New Roof? Judging the Condition of Your Existing Roof

PROBLEM #15: My Roof is a Mystery to Me.

How often does a roof need to be replaced? I think I may need a new roof on my house. But I can I tell for sure? Are there any things that I can look for?

If you’re a homeowner, you have a roof (unless you own a condo with floors above you). If all you know about your roof . . . is that you have one, you have a PROBLEM.




Don’t worry, we’re here to help. Roof issues and questions can be intimidating. Hopefully we can eliminate some the trepidation by answering some of the questions above. I’ll give you 3 signs that you may need a new roof.

1. You have an obvious leak or water damage inside your house.

This may seem obvious, but there are manyWater damage on ceiling who see a dark or “wet” spot appear on their ceiling. They wonder – How long has that been there? Could I have a problem somewhere? YES! YES! This is serious. If left alone, this could eventually destroy your house. Most likely you have a small leak in your roof. Unless you’ve had something recently fall on your roof that would have damaged it – like a tree branch or hail, it could be time to replace the entire roof. Once you start seeing results of a leak (no matter how small), it’s only a matter of time before you have more issues. It’s better to take care of it sooner.

water stain on ceiling

2. The original roof color has faded.

If you are seeing the “stones” come off your shingles, it’s probably time to replace the roof. After many years of exposure to the sun as well as freeze/thaw cycles, the asphalt that helps to bind the shingles together starts to break down. The shingles become brittle, and your roof no longer offers the same level of weather protection.

Quick Anecdote: I had this situation on my roof. I had lost so many “stones” that my roof had lost all its color. From the ground, my roof looked like a nice shaded grey color. Believe me, this was not as nice as it sounds. My roof was supposed to be a light brown color. My shingles were worn all the way down to the fiberglass reinforcement fibers (they were grey). Needless to say – I replaced my roof.

3. The edges of your shingles are curled or cracked.

cracked damaged shingles

This goes along with the second reason. Your shingles may have become brittle and deteriorated. The danger with this condition is that you may not have any other warning signs. You may not have any visible water damage inside your house – yet. Your roof also may not have lost any “color” or “stones”. But, your roof is about to fail. You could have very small leaks that never propagate far enough into your house for you to notice. But your roof sheathing could be slowly rotting from the small amount of water seeping through the shingles. Usually the only way to determine if this is happening to your roof is to inspect it closely. You may have to actually walk on it – if you can – SAFELY. Areas that are “soggy” or “springy” may be problematic.


Most roofs last upwards of 20-25 years or longer. But it is a good idea to periodically inspect your roof to verify the integrity of the shingles. Your roof is vitally important to your house – obviously. It’s the main method of keeping the inside of your house dry and sheltered from the weather. Don’t let it fail you. Replace it if necessary.

Obviously a new roof can be an expensive proposition. I would urge you to gauge the age and condition of your roof, and make it a priority to save for it.

Note: This is the type of expense for which an emergency fund is intended.

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  1. We have been going through the roof replacement process ourselves since about October/November of 2016. We started out trying to go through our insurance, but they said that there was minimal damage and they’d only cover a little bit (less than $500) which wouldn’t even be our $1,000 deductible.

    We decided that we’d go ahead and replace the roof anyways since the house was built in 1990 and we have no proof the roof was ever replaced. We got quotes from five different companies and learned a lot about roofs and our in particular. We’ve finally settled on our pick and are waiting for the installation now. We ended up around $8,000~ for the replacement but will have a nice 50 year guarantee on the shingles, so hopefully we won’t have to do this again for quite some time!

    Thanks for the post! If you want to read more of the story, I’ve linked to it in my name.

    • Steven – I hope your installation goes well. Ours was done in a day! It was amazing. It’s comforting to know that our roof will last for at least 25+ years. Thanks for the feedback.

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