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About-the-House

Honey, is the roof leaking?

Q. Our roof is looking old. We are wondering, when is the best time to replace it? Thank you, Leslie.

A. Hi Leslie, most homeowners replace their roof covering for one of two reasons. First, because they want to, or secondly because they have to. Far too often homeowners find themselves in the position of having to replace their roof covering because they waited too long. 

Determining a roof covering leak (failure) is fairly easy. You may see staining on your ceiling near drywall joints. As water travels it seeks the easiest way out. The weakest point in a drywall panelled ceiling is where sheets of drywall meet. To join the sheets, drywall mud is applied and sanded off to a smooth finish. When water penetrates through a drywall joint the stain starts as a circle shape and then progresses to a linear shape. Longer stains are an indicator of severity. 

Your roof is expected to fulfill various functions for extended periods under extremely harsh and uncontrollable conditions. Changes in the performance of this roof is directly related to the initial design, the degradation mechanism(s) taking place, as well as the intensity, frequency, and fluctuations of applied loads. Remaining service life isn’t always a function of age.

Estimating the general reliable service life of all types of roof coverings is pretty straightforward. Predicting exactly when a roof failure may take place is virtually impossible, and usually roof failure is noticed after it is well underway. The probability of failure of an aging roof system increases as the covering progressively ages.

Here are some tips to help you determine when a new roof covering may be in your future:

Roof age
Determining the age of your roof covering may be as easy as determining the age of your home. Another way is to look back at old receipts. The age of a roof covering is a commonly used tool to determine reliable service life prediction. It stands to reason that the probability of failure increases with age of the roof covering. Most asphalt shingle roof coverings in our area have reliable life expectancies of 25 to 30 years (or the published warrantied life). 

Curling and buckling shingles
Curling and buckling shingles is another sign that the roof covering is aging. 

Roof valleys
If you are experiencing accelerated deterioration in your roof valleys, it’s likely because of moisture retention. Valleys are one of the most important areas of your roof. Snow and rain flow through valleys and into gutters, so if the valley is compromised, you could be susceptible to roof leaks.

Missing shingles
This is another sign that your roof could be failing. When portions of your roof covering are missing, the chance of leaking increases dramatically.

Shingle granules in the gutters
Asphalt shingles have a protective coating of granules. Check in your gutters for granule buildup, as roof coverings tend to shed more granules toward the end of their reliable service life. You can also look at the covering from a distance for inconsistent or darker colour patterning. 

Don’t let cosmetic deterioration to be the sole determining factor. Just because something is old, it doesn’t mean that it’s not good. Just ask anyone over 50 years of age.

This article is written by or on behalf of an outsourced columnist and does not necessarily reflect the views of Castanet.

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About the Author

When you need advice or guidance with DIY home improvement and repairs, Hugh Cairns can help you with the answers.

Home improvements can be rewarding, turn your home into a nicer more comfortable place to live, and increase its value.

Whether you are renovating your kitchen, converting a loft, giving a room a lick of paint or making improvements to your home’s energy efficiency, this column is here to guide you with useful information and key things to remember.

Do you have a renovation question or concern? Please feel free to send Hugh your questions. Contact him through www.subject2homeinspections.com



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The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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