Common Roofing Problems and Warning Signs to Replace Your Roof

If your roof is getting on in age, there’s a good chance it will start showing signs of wear. Frequent storms with high wind and debris, as well as heavy snowfall, can damage your roof to the point that it needs major repairs or replacement. To the untrained eye, some of these problems might not even be visible, which is why it’s smart to bring in a trusted roofing contractor to inspect all aspects of your roofing system so you can catch problems that can be repaired, or get the information you need to begin a reroofing project.

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The most common roof problems

Knowing what to look for is important if you’re going to make educated decisions about repairing or replacing your roof. While there are many elements to a roofing system and problems can arise from just about anywhere, the root of most issues are going to occur in one of three areas: Manufacturing inadequacies, installation errors and Mother Nature.


Manufacturers have vastly improved how they design and manufacture roofing materials. However, there are products on the market that exceed the quality of others. For example, shingles with a thick design and produced using quality materials will resist damage and last longer than thinner, cheaply processed shingles.

Bad installation

Plenty of research should go into selecting the contractor who installs your roof. When you bring in the wrong one, they install the roof incorrectly, which can lead to leaks that damage other structures of your home and severely diminish the lifespan of your new roof. A quality contractor has the experience to get everything right, including adjusting for the expansion and retraction of materials from season to season, the breathability aspects of the home (reduces moisture buildup), and they can install the roof on the most complex types of architecture.

Climate exposure

Climate has the biggest impact on roofing. Brutal summer sun, storms with high winds and debris and icy winter conditions all take a toll on the roofing materials. Hail is especially damaging to older roofs that have lost ability to resist impact. The depressions caused by hail can lead to moisture leaking through to underlayers of the roof, which causes substantial damage. Rainstorm after rainstorm, the protective granules on the shingles begin to wear away, leaving the shingles more susceptible to damage. Finally, high winds can rip shingles off the roof.

Bad ventilation

Homes need to breathe. Good ventilation prevents humidity/moisture from building up and creating pockets of mold and mildew, which can spread throughout the house and cause spores from mold to become airborne in the home, presenting health risks. Bad ventilation can also lead to rot, which severely compromises the integrity of the roofing system and can spread down into the walls of the home.


While shade trees can protect a home, keeping sunlight from beating down on the roof and preventing excessive damaging ultraviolet light from damaging the shingles, branches coming in contact with the roof will significantly reduce the life of the roofing system. Quality roofing contractors will alert you to any issues you might have with trees on your property, as it pertains to your roof.

Lack of regular maintenance

An annual inspection can alert your roofing contractor to areas of the roof that need repair. When unattended, blemishes on a roof and go from an aesthetic problem to a structural problem that can be much more expensive to repair. Part of the regular maintenance plan includes an inspection following severe weather. While you might not see damage, a professional roofing contractor knows exactly where to look and can catch small damages before they turn into bigger issues.

While your roof can’t last forever, there are things you can do to make sure you get the most life possible out of it. At VIS Exterior, we work closely with our clients to ensure every aspect of their roofing system is performing as advertised and that any damage, large or small, is attended to – fast and efficiently.

12 warning signs it’s time to replace your roof

Most homeowners are not equipped with the knowledge to know when it’s time for a roof replacement. To become better informed about this topic, check out the following list, which details the most common reasons roofs need to be replaced.

Aging roof

Unfortunately, all roofs have a lifespan that doesn’t go on forever. After 20 to 30 years under the sun, subjected to wind, rain, hail and snow, the roof begins to develop issues that require a full roof replacement.

Water damage

If you see moisture buildup in the attic or upstairs rooms, it’s highly likely that the roof has issues that are allowing moisture to come through. Water damage on interior walls might also be caused by a problem with the roof.

Cracks and holes in your roof

Age and exposure to the elements can cause cracks and holes to develop in your roof. Some require repair, but the damage can be so pervasive that it requires a replacement of the entire roof.


A sagging roof is a sure sign that moisture has gotten into the supporting structures of the roof and they have given way to the weight of the roofing system. To prevent collapse, it’s recommended to replace the roof and supporting structures immediately.

Bad valleys

Water can pool in areas of the roof that meet in a valley formation. When the roof is properly installed, the valley allows water to quickly and easily flow off the roof, but improper installation or age can lead to problems that might require replacement.

Bad membrane

Membranes help protect any moisture that gets past the shingle from getting into the supporting wooden structures of the roof. Membranes can become damaged after the outer layers of the roof begin to fail, which leads to a full roof replacement in most cases.

Damaged flashing

Chimneys, vents and other structures on the roof, such as skylights, utilize metal flashing that goes between the structure and roofing material. Caulk used to waterproof the areas around the flashing can dry out and crack, leading to leaks. Flashing can also be damaged by debris. Incorrectly installing the flashing is another problem that will result in leaks.

