14 Warning Signs of a Bad Roof: Do You Need a New Roof?

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The roof protects your home, your family, and possessions, however, it’s surprising how little care and attention we give our roofs. When it comes to your home’s roof, sometimes the smallest signs can be an indication of huge problems just around the corner.

Homeowners can find themselves at wit’s end and spend more money than expected when those small problems become much larger because they were ignored.

The National Association of Home Builders recommends that you or a professional have your roof  inspected every three years to watch for potential warning signs of a roof going bad.

However, we’ve found that more often than not, homeowners didn’t know exactly what to look for or what those small warning signs are to watch for.  

We’ve got you covered. We put together this list of bad roof indicators and a checklist to file away with your home inspection papers.

So, whether you are a new homeowner or have had your home for many years, it’s time to take a look up and see what condition your roof is in.

cheat sheet download

Don’t forget to download this free checklist to follow along with this list!


14 Bad Roof Indicators

We’ve put together these top visual roof problems to identify key signs that your roof is going bad and it may be time for a new one.

 

1. Algae, Moss and Lichens Growth on Shingles

algae moss lichens on shingle roof problems
What are algae, moss and lichen growth? Algae is a living organism that thrives on dust and pollen triggered by dampness. Algae may appear as dark streaks down the roof. Moss grows in shaded areas of the roof, appearing along the edges, with moisture and promotes wood rotting that causes the erosion of shingles. Lichens are a fungus that grows on the granules of shingles and appears as light or dark spots.

This type of roof damage is often caused by airborne algae, pollen, and dampness and commonly found in warm and humid climates.

Algae may not affect the service life, however visually unappealing.   Moss can cause erosion of those shingles. Lichens can ruin shingles by creating dark spots or pot marks.

Solution: Hire a professional to evaluate the current roofing condition to determine whether you will need to clean, repair or replace the roof shingles. Aim for algae and moisture resistant shingles. 

 

2. Curling or Brittle Shingles

roof problems slight curling

Early signs of slight roof shingle curling

roof problems curling visible

Damaging and visible roof shingle curling

 

Curling shingles, also referred to as “Fishmouthing”, is when asphalt shingles have curled on the ends and appear to be bent or twisted. This often occurs in the middle of the shingle tab. There are different reasons and types of curling. For example, a shingle can curl either upwards or under themselves. ShinglesT can also curl from the middle, sides, or bottom. The term “Fishmouthed” is a term for asphalt shingles that have curled in the middle of the shingle tab.  Curling of roof shingles is often seen with cupping shingles (see below).

Curling roof shingles are most often caused by an excess of moisture accumulation and or an improperly ventilated attic space. Curling can also be caused by an improper number of fasteners. The type of curling will help determine why the problem is happening.

This type of roof damage is commonly found in older roofs or worn roofs.

Having older and damaged shingles will allow leaking, reduce the protection and cause more damage to the underside and overall roofing condition.

Solution: If your asphalt shingles are curling, your roof should be examined by a professional immediately.  Be careful not to walk on the damaged curling shingles. Curled shingles can easily break which can cause roof leaks. This type of damage can be a definite sign that it is time for a new roof.

 

3. Blistering Shingles

 

heat blistering on roof, roof problems

The difference between roof blistering and hail damage

 

What is roof blistering?  Blisters look like pockmarks and are characterized by a loss of asphalt. Water or moisture make the roofing materials expand and when it evaporates, it leaves behind a small blister. When there isn’t enough attic ventilation or insulation, it leads to a change in temperature between the roof’s surface and the attic’s interior, promoting conditions that contribute to the development of blisters.

Roof blistering is usually caused by poor ventilation of the roof system, over-heated roof, moisture in the shingles or excessive use of asphalt plastic cement.

Roof blistering typically appears within the first year after shingles are installed. Roof blistering threatens the security of your home. Blisters remove the granules that protect the roof and can lead to leaks.  And leaks can lead to much larger problems.

If you notice you have areas of blistering on your roof, it’s wise to have a professional take a look. Since blisters usually appear about a year after the roof is installed, assessing the extent of the blistering should be the first task your contractor undertakes.

A small amount of minor blistering will most likely not lead to leaks, but you might want to repair the damage anyway to keep your roof’s aesthetic appeal.

 

 

4. Missing Shingles

 

roof problems missing shingle reds

Missing roof shingles

roof problems missing-shingles

Missing roof shingles

While it may not be a problem to replace a few missing shingles, however, any you may have any left from the initial installation probably won’t match. In fact, spare shingles and even new shingles may not match exactly due to the natural weathering and discoloration.

If you have many missing shingles, this may mean that your roof is nearing the end of life stage and you may need complete replacing. Missing shingles are caused by natural weathering, high winds, age, and possible improper fastening.

This type of roof damage can be found in older roofs and after high wind storms.

