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22 Risks of Not Replacing an Old Roof

The risks of not replacing an old roof have to do with allowing old problems to worsen over time and trying to frequently repair a roof that is easily damaged. This is the cost of frequently repairing an old roof plus any hidden risks an old roof could cause someday.

These hidden risks are caused by: 

  • not being able to catch every single problem an old roof has at the time. 
  • It’s likely that there are more problems with an old roof than the homeowner or roofing repair contractor is aware of. 
  • Until the roof is replaced, not layered, will the majority of these risks be addressed. Otherwise they will inevitably worsen over time.    

Keep in mind that depending on the location of the home, its surrounding environment, weather and frequency of storm events and a homeowner’s perception of their roof’s condition will affect whether these risks are greater or less than outlined here; By perception, we’re referring to their knowledge of their home and roof, and whether another problem with the home or roof has their attention at the time (missing issues with the roof).

At roofing mission (a.k.a “BulletpRoof”), we understand that most homeowners have no idea that they are taking on the risks of not replacing their old roof without knowing that they are. Which is fair to say because they're preoccupied with other repairs and life in general, that’s why it's important to consult multiple professionals when something doesn’t look right. Helping you to track down the source of the problem and address that instead of its symptoms. For example, a ceiling leak does mean a drywall installer will have to repair the area, but have a roofer or plumber assess for where the leak came from. That way the leak doesn’t persist and you’ll have to call a drywall installer the next time it becomes visible. That’s our advice.  

Delaying the cost of replacing a roof will both: 

  • increase the cost of the roof replacement, as it will be more than the roof being replaced, and 
  • the cost of long term damage caused by keeping an old roof.

Table of Contents

Roof Failing or Causing Premature Failure

  1. Shingles Become Less Effective - After an average of 20 years, shingles have experienced a lot of wear and tear in that time making them absorb more moisture than repel; Missing granules, curling, cracking, fading, etc. are signs that shingles are overdue for replacement. Making it more likely for algae, moss, rot, mold, and other moisture retention issues that will cause the roof to fail sooner. 
  2. Leaky Roof - Leaks become more likely as a roof’s shingles curl, crack, start missing granules, etc., flashing becomes damaged, and the roof begins to sag. These are all cracks in what was once a waterproof membrane that allow water/air to pass through, worsen these cracks and lead to more leaks. It’s difficult to catch all of them, many risks of putting off repairs to a leaky roof.   
  3. Roof Becomes Weaker & Damage is More Likely -  As the shingles, roof deck and roof framing get weaker, showing signs of softening or sagging. Debris, weather events, sun’s UV rays, other outside elements, etc. will cause more damage each time. Where any water accumulations will turn into leaks and the shingles will absorb more water into the roof deck, adding to each other's problems unfortunately.
  4. Damaged Attic Insulation - Aside from an older home containing asbestos insulation, modern insulation will clump up and compress when in contact with water. Reducing the energy efficiency of the home, and causing temperature fluctuations in the attic resulting in extreme heat damage in the summer and moisture buildup in the winter. Shortening the lifespan of the roof even more.
  5. Insufficient Attic Ventilation - Attic ventilation ensures enough airflow in and out of the roof, except added strain from additional moisture and heat will make the system insufficiently capable. Risks of poor attic ventilation will be many, mainly leading to mold and rot growth, additional water damage to the home and a shortened roof lifespan unfortunately.   
  6. Reduced Energy Efficiency - Cracks and escaping air from the roof will cause utility bills to rise as the HVAC, electrical and plumbing systems have to work harder. Especially, the HVAC system will be overworking, unable to meet the demands of the home, needing frequent repairs and replacing sooner than prescribed. 
  7. Water Damage to Home - Leaks left alone, will accumulate inside the attic/home and damage its other vital systems in the process; electrical, plumbing, framing, foundation and HVAC system. Compromising the structural integrity of the home, reducing energy efficiency resulting in utility bills to rise, and causing potential health/safety hazards that could make the home unlivable. 
  8. Unwanted Organic Growth - Moisture buildup in the attic/roof will result in algae, mold and rot to grow; These fungus’ job is to break down any unprotected materials like the framing, roof deck, etc. while in the case of mold, spread toxic spores through the HVAC systems that will cause homeowners respiratory issues as a result; Fatal for young children, elderly, anyone with weak immune systems and pets, otherwise causing many respiratory issues.  
  9. Plumbing Breaks Down -  Leaks in the roof/attic will prevent the insulation from working as it should, and thermal expansion will cause plumbing joints/seals to crack from the pressure; Sooner with metal/copper pipes than PVC pipes. Due to moisture freezing into frost, then melting and freezing again in the winter, along with extreme heat buildup in the summer. Changing temperatures, moisture and humidity will eventually lead to a breakdown. 
  10. Structural Integrity Failing - As leaks progress in their water damage to a home’s framing, it will eventually compromise the framing’s ability to hold the weight of the home. Slowly sagging and eventually leading to cave in or collapse. 
  11. Pests Entering Through Cracks - Rodents, insects and other animals will enter the home, spreading to wherever they feel most comfortable inside of the home. These pests carry diseases, can chew through wires/walls/furniture, leave feces around the home, eat through food storage, drive pets crazy, etc. In the case, a bat or protected species enters the home, a homeowner will be forced to evict instead of the species.   
  12. Electrical Short Circuits - Water leaking onto exposed electrical wires will cause sparks and short circuits, making the parts of the electrical system to become unreliable or lose power completely. There’s a possibility that sparks can come in contact with dry rotted framing, causing a house fire. Which is worse for an old roof which doesn’t have sectional protection to slow down the spread of the fire. Further detailed in can a leaky roof cause electrical problems.
  13. Manufacturer's Warranty Become Invalid - An old roof’s roofing materials and workmanship will no longer be valid at a point, not allowing a homeowner to receive repairs or assistance from the manufacturer anymore. Leaving the homeowner with additional out of pocket expenses in the event something happens.
  14. Insurance Claims Can Be Denied - Depending on the roof’s condition, expected life expectancy, any home inspection reports assessments, etc.; A roof’s coverage will be denied by an adjuster who is trained to look for neglected roof damage. Especially possible in extreme cases, avoid being surprised with an out of pocket expense and consult a local insurance provider for more information.   
  15. Decreased Property Value - An old roof, in poor condition, will deter prospective home buyers in fear of the rest of the home’s condition and the added cost of having to replace the roof. When listing a home to sell, applying for an equity loan will be lower, and as the house sits on the market longer it will create more real estate agent costs and other selling costs to pile up.     

