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What You Need to Know About Your Home's Roof Health

5 min read

The roof of your home is one of the most important parts. A healthy, strong roof helps ensure that your belongings inside your house stay out of the elements. The key to keeping your roof in good shape is knowing how to care for your home’s roofing material as well as completing regular inspections. Use this guide to learn more about different types of roofing and how often you should inspect each type. Knowing warning signs and what is covered by your homeowners insurance can also help you avoid roofing problems.

Roof Lifespan

The lifespan of the roof of your home is dependent on a number of different factors. Your climate and the quality of insulation and materials under your roof can greatly affect its lifespan. Apart from the weather which your roof is exposed to the most important factor in determining roof lifespan is the material used to build it. Roofing materials come in many different varieties, from synthetic materials to natural tiles. Some materials hold up over time and against the elements better than others. On the other hand, some materials are cheaper to install and require less maintenance over the course of the roof’s life.

Metal Roofs

Metal roofs provide excellent durability for a roof. Often made from galvanized steel or stainless steel, metal roofs can last up to 50 years with little to no maintenance needed. Copper is also sometimes used as a roofing material for metal roofs and can last even longer, up to 100 years if properly maintained. Copper also fades slowly into a pale green shade that many homeowners find pleasant. The cost of installing a metal roof ranges greatly by what type of metal you are using, as well as the size and shape of your roof.

Composition Shingles

One of the most common roofing materials is asphalt composite shingles, made from crushed rock or fiberglass attached to a shingle. Asphalt shingles are typically one of the least expensive roofing options and are easy to install. They are low maintenance but are less resistant to wind and other extreme weather. You can usually expect asphalt shingles to last about 20 years. Some types of asphalt shingles can last up to 40 or 50 years depending on the material used to cover the tile. However, most shingles are guaranteed by their manufacturers’ warranty for 15 to 20 years.

Wood Shingles

Made from pressure-treated wood, wood shingles or shakes are a slightly more expensive roofing option to composition shingles. Many homeowners enjoy the weathered look that natural or pre-stained wood shingles give their homes. Wood shingles require more maintenance than other roofing materials, but they are usually treated to be resistant to insects and rotting. Compared to other shingles, they are also much more flammable in the event of a fire. You can expect a wood shingle roof to last about 30 years if you follow proper maintenance.

Tile Roofs

Tiles for tile roofs can be made out of a variety of materials, including clay, cement, slate and metal. Tile roofs generally offer a lot of resistance to wear. Most tile roofs are made from materials that resist bugs and rot as well. A major upside to tile roofs is their long-lasting durability, including resistance to fading from sun exposure and fire-resistant properties. A tile roof can last 40 to 60 years if made from clay or terra cotta, and slate or concrete tiles can last over 50 years and even up to 100 years.

Warning Signs of a Damaged Roof

For tiled or shingled roofs, damages to the roof are usually easy to spot. Even from the ground, you may notice many of the shingles are curling at the corner or discolored streaks throughout the roof. Both can be signs that your tiles are wearing out or you may have a mold issue. Older shingles can start to lose their fiberglass or crushed rock coverings, exposing your roof to the elements. Many times missing granules on roof shingles come from the age of the shingle, as opposed to poor maintenance. The sooner you repair or replace your roof when it has an issue, the less likely you will face long-term, expensive roof damage.

Catch Problems Early with Regular Roof Inspections

Although each type of roofing material has different maintenance needs, roof inspections are a great way to avoid issues and catch roofing problems early. No matter what type of roof you have, many experts suggest doing your own roof inspection once or twice a year. Any time there is a major storm or strong winds, it is considered a good idea to give your roof a quick inspection yourself. This allows you to check for damage caused by the recent storm and get repairs done if necessary.

In addition to self-checks of your roof, consider hiring a professional to do a full roof inspection regularly. A professional roof inspection usually includes a look at the interior of your roof, as well as the exterior materials. The interior of your home’s roof is likely made up of underlayers, insulation and various trusses to support the roof structure. These materials are much more difficult for you to check on your own, so hiring a professional allows you to catch problems that you may not have noticed on your own. Plan to have your roof professional inspected at least once every three years. Depending on your roof type, you may want to have your roof inspected by a professional annually. Annual roof inspections are especially important for older homes with aging roofs or if you live in an area that has a heavy rainy season or high winds.

Homeowners Insurance and Roofs

Sometimes even proper maintenance and regular inspections aren’t enough to keep your roof protected. For example, a storm may hit and cause serious damage to your roof. Luckily, your homeowners insurance policy likely covers some or all of the costs to repair roof damage caused by hail, wind or a fire in the home. Your insurance policy may also provide some coverage to the roofs of external buildings on your property, such as a garden shed.

Your homeowners insurance, however, is unlikely to cover roof damage caused by wear and tear or improper maintenance. As a homeowner, it is your responsibility to maintain your roof and fix problems associated with normal wear and tear. Contact your agent to double check what roof damage is covered by your homeowners policy so you are ready if anything should happen to your roof.

Examples of Damaged Roofs

Insulation Layer Cracked

asphalt shingle

Old Composite Roof

Composite Roof

Cracked Tile Roof

Tile Roof

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The above content is for informational purposes only and is not a direct representation of coverages offered by Wawanesa or its policies. The information does not refer to any specific contract of insurance and does not modify any definitions, provisions, exclusions or limitations expressly stated in any contracts of insurance. All references within the above content are illustrative and may not apply to your situation. The terms and conditions of the actual insurance policy or policies involved in a claim are determinative as to whether an accident or other loss is covered. To understand the coverage under your current policy, please log into the account management platform to review your policy or contact an agent directly.

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