Moisture, rot and mold growth

Mold growth presents a health risk to humans, as spores can damage the lungs. Mold is also a sign that the roof is failing to keep moisture out. This problem can also lead to rotting wood. When contractors put on a new roof, they’ll repair and/or replace any rotted wood they find.

Standing water

Roofs are designed to shed water away from the home via the gutters and downspouts. If you’ve got standing water on any part of a roofing system, some part of it has failed and needs immediate attention.

Clogged gutters

Clogged gutters retain moisture that will significantly impact the roofing system. Mildew and moss thrive on moisture and are more likely to grow around areas where the gutter is clogged, but clogged gutters also present a leak risk.

Attic leaks

Leaks in the attic are common signs that a roof replacement is imminent. While newer roofs with attic leaks might be indicative of damage to only a small area that will benefit by a simple repair, older roofs presenting attic leaks are more likely to require a roof replacement.

Storm-related damage

Responsible homeowners are quick to call in their roofing contractor for an inspection following a storm, particularly one with hail or high winds that can whip debris into the roof and cause major damage.

Regardless of whether you’re noticing problems with your roof or not, schedule an inspection and stay on track with regular maintenance with your trusted roofing contractor and you will get the most life out of your roof.

The common roofing problems for asphalt and wood materials

While there are some similarities in the materials that go under asphalt shingles and wood shake roofing, each has their own unique qualities, which means the red flags you look for in a cedar product will differ from the red flags that are signs of problems in an asphalt product.

roofing types

For example, a problematic asphalt-shingle roof has dents due to debris hitting it at high speed or balding due to the loss of granules, whereas a common problem with wood roofing products are split or cupped shingles/shake. Knowing what to look for can help you determine whether you need to call in your roofing contractor for repairs or replacement.

Top asphalt shingle roof problems

Regardless of the quality of your asphalt shingles, at some point they will begin to lose their granules, which is the protective material on top of the shingle. But that’s not the only thing to look for; asphalt roofs can display a number of problematic issues that can result in the entire roof needing replaced.

Should you notice any problems with your roof that are listed below, it’s important to jump on them quickly, because what might be a simple fix now that is ignored can escalate, leading to water entering your home. Once that happens, you’re at risk for developing rot in the wooden substructures, mold, mildew and many other issues.

Most common shingle roof issues:

Shingle blistering

Asphalt shingles are nailed to your roof, but essentially become adhered to the layer underneath. When this adhesion is lost, a pocket forms resembling a blister. This begins as a cosmetic issue, but becomes more severe/structural in nature when it pops or erodes.

Shingle curling

Curling shingles occur due to a number of issues, including poor ventilation, misalignment upon installation, age and issues related to being installed upon old roofing materials. Curled shingles are less wind resistant, which means they are more susceptible to tearing off in high wind, and they are also prone to letting moisture through.

Raised shingles

A roof with a wavy appearance is likely suffering from raised shingles, which can occur due to poor ventilation, roofing nails that weren’t tightly secured and have risen, or mold/mildew that is growing under the shingle, causing it to rise up.

Premature cracking

Shingles become prone to cracking with age, but with a prematurely cracking shingle problem, the blame comes down to poor manufacturing or bad installation. In some cases, a poorly ventilated roof can be the problem, but Mother Nature can also be a factor leading to cracking.

Thermal splitting or tearing

Asphalt shingles are built to expand so they can handle the fluctuation in temperatures. But when the weather goes from cool to extremely hot in quick succession, the shingles can split. Top quality shingles are less likely to split than shingles with a bargain basement price.

Granule loss

Heavy rain, snow, wind, hail and debris are all culprits in the loss of granules. If you notice a buildup of granules in your gutter, the shingles might be in need of replacement.

Expanded keyways/fish mouthing

If your shingles begin to take on the appearance of an open fish mouth, it’s likely a sign that the shingle tabs have separated because they are wider at the bottom than the top. This is not considered “normal wear” and is a common occurrence in roofs that have a moisture buildup.

Mold, mildew and algae

In areas of the roof, attic or walls show signs of mold, mildew or algae, it’s a sign that moisture is coming in and ventilation is inadequate. This allows uninvited flora to flourish and can lead to health problems and rotting structures.

Shingle disintegrating or missing

Most missing shingles have been subjected to more wind than they can handle, which is common in severe storms where gale-force wind is present. A disintegrated shingle is most likely the victim of an impact with hail or any number of debris types.

Manufacturers have made significant improvements to their design and production of asphalt shingles, but the materials are not impervious to such things as age, unusually high wind and debris. To ensure you get the most out of your shingles, only hire a trusted roofing contractor with the experience to install them correctly.

