8 Signs your Roof Needs Repair

asphalt shingles with cracks and algae discoloration

Ah, Spring! It’s just around the corner here in West Michigan. As we look forward to warmer weather and more sunshine, homeowners and small businesses know that it also means we should check our home or business for required maintenance. Looking for signs your roof needs repair should be at the top of your checklist.

Obviously, if you notice leaks inside of any kind, it is a sure sign of roof problems. But in addition to the obvious, here are some signs to specifically look for to determine if your roof needs repair or maintenance.

Look at the Roof from a Distance

For this inspection, stand back from your building at a distance. Look on all sides and at different angles to do a thorough job. Here’s what to look for.

Sagging or drooping

Roofs can sag or droop without your realizing it is happening. If you can see sagging or drooping from a distance, this is a sure sign of an issue with your roof. See below for other ways to inspect for this issue.

Discoloration or peeling paint on siding near the roofline

While peeling paint is often associated with simply needing a new paint job, if paint is peeling or discolored primarily near the roofline, it could be signaling a roof problem. This is especially prevalent in climates where there is continuous thawing and freezing as we have here in the Grand Rapids Michigan area. This is because ice dams are generally the culprit. In addition to the damage that ice dams cause to the roof, as they melt the excess water can also seep into the exterior walls. That makes the paint peel or the siding become discolored.

Go Up On the Roof Itself

If you have a good, safe ladder and are steady on your feet, the next way to find signs your roof needs repair is to get up on the roof itself. Here’s what to look for once you have a birds-eye view of things.

Curled, cracked, or damaged shingles

Take a look at your shingles from all sides of the roof. If they are curled, cracked, or damaged, it’s important to take steps to repair them. Considerable damage might mean a completely new roof, but smaller instances will fare nicely by replacing the shingles.

Missing shingles

Wind may have torn shingles off your roof without your knowledge. It may leak ever so slightly–barely noticeable. But the long-term damage a missing shingle will cause is not ever so slight! Look carefully for any missing shingles, and be sure to do a thorough inspection as they are easy to miss.

Shingle granules in the guttersgranules in gutter from asphalt shingle wear and tear

During your roof inspection, check the gutters for granules that may have worn off from asphalt shingles. Finding small amounts of these granules is a normal part of the wear and tear of the roof itself. Exposure to the elements,  particularly after a hard rain or hailstorm, causes even more granules to wear away from the shingles. But if you notice a lot of them for no reason, or if the amount of granules seems to be increasing, it could be a sign your roof needs repair or replacement.

Damage around drip edges, chimney flashing, or roof fixtures

Installing the drip edge, chimney flashing, or flashing around other fixtures is one of the things that separates a good roofer from an amateur do-it-your-selfer. Improper installation or materials can cause moisture to seep into the roof. In addition to improper installation, flashing issues commonly arise as a result of inclement weather or even animals trying to get in. Inspecting these areas should be done at least every spring.

Flashing can be found in many places on your roof: around the chimney, skylights, plumbing fixtures, in valleys where two different roof heights meet, along the peak of the roof, and along the edge of the roof.

There are different materials and many different methods of installing drip edges and flashing, depending on the type of fixture, climate, and roofing materials used. Experienced roofers learn these details and are tested on them. As a result, inspecting a roof for proper installation of flashing is a job for the experts. 

poorly sealed flashing on a roof in need of repair

However, there are some obvious signs you can look for, even if you’re not an expert:

  • Carefully look at all the different types of flashing on your roof and inspect them for damage of any kind. 
  • Look at the flashing and drip edges themselves. Flashing should fit well around fixtures and often go up several inches from the roof along the side of a fixture. Drip edges should fit well against the shingles.
  • Both flashing and drip edges should be in good condition. Think of rain pouring down. Can it seep through the flashing instead of running down into the gutters? 

Sometimes damage around drip edges, chimney flashing, or roof fixtures may signal a flashing repair job alone. But often, roof repair is needed too. Once repairs are complete, inspect the area again at 6-month intervals to ensure the repair was done correctly; flashing repairs can also cause issues if not done properly.

Sagging or drooping

To measure for sagging or drooping when you’re up on the roof, first find the ridge of the roof. Then lay a straight board or long ruler along the shingles from side to side (not top to bottom). Now notice changes in the contour. Does the board lie pretty flat, or are there peaks and valleys? If it lies flat, you’re good. If not, best to see if steps can be taken to reinforce or correct things early. You can prevent a big and costly headache by fixing this issue early.

Moss or algae growth – NOT!

According to the Asphalt Roofing Association, moss or algae on your roof doesn’t actually hurt the composition of asphalt shingles. So even though it may look unsightly, it is not one of the 8 signs that your roof needs repair. If you notice this during your inspection, it isn’t something that needs immediate attention. There are numerous ways to help lighten the algae stains on a roof to make it look better, but it is difficult to completely remove the stains and they will generally come back. It is better to take steps to prevent algae growth where possible and keep up with cleaning it on a consistent basis.

Inspect the Roof from the Attic

Depending on your attic, this may or may not be a pleasant experience. But this step is important for a thorough inspection of your roof and to catch any issues early. Grab yourself the brightest light you have and get at it!

Leaking or moisture of any kind

Using your light, inspect the underside of the roof: around fixtures, along rafters and beams, and even the insulation. Finding a leaky roof right after a big rain might be easier than if things are very dry when you do your inspection, but any change in color of the material you’re looking at can signal a leak. 

Daylight is visible through holes

For this inspection, it’s best to turn your light off. Then simply look for pinholes of daylight anywhere in the roof. If you spot any at all, your roof needs repair. Make sure to mark the spot(s) where you noticed light coming through. 

Sagging or Droopinga sagging, drooping roof needing repair

Roof sag or droop can also be measured from inside the attic. Using your bright light, shine it along the roofline rafters and beams. Carefully inspect them for unevenness and sagging. Combining the methods to inspect for roof sag and droop above with this one will give you a clear picture of whether there is a problem, and if so, the exact area that requires attention.

Now that you know the 8 signs that your roof needs repair, schedule a time when you can put on your inspector cap and possibly prevent some major maintenance costs down the road. If you’re not a do-it-yourselfer, or if your inspection turns up some issues for a professional roofer, contact Melvin Belk Roofing to give you a hand. With almost 40 years of experience and continuous 5-star ratings, you can be confident we’ll do the job right!