The Book On Roofing

Guide to Repairing or Replacing Your Roof

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Sooner or later, all homeowners will need to decide whether to repair or replace their roof. Like other major investments in life, this question usually comes at an inopportune time — especially where finances are concerned. Owners or older homes eventually come face-to-face with the reality of an aging roof that either needs to be replaced or repaired. For homeowners in PA, particularly, recent roof damage requires an immediate response.

But how do you know which decision to make? Even if you do have the funds or can fall back on a home equity loan, most people don’t want to go through with a full roof replacement if it’s not necessary. That’s why homeowners need to inform themselves about when a full roof replacement is necessary or when a repair job will suffice. This boils down to weighing short-term needs with long-term value as well as multiple other factors.

If you have questions about whether to repair or replace your roof in Pennsylvania, we hope this guide will help make this decision easier. In addition to the advice you’ll find here, it’s still wise to consult with an expert about your specific roofing situation. After all, you’re not a roofing expert — you just want to make smart home improvement investments that will ultimately pay off.

Roof Replacement Costs

When deciding between a roof repair or replacement, you need to be aware of the difference in cost. A full roof replacement will cost more than a roof repair in most cases. But how much more?

As a general guideline, a roof replacement on the average American home of 2,500 square feet can cost anywhere between $7,000 and $25,000. Some types of roof systems can cost upwards of $50,000. Obviously, this is a massive price gap. That’s because the cost of a roof replacement depends on several factors:

  • The contractor’s labor rates
  • Types of roofing materials used
  • Your home’s geographic location
  • Your roof’s slope, type and architectural style
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Though it’s a big investment, it sometimes makes better financial sense to replace a severely damaged or aging roof than to repair it. This is because homes naturally increase in value when owners install a new roof. In 2013, Remodeling Magazine found that a roof replacement adds an average of $12,000 to a home’s resale value. This translates to an investment recovery of roughly 63%. New roofs add curb appeal and represent one less home improvement the buyer has to make.

Factors That Affect a Roof’s Lifespan

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In general, a roof should last between 20 and 25 years. However, many roofs can long outlive even this fairly impressive life expectancy. A roof’s lifespan depends on many factors, including construction quality, maintenance and general wear and tear. But even the most conscientious homeowners can’t always prevent storm damage that threatens their roof’s integrity. That’s why certain climates have different roof repair and replacement needs than others, including the Keystone State.

If you own a home in Pennsylvania, here are some of the various factors that can determine how long your roof will last and when to replace your roof:

  • Weather Patterns: In Pennsylvania, the number-one factor affecting a roof’s lifespan is the harsh winter weather. Winter storms can cause all sorts of damage to homes. High winds can weaken shingles and blow them right off. When heavy snowfalls occur, moisture can seep into the roof deck in parts where shingles are missing or damaged. Over time, harsh winter weather can cause enough wear and tear that the roof will need replacing.
  • Extensive Recent Damage: It’s possible your roof has suffered severe damage after a recent and extensive snow storm. Snow and wind can cause tree limbs to break off, which can further damage already-aging roofs. Extensive and recent storm damage needs to be dealt with immediately to prevent the problem from worsening. Often, this may require a complete roof replacement.
  • Age of Your Home: In most situations, roof damage is a result of gradual aging. This is an inevitable fact of homeownership. Eventually, parts of your home — especially those exposed directly to the elements — will wear out. The older your roof is, the less it will be able to withstand winter weather, storms or falling trees. Over time, roofing materials begin to deteriorate due to sun exposure. This is especially applicable in historic regions like Pennsylvania, which have plenty of older homes.
  • Initial Construction Quality: High-quality construction and premium roofing materials will undoubtedly last longer than poorly-constructed roofs. If your roof was built with cheap materials and shoddy construction, you’ll need to replace it sooner than the average roof. Combine poor quality with Pennsylvania’s weather and you may be looking at a full roof replacement within a few years.
  • Maintenance Routines: Homeownership requires routine preventative maintenance — especially in harsh climates. If the previous owners didn’t conduct routine maintenance, that could lead to a shorter roof lifespan. On the other hand, if you commit to regular roof servicing, you can significantly extend the life of your roof. This means you’ll mostly need small repairs here and there instead of a full replacement.

6 Things to Consider When Deciding Between Replacing or Repairing Your Roof

Based on the unique factors affecting the current condition of your roof, you’ll need to decide if it’s a better investment to repair or replace your roof in PA. Sometimes a partial re-roofing job will do the trick. This means you can replace one side of the roof with new materials while leaving the rest of the roof intact. This requires less labor and fewer materials, which keeps costs down.

Depending on the age of the roof, you may need to hire a roofing contractor again in a few years to replace the remaining sections of the roof. In this case, homeowners may be wise to invest in a full repair now while the tradespeople are onsite with their equipment. Keep in mind that, eventually, the roof will need to be replaced because repairs alone won’t sustain it.

If you’re uncertain whether to repair or replace your roof, take some time to consider the following items before you contact a roofing contractor.

1. Is My Roof’s Current Condition a Threat to Health and Safety?

Your priority should be you and your family’s safety. If you’ve experienced recent storm damage or some event has damaged your roof’s structural integrity in an obvious way, you need to think safety first. In the event of severe roof damage, it’s best to call in a contractor right away to make sure you aren’t at risk of a roof collapse.

