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The short question is "how do you know when you need a new roof?". Obviously, this is before it leaks. After it leaks, there is no doubt.

Our insurance is going to raise rates because our roof is more than 15 years old. So if I call a roofer out to inspect, how can I be sure he's not snowing me? What do I look for so if he says "you see this..." I can know that really is a problem? I would hope I wouldn't get such a contractor, but I wouldn't know if I had because I don't know what to look for.

Our roof is "felt" under concrete tile. Don't know why they call it "felt"...it's not fuzzy felt, it's a heavy black material, maybe incorporating asphalt.

1poorguy
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Concrete tile roofs usually last 50+ years.

If your insurance is raising rates because your roof is 15 years old, I think either they have in their records the wrong type of roof or you need to find a new insurance company.

It's called felt because it is felt. It isn't the thick felt you might use in a craft project, but it is felt. Probably asphalt-impregnated felt. aka. roofer's felt.
Felt means that the fibers have been pressed together and have matted together. felt is a non-woven fabric-like thing. (probably you can find a better definition if you look it up)

Is the underside of your roof accessible?
Do you have plywood under the felt? Or just purlins? Or tongue and groove boards? or something else?
(most likely one of the first two)

If you have evidence of water on the underside of your roof, you probably need to repair it.
If you have cracked tiles, you probably need to replace them.

Maybe you can ask the insurance company if having the roof restored by a licensed contractor would reset that 15-year rule? (that may mean just replacing a broken tile or two)
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Our insurance is going to raise rates because our roof is more than 15 years old.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Spoiler Alert: Your rates are going to go up no matter what you do or don't do.
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It is vertical 2x4 (I think...I'd have to go up to be sure, but I think they're 2x4). The insulation is batting attached under the roof deck, not in the ceiling**. The roof deck is either OSB or plywood. Again, I would have to get into the attic and try to peer past the batting to see it.

Just remembered...I have photos from the construction. It is OSB. Then felt, then horizontal pieces to which the tiles attach. That part is pretty standard.

Yes, the tiles last probably 50 years, but the underlayment (I'm told) can only be expected to last maybe 20 years.

I can't see any way to evaluate the felt underneath without removing the tiles (which is probably most of the cost of reroofing...removing the tiles and putting them back).

1poorguy



**In Arizona it is the best way to avoid superheated attics and higher utility bills.
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USAA has been good to us. And they sent a letter warning that the roof is old enough that they are concerned about an increased likelihood of failure. If we replace it it would seem they reset the counter.
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Ask your insurance folks is what kind of roof do you have listed for my house?

If they say anything other than what you have, ask --
#1. Will XYZ (what ever roof you have) lower my rate?
IF yes, demand a rebate on previous premiums - make noise about contacting the state insurance commission

#2. Ask if they sent an inspector out to look at house and confirm roof type, etc.?
If the answer was no, get another insurance company - these people are cutting corners to save a nickel and the costs to replace stuff not for which they are not getting premiums will be paid by all the policy holders.

I have changed home owners insurance companies 3 times in the last 20 years and every time the insurance company both checked local property records and sent somebody out to do things like verify roof material, construction (brick, cement board, etc.) and in the case of my current insurance company, they measured the house to make sure the conditioned area was correct.
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Hi 1poorguy,

Log in to USAA.

Go to the Homeowner Policy link.

There is a "Home Characteristics" tab below the large "Update" buttons.

Scroll down to the "Outside Your Home" section and it should specify your roof type. If it doesn't state the correct type, fix it.

Does that help you?

Gene
All holdings and some statistics on my Fool profile page
http://my.fool.com/profile/gdett2/info.aspx
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Nope.

It says "tile - concrete (100%)". As I expected, and as it should. (I spent considerable time with them getting this right when we switched from Ameriprise/COSTCO to USAA.)

So back to the question: how do I tell if my roof is going to need maintenance before it actually springs a leak? Or is that not possible?

1poorguy
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We just replaced our roof, gutters, downspouts, ridge vents, bath vents, gutter guards, the works...

This was a composition roof, we'd replaced wood shingles with close to 40 years ago, by the same company, when his Dad was still alive!

Trigger was not leaks, it was the quantity of gravel coming off the old roof.. Particularly on the Suth side... And the gutters, while not leaking, were close, I'd patched them up a few times over the years, so it was time..

There are new products replacing the old 15# felt now, big crew, one day for the tearoff, prep for the next day when they did all the rest.. Gutter guys worked with them, ducking, dodging as needed.. Only little oddity was I had to paint the downspouts, to match the house, took me a couple lazy days, no rush..

I also question if they even know what your roof's made up from, altho, it's likely of a known age, location, so some assumptions are likely made.. But here, I've never told my agent, he never asked.. All I know is that composition was a lot safer, firewise, that those tinder like wood shingles..

About 1500sf plus 16x24 workshop, about 200' of gutters.. one story, they fixed a little dry rot in a couple spots, roof deck itself was fine.. About $15K total.. Over, done, so we're no on to the next project..

