Determining whether or not your roof needs to be replaced isn't always as simple as discovering a leak in your roof. Of course, if you find yourself with buckets and cooking pots to collect rain water, it is a good indication that you need a new roof. But noticing the telltale signs early will allow you to have repairs done before the excess of water and exposure to the elements destroy more than just the roof.
An older roof, or a roof with a poor covering, can lead to heat and energy loss. Check to make sure there are no gaps or holes in the roofing tiles. Another way to check to see which area of the roof is allowing heat to escape is by observing where the snow melts in the winter. If there is an area of your roof that seems to melt more quickly than the rest of the roof (and is not melting because of sunlight), it is because the heat from inside your home is escaping through that part of the roof. You may need to add insulation to that part of the roof, or the roof itself may need to be repaired.
Are you hearing noise in your attic? It's probably not a ghost, but small animals. If animals such as birds, squirrels, bats or raccoons are getting into your attic, there are holes or gaps in your roof. Animals will find their way into the attic through these holes, so be on the lookout for droppings or nests. These holes let animals in, but also your home's warmth and energy out. Be sure to repair these holes right away; otherwise wind, rain, snow, and animals can find their way into your attic, causing more damage to your home.
If you have had a bad storm recently, check your roof for damage, or better yet, have a professional roofer inspect your roof. Hail storms or storms with high winds can leave lasting damage on a home's roof that will only get worse as time goes on. High winds can dislodge roofing tiles and blow debris into the roofing structure. Heavy snow and ice can also cause a roof to lose its structural integrity, so be sure to inspect your roof after a particularly tough winter or after severe storms. Visually inspect the roofing tiles and make sure they line up properly. Over time, the elements can get underneath these tiles, causing them to bulge and become disfigured. Make sure they are lined up straight and even.
A good rule of thumb is to have your roof inspected by a licensed roofing contractor, especially if your roof is older than 15 years or if you have noticed some signs of damage. A professional roofing contractor knows exactly the right way to repair a damaged roof or whether or not to recommend a complete re-roofing. And your homeowners insurance may cover the cost of repairs or replacement. Many roofing contractors can work closely with your insurance company to help get the reimbursement you deserve.