Many business owners call in a commercial roofing expert only when they’re buying a building or something goes obviously wrong with a structure they already own. However, except for a trauma like a tornado or a tree falling on top, roofs don’t usually fail suddenly.
It takes time, and they’re probably crying out for help … but many entrepreneurs such as small retailers don’t know how to tell their roof is in trouble. The longer you wait to address roof damage and repairs, the worse it will get. Eventually, repair won’t be enough and you’ll be facing the costly replacement of the entire roof.
The most obvious “sign” is simply the age of the roof. Most of them need to be replaced after 20 years, and if you dig into the home’s records and see it’s turning “legal” or already well past that benchmark, there might not be much you can do.
Ensuring your roof is healthy is vital for the value of your home and the safety of everyone inside. A roof that’s more than 20 years old might look perfectly okay, but it might not stand up to the next snowfall or heavy wind storm.
Here are a few basic signs your roof is probably in trouble and you should call a roofer immediately.
1. You can see lifted shingles from the ground
You’ll get a better perspective from a ladder, but only do that if you’re confident about the sturdiness of the structure in general. Many lifted shingles can be spotted from the ground, though, and this is a great way to tell that service is needed.
Similar to a case of termites, if you can spot one, there are probably others in need of repair or replacement.
2. The asphalt shingles look smooth and dark in some spots
If you spot a patchy roof, this is a sign that the granules are either so old or damaged that they’ve worn off. If this is the case, you’ll need to replace them — and it’s much easier and more cost-effective to replace a few rather than the whole roof.
There are all kinds of commercial real estate (and roofs). Property Metrics gives an overview of the most common.
3. You suspect a pest
Whether it’s a raccoon, birds building nests in your downspout, or some other critter, your roof shouldn’t be a free hotel. There are natural, organic, and non-lethal ways to take care of pests on or in your roof.
However, depending on the problem, your roofer may need to work in tandem with an animal trapper. You’ll typically know if you have a visitor, but you need to take fast action to evict it.
4. You’ve spotted a leak (even if it’s just once)
A roof shouldn’t leak, period, but it’s easy to embrace ignorance (out of fears about the potential cost to fix it!). If you’ve spotted a leak or even suspect one, however, you really need to call a roofer immediately.
Not only is a leak a sign that there’s possibly a pretty decent hole or crack in your roof, but you might be welcoming mold into the walls, which puts your employees and customers at risk. Recently the New York Daily News reported on mold in medical buildings.
If left untreated, some mold develops into black mold, which can be deadly.
5. You notice the shape has changed
Whether the roof is obviously sagging, has a visible ripple, or it just doesn’t look right anymore, you should take it as a huge warning sign. When you can glance at a roof and see that it’s misshapen, it’s reached the total failure stage.
It may not even be safe to stay under that roof, so call in a roofer for an emergency assessment. The good news is that it obviously hasn’t fallen (yet), so at least you’ll be able to prevent interior damage to the space and your possessions.
Roofs won’t last forever, but you can minimize costs and damages if you act quickly.