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How To Know if Your Asphalt Shingle Roof Needs to Be Replaced: Signs Your Roof is Old & Damaged

Your roofing system is your first line of defense against the elements and it serves to insulate and protect your home from wind, rain, hail, heat, cold and storms. For most people, their home represents their biggest investment and therefore maintaining a sound, durable roof is an important part of securing their family’s financial safety. Furthermore, it is every homeowner’s responsibility to properly care for and maintain their roof. For example, most insurance policies will not pay for a new roof if the insured has failed to keep up with its maintenance in a way that can be shown to be “contributory negligence”, and that means that you would have to pay for any and all repairs caused by a roof leak or, worse yet, a collapse.

Danger Signs: How to Identify Damaged Asphalt Shingles

The outermost layer of your asphalt shingle roofing system is the shingles themselves. Very old asphalt shingles will show signs of deterioration and granule loss, as well as curling, warping and complete failing which will cause missing shingles or failed nails that result in shingles detaching and shifting down, exposing the nail holes. Any and all of these danger signs can lead to leaks, which means it’s time for a new roof. In Pennsylvania, local Hanover roofing contractors know that old, failing asphalt shingles will usually require a full roofing system replacement. While it is sometimes possible to temporarily fix small damage with minor repairs, it is usually best to opt for a full roofing system replacement in order to get a 30, 40 or 50 year warranty. This provides priceless peace-of-mind, and can even result in lower insurance premiums.

Hidden Components of a Roofing System that can Become Damaged


We’ve addressed the signs of asphalt shingle damage, but there is much more to a proper roofing system. All of these components can potentially fail or become damaged from a number of different things like storms, hail, animal burrowing, etc. What’s more, most professional roofers will replace all of these components as part of their new roofing installations.

  • Underlayment: felt/tar paper or synthetic paper that acts as a supplemental water barrier. It will be hard to identify damage to underlayment unless there are missing shingles. If your underlayment is exposed, contact a roofer right away for a more complete and thorough inspection.
  • Flashing: chimneys and vent-pipes, counter-flashing and step-flashing around any protrusions or where roof slopes meets walls and other architectural elements. Most flashing is made of metal so it will not rot, but strong winds and hail or impact-damage can lead to failing of the seals that prevent water from breaching the roofing system.
  • Drip Edge and Starter Shingles: line the perimeter of the roof and help guard against wind-driven rain, blow-off, and water drainage. If your starter shingles are curled up, or detached, or if the metal drip edge is bent and/or missing, then your roof is not being properly protected from wind-driven rain and water runoff and this ought to be repaired or fixed immediately.
  • Ridge Vent and Ridge Cap: at the peak of your roof, the open ridge vent allows heat to escape the attic so that your home vents and “breathes” properly. Without this intact, your roofs plywood decking can become saturated, warped and failed.
  • Plywood/OSB Roof Deck: this sheathing is attached to the rafters (joists, struts) of your building and is often subject to rot if there is an undetected roof leak for too long. Note: rotten plywood is not covered by insurance, because it means that the insured failed to maintain their roof. This is one reason why an inspection from a professional roofer is so crucial, in order to thoroughly ascertain the condition of the roof.

Roof Inspections: Documenting and Identifying Damage

  • You can perform a quick inspection from the ground with a pair of binoculars. Start by viewing the bottom edge of the roof and pan your view up towards the peak, looking for broken/missing/curled/detached shingles along the way.
  • Check for popped, raised or missing nails in the shingles (or panels, if you have a metal roofing system like corrugated steel or standing seam)
  • Check your ridge vent for signs that the caps are loose or missing.
  • Find out if you have 3-tab or Architectural asphalt shingles. 3-tab shingles appear more “flat”, and look like asphalt “tiles” that hardly overlap. Architectural asphalt shingles are more modern, more high-definition, and appear more like overlapping shingles. They usually have a more multi-color appearance. In general, most 3-tab roofs are older, because architectural asphalt shingles are the go-to choice for most professional roofers. If you have a 3-tab roof, you should contact your local roofer to get a free quote for upgrading to an architectural asphalt roofing system.
  • Finally, go inside to the uppermost floor of your home, or the attic, and check for signs of leaks by looking for water stains on drywall ceilings or discoloration of wood beams and joists. If you find some water damage, poke gently at it to test how deep the damage goes. Call a professional immediately.

Paying for a Roof Replacement: Your Options

Not everyone has the money set aside to pay up front for a full roof replacement. The average cost for asphalt shingle roofing is roughly $4 per square foot, according to Roofing FAQs from Hanover Roofing Systems. This is about $12,000 for the average home’s roof replacement. This can be paid for in many different ways. For example, if your roof has suffered damage from recent storms you could be entitled to full coverage of an entire roofing system replacement under your insurance policy. You should contact a professional roofing and restoration contractor right away if you believe this to be the case. Other options include financing, which often comes in the form of reasonable personal loan. The best roofing contractors are partnered with financial services companies to offer their customers convenient and affordable financing for roofing and other home improvements. You can check them out to see if you qualify. Once you’re approved, the funds can be made available usually within a couple days.

So, if your roof is old, damaged, leaking or in need of an upgrade there are options for you to get it done as soon as possible. Partnering with an expert, reputable, local roofing contractor is the best move you can make, because you will need to trust the people responsible for such a large and important task. Most roofers will offer several years of workmanship guarantees along with the manufacturer’s warranty for whatever roofing product you choose to have installed. Make sure you do your research, check licensing, insurance and professional associations and certifications so that you are partnered with the best roofer possible.