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Roof Replacement vs. A Repair: Which One Do I Need?

October 29, 2021 | 5 min. read

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Being an average human and navigating the land of the roofing industry can be confusing and complicated.

HGTV makes it look fun. “Getting a new roof can add more curb appeal,” they said. “Look at all of the fun swatches that match your front door,” they said.  

All these statements can distract you from the reality that the roofing process is not always as easy as they make it seem.

Before you can dive into the fun elements they show on t.v., there is one question you have to decide on: what service do you need?

Do you need a total roof replacement? A layover? Maybe just a repair? There are so many possibilities. And with no guidance, this initial step can be a roadblock that halts the whole roofing process. 

So, how do you know what you need?

Rescue My Roof has been in the roofing industry for a decade and we do inspections on roofs every day to help our clients answer that same question: what service do I need? 

Using our expertise, we’ve come up with all of the questions you should ask yourself before determining what service you need. And by the end of this article, you should have a clear idea of whether or not you need a replacement or a repair and what steps to take next. 

Signs You Should Get A Roof Replacement

Most roofing issues can be fixed if they are caught early enough. However, if you don’t catch it in time, you could be dealing with issues that will result in a roof replacement.

Unfortunately, even if you do catch a problem early on, its severity can also lead to needing a roof replacement.

Here are three issues you should be on the lookout for. If your roof has these issues, it’s time to begin searching for a roofing contractor. 

1. Leaks in Multiple Areas

Leaks are typically fixable. However, if your roofing is leaking in two to three areas, repairing those leaks individually might be a temporary fix.

Leaks in multiple areas mean your roof is failing. Even if you fix the leaks you find now, you are bound to encounter even more leaks later. It is only a matter of time before your roof starts to fail.

Additionally, repairing the damage from leaks is only effective when a professional correctly diagnoses the leak’s source. If your contractor didn’t locate the true source of the leak, you will continue to see damage to your roof and home.

Overall, if you have extensive issues with leaks, it might be in your best interest to consider a roof replacement. 

Repairs can be pricey, so a roof replacement may be more cost-effective, depending on the extent of the leaks. Get multiple quotes from local roofing contractors to evaluate what your options are. 

2. Your Roof Shingles Are In Poor Condition

Granule Loss on a roof means, at the very least, you need new shingles or a roof replacement.One of the most common issues with older roofs are missing shingles – but you should also keep an eye out for the condition of existing shingles.

Missing shingles isn’t the only indicator that your shingles are at the end of their life. Your roof could also be experiencing: 

  • Granule loss
  • Curling and cupping
  • Hip and Ridge Cap lifting
  • Algae 

If you spot any of these issues, it means your roof is failing, and it is no longer as effective as it once was. 

With these particular issues, repairs would be complicated, and cosmetic upgrades like a layover would be impossible due to the poor shape of the existing shingles.

Getting a new roof is the best way to handle these issues so that your roof can continue to protect your home. 

3. Your Roof is Sagging

Roof sagging means a roof replacement is necessary.A sagging roof is a serious sign that your roof is failing, and it’s time to get a replacement.

Sagging in the roof is often caused by the wooden decking beneath your roof rotting due to excess moisture. 

Once the damage is so severe that the roof begins to sag, it may be too late to repair. While the roofing company can replace that one area of the roof if the water source isn’t properly diagnosed, the issue won’t disappear. 

Additionally, other areas of your roof may still be in the early stages of rotting. The best thing to do is to call a professional for an inspection.

The inspector will give you a good idea of how much of your roof is damaged and tell you the best option. Typically, they will tell you that you will need a roof replacement to ensure the safety of your home. 

Roofing Issues That Can Be Repaired 

Not all issues you will encounter with your roof will lead to a replacement. Depending on the issue and the stage in which it is caught, it is possible that it can be repaired.

Here are fours issues that can be repaired:

1. Missing Shingles

Due to damage, age, and poor workmanship, shingles can occasionally blow off of your roof. If you notice areas where shingles are missing, it can be a repairable problem.

Missing shingles compromise the roof and need repair

A roofing contractor can match new shingles to your existing shingles and cover the areas where they are missing. 

If the shingles cannot be matched because they are no longer in production, you may want to consider a replacement for cosmetic reasons. However, in these cases, insurance will usually cover the cost of the replacement. 

Missing shingles can leave your roof vulnerable to water damage. If you have noticed areas of missing shingles on your roof, don’t wait. Call a roofing contractor to get an estimate on repairs. 

2. Minor Leaks

If you have one area on your roof that is leaking, a repair is possible. A roofing contractor can patch up the leak and replace any materials that the moisture may have damaged.

However, if your roof is old and there are other problem areas, it may be more cost-effective to do a roof replacement. 

The best thing to do in this scenario is to have a professional inspect your roof. If the leak is the only issue and they can find the water source, a repair will do the trick.

If the issue cannot be properly diagnosed, or they spot other areas of concern, then a roof replacement might be necessary. 

3. Mold or Mildew Growing in the Attic

Mold growing in an attic space due to poor ventilation.
Mold growing in the attic space.

Mold or mildew growing in your attic space can pose a safety risk to you and your family. But it doesn’t mean that you immediately have to get a roof replacement.

Roofing experts can spray your attic space to kill all of the mold and replace any wooden decking that has too much damage. 

However, if a significant portion of your roof is affected, it might be ideal to get a roof replacement. The only real way to know which option is best for you is to contact a professional to inspect your home. 

4. Rotten Decking

Small areas where decking may be damaged can be repaired. A roofing contractor can tear off the shingles and underlayment in that area, cut out the rotten decking, and replace the wood. 

Again, this repair process is contingent on the extent of the damage. If they begin to tear up the roofing materials and find the majority of your roof has been damaged, a replacement will be necessary. 

What Could Happen if I Wait on Roof Repairs or Replacement?

It might seem like the time is never right. Unfortunately, your roof plays a significant role in the safety of your home, and it’s not a risk you will want to take to put off repairs or a replacement.

When you leave roofing issues unattended – especially leaks – there will be harmful consequences. 

Roof leaks can not only rot the decking of your roof, but eventually, the water will make its way into your home and begin to damage drywall. 

If left for too long, it can begin to damage your personal belongings like furniture and carpet, as well as result in costly repairs beyond a roof replacement. 

If you notice issues with your roof, the best thing to do is call a roofing contractor for an inspection and estimate in a timely manner.

The Steps To Take After You’ve Encountered Issues With Your Roof

Some issues like rotten decking, missing shingles, and minor leaks can be repaired. Large-scale issues like multiple leaks, curling and cupping shingles, and roof sagging require a replacement. 

If you’ve noticed these issues, time is of the essence. You don’t want to wait and find yourself paying more for repairs or a replacement later on. 

Not experiencing large-scale roofing issues? You can continue your roofing education with “9 Questions You Should Ask Before Hiring a Roofing Contractor” and “What To Expect At Your Roof Estimation Appointment.”

If you’ve encountered any of the issues on this list in the greater Milwaukee Area, Rescue My Roof can provide you with a free estimate. Get your free estimate by contacting us today, and we will gladly help you with any repairs or roof replacements.