How to Tell if You Need Roof Repair

The key signs of roof damage from wind, hail, trees and more, and advice on whether they require roof restoration.

How to Tell if You Need Roof Repair

Types of Roof Damage and What to Do if You Have it

Roof damage can be tricky. There are many different types, and it may be difficult for an untrained eye to tell the difference between replacing a few shingles and total roof restoration.

While the last thing any homeowner wants to hear is, “You need a new roof,” proper roof repair is essential to the life of the roof and the structural quality of the home. Below are some main causes of roof damage, tips on how to tell if your home has them and ideas of what to do if it does, to help you make the best roof restoration decision for your home and your family.

 

Hail Damage 

Hail doesn’t happen often in most areas, so it’s easy to know if hail has impacted your home. You’ll likely see small white pellets scattered on the ground, or you may have heard the hail when it hit the home. On cars, patio furniture and other outdoor property, you may see small round dings caused by the hail. On the roof, however, damage is slightly less obvious. 

What to look for

There are three main visual signs of hail damage: bruising, cracking and granules missing from asphalt. With bruising, run your hand over the shingle to feel for small dimples in the surface. If you feel a dimple, press down onto it to see if it gives. If so, the shingle may have been permanently damaged. Cracking is easier to spot, as you should see cracks running through the shingle. Similarly, missing granules of the shingle should be clear enough to see. There will likely be smooth or bare spots that differ in color from undamaged shingles.

What to do

If you have any of the signs of hail damage–bruising, cracking or missing granules or shingles–contact a roofing contractor to professionally inspect the roof. Many insurance providers cover the cost of roof repairs from hail damage, although they may require a professional assessment. Ignoring roof damage may allow further deterioration of the roof, leading to larger problems in the future. 

 

Wind Damage

Most roofs are designed to withstand the pressures of normal winds, although years of wear can eventually compromise the roof. However, damaging winds brought in by severe storms, such as those over 50 mph, can create stress points on the roof that weaken over time. Such areas may become susceptible to water penetration, causing the roof to leak and structurally deteriorate.

What to look for 

The first thing to do is inspect shingles along the edges to see if they’ve been misshapen in any way by wind, as most roof damage from wind typically starts along the edge. Also look in the corners to see if any materials have become loose. Missing shingles or pieces of shingles are surefire signs the roof has been damaged.

What to do

If any shingles or pieces of shingles are missing, replace them immediately. Roof restoration is much easier and less expensive if you don’t have to worry about repairing water damage from a leaky roof, too. If roof damage is more significant, contact a roofing contractor to inspect the damage. Also, take photos of damage as evidence for your insurance provider, which may cover the cost of the roof restoration.

 

Tree Damage 

Having abundant trees around your home is actually quite beneficial, as strategically placed trees can protect the roof with shade, preventing heat damage and prolonging the roof’s life. Of course, unhealthy trees represent a threat, as they are prone to falling during storms. While a fallen tree is the most obvious cause of roof damage from trees, it isn’t the only one.

What to look for 

You’ll probably know if a tree has fallen on your home. However, if a tree lies on the ground near your home, it’s possible that it bounced or rolled off the roof and then fell to the ground. Similarly, its branches may have scraped the roof before impact. Look for structural damage, missing and misshapen shingles, and shingles missing granules in the area the tree fell to determine if you need roof repair.

Overhanging branches too close to the home are another less obvious threat, which can rub against the roof during high winds or storms. Pieces of shingles on the ground around your home are a telltale sign the limbs need trimming. Lastly, watch out for fallen leaves and pine needles, which can pile and hold moisture that may cause roof damage. 

What to do 

A roof with a tree on it requires immediate attention. However, be wary of fly-by-night roofing contractors who drive through neighborhoods after storms. They may not be properly licensed and insured. Your insurance provider may cover the cost of roof restoration from a fallen tree, so be sure to have it inspected by a professional and fully document the damage. If you find roof damage from overhanging limbs or piles of debris on the roof, simply trim the limbs or clear the debris.

 

General Wear 

Like most things around the home, roofs wear with time. Regularly inspecting the roof is important in prolonging its life. Once per year is good practice, but keep in mind that the faster you spot small problems and repair them, the less likely you’ll need major roof restoration outside of the standard roof replacement timeline. A quality roof can last around 20 - 25 years, if not longer, when properly maintained.

What to look for 

Keep an eye out for cracked caulk or rust spots on the flashing, shingles that are buckling, curling, or blistering, as well as missing or broken shingles. All of these occur with time and weather and are early signs of the roof showing its age. If you spot a mass of moss or any type of natural growth, it likely means the roof is decaying underneath.

What to do 

If you see small signs of wear and are somewhat handy, you can probably make the roof repairs yourself, simply replacing the shingles or caulking areas that need it. However, if the wear appears widespread, you should contact a professional roofing contractor to inspect the roof. 

 

Poor or Improper Installation 

Faulty installation dramatically increases the likelihood of problems and reduces a roof’s life expectancy. Still, it’s difficult for the average homeowner to know whether a roof has been properly installed.

What to look for

Believe it or not, there have been cases of roofing contractors installing shingles upside down. This should be easy to see, as there are tabs on most shingles that should be facing down. However, since most other signs of improper installation may be difficult to spot, it’s best to look in the attic or under the roof to see if there’s any sign of leakage or moisture buildup.

What to do 

If, for any reason, you believe your roof may have been improperly or poorly installed, contact a professional roofing contractor immediately to provide an inspection. You could be doing yourself a huge favor in the long run. Having the roof properly installed now could greatly increase its life and save you from the headaches, hassle and costs of significant roof damage.

 

The information and advice contained in this article is intended as a general guide for informational purposes only. It does not take into account your personal situation. While we at Resolve have significant experience and history operating in the home restoration industry and working closely with construction contractors, we are not licensed as a general or specialty contractor. We encourage you to consider the information we’ve provided but urge you not to rely upon it in place of appropriate professional advice from a licensed, experienced construction contractor.

REFERENCES
https://www.owenscorning.com/roofing/storm
http://www.buildings.com/article-details/articleid/1735/title/the-top-10-most-common-roof-problems
http://www.usclaimexpert.com/main-causes-of-roof-damage/
http://www.roofingsouthwest.com/10-most-common-roof-problems
http://freshome.com/2014/10/07/the-10-most-common-causes-of-roof-leaks/

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