Your Roof: When to Repair and When to Replace

Blog submitted by Prairie Home Roofing in Calgary

Let’s be honest, every homeowner dreads having issues with their roof.  Owning and maintaining a home isn’t cheap, and when it comes to big ticket items, your roof is probably at the top of the list.  While roof issues are never welcome, they are, unfortunately, a part of life; especially here in Alberta, where we have such a diverse climate, sometimes over a very short span!  Some problems require a quick (and hopefully relatively inexpensive) repair, which is what we all cross our fingers for when an issue reveals itself.

However, some problems are indicative of a much larger-scale problem, which will require a full-out roof replacement.  When determining which solution is most appropriate for your roof, there are a number of different factors to take into consideration that can help point us in the right direction.

Age of your roof

First, one simple factor, which is perhaps the most indicative, is the age of your roof. Older style asphalt shingles, which are, by far, the most commonly used material in residential roofing, have a duration of about 20-25 years, with cedar or pine shakes hovering around the 25-year mark as well. Metal and rubber roofing last significantly longer, with a life of about 50 years.  While other factors must also be taken into consideration, logically, it doesn’t make a lot of sense to put a lot of money into repairing a roof that has reached or exceeded its average life span.  It is also important to consider that, when it comes to an old roof, small problems can often be indicative of larger issues to come.

Leaks and moisture damage

Second, when determining how to deal with a roof issue, it’s also critical to take leaks and moisture damage into account.  Whether or not you are currently experiencing a leak or several, these two go hand-in-hand.  Multiple leaks are a sign of a more significant issue with the roof, and leaks that are allowed to persist over time, even if unnoticed, will cause moisture damage to the home. One minor leak will generally be a quick repair when addressed right away, while multiple leaks in multiple locations mean that a roof repair is no longer a possibility and it’s time for a new roof. If you are seeing water stains in various rooms or noticing significant areas of moisture damage, it is highly likely that it will be more affordable and efficient to replace the roof altogether.  Apart from stains on the ceiling, another key indicator of moisture damage is a damp, musty smell, which can often be most noticeable in the attic. The presence of both can suggest a significantly compromised roof.

Cause of the damage

Third, the cause of the damage also weighs heavily on this debate.  If the issue is due to your roof simply being old and worn out, it’s time to replace the roof.  When damage is contained to a small area, perhaps due to wind removing a couple of shingles, or a branch that fell, damaging a small section of the roof, a repair could be a perfectly appropriate solution, as well as being considerably cheaper. When the issue is caused by flashing that was either poorly installed or has moved out of place, this is an easy repair. However, if the roof has suffered extensive weather damage from a large storm, replacement may be the only viable option as cost of repairing a roof that has been largely compromised will exceed the cost of replacing it altogether.

Condition of the shingles

Fourth, another factor to take into consideration is the condition of the shingles.  While you have to get a little closer to see—unless significantly deteriorated—the state your shingles are in is an especially useful way to determine just how close or far you are from needing to replace the roof.  Shingles are covered in little granules, which wear off over time. This deterioration can be accelerated by external factors such as extreme weather, and proximity to trees and animals.  When you notice that granules are starting to wear off, either by noticing bare spots or a significant presence of these granules in your gutters, this is a clear indication that the worn shingles should be replaced soon.

Maintaining your roof by replacing small numbers of shingles that are beginning to wear out is an effective way to extend the life of your roof.  If shingles are not replaced as bare spots form, the tabs will eventually become brittle and start to curl up, and as this progresses, they will begin to crack.  When shingles no longer lie flat, the nail heads become exposed and your roof will become vulnerable to leaks.  If this is the case with a small number or section of shingles, you will need a roof repair immediately.  However, if this is the case with the majority of the shingles, the roof can no longer be repaired and must be replaced.  In the instance of widespread damage to the shingles, the roof should be replaced within 4-6 months.

Plans for your home

Fifth, a final factor to consider is your plans for the home as its owner. This factor should not be used independently to determine how to best fix a roof issue, but rather in combination with the previously mentioned factors. In a case of significant or widespread damage to the roof, this factor is irrelevant, as the roof will need to be replaced regardless.  However, in a case where the damage could be potentially repaired, this factor could help finalize your decision. While a repair is significantly more cost-efficient if maintaining your roof’s integrity requires only minor work, a roof replacement will increase the value of your home.

If your current home is one you plan to live in for several more years, an issue with the roof could simply be repaired with the knowledge that you will have to replace the roof a few years down the road.  On the other hand, if you are looking to sell the home in the near future, it may be a wise investment to replace the roof altogether, as a brand-new roof could inspire more confidence in prospective buyers and increase their willingness to pay more for your home.


While these are some basic indicators that can help point you in the right direction as to whether your roof is in need of simple repairs or a replacement, the most fail-safe way to determine the best solution to your problem is by having your roof inspected by a professional roofing company.

At Prairie Home Roofing & Exteriors, a local Calgary roofing company, we understand that roof problems are stressful, and we also understand that a job done poorly will only add to that stress sooner or later. That’s why we emphasize getting the job done right the first time! We don’t see you as just another house; as a family business, we see our customers as part of the family, and deliver truly exceptional quality in both physical construction and the customer experience that we deliver.


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