How to know if I need a new shingle roof in Florida?
Updated: Jan 31
How do you know if you need a new roof?
You climb up on a tall ladder and look at it and then you will know. Easy, right? Wrong! DO NOT climb up on your roof because even if you are able to climb up there, and you aren't afraid of heights on a sloped roof, you most likely won't have any idea of what you are looking at to even know. I often compare it to a car repair for me because I don't know much about cars. I once took my car in to a big, well known, national car repair company because my engine was doing something weird. When I opened the hood of the car I just stared at it and had no clue what I was looking at. The big car repair company told me it was the head gasket or something like that and it was going to be like $2,000 to repair it. I walked away and said I can't do that now. I took it to a local repair company to get a second opinion...$200 for a tune up and the car ran great! That is what it is like when you start calling roofers to come take a look at your roof. You won't know and they will tell you so many different opinions. Let's give you some knowledge to at least keep you from getting ripped off before it's even time to put a new shingle roof on.
So, how do YOU know if you need a new roof?
If your roof isn't leaking and you live in Florida the best way to know if you need to start considering a new roof is TIME. Due to the ever changing temperatures, high heat in summers, and the summer storms (not talking hurricanes yet) roofs in Florida typically last between 15-20 years. 20 years being the high end and 15 years being the average. I tell people to start looking for signs around 12 years. So the first thing you need to do is find out when you roof was last done. If you weren't the one that last put a roof on your house then you can simply go to your county permit website (ex: www.orangecountyfl.net/permitslicenses) and do a Property Search for your residence. There will be a "roof permit" listed and you just click on it to see the information which will give you the date of the last roof installed. Figure out how old your roof is and let's go from there.
If your roof is in that 12-15 year old range and you think you might need a new roof you can start to look for signs that will help. Without even getting up on your roof you will be able to see some signs of wearing out as the roof gets older. First, look around the edges of the house for shingle granules. Granules are what make up the top layer of the shingle and look like tiny pebbles. As the roof gets older these granules start to fall off and the more you see on the ground the closer it is time to get a new roof. I have climbed on roofs and almost slipped off with my first step because the granules just rolled off under my foot. This is dangerous and another reason NOT to climb up on your roof. If you have gutters, you can look at the bottom of the downspouts or look in the gutters themselves. Piles of granules is a good indicator that it might be time.
Next, look up from the ground. Without getting on a ladder you may be able to see signs and if you do then you know it's time to start considering a new roof. Now that you know what granules are, look to see if there is an even layer across the roof from one side to the other. If you see black spots or gaps where there should be color then you are potentially seeing black asphalt and your roof is starting to get compromised. All granules will fade over time and roofs will form algae. Don't be fooled into thinking this means you need a new roof. Also, do you see any missing shingles. Walk around all sides of the house to check for missing shingles. Again, this DOES NOT mean you need a new roof but it does mean you at least need a repair.
You're leaking. Roof leaks do not mean you need a new roof, but could be an indicator. Do be fooled into paying for the full engine repair when you just need a tune up. Roof leaks can happen in so many ways but we will stick with indicators of an old, used up roof system. One leak source can be from what are termed "popped nails" in the roofing world. Popped nails are nails that have come loose and worked their way up and way from the deck allowing water to drip down the nail, through the hole it occupied and into your home. Popped nails can happen because they were not installed correctly, but more often we see an increase in popped nails when the roof gets older because over time the Florida winds can begin to pull them up. Hurricanes and wind storms are another blog post, but we are talking about the winds and storms we get from coast to coast that can be 20-40 mph and over time will begin to compromise the shingles and lift the nails. you won't see these popped nails from the ground, but multiple leak locations are most likely due to popped nails.
You don't need a lot of reasons to know that you need a new roof, but you do need to be prepared with some knowledge when the time comes and when you take the next step to contacting roof contractors to take a closer look. Some simple observations will keep you from overspending and overreacting to one of the most expensive projects you will take on in your home ownership lifetime. Most homeowners will replace their roofs only once and at most twice in the time they live there. Being prepared and educated will save you money and ease the pain of going through this challenging home project.
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