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Reroof or Repair – Which is Better?

November 9, 2022


Whether it’s your home or business, your heart probably sinks when you see the brown lines on your ceiling that indicate water seepage.

Somewhere, somehow, your roof is damaged and leaking.

Not only is this a headache to take care of, but the longer you go without fixing it, the more damage it causes. But what is the best way to fix it?

Should you get the problem spots repaired, or is it time for a complete roof replacement?

At Diversified Roofing, we’ve been repairing and replacing roofs for over 30 years, and we want to help you choose the best route. We recommend taking a measured approach that factors in everything from cost to resale value. 

We’ll look at what you should know about this major decision and whether you need a full roof replacement, partial roof replacement, or a simple roof patch.

Let’s get started!

What Causes Roof Failure? (Plus 6 Ways to Recognize It)

Most roof failure is simply caused by an aging roof. Over time, your roof will undergo normal wear and tear that will eventually cause leaks. Cheaper roofing materials will start to fail after 15 years, while higher-quality materials last up to 50 years.

Unfortunately, if your shingles weren’t installed correctly, they may not even last 15 years. Your roof might need a full or partial replacement after a few years.

Other causes of roof failure include:

  • Poor drainage
  • Roof traffic—if for any reason people are walking on your roof a lot, it will deteriorate faster
  • Severe weather such as excessive snowfall or rain
  • Ice dams
  • Lack of roof maintenance

Roof failure is a severe problem because water leakage can structurally damage your home. It’s essential to stay on top of the issue! 

roof failure damage

If you don’t, your roof may begin sagging, toxic molds may start to grow, and the structural integrity of your home will be compromised. A moldy, weather-stained home is not only ugly and bad for your health, but the longer you go without fixing the problem, the more complicated and expensive it will be to fix. 

Here are some indications that your roof is failing:

  1. Water spots on the ceiling
  2. Puddles on the floor
  3. Broken or scattered shingles
  4. Chimney leaks
  5. Weather damage
  6. Splitting or sagging areas in the home

If you have any suspicions of roof failure, you should hire a professional inspector to look at your roof. Examining your own roof can be dangerous, especially if you’re not used to that type of work.

One safe way to do a DIY roof examination is to fly a drone to check it out. If your roof is wearing down, you may notice:

  • Missing or broken shingles
  • Blistered, curling, or balding shingles
  • Granule-filled gutters
  • Moss on the roof

Once you have an idea of the general state of your roof, you’ll be better equipped to decide whether to repair or replace it. 

warning signs of a failing roof

6 Questions to Ask Before Reroofing

If your roof is leaking, what should you do? Is it time to replace the whole thing, or can you get by with patching a few shingles?:

To help you figure out a good path forward, consider these six key questions:

  1. How old is your roof? How long is it expected to last?
  2. How long are you staying in the house?
  3. How much money can you devote to the project?
  4. What’s the property market like in your area?
  5. What is the extent of the damage? 
  6. Does your roof show signs of being installed incorrectly?

Remember, without professional input, you can’t fully know the answer to some of these questions.

Regarding the roof’s age, remember that lower-end asphalt shingles may only last 15 years. In roofing terms, that’s an incredibly short amount of time—better architectural materials last 50 years or more! (If you want to know more about the lifespan of different roofing products, read our blog post on the subject.)

To figure out the roof’s age and how long it’s expected to last, talk to the person who installed it. You may have to contact the previous owner to get this information. 

A professional roof inspector can give you a detailed picture of the extent of the damage, whether or not your roof was installed correctly, and how much longer your shingles should last. 

Finally, you may want to consult with a local real estate agent to ask about the state of the housing market and what difference a repaired vs. replaced roof could make in the value of your home.

Professional roof inspection

Assessing the Value of a Repaired Vs. Replaced Roof

A local real estate agent can tell you what the current local housing market is like, but how does that affect your decision to repair or replace?

Replacing your roof is a lot of money and hassle, and if you’re planning to sell it anyway, why bother? You might want to opt for a simple roof patch to keep things working until you leave.

Then the new owners can make their own decision about replacing.

This strategy might work if you’re in a seller’s market. Potential buyers can get the details of the roof issues from their inspector and make an educated decision from there. In other words, buyers may be willing to take on a house with potential roof issues in a seller’s market. 

However, if you’re in a buyer’s market, the house could be more challenging to sell. If buyers have plenty of houses to choose from, there’s no incentive to choose a home with a major repair in the near future.

Also, if you replace the roof, you can list your home at a higher price.

Long-Term Costs Vs. Short-Term Costs

When the roof fails, your first impulse is probably to repair it as cheaply as possible.

Why?

Because the high cost of getting an entirely new roof is daunting. And you can easily think of more exciting home-improvement projects to spend your money on, such as getting a new jacuzzi tub in the bathroom, installing a fancy new patio, or knocking out a wall between the kitchen and dining room for an open floor plan.

But trust me, none of that will be very enjoyable if your roof isn’t doing its job!

A quick patch fixes the problem for now, but if an incorrectly-installed or aging roof caused your roof failure, chances are you’ll have more issues in a few years.

Fix roofing problems long term with a complete reroof

So it makes more sense to get that taken care of now instead of spending the money on a patch only to still have to pay for a replacement in a few years. 

A roof replacement costs anywhere from $5,500 to $11,000, depending on how large your roof is and what type of roofing material you choose. Meanwhile, roof repairs cost an average of $950—a minor repair can be as low as $150, but a major repair costs up to $7,000.

If you only need a minor repair and then your roof will be good for another ten or twenty years, a repair makes sense.

