The average asphalt roof only lasts 15-30 years. Everything from heavy rain, excessive snow load, ice build up, UV rays, salt spray, and strong winds all take their toll on the life of a roof over time. In fact, even poor installation can shorten the life expectancy of a roof. Homeowners must pay close attention to the condition of a roof to know when to call in the professionals for proper repairs or replacement. Luckily, there are a few hacks to make this task easier.
1. Look: Stand back and take a good look at the roof. If you notice missing or broken shingles, do not assume that they blew off in the last thunderstorm. Properly installed shingles are expected to survive hurricane-force winds. It is a telltale sign of an aging roof.
2. Take a Walk: Walking around the perimeter of a home is a quick hack to assessing roof health. Look up at the roofline. If the edges of the shingles are curling, it means that they are old and brittle. Shingles are soft and pliable when installed, hardening over time due to the elements. Look for broken pieces of shingles in the landscaping as well.
3. Leave the Lights Off: Head inside and up to the attic. You can check on the health of your roof from inside the attic -- without the use of a ladder. As you head up, leave the light off initially. A healthy roof prevents anything -- precipitation as well as sunlight -- from entering your home. If you see tiny pinpoints of lights streaming into your dark attic, chances are pretty good that water is also entering the space through those same holes.
4. Touch It: Turn the light on and touch stuff. You want to know if the plywood, joists, or insulation are damp. Dark stains on the plywood indicates former water damage while items that are physically wet indicate more recent damage. The EPA states that any water that enters your home must be cleaned up and the source repaired by a roofing contractor within 24-48 hours. Failure to due so in that time frame leads to the growth of mold, which is a much bigger problem than an aging roof.
These four quick and easy hacks to checking on the health of your roof can be done by anyone, handy or not, and, more importantly, can all be performed while your feet on firmly planted on the ground.