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Many of us have heard the expression, “Having a roof over our heads” in reference to having a home. Having a good strong roof makes sense on many levels. Bonnie Pesch, a veteran personal lines underwriter with West Bend, will discuss how your roof ages and the role insurance plays if your roof is damaged.

A roof is usually the best it’s going to be when it’s installed. New shingles can tolerate much more abuse from elements, like hail. On the other hand, even just a small piece of hail can damage an older roof. A roof will also lose its ability to shed water as it gets older.

That’s why many insurance carriers now charge more for homeowner’s insurance if a roof is older. So if you recently replaced your roof or are thinking of doing it soon, be sure to contact your insurance agent. Your agent will want to update your policy and may even change the coverage for your roof from actual cash value to replacement cost. Replacement cost provides the coverage you need to replace your roof, while actual cash value provides coverage for the value of the roof at the time it’s replaced; it takes into account depreciation of the shingles.

It’s important to tell your insurance agent what type of material is used on your new roof. Slate, steel, and tile roofs have a much longer life expectancy than asphalt shingles. And while a new steel roof may be eligible for a hail-resistive discount, it may also carry a cosmetic exclusion.

Now, how do you decide if it’s time to replace your roof? Shingles don’t age at the same rate, so the best way to gauge how long your shingles will last is to check the manufacturer’s warranty. The aging rate of your shingles really depends on two things: 1.) the shingle’s quality, and 2.) the weather. Certain weather conditions can cause more damage to the shingles, aging them more quickly.

Shingles take a beating every day. From the hot sun, to cold winter temperatures, to pouring rain, wind, and hail, they have a tough job: protecting us, our loved ones, and our valued possessions. As your roof ages, here are some things to watch for.

1. Loss of granules from the shingles. As shingles age, they start to lose their granules because weather loosens them and the shingle itself gets harder. You’ve probably seen granules in your gutters or where your down spouts drain. If you notice some loose granules here and there, there’s no need for alarm; however, if you see a more significant amount of granules in your gutters or around the house, it may be time to inspect your roof.

2. Be aware of the gaps between the flaps of the shingles. Experts recommend that the space between your shingles should be 1/16 of an inch; this is about the size of your pinky finger. If the space appears to be significantly larger, the shingles on your home are deteriorating and may need replacing.    

                       Hammer

3. Watch for round corners on your shingles. New shingles are rectangular with distinctive, sharp corners. As different weather conditions take their toll, the sharp corners will become round. You’ll start to see this when the shingles are approaching their maximum life expectancy.

Old composite roof

4. Watch for cracked shingles. As the tar on the shingle starts to deteriorate, the flaps may move up and down from the wind causing them to crack. If they become very brittle, they may even break off. If you’re walking or working in your yard and notice shingle pieces on the ground around your house, consider having your roof inspected.

peeling shingle

These tips are ways to help you watch for visible signs that your roof is deteriorating. You may also want to take a closer look at your roof in the spring/fall when you clean out your gutters or during the holidays if you put up lights around your roofline. Looking from the vantage point of a ladder is usually the safest way to do this. Depending on the type of house you have, getting on your roof may not be a safe and wise decision.

If you can visually see problems with your roof and its shingles, contact a reputable roofing contractor in your area. They’ll have the skills and appropriate equipment to safely inspect your roof.

Posted 10:38 AM  View Comments

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