When asphalt shingle roof should be replaced

Homeowners with roof problems usually have their hopes up that the issues can be fixed with inexpensive repairs. And this might be the case with a new roof, but after years and years of being exposed to the elements, those repairs become more regular and the day will come when the best option will be replacing the old shingle roof with a new one.

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A damaged roof might start as a cosmetic issue, but can quickly lead to several structural issues that can be a danger to anyone under the roof. Fast action is the best option for keeping serious issues at arm’s length, but when a roofing contractor advises that the roof has reached the end of its lifespan, a replacement makes the most sense.

How to avoid asphalt shingle roof problems

You want to get all the life you can out of your roof, but reaching that goal requires some work. Homeowners aren’t expected to possess the knowledge that experienced roofers have, but there are some things you can do to give your roof a fighting chance at making it to its 30th birthday.

Some issues are unavoidable, such as a major storm moving through your area, or Father Time, which continues to tick away with nothing stopping him. But to ensure that you get everything you can out of your roof, consider the following tips:

Know the signs of roof distress

From blistering to buckling, cupping to splitting, familiarize yourself with these images, carefully look at your roof on occasion and search for anything resembling a roof in distress.

Clean your gutters

Clogged gutters cause a number of issues, including siding problems, water getting into the foundation and moisture backing up into your roof, which can cause rot and flora growth.

Remove overhanging branches

Branches hanging atop your roof represent a threat, as the lack of sunlight inhibits the growth of algae, mold and mildew. Branches can also rub against the roof, prematurely aging your shingles.

Remove and prevent moss

Moss, when left unattended, leads to growth outbreaks that can lift shingles and allow moisture in. This can also make the shingles more susceptible to blowing off in a windstorm.

Get regular inspections

Roofing contractors know exactly what to look for in every aspect of the roofing system, which means they can quickly assess what needs to be repaired. Taking advantage of this expertise can add years of life to your roof.

Post-storm inspections

Shingles are built to take a beating, but when a big storm rolls through your area and you see debris in the air, be sure to call for an inspection the following day, because even a new roof can be damaged in the right conditions.

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” It’s true in many things in life and it is certainly true in regard to your asphalt shingle roof. And while there is a lot you can do to avoid major asphalt roofing problems, partnering with VIS Exterior will cover you in many ways. Our thorough inspection process will guarantee that if you have an issue that needs repair, we’ll find it.

Top cedar shingle & shake roof problems

Cedar shingle and shake roofing offer a stunning aesthetic that is tough to beat. Even as it ages, it takes on new cosmetic characteristics that are attractive. And while wood offers an environmentally-friendly option for homeowners, they can experience problems related to aging, weather, birds, vegetal and fungal growth and insects. Without properly addressing these issues, your roof will not fully protect your home.

The common problems you’ll encounter with wood shakes and shingles:

Natural wear

Anything subjected to Mother Nature will eventually show wear/damage. While cedar shingle and shake roofing materials age gracefully, they eventually lose their luster due to natural wear and either need to be repaired or replaced.

Curling or cupping

Rain and sunshine are the main culprits in the curling or cupping of wood roofing material. The expansion and retraction, which is caused by the warming and cooling of the material, leads to distortion, often described as cupping or curling.

Rates of weathering

Weathering is the combination of sunlight (ultraviolet rays), wind and precipitation, all of which wear down the surface of the wood. While it is a slow process, it’s one of the main reasons the material loses its protective qualities.

Rotting and algae-blackened surface

If you’ve ever noticed a cedar roof that looks like it has turned black, you’re looking at a specific type of roof algae that is common on roofs that aren’t allowed to fully dry. Shaded wood roofs often experience this problem.


The repetitive action of wetting and then drying of wood can lead to cracking. Shallow cracks are generally only cosmetic, but can present larger issues over time.


What begins as cracking can lead to complete splits all the way through the wood shingles. This is only a problem if the split occurs atop another split or natural gap between shingle or shake, because at this point moisture can get into areas it's not supposed to access.


Distorted wood shingle and shake can take on a variety of shapes, from curling to cupping, twisting to warping. This is a cosmetic issue until it affects the ability of the roof to protect the home against moisture, at which point it is considered a structural issue requiring immediate action.

Prone to mold, mildew and insects

Unless treated, insects can become a problem on wood roofs. Insects can eat away at the cellulose in the wood, reducing its ability to protect the home. Mold and mildew will also grow on wood that is subjected to moisture and a lack of sunlight.

Fire hazard

Wood roofs are not installed in areas where wildfires are common, and for good reason – wood acts as a propellant. Wood shingles that are pressurized with a fire retardant are far better at reducing fire risk.

Calls for specific roof care

Unlike asphalt shingles, cedar shake and shingles require more work and specific care. From fire retardants to insecticides, specific roof care is required if you want it to look great and protect the home for many years.

