Roof repairs are crucial to the health and long life of any roof. The biggest thing to keep in mind with roof repairs is that the longer you wait, the more invasive and costly the repair may end up being. For example, ignoring a few cracked shingles can allow water to infiltrate. Over time, this can cause your roof deck to begin to rot. What would have been a quick-and-easy repair may now involve a full roof replacement and a new roof deck.
Roof repairs are much less costly than roof replacements, averaging between $300 and $1,500 for most projects. The cost depends on the repair type because roof repairs can start very small, such as replacing a few missing or cracked shingles for $50, or they can be more costly and invasive, such as repairing trusses or fixing a sagging roof, which can cost from $2,000 to $5,000 on its own.
For this reason, homeowners are encouraged to carry out professional roof inspections but also inspect their roof themselves regularly for signs that it may require repair. The faster you spot and take care of issues, the better off your roof will be.
Below are the most common signs that your roof requires a repair. Some exterior signs can be seen on your roof from the ground, while others are seen from the roof level. Others may be seen from inside your home by looking at the underside of your roof deck.
1. Shingles are missing, cracked, or curling
Start with checking the shingles themselves by walking around your home’s perimeter. Heavy rain and wind can loosen and damage your roof shingles. If you notice anything cracked, missing, or curling up at their corners, this is a sign that they may need to be repaired. In general, repairing a few shingles is a relatively easy and cheap fix, starting at $50, but costs can easily add up if the damaged area is large. Prices will also vary greatly depending on the material of your shingles.
2. Sagging roof
Look at the roof as a whole as well. If it is sagging in the middle or appears to be sinking in any areas, these are signs that the deck may require reinforcement or repair. If water has been gathering beneath the shingles, this can soften the roof deck, causing it to sag. The deck may need to be reinforced or replaced to help keep your roof stable and prevent serious damage to its structure. Be aware that this can be one of the most expensive roof issues to fix, with the cost going up to $2,000.
3. Shingle granules in gutters
Take a moment to examine other areas around the roof. This includes your gutters. Having some shingle granules in the gutters is relatively normal, especially for specific roof materials like asphalt. However, gutters full of shingle granules may signify that your roof requires repair because the granules are beginning to slough off the shingles.
4. Shingles that look dark, dirty, or wet (but are not covered in algae)
Shingles that look dark, dirty, and wet could also be an indication of a problem. The exception is if you have a light-colored roof and see algae streaks. Algae is harmless to your roof, although it can discolor it. Dark, dirty-looking shingles that are not streaked with algae could mean that the shingle is beginning to deteriorate.
5. Blistering or peeling exterior paint
Look at your paint just below the roofline. If it is blistering or peeling, this can indicate that moisture is infiltrating through the roof. You may need to update your gutters to solve this problem, or it could be indicative of a larger problem where water is getting beneath your shingles. If you see blistering or peeling paint, you may need to look more closely at your roof or the underside of your roof deck for signs of water damage in these areas as well.
6. Damaged or missing flashing around roof fixtures
Sometimes the damage to your roof is localized around specific areas like skylights, vents, and chimneys. These areas are sealed with a material known as flashing. This flashing can come loose, crack, or develop holes. If this happens, water can infiltrate around these areas. If you notice leaks around your skylight or chimney, or you see raised, loose, or missing flashing it can indicate damage to the roof in these areas. Severe weather and age are the two most common causes of damage to these areas, with high winds and hail contributing to missing and damaged flashing most often. Repairing this damage quickly can help prevent moisture damage from occurring to the rest of the roof and comes at a cost of around $200-$300.
7. Holes or cracks
Look for holes or cracks in the roof, the flashing, and any fixtures on the roof, including areas around skylights and pipes. You may notice holes or cracks after you see moisture coming in from under your roof deck or from leaks inside. Holes or cracks can let water infiltrate not only these areas, but also allow water to get beneath your shingles. This can cause further damage to the roof deck, and should be repaired as soon as possible to prevent additional damage. Roof patching is a good short-term solution to prevent further damage, with costs between $100 and $1,000, depending on the job size.
