rest easy knowing the new roof over your head is in certified hands. If you are not sure whether you need your roof inspected, replaced or repaired, you should schedule a free onsite inspection to make the best decision. You may also request an estimate online to get started.