Cedar will always be a highly prized roofing material due to its unique aesthetic. It brings a lot of value to a home and much joy to the homeowner. However, it does have its vulnerabilities that need to be considered, which is why you should partner with a trusted roofing contractor like VIS Exterior. We know the tricks of the trade that will keep your cedar roof looking spectacular for years to come.

When cedar shingle & shake roof should be replaced

One of the aspects of a cedar roof that homeowners enjoy is that it will transform with age. The reddish hue of a brand new roof weatherizes as the years go by and the color will gradually turn to various shades of silver and/or gray. Treating the wood can help retain its new, reddish hue, but exposure to the elements, especially the ultraviolet rays of the sun, will eventually transform the color.

cedar shake roofing maintenance

As the cedar ages, you’ll begin to see signs that the roof must be replaced. The biggest signs are warped shingles and shingles that have gone beyond cracked and are now split. If you’re experiencing multiple leaks, this is also a big issue that will warrant replacement. Major storms can also lead to damage, requiring a complete replacement of the roof.

It’s possible that on some roofs, particularly those that have not yet reached the end of their expected lifespan, that sections of the roof can be repaired. However, the new shingles will not be consistent with older wood that has aged, which presents an aesthetic problem. Also, frequent repairs add up pretty fast, so most homeowners will opt to have the entire cedar roof replaced.

How to avoid cedar shingle & shake roof problems

Roofs are the first line of defense in protecting your home, and given the amount of rain, sunshine, snow, ice and hail that it’s hit with, the roof needs some assistance if it’s going to last a long, long time and continue to protect your home.

Hiring a professional to inspect your roof and provide routine maintenance is a great option in avoiding problems that can lead to a complete replacement. Quality roofing contractors know exactly what to look for and will make the necessary adjustments to keep your roof looking great and leak proof.

The following are some of the ways you can avoid cedar shingle and shake roofing problems:

Know the signs of roof distress

Educate yourself on the difference between a roof that is aging gracefully and one that is showing signs of distress. While the colors will change with age, keep an eye out for curled, cracked, split and cupped shingles/shakes.

Vegetation removal

Vegetal growth might at first glance seem charming, but it’s actually quite damaging to a cedar roof. Removing any type of growth will ensure that the cedar won’t be cracked, split or waterlogged.

Clean your gutters

It might seem like a small detail but when a gutter backs up with debris, it’s not able to do the job it’s there to do, which is transfer moisture away from the home. A clogged gutter can lead to water backing up and under the shingles/shakes, which causes leaks within the home.

Cleaning surfaces

While it’s important to keep your roof free of debris and any type of growth, avoid using a pressure washer, as the impact can damage the roof and significantly reduce the life of the roof. A professional roofer will know which processes work best to clean the cedar without damaging it.

Moss control and removal

It’s not uncommon for moss to grow on cedar, but you shouldn’t let it proliferate, as this can lead to structural damages and leaks. Moss also retains moisture, which is a big no-no on a roof, as it can lead to rot.

Fungal control

A common fungal problem with cedar roofs comes in the form of mold, which thrives in damp and dark areas. If your roof is not allowed to completely dry following rain, it is at risk of developing mold, which can lead to rot and a failed roofing system.

Get regular inspections

The most proactive thing a homeowner can do to prolong the life of a roof is to schedule regular inspections. Always have the roof inspected following a storm with high winds and debris, but you also want to have an annual inspection to catch small issues that will turn into big ones if not repaired.

Every roof will need to be replaced at some point, but to ensure yours protects your home and lasts for decades, work with a roofing contractor that has years of experience with cedar roofs. Taking a proactive stance will ensure that your roof not only looks great, but will function properly and protect your home.

Roof replacement and repair contractor to fix any roofing issues

At VIS Exterior, our years of experience coupled with a customer-centric method of doing business has established us as the go-to roofing contractor in the Chicagoland area. Consistently exceeding the expectations of our customers, despite a multitude of glowing reviews, has garnered us a loyal following of homeowners who know who to call when they have roof issues.

From inspections to maintenance, repairs to replacement, we are knowledgeable about all parts of a roofing system and will ensure your roof will perform well and last for a long, long time. If you’ve got questions about your cedar or asphalt shingle roof, contact us and we’ll schedule an inspection and consultation.

Roofing homeowners
Val Slajus
Owner / Author
Val Slajus

My journey began with a passion for home improvement, and I established VIS Exterior because I firmly believe that everyone deserves to live in a beautiful home. With years of experience in the roofing and siding craft, I'm dedicated to helping you enhance the protection and aesthetics of your home. Through this blog, I'm excited to share my knowledge and insights, empowering you to make informed decisions when planning your next exterior renovation project.