Missing shingles cause the roof to no longer protect the home. They expose the underside and no longer create a water proof layer. Missing shingles also invite water and moisture in that can create leaks and damage in the home.

Solution: Have a professional check the overall condition of the roof to determine if age is a factor. This will determine if you only need to replace the missing shingles or need to replace all of the shingles.

 

cheat sheet download

 

5. Rotting Shingles

roof problems rotting

roof problems 800px-Failure of asphalt shingles allowing roof leakage

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Shingles that are rotting or decaying can be seen by excessive loss of granules, shriveled, broken, and are often moist and flexible.

Rotting and decaying shingles are caused by absorption of moisture penetrated down to the mat of the shingle.

This type of problem is most often found with organic-based shingles (which are no longer being manufactured).

Solution: Rotting shingles is an immediate sign that you need to replace all the shingles of your roof.

 

6. Balding Shingles, Missing Granules, Granules in Gutters

 

roof problems balding shingles
The granules on shingles are applied to help protect the asphalt shingle coating from UV rays of the sun, to make the shingles fire resistant and to give the roof  visual appeal. Missing granules and granules in the gutter is to be expected during and after a new roof installation due to handling the shingles during the installation process. However, if the roof is over a year old and if the granules are showing excessive loss or balding, then the asphalt begins to be exposed thus causing rapid deterioration.

Missing granules will be found during initial roof installation or shingle replacing, however, balding and excessive missing granules will be caused by the age of the shingles. Rotting, blistering, cracking and creasing can also be the cause of missing granules or balding shingles.

Missing granules and balding shingles are found on older roofs and roofs exposed to extreme conditions over a long period of time.

Excessive loss of the grains and particles will no longer protect the shingle or roof and allow for water leakage and increase the overall loss of function.

Solution: Your roof may no longer be protecting your home from damage and will need to be replaced.

 

7. Damaged Flashing

Roof problems Chimney flashing falling apart

Chimney flashing falling apart

roof problems damaged flashing

Damaged flashing rotting roof

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The flashing is a protective layer around the base of a chimney and other protruding items on the roof where they meet the roof shingles. Flashing should be smooth with no visible openings.

You can see when the flashing becomes damaged by unevenness, shifting, curling and breaking.

Damage to this protective layer can be caused by drying, cracking, improper installation, age, and even weathering.

This flashing damage is usually found around the base area of the chimney. Damaged flashing is highly damaging to the home itself because it creates a water inlet that will seep down into the roof and attic. This leakage and additional water will damage the wood by rotting it.

slipped flashing creating water leak spot

Slipped flashing creates water inlet

Solution: The flashing can be repaired or replaced.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. Buckling Shingles

roof problems buckling on red roofRoof problems buckling of roof shingles


Shingle or roof buckling is the result of asphalt shingles not laying flat due to the wrinkling of the roofing underlayment or the movement of the wood deck. Often referred to as “warped”.  
Several factors can cause buckling, such as lack of ventilation, improperly applied felt, and movement in the deck.

Roof buckling can occur in any roof at any time after roof installation.

Some solutions for shingle buckling are to allow moisture to escape the roof, remove the shingles and the areas that are affected, ensure the attic is properly ventilated. In addition, you should consult with your professional roofing contractor to make sure that the roof sheathing is properly spaced to prevent buckling due to expansion and contraction.

 

 

9. Ceiling or Water Spots

 water-damagepopcorn-ceiling-stain

 

 

 

 

 

Watch for dark water stains on your roof or on your ceiling as a sign of water damage. The stains may be just slightly darker than the ceiling color, yellowish, or even bubbled. Water damage in the ceiling is caused by leaks in the roof.

The damage can cause failure in the interior of the home on the ceiling and down the inside wall lining. This will create mold and rot, potentially collapsing.

Solution: Check the roof for damaged shingles and the attic or crawl space for leaks in the deck. Look for cracks in the flashing around the chimney and vents. On the rafters, check for leaks that travel away from the original source. If you notice water spots, contact your contractor immediately to determine potential damage to the roof, the attic, and interior ceiling.

 

10. Cupping Shingles

roof problems cupping shingles badOrganic-shingle-deformation1

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What is cupping?  Over time, the cumulative effects of sunlight, moisture, and changes in temperature can cause asphalt roofing shingles to curl or cup.  Cupping shingles have concave centers and/or raised or curled edges on the sides and/or corners.  Stay off the roof, as curling and cupping asphalt shingles are extremely fragile. Walking on them you run the risk of cracking them and causing roof leaks.

Curling and cupping roof shingles can occur for a variety of reasons. The shingles may simply be old and solar and weather conditions may have simply got the best of them over time. However, in many cases cupping and curling roof shingles is a sign of inadequate insulation and ventilation in the attic. If heat builds up in the attic and is not relieved by a ridge, soffit, and gable vents, the roof shingles can become extremely stressed. This stress manifests itself in distorted, cracked and cupped shingles.