SIL has concrete tiles on his 2 story, about 2200sf, he just had it all sealed, repaired, and I think that was a similar amount.. Looks great, a little darker color.. But he was seeing leaks, so they did some repairs as part of it.. Did not replace his gutters..

Many options...No leaks, take your time..
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Poorguy concrete does not deteriorate like asphalt shingles - which you know. A tile roof - concrete or clay can be improperly installed resulting leaks. I can only think of two ways for leaks to happen. #1 Individual tiles can break. #2. Since tile roof depend on gravity for leak protection, wind in the correct direction and velocity can drive water up hill so to speak between tiles.

I am not aware of anyway to predict either of these conditions.
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I've always heard good things about USAA.

How about contact USAA and see what a 'live' representative has to say?
I'm wondering if there is some other part of the home description that needs to be reviewed?

Ask the representative why a 50year roof must be replaced after only 15 years?

I'm having trouble with the 'felt goes bad' concept. As I understand it, felt is a synthetic fiber and a waterproofing agent matrix, and should last as long as the main roofing materials - under normal conditions. Normal conditions is that the felt is not directly exposed to the environment.

Perhaps ask for a USAA inspector to visit your roof?

As for checking for leaks -
It sounds like an attic visit is required. Look first for obvious signs of a leak: matted down insulation, discolored water marked wood and insulation, etc. Depending on your agility and the height of the attic space, and accessibility, you might be able to do this yourself?
Perhaps do a preliminary scan, then, if need be get a pro to look at it?

If there is insulation against the inferior roof surface, that's gonna be a PITA. I think I'd hire an inspector with tile/slate roof experience.

Can you get a drone to examine the outer surface of the tiles? Look for broken tiles, askew tiles, etc?

How about the fascia boards and trim around the edge of the roof? Can you examine that, safely? Binoculars, telephoto lens and photos from the ground?
Any decay, or discoloration?

8^?
ralph
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I've always heard good things about USAA.

Except when it comes to replacing hail damaged roofs. We had a hail storm a few years back. Most of roofs had hail damage. All the homes on my street had their roofs replaced through insurance. The two homes that didn't get replacement roofs were insured by USAA.

PSU
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...hail damaged roofs... The two homes that didn't get replacement roofs were insured by USAA.

Odd. My dad's development had a hail storm in 2015. A USAA-vetted roofer came out and gave people estimates for new roofs, and replaced most of them. Dad was happy to get his check from USAA for $10k, but just kept it and refused to replace or repair his roof (which was leaking anyway).
In 2019, while he was in rehab and I could do things behind his back, I had a highly-rated roofer replace his roof (for $10k).

Shortly afterward, a neighbor complained to me about the roofer who'd replaced his roof in 2015; due to predatory upcharges it was $15k, and turns out he did a shoddy job anyway. So the primary lesson there is "don't automatically use the insurance company's contractor, do your own research." The secondary lesson is "if it's not an emergency, wait, and don't have work done at the same time all your neighbors are having the same work done."

But to your point, it sounds like hail damage coverage might be regional? Or maybe in Dad's development the damage was worse? Because sometimes USAA does replace hail-damaged roofs.
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So back to the question: how do I tell if my roof is going to need maintenance before it actually springs a leak? Or is that not possible?

For a tile roof, it's basically fix tiles when they get cracked, and keep any animals from getting underneath and damaging the roofing felt.

Generally the tile is a very good physical barrier, keeping the sun and impacts (rain, hail, wind) from hitting the roofing felt. And the roofing felt provides a good moisture barrier - even if you have a long rainstorm that soaks all the way through the tiles.

I don't think you can tell when a roof is just about to spring a leak.
You can keep up on basic things (like replacing broken/cracked tiles.
And monitor it for any leaks so that when they happen the damage is small and easily fixed.
(harder to do when you have insulation like you have, right under the roof deck)
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I also have USAA and a concrete tile roof that is 24 years old.
I got no such notice from them about a 15 yr old roof that I recall.
My roof is in good shape.

However, one caution. They did ask to do a "review" of some kind probably ~5 years ago.
They sent out an inspector who walked around, asked questions, measured, took notes and created a report.
He did not go on the roof, but I did just add solar PV a year or two prior.
And the solar guys repaired a very minor leak that had been there since the house was built.
But they (USAA) didn't know this.

In the report sent to USAA the inspector incorrectly checked one tiny little box on something like page 20 that said my house was on a slab. But in fact it is on a foundation with a crawl space...just like it had always been.
I accidentally discovered this last year during my renewal. Turns out slabs are more expensive to insure. I complained that this error cost me money for years; but they said it was my responsibility to verify the info on the report. No refund.

Mike
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So back to the question: how do I tell if my roof is going to need maintenance before it actually springs a leak? Or is that not possible?

I found out by water leaking into my kitchen.

