How can you tell how old a roof is?
Estimating how old a roof is can be difficult at times. In some cases, the easiest way to know how old your roof actually is is to check on documentation from previous replacements, but that isn’t always possible to do. If these problems are ignored, it could be a lot more painful to fix later on down the road. That’s why we want to help you identify how old your roof is in this beginner’s guide.
Looks can be deceiving when it comes to roofing that has aged out. Even if things appear normal by looking at them, it’s not a bad idea to have a contractor come out and do a real inspection of the roof in question. Unseen issues can be hidden by the shingles that you would have otherwise not have noticed. Here are some practical ways to do some assessments on your own before the inspection takes place.
Visible roof damage
You can only learn so much by climbing up a ladder and walking around your roof if you aren’t quite sure what to look for, so here are a few tips for assessing visible roof damage for different types of roofing materials:
Wooden Shake or Shingles: Depending on what climate you live in, you want to be on the lookout for any proof of warpage or dry rot if you are using these materials. You also want to be sure you know what the differences are when it comes to shingles and shakes; shakes are hand-split on at least one face and either tapered or straight, while shingles are sawn and tapered. If you have noticed any problems with this material, and the official roof inspection has shown that around one-third of the material is damaged, it is most definitely time for a roof replacement. As a side note, you want to be sure to avoid walking on this material during an inspection because of how unstable it is.
Slate, Clay or Tile: If properly taken care of, this type of roofing material can last for an entire lifetime. While they are a bit more high-end and more expensive, the longevity is definitely worth it. The biggest downfall with this material is that they are more susceptible to unstable climates and ice damage. Because this material is so easy to break, you would want to do any kind of inspection by using binoculars to avoid any further damage by walking on the roof. You want to be on the lookout for chipped, broken or missing pieces of the tile.
Roof Flashings: If you have any chimneys, vent pipes or dormers, flashings are the metal pieces that cover these types of interruptions. If there is any type of damage to these areas, you want to resolve them as soon as possible. If not taken care of, faulty flashing will allow unwanted leakage from snow or rain to enter the interior of the roof and even cause interior wall damage.
Metal Roofing: A metal roof can last for a really long time if you take the time to properly maintain and paint it. This type of roofing material comes in aluminum, galvanized iron, lead, steel, and copper. Each different type of metal has its own response to age, but you generally want to keep an eye out for any signs of rusting, pitting and corrosion. You also want to look for any open or loose joints or seams that can eventually lead to unwanted leakage.
Asphalt: If you have an asphalt roof, you have a roof that has a granular surface very similar to really fine gravel. When this material gets older, it becomes quite brittle, and the very small granules will become loose over long periods. If you find a good number of these types of granules inside your gutters, it is a sure sign that your roof is getting pretty old. Check the asphalt shingles for any bare spots and keep an eye out for the warpage or tearing in the material. If there is a lot of curling on the shingles, it is also a sign that your roof is aging and needs to be replaced.
Unseen roof damage
While your house could look just fine and untouched by bad weather, any damage that has been done can easily be hidden from the naked eye. If you have an untreated roof, you could have some serious problems when storm season rolls around—problems like structural damage and even flooding.
Wind Damage: Strong winds can cause your roof to experience significant problems. If the structural joists at the foundation of your home come loose as an effect of withstanding large gusts of wind, or even the decking of your roof takes on damage, it is almost certain that you will be having a big problem with leaks. Water will drip through the joists and granules that are loose and cause mildew and mold to flourish without you knowing about it. Leaving this leakage untreated will lead to other issues like peeling paint and wallpaper, pest infestations, and rot.
Hail Damage: While some hail damage is easy to see right off the bat, it can also cause damage that isn’t so easily visible. If your roof is damaged by hail, you most likely won’t see any indentations or holes. Unless the hail is around the size of a golf ball, you won’t be seeing the effects of it. However, even the smallest pieces of hail are able to damage the integrity of your shingles and cause the granules to become loosened. If this happens enough, your asphalt will eventually become exposed. This will put your roof in danger of becoming severely damaged and give it a very short life.
Tile Damage: Tiles are a very long-lasting and strong material to use when roofing your home and won’t easily buckle under the pressure of some of the most intense storms. However, if the winds are strong enough, the tiles will lift and sometimes even shift. Ultimately, this can compromise the integrity of your roof, and you will need to look very carefully to notice any damages.
If the tiles have shifted, they will most likely need to be replaced because there is a possibility that the shifting has damaged the functioning system. If this functioning system is in fact cracked, it could cause severe leaking from the cracks and holes that have appeared as a result of the shift.
Professional roof inspections
Ultimately, the easiest and best way to assess the age and condition of your roof is to hire a roofing specialist to come and give an honest and thorough inspection of your roof.
Professional Inspections Are Accurate —
A roofing professional will be able to use their years of experience to help you avoid the really expensive and unseen issues much quicker than you or I ever could. Most roofing professionals will be able to see the problem before it gets completely out of control and ends up costing you way more money. If you go with a true professional, they will be able to help minimize the odds of yearly inspections and get an end result that will last the test of time.
Professional Inspections Are Free —
Roof inspections are free! Why wouldn’t you take advantage of having a professional come look at your roof for no additional cost? There won’t be any add-on services or any additional hidden fees, just a good ol’ fashioned roof inspection to help you figure out the problems you need to address.
Professional Inspections Are Safe —
You won’t be able to have an accurate assessment of your roof from the ground even if you follow the tips given above, so that means someone needs to get on the roof. Why take the risk of you or a loved one injuring themselves? Hiring a professional roofer means that you can be worry-free while your roof gets an accurate inspection. Roofers know exactly how to handle climbing on a roof because they have years of experience and know what to expect. That’s why it’s a really good idea to remove the fear of falling from the equation by trusting a local roofing specialist to get the job done.
How to Find Out When a Roof Was Replaced ?
Unless you have designed and built your home from scratch, you will need to investigate the age of your roof. In addition to planning for its replacement, knowing the age of your roof can help you anticipate problems you may encounter and what you can do to prevent them.
With these goals in mind, there are a few ways to find out the age of your roof.
1. Ask the previous owners
Once you have closed on your home and moved in, you shouldn’t cut off all contact with the previous owners. Most homeowners don’t mind answering any questions you may have about the state of the house, including when the roof was last replaced. You can usually make such inquiries without going through a lawyer. If the previous owners were in the house a long time, then they probably know when the current roof was installed.
2. Find the building permit
You can do a bit of research and find out whether your county requires a building permit for roof installations. If it does, then you can contact the county government and request a copy of the permit. This will contain the exact date the roof was installed and is one of the most accurate sources of information you are likely to find.
3. Request a copy of the receipt from roof replacement company
The previous owners may remember the roofing company that replaced the roof. However, they may have discarded their copy of the receipt. If you have the name, you can contact the company and ask for a copy of the receipt or perhaps request that the previous owners do so. Roof installation companies tend to keep records of all the work they perform.
4. Get an estimate from a home inspector or roof company
If all else fails, you can call in a home inspector to evaluate the state of the roof and estimate its age. Such professionals are highly trained in their field. They know the signs of advanced age when they see them and can provide you a reliable assessment.