How To Tell If You Need A New Roof

How Do I Know I Need A New Roof

how to tell if you need a new roofOne of the questions that any homeowner should be asking themselves if they have a roof that is getting up there in age is “how do I know if I need a new roof”? Your roof is one of the most important parts of your home, for obvious reasons. Without it, you would be left with four walls and a foundation – not enough to provide much comfort or protection from the elements. Like everything, though, a roof will wear out over time.

As a homeowner you need to be aware of the state of yours and whether it needs repairs or replacement, especially if you have any plans on selling the home.  Knowing whether you need a new roof before selling becomes necessary so you have a sound strategy in place.

Working as a Massachusetts Realtor for the past twenty-nine years, one of the things that become a bone of contention more than any other when negotiating home inspection issues is a worn roof. Of course from a home owners perspective if there is any amount of years left on the roof they want to do nothing. The buyer of course when told there is not much roof life intends to negotiate for a new one.

While the quickest way to find out the state of your roof would be to call a roofing contractor for an inspection before putting your home on the market, you do not necessarily need to pay someone else to do periodic checkups.

You can look for signs of damage yourself. According to the National Roofing Contractors Association, homeowners should examine their roofs in both the spring and the fall. Mark a time on your calendar for spring and fall and perform the following checks as necessary. Read on and you will discover the best ways of how to tell if you need a new roof or not.

Interior Roof Check

One of the first ways how to say whether you need a new roof is to get into the attic. The interior test is relatively easy to do as long as you have access to the attic and a good flashlight. Invest in a good light because you want to be able to see fine details. Even the best flashlight is far cheaper than replacing your roof, so get something that will give you all the light you need to search the attic.

Once you get up there, look around for four particular signs of roof troubles. These are the signs you need a new roof from looking on the inside.

  • Light shining in from outside – This is the easiest problem to discover, even without a flashlight. Any light shining in through your roof from outside is an issue that should be addressed immediately. If the light is getting through, so is moisture.
  • Sagging Areas – If there is a sag in your roof this will be one of the easier ways to tell if you need a new roof. Sagging is a definite indication of structural issues. Something has given way, either due to external pressure from outside or from moisture damage to the wood that makes up your roof.
  • Dark Spots or Trails – Dark areas and trails are an indication that moisture is penetrating your roof somewhere and probably creating mold in the process. Moisture will eventually cause real problems, both with your roof and with the interior of your home.
  • Leaks or Water Damage – If you see a leak or visible water damage it is time to call in a roofing repair company. Water causes damage, and it is important to patch any leaks as soon as possible.

The are all sure-fire ways to tell if you need a new roof or not.

Exterior Roof Check

Another way of checking to see if you need a new roof is to take a trip up onto your roof. Getting onto the roof should be able can give you a good idea of the state of the exterior. Keep in mind that even an eight-foot drop can cause serious injuries, so make sure your ladder is secure and that you are very, very careful while looking around. Also, avoid walking on your roof if it is made out of easily damaged materials such as tile.

Here are signs you need a new roof from looking on the outside.

  • Look for Damage – Major damage to roofing materials should be fairly obvious. Shingles will split, crack and warp if they get too old, while tile will break if it has been damaged by hail. If your roof is older and there is visible damage, it is far easier to tell if you need a new roof.
  • Look for Moisture Problems – Mold and other moisture related problems could wreak just as much damage outside as in. A bad shingle can allow moisture to sit instead of shedding it down the roof. Keep in mind that water will flow down, so you may have to track the problem higher up.
  • Shingle Granules – As your shingles age they will shed more and more granules. If they are getting too old, you will likely find excessive amounts of granules in your gutters. Having bits of the roof in your gutters a sure-fire way to tell if you need a new roof sooner rather than later.
  • Look for Wear – Roofing materials around chimneys and vents can wear over time, so keep an eye out for any issues here.
  • Check Your Drainage – Your gutters and downspouts are an important component of your home and should be cleaned a few times a year. Check to make sure they are securely attached and that water is flowing where it should be.

Each of these problems is a sign that it may be time to think about getting a roof replacement.

What If You Find Roof Problems?

Ways to tell if you need a new roofJust because you find signs of wear does not mean your roof necessarily needs to be replaced. It may just need some repairs done to extend its life. A quality shingle roof should last at least 20 to 30 years, especially with regular maintenance by knowledgeable professionals. If your roof is tile, it should be good for quite a bit longer, even up to 100 years before replacement.

Typically an asphalt shingle roof that is architectural grade with last at least 30 years. An architectural shingle looks different than a standard asphalt shingle which looks completely flat when looking from the ground. An architectural shingle has “depth” and most would agree on looks much better. These shingles are more expensive and rightly so given how much better they look and the extended roof life they deliver.