PSU
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I accidentally discovered this last year during my renewal. Turns out slabs are more expensive to insure. I complained that this error cost me money for years; but they said it was my responsibility to verify the info on the report. No refund.

They switched the information without your authorization. Time to collect the money they owe you and switch to another company.
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I have to admit I a mystified by the concept of a 50 year roof which has an underpayment you have to replace every 15 years.
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This is more of a question to the group than an answer to your question.

Several years ago a hail storm led to a large number of roofs in the area being replaced. Quite a few homeowners switched from asphalt/composite type shingles to ribbed metal or standing seam metal roofing. Has anyone here made that switch? What has your experience been like?
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I switched from composite to ribbed metal roofing about 9 years ago, with ridge vents.

I was told repeatedly that it would be noisy. My house was MORE quiet afterward.

I was told my energy costs would rise. Ok. My energy costs went DOWN.

I was VERY happy with the roof. It was NO maintenance for the 5 years I owned it.

I'd do it again, under the conditions of that time.
Now, under today's conditions, I would look at cement tile, Tesla solar roof, high tech composite* tiles, and metal, along with composite.

😷
ralph

* a friend has a high-tech synthetic tile, but includes an insulation layer. She indicated satisfaction when I asked about it. I don't remember what it is exactly.
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Has anyone here made that switch? What has your experience been like?

My parents put on a metal seamed roof.

The snow guards didn't stay glued to the roof - some came off right away, others in the years that followed. I don't know that they have any still on the roof.

I think it's a different sound when it rains - not sure it's any louder or quieter, but it is different. It's not like the loud noise you hear in a polebarn shed where the metal is only supported by a few boards. The plywood right under the metal makes it so it doesn't resonate like that. But it has a - for lack of a better term - metallic sound compared to asphalt shingles

Definitely see snow come off in bigger chunks - whole sections slide down off the roof. With composite shingles the snow wouldn't slide.
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Several years ago a hail storm led to a large number of roofs in the area being replaced. Quite a few homeowners switched from asphalt/composite type shingles to ribbed metal or standing seam metal roofing. Has anyone here made that switch? What has your experience been like?

I don't have any experience. I'm just posting to say there is another option for homes where HOA requirements may prevent ribbed metal or standing seam metal roofing. There are metal shingle roofs that look similar to asphalt shingles.

https://www.classicmetalroofingsystems.com/

PSU
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Maybe you need new insurance rather than a new roof....
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Hi PucksFool,

We had a UPN roof for 13 years. The installation of it did not use the best methods. The installer laid it on 15# felt directly on the 1/2 plywood deck. Over the years, a lot of the deck screws started to back out. Those at the sheet edges on the rib top were all fine.

Ice and snow exacerbated the issue. After a rainstorm in late 2018, the globe on one of our porch lights was half full of water. After some hunting and having a roof person out we narrowed down where the water was coming in to about 4 sheets.

Based on what I saw while we were doing the inspection, I decided to replace it. It became a choice of ripping it all off to install it correctly either trying to re-use the existing sheets or with all new materials. Alternatively, to use a different material altogether.

I decided to use Decra steel shingles. They come in 3 foot sections and inter-lock. They don't have exposed fasteners and are fastened directly to the deck, no purlins or other spacing is needed.

https://www.decra.com/metal-roofing-products/shingle-xd


Here are a couple of pics:

UPN roof:
http://taylortel.net/~gdett2/House/Back_Porch.html
http://taylortel.net/~gdett2/House/House_Westside.html
http://taylortel.net/~gdett2/House/20091224_071.html

Decra steel shingles:
http://www.taylortel.net/~gdett2/House/20190115_12r.html
http://www.taylortel.net/~gdett2/House/20190115_17r.html
http://www.taylortel.net/~gdett2/House/20190115_09r.html

A PDF for a better UPN installation method that give the screws for the sheets a better hold:
https://www.tdi.texas.gov/wind/prod/rc/rc193.pdf

Does that help you?

Gene
All holdings and some statistics on my Fool profile page
http://my.fool.com/profile/gdett2/info.aspx
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Several years ago a hail storm led to a large number of roofs in the area being replaced. Quite a few homeowners switched from asphalt/composite type shingles to ribbed metal or standing seam metal roofing. Has anyone here made that switch? What has your experience been like?

We had a metal roof put on our cabin when the old shingle roof needed replacing. We had extra insulation put on under the metal. The house is quiet in a downpour and our heating/cooling costs went way down. Absolutely love it. Not sure I would do it in a hail prone area however. I've heard hail dings metal roofs bigtime.

And since we are talking insurance companies and hail, we lived in a neighborhood that was impacted by a light hail storm. I had been away at the time and only found out because many of the neighbors were getting new roofs. I checked with my insurance company and they replaced the $25,000 of roof with no problem. I had Electric Insurance (GE) which has been hands down my favorite company, and had just switched from Allstate a few months earlier. Good thing too, since Allstate refused to replace the roofs of the neighbors who were insured by them.

IP
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