This is a question I get asked often. Let’s face it, many people don’t want to drop thousands of dollars on a new roof when they just sprang a leak in the most recent spring thunderstorm. Sure, they might’ve known their roof was getting older, and there were a few signs that they needed a new roof over the past year (https://cjroofingdc.com/8-signs-you-need-a-new-roof/) but now it’s leaking and they want to know if there’s any way to buy more time.
The answer to this question is sometimes yes and sometimes no. Often times, you can repair the roof, but the real question should be “should I repair or replace my roof” not just can you.
Here’s a few factors that can help you determine not just if you can, but if you should repair it or replace it.
- Age of the roof
How old is the roof membrane? And what is the life expectancy of your type of roof?
Let’s say you have a roof with a life expectancy of 25 years, and you’re currently in your 22nd year, and now you need a repair. Is it worth it? If it’s something minor, it’s might be worth it to repair the roof, but I’d definitely start making plans and saving for a new roof in the next few year. If it’s a whole section of roofing that needs repaired then I’d recommend biting the bullet and going for a replacement at that point.
- Amount of repairs needed
Sometimes a roof only needs minor repairs, maybe even just regular maintenance that was neglected. These are almost always worth doing, especially if it’s a new leak and the repairs are relatively inexpensive. But sometimes a roof has been in poor condition for a while and when it begins to leak it needs fairly extensive repairs. Now it’s a judgment call of whether your personal finances would be better served by replacing rather than spending a quarter of the cost of replacing and just getting it repaired.
- How long the leak has been there
The best thing you can do when you discover a leak is to call a roofing contractor immediately. Get a local roofer to come out to take a look at your roof leak and make a plan to get it addressed. There’s nothing to gain by waiting, but there is a whole lot to lose. The longer you wait (and I’m talking days and weeks here, not hours and minutes) the more damage is done to the underlayment, the wood decking, the interior of the home, and I’ve even seen structural damage from long term leaks.
Back during the height of the pandemic, I had a lady call me and say she needed help with a leak. We sent a truck over to her home to find her upstairs and downstairs ceilings had collapsed. When we asked how long this leak had been going she said it started just before everything shut down, and she was under the impression that it included companies like roofers and plumbers etc. So now she’s trying to have it fixed and it’s summer of 2021. She waited over a year with a decent amount of water coming in every time it rained. Long story short, what could’ve been a minor repair ended up being a whole home renovation because the water had even caused structural damage in her floor joists.
If your leak has just started, then you have a better chance of a successful repair than if it’s been a chronic problem.
Here’s a good list of reasons why you shouldn’t put off repairing your roof Click here
- Location of the leak
Some leaks are in trickier spots than others. Some are impossible to trace back to their source not matter how many times the roofer tries. We’ve been called in by homeowners that have tried having several different roofing contractors fix the leak with patches and coatings, and partial replacements and even spraying some of that infomercial spray rubber stuff. If several different professional roofing companies have tried and failed, it’s safe to assume you have a tough leak and you’re probably better off with a brand new roof that comes with a guarantee.
- Type of roof
Some rood types are more conducive to repairs than others. Ask your roofing contractor if your roof type can be easily and successfully repaired. Some roofs are slightly more difficult to repair (like a slate roof) but it’s well worth it because of their longevity and quality. Unless a slate roof looks like a bomb went off on it, we always try to repair it because the cost of replacement is astronomically high and many homeowners end up putting a much lower quality roof on when they do end up replacing it. And that’s a shame.
Click here for most common Roof Types in Washington DC