How Old is My Roof?
If your home didn’t come with a written roofing pedigree, you’ll need to ascertain the age of your roof before investing in extensive repairs. Without a solid history at your disposal, you’re at risk of emptying your pockets on a costly fix when a replacement is just around the corner.
Assessing roof age is far easier than you might think. Architectural features leave a long list of repairs, permits, and receipts behind them, so put on your Sherlock Holmes hat and get started.
How Old Are My Roof Shingles?
The average slate, tile, and copper roof lasts half a century. Wood shake roofing has a significantly shorter lifespan of 30 years. Asphalt might look tough, but it loses the longevity race at a disappointing 20 years.
If you’ve lived in your home for 20 or more years, the odds are excellent that your roof has passed its sell-by date, but new roofs are too expensive for guestimates. A home inspector or roof company have the training to assess roof age, but there are several ways to track down more precise information.
How to Find Out the Age of Roof Materials
Google “how do I find out how old my roof is” and you’ll find billions of results. Fortunately, that means there’s plenty of material to work with. Your first port of call should always be the previous owners of your house. They can give up a comprehensive history of repairs, replacements, and hazards. If you can’t track them down, your county can probably tell you more than you think.
Your building permit should include a solid history, including the precise date of your last installation. This is the most objective and accurate way to determine your roof age, so it’s your best starting point. All you need to do is complete a permit application. This will not only give you a list of roofing data, but also your home’s building plans and previous inspections. It can warn you of structural failures and fire hazards, too, so no household should live without one.
Look for Signs of Aging
Visible roof damage isn’t always irreparable, but if you see widespread signs of wear, there’s a good chance your roof is older than it should be. Old roofs declare their age through a wide range of symptoms.
- Old asphalt shingles tend to lose granules, so if you find dry debris on your tiles or around your gutters, it’s probably time for a replacement.
- Blistered and curled shingles are signs of asphalt loss.
- Missing shingles could be a sign of a bad storm, but they could also denote age.
- Dark spots and streaks are signs of an algae-infected or old roof.
Check Public Records
Public records can give you important information about your home, including its previous owners, lot number, repair history, and warranties. Encumbrances are legal claims that could tell you about mortgaged repairs and liens. While they can’t promise a ready, reliable list of data, they’re perfect for those who have exhausted other options. If you’re the Sherlock Holmes of realty, you can pick up loose threads that provide clues to your roof’s history. Some records are easy to track down online through:
- Trace My House
- The National Archives and Records Administration
- Old House Web
- Building History
- The National Archives.
The Public Records Online Directory is an excellent doorway to your home’s data.
Ask a Professional
If your home’s previous owners can’t tell you the age of your roof, their roofing company might have a record. Installation businesses usually keep detailed records of their work, particularly jobs that are still covered by a guarantee. Your local roofing company may have performed your last roof installation or repair, so a few quick phone calls could be all you need. Receipts and work proposals can give you a host of information.
If you can’t track down the business in question, a professional roofer can still help you to find out more about your roof. Just as a physician can tell you about your previous surgeries on sight, roofers can pick up plenty of data about your roof based on a thorough inspection. The experts are trained to diagnose signs of age and, more importantly, indications that you need a repair or replacement.
An old roof can affect the safety of your entire family, so its age is more important than you might think. Old roofs are prone to catastrophe, particularly in heavy weather. A solid history is an important preventative measure that helps you to predict leaks before they happen, so it could save you thousands of dollars in leak repair.
Only with the right age can you operate according to the right inspection schedule, so request an assessment before the next storm. Your savings account will thank you for it.