8. Mold or mildew growth in the attic
Signs that your roof may need repair can also show up inside your home. These signs often appear when more damage has occurred because moisture has had a chance to get farther into your home. Signs on the inside can begin in the attic. This includes noticing mold or mildew growth in the attic, and water stains on the underside of the roof deck.
9. Staining on walls and ceilings
Outside the attic, you may notice water stains on the walls and ceilings of the rooms just below, as well as water leaks during a storm. This discoloration is usually yellow or brown in color, and it may spread, darken, or worsen after a storm. This is an indication that water is getting in from somewhere on your roof or surrounding areas. If you notice this staining, try to examine the roof around this area for signs of damage such as missing or cracked shingles, missing flashing, or missing fascia allowing water to get beneath your shingles.
10. Water leaks
Water leaks are frequently the first indication that something is wrong with your roof and one of the most common problems. You may notice a few drips or a steady stream of water coming from one area on your roof during a storm. Keep in mind that water can travel under your roof for several inches or feet before coming through your ceiling. So, while you may want to start examining your roof in the area where the leak is found, keep in mind that you may need to examine the area around it as well for signs of further roof damage. Missing shingles or flashing, small holes and other signs mentioned in this list might be the cause of the water leak. You can expect to pay around $400 to $1,000 for minor to moderate leak issues.
11. Wet or compressed insulation
One thing to look for in your attic is wet or compressed insulation. Insulation - particularly cellulose insulation - can become heavy, saturated or appear lower to the ground than surrounding insulation. If touched it feels wet. This can lead to mold and mildew growth in the insulation itself, as well as decreased insulating properties. If your insulation has become wet due to a roof leak, it will need to be removed and replaced along with repairing the leak.
12. Smoke alarms going off without smoke or fire
Sometimes roof leaks can cause your smoke alarm to go off without smoke or fire being present in your home. This is due to moisture collecting inside of the area above the alarm, and it can cause serious issues if not addressed quickly, including damage to your home’s smoke alarm system. If you suspect this is the case, turn off the power to the area. If the smoke alarm is going off without smoke or fire, release it from the ceiling; often water will be visible or will pour from behind the unit. The leak must be addressed and the system inspected by an electrician before power can be restored.
13. Electrical shorts
Although electrical shorts, sparks and outages can be caused by many reasons, a leak in your roof could be one of them. This is due to moisture infiltrating your home’s electrical system, and it can cause serious issues such as electrical fires. If you suspect electrical issues, turn off the power to that area immediately to prevent fires. Once the leak is addressed, have the system inspected by an electrician before turning the power back on.
Address Roof Repairs On Time
Not all signs that your roof needs repair will be obvious. Some may be subtle and easily missed until the problem gets larger and water begins to infiltrate your home in larger amounts leading to issues and damage. It’s important to take a look at your roof both from the ground and from within the attic when possible, twice yearly. If you notice any signs that your roof may be damaged, contact your roofer immediately to help prevent further damage from occurring.
If you are unsure whether your roof is damaged or needs repair or replacement, have a roof inspector look for you. Generally, it is a good idea to call a roof inspector when you purchase a new home, have a big hail storm that may have damaged the roof, suspect water is coming in from the roof, or you suspect a damaged roof. The average roof inspection cost is $100 to $600, and some companies that offer inspections roll this cost into the cost of repair or replacement if it is necessary.
Written byAdam Graham Construction Industry Analyst
Adam Graham is a construction industry analyst at Fixr.com. He has experience writing about home construction, interior design, and real estate. He communicates with experts and journalists to make sure we provide the most up-to-date and fact-checked information. He has been featured in publications such as Better Homes and Gardens, and written for various outlets including the National Association of Realtors, and Insurance News Net Magazine.