Replacing a roof is a project we’d all like to put off. It can be a major investment to replace your roof. A new roof could easily run around $5,000 to $10,000 — or more. This varies based on how much contractors charge by area and what types of materials you use. Contractors can take one to several days to install a new roof. Or, if you plan to replace the roof yourself, it’s a large home remodel that could run you around a few days to weeks to complete, depending on how much time and help you have.

All that said, if you don’t replace your roof when you first see signs of wear, it can mean more costly repairs down the road. The most common problem is that water will seep in under worn shingles and cause damage to the structures below. That’s when leaks into the home and mold start to happen. On the more mild side, an old roof can look just plain ugly. So below we’ll look at some of the early signs that your roof might need to be replaced.

Shingles will start to crack and warp with damage. Image: Suzanne Tucker/Shutterstock

Replace your roof if the shingles are in bad shape

The easiest way to tell that you need to replace your roof is that the shingles themselves are starting to look worn. There are a few ways to tell that you will need a new roof based on how your shingles look:

  • The edges of the shingles may be curled or have a cup-like appearance
  • The shingles are cracking
  • There may be bald patches

In short, if your roof is starting to look old and worn out, it’s time for a new one.

Moss can signal deeper damage under the shingles. Image: MagicBones/Shutterstock

Moss is appearing

Another key sign that you may need to replace your roof is that you’re seeing moss on or between the shingles. While it might seem like moss on the roof is a quaint quality that will make your home look like a fairy tale cabin in the woods, it’s a sign of a potential problem.

Moss itself is not an automatic sign that you need a new roof immediately. Moss does naturally grow on or between shingles, especially on roofs that are in shaded or moist climates. But moss could hint at hidden damage.

The problem with moss is that when it rains, the moss absorbs the water like a sponge and holds onto it. The whole point of shingles is to allow water to roll off the roof and into the gutters. When moss is present, it keeps that moisture from going where it’s meant to go. That can lead to the shingles themselves breaking down. Since moss impedes the water from reaching the gutters, it can also lead to that water seeping into the layers under the shingles, causing water damage and mold growth.

So if you see moss, you’ll need to call a roofing contractor to clean up the moss and look for signs of permanent damage.

If your roof is just old, it might be time to replace it. Image: Dynamoland/Shutterstock

Consider the age of the roof

Another key factor in determining if you need to replace your roof is the age of that roof. This isn’t a warning sign you can see at times, but it’s worth keeping in mind. Roofs that are at least 20 years old may benefit from replacement with higher quality materials. Typical asphalt shingles last about that long, according to the National Association of Home Builders.

Other materials may last longer, however. Slate, copper and clay/concrete roofs can last over 50 years and wood shake roofs can last around 30, for instance. So, depending on what material you have on your roof and the last time it was replaced, it could just be time so that you avoid leaks down the road.

And, remember, for an investment this large, you might want to consider getting materials that will last longer and be more durable, like metal roofing. This is one of those home purchases where a higher up-front cost could mean fewer repairs down the road. It could be a good investment, especially for a home you plan to stay in as long as possible. If you plan correctly, you might not have to replace your roof ever again.

Whether you put in a new roof or want to protect your existing one, head here to learn how to make it last for decades.