Additionally, if your home has suffered water damage, your roof could be a breeding ground for dangerous mold. Mold in homes can severely threaten the health of the occupants — especially if you live with young children or seniors. With extensive damage or mold growth, it’s almost always necessary to go for a full roof replacement; however, a partial roof replacement may suffice if the damage is isolated to a certain side of the roof.

2. How Many Missing or Damaged Shingles Does My Roof Have?

If a few shingles have blown off due to high winds or falling trees, a simple repair job could be the best option. Likewise, if there are multiple damaged or curling shingles, but they’re localized to one spot, a contractor can easily replace the shingles in that area.

As a general rule of thumb, experts recommend a full roof replacement if it’s missing more than 30% of its shingles. That’s because it can end up being less expensive per square-foot to replace a roof than it would be to repair such a large portion. Getting estimates from a roofing contractor will help you decide which option offers the most value.

3. Can I Patch Up Any Leaks?

Leaks happen with normal wear and tear — especially in climates like Pennsylvania’s. If you’ve got a small leak that’s confined to one part of your roof, you’re in luck. A roofing contractor can patch up your leak with a minor repair job. This not only saves you the cost of a roof replacement, but also prevents water damage and rot. By dealing with small leaks right away, you can extend the lifespan of your roof through preventative maintenance.

However, if you have multiple leaks and you’ve had them for a while, you may face moisture damage. If moisture damage is extensive, it may be affecting your roof supports, which can be dangerous. In this case, you can’t have a contractor shingle over these spots. They’ll need to replace the roof deck to fix the problem.

4. How Concerned Am I About aesthetics?

Shingles lose their coloring over time due to sun exposure and general weathering. That means new roofing materials won’t look the same as the current ones. For some homeowners, this isn’t a big deal. But other people may be concerned by this.

You need to ask yourself how important roof aesthetics are to you. When you’re facing a $3,000 quote for a roof repair, you may not be concerned that your new shingles won’t match your existing ones. But if you think there’s a possibility the difference in color will bother you over time, you may want to consider a full replacement.

On the other hand, if the color difference is barely noticeable or the repair is located in a hidden spot, then repairing that one section may be your most sensible option.

5. How Much Time Will Repairs Add to My Roof’s Life?

If you’re leaning towards repairing a portion of your roof rather than replacing it, you need to ask how much time you have before you’ll need a full replacement. If a roof repair job can add another decade to your roof, it’s the obvious choice.

However, if a roof repair will only hold out for another two years, then a roof replacement is a smart investment — provided it’s “in the cards,” financially speaking. By hiring an honest roofing contractor, you can get professional advice on when to replace your roof.

6. What Can I Afford to Invest?

Ultimately, your decision will come down to what you can afford. Gather estimates from multiple contractors for different options. Compare the cost difference between the bare minimum repair job that’s required and a full roof replacement. What’s a better value?

For many families, the difference in price between a roof repair and a roof replacement could be a much-needed vacation. That may not be worth sacrificing right now. However, if you can afford a roof replacement, and it's a better value all around, then there are ways to fund your new roof.

Home equity roof repairs are common in Pennsylvania and other regions that are prone to roof damage. A home equity loan uses the equity you’ve built up in your home to pay for the cost of a roof replacement. Talk to a financial expert about home equity roof repairs and how you can finance your construction project.

Advantages of Roof Repair vs. Replacement

With so many things to consider, it’s no wonder many homeowners feel overwhelmed when it comes time to make this decision. But by weighing the pros and cons, homeowners can feel certain in their choice. Let’s look at the advantages of each option.

Advantages of roof repairs:

  • Costs less
  • Is part of routine maintenance on wear and tear
  • Prevents moisture damage
  • Requires less time spent with your home under construction
  • Fixes immediate safety hazards and inconveniences

Advantages of roof replacement:

  • Extends the lifespan of your roof another 20+ years
  • Increases the value of your home
  • Offers better ROI than repairs
  • Deals with major damage better than a repair

Extending Your Roof’s Lifespan

Whether you decide to replace or repair your roof, it’s critical to keep it well-maintained moving forward so you can extend your roof’s lifespan. Conduct regular roof inspections before winter so you can make preventative repairs ahead of harsh weather. Examine your roof again in the spring for any new damage.

Here are some preventative and ongoing maintenance tasks you can conduct:

  • Reseal any cracked caulking around the joints, chimney and flashing
  • Clear away debris from the roof and gutters
  • Trim back tree limbs that hang over the roof
  • Clean rust from any metal areas on the roof
  • Sweep away layers of snow after each heavy snowfall to prevent a roof collapse

Additionally, if you have just one or two damaged or curling shingles, you may be able to replace these yourself. It’s an inexpensive way to prevent costly moisture damage.

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Be sure to ask your roofing contractor about preventative measures that can extend the life of your roof after it’s been repaired or replaced. The more attention you pay to your roof, the more life you’ll get from it.

Consult Professional Roof Technicians

Choosing the right roofing contractor will be the best decision you make, whether you repair or replace your roof. A professional and experienced roofing contractor can help you make the right decision that offers you the best value. If you’re looking for roof repair services in Lancaster, PA, then turn to the experts at The Exterior Company.

As a full-service roofing contractor, we can repair your roof after damage or as part of regular maintenance. We know that a well-maintained roof is critical for protecting your home from harsh winter elements. We have the expertise to adequately diagnose your roofing problem and help you decide between repairing or replacing the roof of your PA home.

Choose the professionals at TEC for your next roof repair or replacement project. Contact us today.

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