My roof is old. Shingles are worn down, some are torn, and there are some nails coming through some shingles. I'm being told by some contractors there for other reasons that my roof needs immediate repair or replacement. They question they're not really answering though is why do I need to repair anything when my roof is functioning perfectly fine. There are no leaks, no bowing, no problems other than it 'being old'.


What are the problems with simply having an old roof? What am I missing - why should I repair/replace my roof when it is functioning perfectly? Why should I not wait for bad weather to tear up the roof and then rely on an insurance claim to cover damages?


3 Answers 3


"Shingles torn" "Nails showing"

You very probably have leaks you have not yet noticed. If you re-roof now, you might not rot out the roof deck and need to replace it as well. If you wait until you have leaks you notice, you may find that you're rotted out the roof deck and be looking at a far larger bill.

However - don't hire ANY contractor that drives by, looks at your roof, and rings your doorbell offering to replace it for you. That sort of "drive-by marketing" is typically associated with the absolute lowest form of "wannbe contractors", often mobile units that won't be around when the new (shoddily installed from the worst materials) roof leaks. Look up established local firms and invite them to make a bid.

Your insurance adjuster is wise to the tactic you plan to engage in - if the roof was not maintained in good condition, they will probably deny the whole claim (you neglected the house) rather than buy you a new roof. They know what old shingles look like, even after they have been torn up by bad weather. They probably even have "before" pictures of it, with dates, in their files.

  1. During the high season (when you'll need it urgently) it's harder to find and schedule a roofer to come out.
  2. Insurance won't cover all your losses : if it covers any losses.
  3. Much damage can be hidden from view.
  4. When it's not an emergency you can get competitive bids and get a good price for a roof that will last until you die and then some. You don't indicate a lack of funds. As long as you pay for quality, your next roof will last your remaining lifetime: why not get under it now?

Because the rot from leakage will damage the sheeting and anything else it gets to. When the roof comes off, the foolishness is exposed.

Insurance does not cover neglect.

Our neighbors tried this little ploy and nearly had the house condemned. One wall rotted out, cripple wall nearly ready to collapse. Maintenance is cheap, repair is expensive, crippling and you might not be able to get a mortgage to cover the renovation necessary to reclaim occupancy.

"Functioning perfectly" is only a WAG, not an actual fact proven by inspection. Unless you've pulled up the roofing and inspected the sheeting, you do not know this. Not leaking usually means not leaking into the living area, therefore unnoticed for several years. Torn shingles and exposed nails is a pretty good indicator of what will be found.

As my father once said, good roofing covers a multitude of sins, you can get by with just about anything as long as the roof doesn't leak. Given this is Western Oregon, I've had plenty of experience over the years back it up. A dry shambles is better than a pretty McMansion with melting walls any winter of the year.

  • Funny, my father always said bad roofing hides a multitude of sins. Did a roofing job one time where the shingles were just beginning to curl, but when we stripped it off we found rotted out sections of the deck that you could fall through spread eagled.
    – Comintern
    Commented Mar 18, 2014 at 4:29
  • Heh, probably because he'd heard that saying, having one of those converse minds and having had to live in really cheap rentals also was pointing out that a bad house with a good roof could be a good place to live. Better to have shabby without water draining down your neck than one seemingly nice place we rented once, flat roof construction that come winter needed 5 gallon pail management in the front living room. A bucket of tar and persistence finally stemmed the leak. Commented Mar 18, 2014 at 4:45

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.