When we meet with our customers to diagnose a roof for storm damage or to diagnose a roof leak, we always want to get you the best information possible to help you make the right decision to either repair or replace your roof. Here are our top 6 factors for you to consider if a repair or replacement is best:

  1. The condition of your roof
  2. The type of repair needed
  3. Cost of repair versus replacement
  4. Looks—What would a repair look like?
  5. Future sale of your home
  6. More repairs We’ll examine each one.

The Condition of Your Roof—The condition of your roof is going to determine greatly if your roof is a candidate for repair or if a replacement is needed. There are 4 areas to consider:

  • Brittleness
  • Mastic strip
  • Granule loss
  • Storm damage

Brittleness of the shingles: This area of brittleness is exactly as it sounds. When shingles are brittle, they break, crack, and sometimes crumble in your hand. “How do shingles become brittle?” you ask. Great question! There are two main reasons, the first of which is that the shingles are of lower quality. In the late 1990s and early 2000s, some shingle manufacturers created an organic roof shingle—arguably one of the worst shingles ever made. In the industry, we termed it the “8-year roof.”

If you were able to get any more life out of that roof, you were lucky. This organic roof was not repairable. The shingles themselves would break apart. The second reason shingles can become brittle is heat. An under-vented attic will cook the shingles, causing them to dry out and lose their flexibility. You might ask why a brittle roof is such a big deal. Good question! To remove a damaged shingle, the ones above and to the side of it need to be lifted to remove the nails holding the damaged shingle in place.

If the surrounding shingles are brittle, lifting them even slightly will cause them to crack. Now those shingles would need to get replaced. Replacing a few visibly damaged shingles becomes a never-ending process. In this case, full roof replacement would be advisable.

Mastic Strip: The mastic strip is what seals one shingle to another. If shingles are blowing off, it is because the mastic strips are having issues, or the shingles weren’t nailed properly during installation. The biggest issue revolving around the mastic strip is that if the roof was installed in a cooler month, say when the temperature was below 40 degrees Fahrenheit, the mastic strip doesn’t activate. If it takes months for temperatures to increase, dust, dirt, debris, and moisture may cover that mastic strip, thus creating a barrier that prohibits the shingles from ever sealing properly. Now high winds can affect the mastic strip as well. The point is that if the shingles are no longer sealed, shingles will not stop blowing off your house. If there are minimal areas on the roof where the mastic seal is malfunctioning, a repair could be the wiser choice. With more prevalent mastic seal malfunction, full roof replacement would be necessary.

Granule Loss: The base of a laminated shingle or a dimensional shingle is a fiberglass mat. The fiberglass mat is then coated with asphalt, and that asphalt is covered in tiny rocks called granules. Granules are what give the shingle color but also protect the asphalt from the sun. Any type of granule loss will immediately cause a shingle to start to break down. The sun will eat away at the asphalt part of the shingle just as it does on an asphalt road or parking lot. Depending on the severity of granule loss would be the determining factor if a repair or replacement is recommended.

Storm Damage: Storm damage can create havoc on a roof. Some of this damage is obvious such as blown-off shingles in the yard, but there is damage that is not as obvious. Mastic separation is a big one. Mastic separation might only lift a shingle slightly. Also, hail damage isn’t always very noticeable at first, depending on the size of the hail, of course. It is important to have your roof inspected by a reputable contractor. See our post entitled “How Do I Know If a Roofer/Construction Company Is Reputable?”

The good news is that this type of damage is covered by insurance. Depending on how much a deductible is, a repair might still be a good option. That, however, is a decision you would have to make.

As we discussed earlier, these 4 areas will determine greatly if only a repair is needed or if a replacement would be best.

The Type of Repair Needed—Roof repairs can vary from repairing a simple popped nail to a valley or chimney repair. Now, certain repairs are easier to fix with a complete tear-off. For instance, if there is a slow leak occurring but it has gone unnoticed or has been unattended to, and this has caused the plywood to rot out along with a rafter or two, replacing sheets of plywood and rafters can be very labor-intensive and time-consuming. If this type of repair is needed, you may want to consider the cost, the appearance of the repair, and the amount of life that remains in the rest of your roof. Let’s look at a fascia or rake board repair. Shingles are normally nailed to these boards. Now if a small amount needed to be replaced, that’s not a big deal, but if a side or two needed to get replaced, this could be a time-consuming project because all along the boards the nails from the shingles will either have to be pried or cut out. There is also a point when installing a new rake or fascia board that the roofer is fighting with the shingles to get the boards lined up. If the roof is older and needs to be replaced anyways, it would be best to do a complete tear-off of the roof and repair all fascia and rake boards. This way all the boards will be able to get nailed properly. As an added benefit, new drip edges and shingles will be installed to protect the new boards.

Cost—Cost is a big factor when considering repair versus replacement. Now replacing a shingle or two is a simple, cost-effective repair. You’ll be in good shape to just get the repair done. However, when you get into larger repairs like a valley or chimney repair, knowing how much it would cost to replace your full roof is a good idea. If the replacement cost for your roof is $10,000 and a valley or chimney repair is going to cost between $750 and $900, the repair is close to 10% of the replacement cost. This is something to consider. Now, if roof replacement for your home is $20,000, a $750-900 repair may be a better option. Cost is a major contributing factor when considering repair versus replacement.

Looks—When deciding repair versus replacement for your home, you may want to consider how your roof will look after the repair. The older your roof, the more weathered the roof is going to be. The sun easily fades the roof over time. Even 1-2 years after a new roof is installed, the roof has faded and might not match the same shingle that is still in the plastic wrapping. Now 20 years down the road, that roof is extremely faded. It’s even possible that the shingle style or color is no longer made. The visibility of a repair may not be a big deal to you, or it might be completely intolerable. Consequently, it’s another factor that you may want to consider when deciding between a repair and a full replacement.

Future Sale of Your Home—Are you considering selling your home within the next couple of years? Will you get the money back out of the full roof replacement? This is a question for your local realtor. Do you plan to sell your home “as-is,” or are you going for top dollar? Depending on your answer to the latter question will help you decide if repair or replacement is best for you.

More Repairs—When you request a roof inspection from us regarding a repair, we generally will have an idea if the issue regarding the repair is an isolated one or if more repairs will be needed down the road. An example would be shingles blowing off the roof. Once shingles start blowing off, it’s almost impossible to get them to stop. You can fix the shingles that blew off and seal them and the surrounding area as well, but then when the next big windstorm comes, shingles in the section adjacent to the repaired area might begin to blow off. Then you need another repair. Again, in this case, it might be a good idea to know how much a full roof replacement would cost. If you can expect to replace shingles on your roof once a year or every other year at $300-$400 or more per repair, that cost can quickly add up compared to replacing the entire roof.

There are multiple factors to consider when deciding between repairing or replacing your roof. If you’re not sure which option is best for you and need a roof inspection, reach out to us, and we can let you know the condition of your roof.

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