You've found what seems like the perfect home to buy — almost. The roof is old, and you're wondering if it has been leaking or if it will need to be replaced soon after your purchase of the place. While you may ultimately want to hire a roofing company to come closely examine the roof if you decide you're seriously interested, you can do some basic sleuthing on your own at this early stage. Here are some things to look for as you get a better idea of the roof's true condition.
Is there moss growing on the roof?
If there is moss growth on the roof, this is a red flag. Moss can trap moisture against the shingles, which can lead to damage or leaks. You don't know what good of condition the shingles are in under the moss, but even if they are still okay now, they won't be in a couple years if the moss isn't removed promptly. This is a roof that will need to be replaced sooner rather than later.
Is the attic damp?
If the realtor will let you into the attic (they sometimes won't due to liability issues if the attic is only accessible by ladder) assess whether or not the area feels moist. The moisture is either indicative of a leaky roof, or it means the roof is poorly ventilated. Neither are a good sign. If the roof is poorly ventilated, then it will break down faster than normal due to long-term heat exposure. Chances are, if the roof is 20 years old or older and has been suffering from poor ventilation this whole time, it is now in poor shape. And of course, a roof that is already leaking is at the end of its life.
Are there saggy spots?
The roof consists of two main layers. There is the hard, wooden roof structure, known as the underlayment. Then, there are the shingles. Usually when you have a roof replaced, the company just removes the shingles and puts new shingles on. If the roof is sagging, however, that means the wooden underlayment has been damaged. Having the roof replaced will be a much bigger project as the wood will need to be replaced, too. The roof will need to be replaced soon, as the sagging is a sign it could collapse due to moisture damage.
Contact a residential roof replacement service for more help.