If you've been concerned about the age of your roof, then chances are winter has you especially nervous. This makes good sense since winter weather can put a lot of stress on an older or worn down roof. Knowing what to check for can help you determine whether a roof replacement is due this summer. By performing the check in winter as weather permits, you can ensure you have enough time to adjust your budget to fit in the roof repair or replacement.
Gravel in the gutters
The rough surface on top of asphalt roofing shingles is gravel, which is there to increase the waterproofing and durability of the shingles. When the gravel starts to come off, you know it's almost time for a new roof. Winter is a great time to assess this because snow melt carries the gravel into the gutters, where you can easily assess whether your roof is losing a lot of its gravel covering. If you find gravel, broken shingle bits, or nails in your gutter system or at the base of a downspout, then you need to call a roofer this spring. If you don't have gutters, walk the drip line after a snow melt. You will be able to easily see the gravel on the ground surface if there is an issue.
Ice dam issues
Ice dams form at the edge of the roof. These raised ice lips trap melting snow, leading to greater ice buildup behind them. Often, the buildup forces water under the shingles, where it also freezes. The result is damaged shingles and water dripping into the house as soon as a melt occurs. On a roof in good repair, installing or adjusting a gutter system can prevent future ice dams and current ones likely won't result in much damage. For an older roof, though, ice dams are likely to compromise the aging shingles so that they need to be replaced. If you notice ice dams on your roof this winter, plan to have an inspection once the snow finishes melting.
Sagging or discoloration
Your roof should never sag. Unfortunately, snow weight on an older roof can cause structural damage, which can be dangerous for those inside the home if it leads to a roof collapse. Walk the perimeter of your roof and look for sagging. It is sometimes easier to spot along roof lines or along the eaves than it is on large expanses of the roof, simply because the eye can more easily pick up the sagging line at these points. Another thing to look for is discolored shingles. That is because the discoloration may come from nails beginning to rust or corrode because moisture has gotten into the underlayment below the shingles. Once moisture attacks this underlying sub-roofing, which is usually plywood, rot and sagging aren't far behind.
If you notice any of these signs, it's time to starting calling roofing companies for quotes. A best case scenario is your roof only needs a repair and that it has a few more years left in it. Otherwise, you need to begin making a plan for a roof replacement.