But if your roof is aging and will need to be replaced in a few years anyway, it makes more sense to replace it now. Even if you don’t have the money to do a complete roof replacement, if you’re planning to live in this home long-term, it might be worth taking out a home improvement loan to replace it now.

The financial benefits of this depend on how much the repair costs and how good of an interest rate you can get. But if the interest you’re paying is significantly less than the repair cost, then getting a home improvement loan to replace the roof is a better investment. 

For a detailed breakdown of how much you can expect to pay for your roof, check out our related blog post: How Much Does a New Roof Cost?

Cost of reroofing

Aesthetics and Curb Appeal

Another thing to consider when deciding whether to repair or replace is curb appeal.

Because asphalt shingles fade over time, it’s nearly impossible to match the new shingles to the existing ones when repairing a roof. If you opt to repair, a good roofer will match the shingle color as closely as possible, but it will probably still be obvious you’ve made a repair.

On the other hand, a new roof will improve your home’s curb appeal, making it easier to sell if you’re planning to sell soon, and giving it a fresh, updated look if you’re just trying to impress your neighbors.

When to Repair Your Roof

With all those considerations in mind, here are the circumstances where you should opt to repair your roof rather than replace it altogether.

Minor damages

If the damage to your roof is minor, there’s no reason to repair the whole thing! 

You don’t mind how your roof looks as long as it works

If curb appeal is not a priority for you, or if the damage is on the back of the house where people won’t see it much, a few mismatched shingles won’t be the end of the world. 

Your roof is otherwise in good repair

If all it takes is one fix and your roof is good to go for a while, then repair is a better option for you. 

The fix is inexpensive

If the fix is easy and inexpensive, you’re better off doing a quick fix. Even if your roof is slowly wearing out, this buys you some time, keeping your home dry while you save for a roof replacement down the road.

Remember: Roof repair work is a highly specialized field, and it’s easy to end up with poor workmanship. If you want roof repairs to go the distance, you’ll need to pay for someone who knows how to do the job.

roof repair vs roof replacement

When to Get a New Roof

Sometimes a patch job just isn’t worth it. Let’s look at some scenarios where a roof replacement is your best option. 

Severe storm damages

Storms put a lot of strain on your roof. Strong winds blow off roof shingles or cause tree branches to fall and puncture your roof. When water gets in these leaks, it causes many complex problems.

Rather than repairing each piece of damage, consider getting a new roof instead.

Structural damages

When water damage is already visible and has caused irreversible harm to the structure of the building, the repair costs a fortune. Installing a new roof is a more practical option in this case.

Premature Aging

A roof typically lasts for around 20 years, provided it has been installed correctly. However, unwanted factors and circumstances may shorten its lifespan. So even if it is still far from its 20th birthday, if it shows signs that it needs to be replaced, then do so.

Inadequate roofing materials

Sometimes you’ll choose to replace your roof because you want a different roofing material that lasts longer, requires less maintenance, or works better for your lifestyle. For instance, if you’re frustrated that your shingles are covered in moss and algae, consider having your roof replaced with algae-resistant shingles.

algae resistant shingles

High utility bills

Are you getting unbelievably high energy bills? It may be due to faulty insulation in the attic. A roof replacement can be a viable solution to this. With a new roof, you can reduce energy costs and stay comfortable through blazing hot summer days.

Damage Over Time

As your roof ages, it’s bound to face a multitude of problems like leaks, pests, and missing pieces. This takes a toll on the integrity of your roof. As the wood weakens and the metal parts start to rust, you’ll realize that some things aren’t worth patching up repeatedly, and you’re better off getting a new roof.

A Sagging Roof

If your roof is sagging, it poses considerable risk and is a problem that needs to be solved sooner rather than later. If you don’t get your roof replaced, the sagging section of your roof could collapse on top of you and anything you own. And roof collapse is no joke—at best, it drenches the inside of your home, and at worst, it ends in someone buried in a pile of roof rubble.

Of course, not every sagging roof is going to collapse. But the danger is real, so get an inspector to look at it and tell you how urgent your replacement should be. 

Other Options to Consider

While we’ve spent most of this article talking about choosing between a roof replacement or a roof repair, you do have a few other options when it comes to fixing roof problems.

Let’s get into it.

Partial replacement

With something like storm damage, the problems may all be concentrated in one area of your roof. If that’s the case, it’s cheaper and just as effective to get a partial roof replacement instead of a full roof replacement, as long as the rest of your roof is in good shape.

Of course, your roof may still have a patched-up look since the new shingles won’t match the old, faded shingles (although a good roofer will match them as closely as possible).

Re-roofing

Re-roofing involves putting another layer of shingles down on top of the old shingles. Depending on the cause of your leaks, re-roofing may be a cheaper way to solve the problem while giving you the look of a new roof.

Re-roofing is also advantageous if you need a quick fix in a wet season because you don’t have to tear the roof off and expose it to the elements while you work.

roof repair is quick and easy compared to reroofing

On the other hand, re-roofing doesn’t solve any underlying structural problems. There’s also a limit to how many times you can re-roof—after a while, all that extra weight causes even more problems. 

Contact Diversified Roofing

At Diversified Roofing, we’re committed to helping residential homeowners keep their costs down by making smarter long-term decisions for their homes. 

If you have questions about whether you should repair or replace your roof, we’re ready to help! Our experienced staff can lay out the pros and cons of both choices and then help you solve your problems no matter which direction you choose.

We offer re-roofing and repair services for both commercial and residential roofs. Our specialties include:

Contact us today for more information or an expert opinion. We can’t wait to hear from you!

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