How to know when it’s time for a new roof

By: Mary Genson | Metro | Published December 6, 2023

 The Roof Resource replaced the roof on this home. The “before” photo on top shows stains and dark streaks on the roof. 

The Roof Resource replaced the roof on this home. The “before” photo on top shows stains and dark streaks on the roof. 

Photo provided by the Roof Resource


METRO DETROIT — As a homeowner, it is essential to understand when your home is due for a new roof or repairs. Local experts have shared some of their top tips to ensure your roof is being maintained properly.

Adam Helfman, a nationally known home improvement expert and chief strategic officer at The Roof Resource, said the first thing a homeowner needs to do is figure out the age of the roof, because the average roof only lasts about 12 years.

Helfman recommends that the next step is to look at the roof from street level.

Hugh Cavendish, of The Roofing Authority, said to have a professional inspect a roof once a year.

“Homeowners should try to look up at their roofs after every major storm, but I would have the professional inspect the roof at least once a year. Most companies won’t even charge for such a service. They will do a once-over to make sure everything looks good, and if it doesn’t, then they will give a price to fix shingles or whatever they see,” Cavendish said.

Missing and curling shingles are some of the main things to look out for.

“If shingles are curled up, that’s a sign of the attic getting too hot and the shingles are cooking from underneath,” Helfman said. “Curling shingles quickly accelerate the life of the shingle towards the end.”

“Curling shingles is definitely something that a lot of regular homeowners just don’t notice,” Cavendish said.

During an inspection, Helfman also recommends looking for tree branches on the roof and trees against the house.

“If you have trees against the side of your house and the branches or the leaves slowly rub against your roof or the side of your house, you would be surprised how over time it could rub a hole, it could wear away the shingles and it will expose your roof to a leak very quickly,” Helfman said.

When a homeowner sees black streaks, that is mold, which also accelerates the death of a roof. Highly shaded areas with high-moisture conditions may have moss growth on the roof, which could be a potential source of mold in an attic.

While cleaning gutters, a homeowner might notice granules in their gutter.

“There’s always going to be granules in your gutter,” Helfman said. “However, the amount of granules is what you need to look for because if it’s a light amount, it’s OK, but if it’s a thick amount and it seems to be more than normal, that’s when you know your roof is at the end of its lifespan.”

Cavendish shared that some of the consequences of not maintaining a roof are potential water damage to plaster or drywall, paint bubbling, and dark spots on the paint such as mold or mildew.

Once it is determined that there are issues with the roof, it is time to hire a contractor.

“Homeowners have been programmed to get three bids, and there’s nothing wrong with getting three bids because it helps you understand pricing a little better,” Helfman said. “However, the roofing industry today is what I would call full of sales tactics and unscrupulous ways of getting the homeowner to buy a roof.”

Helfman said homeowners need to remember that, when a roofing contractor comes to your house, they are there to sell you a roof. So, it is important to keep an eye out for sales tactics.

“I would always hire a licensed, insured contractor. So before you ever let anybody go on your roof, make sure you see their license and their proof of insurance,” Cavendish said.

Helfman added that homeowners need to be aware of what happens on the day of the installation. They should ask questions about how the yard will be cleaned and how their property will be protected. Homeowners should also make sure loose items in their homes are prepared for the banging that comes along with roof repairs.