If you ignore the maintenance needs of your roof until a serious leak occurs, you will risk causing extensive damage to your home and property. The best approach is to be vigilant and be sure to replace your roof before it presents a real danger.
As a general rule, typical home roofs will last between 20 and 25 years before they require replacement. When buying a house, it is wise to request information on the age of the roof as well as the age of the entire building. Once you know the approximate age of your roof, you can estimate how many more years it should last. Factors such as the climate you live in and the general upkeep you give your home can add or subtract years from this general figure.
Regular visual inspections from the inside and outside can give homeowners a good idea of the condition of their roof. From the inside of your attic, you can check for areas of sagging roof deck or water damage. Examine the inside of the roof for mold growth, dark spots, or trails. This discoloration could be evidence of water damage, especially if it occurs near the seams and joints of the roof. You can also test your insulation for moisture. Check during the day to see if sunlight enters through unsealed gaps in your roof. If sunlight can enter, that means rain, snow and cold air can also make its way into your home.
From the outside, you should be regularly checking your gutters for loose asphalt granules. Older shingles can start to lose their structural integrity, and one of the first signs of this is loose granules. Without walking on the roof or putting yourself in a dangerous position, visually inspect the shingles of your roof. If you notice more than a couple are missing, or that they are starting to curl upwards at the edges, this could indicate they are nearing the end of their functional lifespan.
Other key issues to look out for include broken or damaged metal flashing, extensive mold coverage, drainage problems and a high percentage of cracked shingles.