Tear-off and replace old roof or shingle over?

Answered by Jeffrey ~ June 28, 2010 ~ Comments

My house is 17 years old, we are the original owners. There are no leaks but the original strip shingles are starting to curl up. Roof has two pretty steep valleys that are wearing down through the shingles. I live in the country with a farm field surrounding, with nothing to stop the wind. Should I just replace the roof completely or re-shingle?

Henry ~ Aurora, Illinois

Jeffrey Anderson

Hi Henry, It sounds to me like your existing roof is nearing the end of its life span. I would imagine that the shingles that are up there are 20 or 25 year shingles, so 17 years isn't too bad with out any leaking or problems.

I am not a big fan of re-shingled roofs. I know it can save a little money to leave the old shingles on the roof, but I prefer that they come off and the roofing contractor has a good opportunity to inspect the roof sheathing. Chances are the roof sheathing is fine, it has only been up there for 17 years, but the next opportunity to inspect it may be when the new shingles wear out, which could be another 17 years down the road.

Another reason I don't like re-shingled roofs is that if there is ever a leak, it can take forever to locate where the leak is as you are looking at two shingled roofs. If water is getting into your home, that means it is penetrating the new layer of shingles and then finding it's way through the old shingles, so you are looking for two areas that are leaking.

I would also have a concern about those 2 steep valleys you have. I imagine that you can get a lot of snow in Aurora, Illinois, and without anything to block the wind those valleys may hold snow for a while in the winter. I don't know if they weave the shingles in the valleys or just trim them to the flashing in that area of Illinois, but either way it is a much cleaner job if you are starting with a complete roof replacement rather than going over old shingles.

You might have the roofing contractor take a look at your roof and offer their opinion. The shingle manufacturer and the roofing contractor will be providing the warranty for the new roof so I'm sure the roofing contractor is going to want some input in the decision. If they have no problem with installing the new shingles over the old shingles, you might get a price for both ways and make your decision based on cost. If it doesn't cost very much to remove the old shingles, I would recommend that they come off.

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