Another cause of cupping asphalt roof shingles can be the result of ice dams. Ice dams are water that works its way up under shingles and then freezes, distorts, and stresses the asphalt shingles significantly.

If the cupping shingles tend to occur every three feet or so it’s probably because the shingles were stored on the ridge of the roof it would give a bend to the shingles. It is also possible they were butted too tight together (the recommendation is leaving a 1/8″ gap between the sheets of plywood).

When shingle cupping begins on an asphalt shingle roof it can turn your home into an eyesore. It also weakens the overall performance of your roof making it vulnerable to shingle breakage and leaks because it begins to loosen the seal on the shingle.

Solution:  If you find that your shingles are cupping or showing beginning signs of cupping, this is a clear sign that your shingles have been stressed and are in need of replacement. 

 

 

11. Lifting, Separating & Broken Seals

roof problems lifting broken seals

The shingles have lifted and pulled from adhesive strips or sealant between each layer. Nails may have loosened, lessening the roof’s ability to be watertight.High winds and storms are often the cause for shingles to lift, separate or become broken.

This type of damage to the roof lessens the roof’s ability to be wind resistant and watertight.

 

 

 

12. Creasing Shingles


roof problems creasingA creased shingle is where there are lines and creases along one visible side, typically the topmost side running vertically.

Wind damage and even protruding nails on the underside which leave gaps where the sealant cannot adhere the shingles properly. These gaps and spaces allow for winds to get under the shingles and bend them upwards creating the creasing.

 

 

 

13. Sagging or Bowing Roof

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Roof lines should be arrow straight. If you can see a dip, curve or swag on the peak when standing in the street, your roof has a problem. Sagging or bowing roof shingles are not actually shingle problems. This is a structural problem of the roof, visible through the top shingle layer. Framing terminology for a roof line can be reduced to a simple triangle (seen from within the attic).  Even if the sagging is not noticeable from the exterior, there may still be signs of sagging inside your home. Look for cracks in the drywall on the ceiling.

In some cases, roof sagging problems are not caused by framing issues. Rotten or saturated sheathing can also cause roof lines to sag. Although, a broken roofing rafter could be the culprit.

If the framing appears straight and sound, and problems are not found elsewhere but the roof still sags, the problem might have originated because of poor installation of the plywood sheathing or shingles. When water penetrates through the shingles it causes the plywood to warp, weaken or rot, causing the roof to appear as if it’s sagging between rafters.

A sagging roof isn’t just unattractive – it could be a warning that eventually the roof could collapse.

Solution: Problems with and repairs to a sagging roof should be evaluated by professionals. It may be a simple fix, such as jacking up loose rafters, or it may be a roof replacement.

 

14. Splitting, Cracking or Tearing Shingles

roof-problems-cracking-vertical

Thermal splitting,” or “cracking” which in fact is in most cases actually a tearing of the shingles . The term “tearing” can be seen as the most accurate description of what’s probably happening. As the asphalt layer loses volatiles, it also loses mass, which causes the shingle’s surface to shrink in size. The different rates of shrinkage between the surface exposed to weather and the shingle’s interior are called “differential shrinkage.” 

Thermal splitting and shingle cracks or splits can occur in a horizontal pattern, vertical, vein or diagonal patterns. Thermal splitting or tears occur in both conventional 3-tab shingles and also in laminated asphalt shingle roofs.

Often, granule loss can be seen with tearing shingles.

Splitting, cracking or tearing shingles can be caused by cold weather installation & bending ridge or hip cap shingles, lacking adequate tear resistance substrate, high exposure to heat and the wind, extreme temperature fluctuations, too strong of bonding adhesive causing inadequate movement allowance, laddering or staggered nailing in combination with other issues.

Cracks through roof shingles, regardless of cause, mean accelerating wear rate.

Solution:  If you find that your shingles are splitting, cracking or tearing, this is a clear sign that your shingles have been stressed and are in need of replacement. 

 

Free download bad roof identifiers

 


What’s Next?

Fixing your roof problems starts with selecting the right roofing contractor.

If you notice any of the bad roof signs of your shingles, it’s a good idea to have a qualified professional with roofing expertise take a look at your roof system. Horizon Exteriors, LLC can easily make a complimentary on-site visit to your Wisconsin home to view a roof in any condition – including one with cupped, cracked, sagging and buckling shingles.

Horizon Exteriors, LLC is an experienced roofing contractor that will let you know when your shingles are ready to be replaced. We will also advise you whether other roofing components such as soffits, ridge vents or gable vents need to be modified or replaced to keep your roof ventilation properly balanced.

Call Horizon Exteriors, LLC today and have our team inspect the roof shingles you’re concerned about. Our caring, friendly professionals will provide you with a free estimate.

Call us at (844)433-4348 or email us at info@hedidit.com. We are waiting to help you!

 


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