Once you notice an issue, contact a roofing contractor to get an estimate on getting the repair work done. It is usually best to get a few estimates to get an idea of what the cost will be and to feel out several contractors before you commit to one. Get references from them and contact those references before you give the go-ahead on the roofing repairs.

If it has been some time since you have examined your roof, or your roof is old enough where replacement is the only option, it is best to bite the bullet and get the work done. There is no denying that having a whole new roof put on is expensive, but it is an investment in your home.

It makes the home livable, prevents any further damage from the elements to other parts of the home and makes the property more appealing should you choose to sell it. A new roof is considered by home appraisers in the appraisal process and will appeal to any potential buyer who views your home.

If you are going to sell your home, however, you may not necessarily want to go out and purchase a new roof. You may be thinking why and the answer is simple. A roof does not have an excellent rate of return when selling a home. A buyer is going to expect to purchase a home that has a decent roof, but it has been shown over and over again they will not pay extra just because your roof is new. All things being equal a buyer will pay for more tangible things such as an updated kitchen or bath they can use and enjoy daily.

So for example, if a new roof on your home is going to cost $10,000 you are more than likely going to be out of luck if you think that adjusting your sale price upwards by $10,000 is going to be acceptable. More than likely you will not get anywhere near a 100 percent return on a roof and in fact far from it.

This is where your Realtor comes in to give you guidance. More than likely unless your roof is in dire need of replacement the advice will be a wait and see approach. The buyer will more than likely do a home inspection in which the roof will be flagged. This will be the point at which you can negotiate a home inspection settlement with the buyer that in many cases will end up being less than a full replacement. Hopefully, you were smart enough to hire a Realtor who has some negotiation skills as this is one of the points in a real estate transaction where they are needed most.

More Roofing Resources

If you discover you need a new roof use these roofing resources to help guide your decision making process on what type of shingles you should choose along with expected costs for your roof replacement.


The above Real Estate information on how to tell if you need a new roof was provided by Bill Gassett, a Nationally recognized leader in his field. Bill can be reached via email at [email protected] or by phone at 508-625-0191. Bill has helped people move in and out of many Metrowest towns for the last 29+ Years.

Thinking of selling your home? I have a passion for Real Estate and love to share my marketing expertise!

I service Real Estate sales in the following Metrowest MA towns: Ashland, Bellingham, Douglas, Framingham, Franklin, Grafton, Holliston, Hopkinton, Hopedale, Medway, Mendon, Milford, Millbury, Millville, Northborough, Northbridge, Shrewsbury, Southborough, Sutton, Wayland, Westborough, Whitinsville, Worcester, Upton and Uxbridge MA.

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  1. says

    Excellent tips! Replacing your roof can be a big expense. We live in a neighborhood that was built during the mid to late 90’s and over the past two years we have noticed a number of our neighbors having their roofs replaced already. Then the other day when the snow started to melt we found a shingle from our roof on the back patio. Thank goodness we are renting and will not have to pay for a new roof this year 🙂

    • says

      Sicorra that is one of the disadvantages of home ownership! While there are tons of benefits to owning a home there are always constant expenses. Replacing a roof is not inexpensive that’s for sure!

  2. says

    Great points Bill. I would like to add that there are some benefits to installing a metal roof when selling a home instead of shingles. Although metal will cost more, you will get much higher ROI when selling a home than asphalt shingles (some report around 90%). This is due in part to metal having many more benefits for homeowners such as energy efficiency, sustainability, longevity etc….people just seem to be able to justify paying more for those qualities when buying a home. Is it the same in your market Bill?

  3. says

    Good points. Thanks for the article. One idea I might add to your exterior roof check is to make sure that the vents from your bath, kitchen, and laundry appliances go all the way outside of your home.

  4. Derek Mcdoogle says

    Yesterday I can home from a long day at work and felt a water droplet fall on my head from the ceiling. You mentioned that if you actually see a leak or obvious water damage it is time to call in a roofing repair company. Do most roofing companies have different types of roofing material to use or do they prefer a specific kind?

    • says

      Derek – the type of roofing material used really depends on where you are located. Asphalt shingles are the most common type. I would recommend architectural grade which are a little more money.

  5. says

    Just read over the article here and you guys “nailed” it! Being proactive is one of the best prevention methods a home owner can take. Take a little stroll around the edge of the house and make sure to give it a good looksie!

    In response to Derek, most contractors have a specified company they usually deal with. They are many options to choose from as far as design. Take your time and pick out something good!

  6. says

    Hey Bill, cool page here. Glad you put it on your real estate site to help people when they are looking at new homes. I always instruct people to walk around the outside only focusing on the roof to see if this is something you’ll have to mess with in the next 5 years or so. Then to look for some key spots inside the house. Similar to some of the spots you mentioned above! Love looking out for people. Providing value is the best thing successful companies can do!

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