When you consider purchasing a home, one of the most important things to inquire about is the roof’s age. If you bought your Tennessee home years ago, you likely relied on a home inspector to uncover any issues and were satisfied by a passing inspection. However, even with proper installation and maintenance, your roof will eventually need replacement. To determine whether it’s time for a roof replacement, you must determine your roof’s age and compare it with that material’s expected lifespan.
How Long Can I Expect My Roof to Last?
Different roofing materials maintain functionality for various amounts of time. Homeowners with roofs made of slate, copper, or tile can expect them to hold up for over 50 years, but other more common materials demonstrate a shorter lifespan. Wood shake roofs remain useful for approximately 30 years, roofs of fiber cement shingles last for 25 years, and asphalt shingle requires replacement after 20 years. Climate and extreme weather conditions shorten the lifespan of all roofs, no matter what material is used. A roof that has been poorly installed using low-quality materials can start to deteriorate in less than a decade.
Steps to Take to Determine the Age of Your Roof
- Contact the Previous Owners
The easiest and most straightforward way to find out your Knoxville roof’s age is to contact your home’s previous owners. You should have their contact information from the sale, so a simple phone call or email can provide an answer. If they cannot be reached or can’t remember the roof’s age, you have several more options.
- Check for a Building Permit
Depending on the location of your home, a building permit may be required for roof installation. If this applies to your home, you should possess a copy of this permit along with other documents related to the construction or sale of your home. Keep in mind that this permit will include the date it was granted, not the roof installation or repair date. These permits tend to be valid for a few years at a time so that it can provide at least a rough estimate.
- Contact the Roofing Company
If you do not have the proper documentation yourself, your next option is to determine the roofing company that completed the work. Often roofing materials include the name of the company, so examine your roof cavity or attic for this information. Most roofing companies maintain detailed records for years, so as long as your roof doesn’t predate these companies, they should have the information you’re looking for. If you cannot determine the roofing company, but there are only a limited number of them in your area, you may find success by calling each one and asking them to consult their records.
- Research Public Records
The last place that could include documentation of your Tennessee home’s most recent roof installation is within public records. Different towns and counties follow different procedures for recording and storing this information, so you will want to ask around to determine who can help you. Your local tax office and code enforcement office are good places to start. They should provide this information for free, but it may take a while.
- Check for Visible Damage
If you can’t find any relevant documents to give you the age of your roof, the next step is to examine your roof yourself for signs of visible damage. Your roof will show different signs based on the material used to construct it. Make sure to use binoculars and stand on a ladder, rather than walking directly on the surface of your roof, to avoid safety hazards or causing further damage.
- Wooden shingle or shake roofs—Roofs constructed of wood come in two forms: shingles that are sawn and tapered or shakes that are hand-split on at least one side, either straight or tapered. Both wooden shingles and shakes are susceptible to warping and dry rot. When you see signs of damage on up to one-third of the roof’s total area, it is undoubtedly time for a replacement.
- Slate, clay, and tile roofs—Roofs made of these durable materials demonstrate the longest longevity, but they can break due to ice damage and extreme climate changes. Such damage comes in the form of chips, cracks, or missing pieces. Because the quality of these materials is so high, a roofer can sometimes simply replace the broken tiles rather than doing a total roof replacement.
- Metal roofs—Metal roofs can be aluminum, steel, copper, lead, or galvanized iron. Every material responds to aging and damage in unique ways, but generally, you should be looking for evidence of pitting, rusting, or corrosion, as well as loose joints or open seams that can cause air or water leakage.
- Asphalt roofs—A roof made of asphalt consists of a granular surface resembling fine gravel that protects the asphalt from the sun’s damaging UV rays. As this material ages, it becomes brittle, and these granules loosen from the surface and result in the roof no longer being watertight. Bare spots of asphalt on your roof or sizable deposits of granules within your gutters indicate deterioration. This material may also warp, curl, and tear due to heavy winds, sun exposure, and age. Curling shingles do not function effectively and should be replaced immediately.
No matter what material is used for your roof, there are certain signs common to all roofs that indicate they require repair or replacement:
- Any evidence of missing shingles demonstrates that the adhesive is no longer holding. Missing shingles dislodged due to a storm may be replaced individually rather than requiring a full replacement.
- Inspect the roof valley, the spot where two roof slopes join. Water collects in this area, so damage here can result in extensive problems.
- Any interruptions on your roof, such as dormers, chimney, or vent pipes, are covered with metal flashing that should also be examined for signs of damage. Rusted, faulty, or missing flashing allows moisture intrusion and can significantly damage your interior walls.
- Schedule a Professional Roof Inspection
Any signs of the damage described above require immediately contacting a reputable roofing company for repair or replacement. Even if your roof appears in good condition, damage from wind, hail, and other weather conditions may be hidden by shingles and therefore invisible to the naked eye. The only way to make sure your roof is functioning properly is to schedule an inspection by a roofing specialist.
Is It Time to Schedule Repairs or Replacement?
Schedule a roofing inspection this winter to ensure your Knoxville roof is doing its job protecting your home and family. A qualified roofer can provide you with an accurate estimate of your roof’s age and recommend any necessary repairs. They will examine your roof for the same signs of damage listed above but can do a more thorough, reliable job than you can due to their experience, skills, and resources. To benefit from a professional roof inspection and gain peace of mind this winter, contact the experts from Erie Metal Roofs today to schedule your inspection.