Remediation Costs

  1. Leak Repairs -  Depending on the leak, whether it is drywall, roof, or from some other source. A professional in that area would be needed to repair the affected area, sometimes multiple professionals are needed as it was a lingering leak that made its way from the roof to another area. 
  2. Mold Repairs - After an indoor air quality test specifies mold levels are beyond a threshold, hiring a professional team to apply antimicrobials around the home and then dispose of the source is an expensive endeavor. As mold attaches itself to almost any surface it can, this means framing, drywall, etc. will need repairs after this mold is removed.    
  3. Pest Removal - While pest populations are manageable, traps can be used, and will quickly go out of hand when their population multiplies. Hiring a professional exterminator to provide initial extermination and regular follow-ups as the pest population will keep coming back. Multispecies pests will require seasonal pest removals for each species of insect, rodent or any other pest. On top of this all, your home would require repairs to any damaged utility systems regularly.  
  4. Professional Assistance - Repairs to any electrical, plumbing, framing, foundation and HVAC systems, depending on the level of damage will all require expensive repairs. Some more regular than others, potentially having major repairs being needed too.  

Replacement Costs

  1. Double the Tear-Off Cost - Homes with multiple layers of shingles, who have further delayed replacing their old roof, will have both old and new hidden problems with the roof; Additionally, a multilayered roof will need to be replaced sooner as the lifespan of the roof has been drastically shortened, there are many reasons not to put shingles on top of shingles outlined here. Anyways, each layer of shingles will require additional labor and disposal costs, water damage to the roof deck will need repairs, and a possible reframing of the roof.   
  2. Neglected Maintenance -  As an old roof becomes under maintained or maintenance is no longer affecting the longevity of the roof since its already past due for replacement. By performing regular maintenance, walking on the roof for example, will be adding to the roof’s accumulated damage so far. Forcing the homeowner to take the risks of neglecting your roof maintenance or risk injuring themselves in the event the roof can’t handle the homeowner’s weight. 
  3. Reframing and Replacing the Roof - Roof replacement will require the roof to be reframed before any roof installation takes place. This will require multiple contractors to work on a homeowner’s roof, each adding to the cost of replacing their roof. It’s extremely expensive, most homeowners are unable to afford this and may opt for a home tear down because the damage has gotten so extensive. 

Conclusion About the Risks of Not Replacing an Old Roof

The risks of not replacing an old roof could lead to a number of diverse issues with the home. Reason being, the roof protects everything inside of the home, when it is old and unable to protect the rest of the home. The roof and the home will inevitably become damaged.

Simply put, the entire home’s lifespan will be shortened because of an old roof. Which is why a roof is what to fix first on an old home.

Where the cost of frequent repairs to the roof/home, rising utility bills and stress to a homeowner; Stress from living with an old roof and stress from wanting to avoid contractors due to past experiences. All of this will add up to be more than replacing a roof, while making the replacement more expensive by waiting longer. 

Weighing the options here is the best advice for the homeowner in this situation. 

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