It’s one of the biggest and most costly mistakes homeowners make: They pay no mind to an aging roof until they see a leak from the inside. The problem: By the time water damage becomes visible from inside the home, there may already be extensive rot and mildew between the ceiling and roof.
All of a sudden, instead of just replacing shingles or laying down some new pitch and gravel on a rooftop, your contractor may be cutting into drywall or replacing sections of ceiling and roof. In some cases, you may have to go through a costly mold eradication project.
Reminder: Unless the damage can be traced to a specific wind or weather event, chances are it won’t pay for damages caused by a leaking roof. Insurance is there in case an act of God or vandalism forces you to replace your roof prematurely. Insuring you replace your roof before natural and expected wear and tear causes a problem is your responsibility.
To avoid these needless expenses, replace your roof before it leaks.
How do you know when it’s time? Look for these signs.
- Do you smell mold in your attic? Are there dark or discolored spots in the wood or drywall in your attic space? Is insulation discolored or wet? Get up there with some good lighting on a regular basis and inspect it. You want to catch any damage here, before it spreads to your living area.
- Is there a lot of moss growing on your roof? Moss can add weight to roofs, store moisture causing wet rot and mold damage, and compromise the structural integrity of your roofing materials.
- Are asphalt shingles losing granularity? The granules on asphalt shingles are vital barriers to sunlight, which can cause your tile to shrink and expand with the temperature. When there are granules missing, the tile itself is exposed to the elements. This can cause cracking and leaks.
- Are shingles curling or cracking? It’s time to replace them. The barrier to water is now compromised.
- Check flashings and caulking around joints, angles, sunroofs, etc. Are the flashings in good shape? Is the caulking still intact or is it cracking or becoming separated? Repair these vulnerable areas right away, before the next rain pushes water into the gaps.
- Check the area immediately around chimneys. This is a notoriously vulnerable point for roofs, because roofing materials expand and contract more than the chimney itself – creating gaps.
Actual Cash Value vs. Replacement Cost
Also, keep in mind that even in the event of a windstorm or other insurable event, your home insurance policy may not cover the entire cost of replacing a roof that gets damaged. This is because many insurance policies don’t cover roof replacement costs, but rather something called the actual cash value of the roof.
This means they deduct a small amount from the allowable compensation each year as the roof gets older. The older the roof, the lower the actual cash value. In theory, you would be saving money to replace the roof anyway. Actual cash value only pays the depreciated value of the roof (after the deductible.) As the roof approaches its scheduled replacement date, the depreciated value of the roof approaches zero.
In addition, a roof that has been damaged due to wear and tear, which can no longer protect the home from water seeping in may result in a claim that is not covered. The reason for this is, damage needs to be sudden and accidental. Also policies were never intended to cover claims that can be prevented, including poor maintenance of a home. If they provide coverage for these types of claims, it would result in higher homeowners insurance rates to make up for the irresponsible homeowners.