Is It Time To Replace My Roof?

May 6, 2022

By: Ali El Gandour & Trevor Murl

Many of us do not give much thought to the condition of the roof over our heads until a significant leak or damage occurs. It can be difficult to determine when to replace your roof or complete repairs to extend the existing service life. Proactiveness is key to ensuring that damage on your roof does not cause subsequent structural or building envelope issues. If you’re unsure whether or not it may be time to replace your roof, consider the following components:

Age of the Roof

Typically, the first set of questions that a building owner should ask is when was the roof installed, last replaced or maintained? A roof’s lifespan is mainly dependent on the type of roof, quality of material, quality of craft during installation, and what ongoing maintenance has been provided since installation. Unfortunately, many building owners fail to understand that maintenance plays a critical role in extending the lifespan of roofing systems, similar to various other building components. Roofing systems typically have longer lifespans than other building elements, but no roofing system lasts forever.

Generally, the typical low/steep-slope roof may last anywhere from 20-30 years when properly maintained. If you are starting to reach the approximate service life span, it may be time to consider replacing your roof.

Leaks in Your Roof

In the event you discover any signs of moisture or direct water ingress through your roofing system, this is an indication that there is a discontinuity in the waterproofing. For a leak to occur, three matters must be present: a water source, a driving force and discontinuity/hole in the waterproofing.

Roof leaks are not pleasant to deal with. As the building owner or property manager, it is critical to attend to any sign of leaking immediately. Long-term exposure to moisture can cause significant damage to the roofing system and building structure. In a conventional roofing system, where the insulation is located below the membrane, water ingress may lead to premature failure of the roof system. It can also diminish the R-value of the thermal barrier/ insulation.

Therefore, when leaks are observed or reported, immediate action should be taken to manage the leak and avoid further damage.

Visible Damage

When conducting a visual review of your roof, check for the following indicators:

  • Blisters, ridges, cracks in the membrane
  • Granule Loss
  • Curling and cupping
  • Ponding Water
  • Impact Damage
  • Open and unsealed laps in membrane
  • Deteriorated Sealant

The above indications may suggest damage to your roofing system that requires further investigation, repairs or replacement. In addition, conducting a visual review after a heavy frost to identify areas where frost is melting may also indicate roof damages.

Deciding to Repair or Replace

When it comes time to make the ultimate decision of repairing or replacing your roof, it can be challenging to determine the best course of action. In most cases, completing repairs will be more cost-effective in the short-term, and many building owners tend to lean towards this option first.

However, suppose your roof has been showing signs of failure such as leaks, visible damage or discontinuities of waterproofing. It may be worth considering a full or partial roof replacement in that scenario, as completing continual repairs may result in higher costs.

Call a Professional

If you are unsure of the next steps to replace or repair your roof, it’s always best to call a roofing consultant.

A roofing consultant is an unbiased expert in the field of roofing that will help a building owner assess the existing condition of the roof assemblies and related components, make recommendations on future repair or replacement options, and provide an order of magnitude to complete the recommendations.  The consultant typically completes this by performing a visual examination of the visible roofing components and may include additional destructive or non-destructive testing if required.

The consultant will assist the building owner in deciding whether completing additional repairs or on-going maintenance will extend the service life of the roof or if a full roof replacement is required immediately. The consultant can also prepare design documents and retain qualified contractors to complete the repairs or replacement. . The consultant will also monitor the construction by completing quality assurance reviews to ensure proper construction practices are followed and conformance to design.

Replacing a damaged or aging roof is often one of the largest renovation projects to undertake for property owners. However, it also provides excellent returns on investment, adds significant value to the property and community and contributes to the performance and structural integrity of a building. Proper roof maintenance, repairs and replacements ensure tenant and visitor safety is prioritized within a home or business.