Should I Replace or Fix My Roof?

Home renovations are a near inevitability when you own a home for any length of time. Sometimes, you just get bored with the way the room looks or you decide you need more room for your family. Other times, some part of your home sustains some damage.

One of the most common home renovations is roofing. Unlike so many other renovations, it’s usually one you can’t put off. Once you see a leak, most people immediately think:

“I need to fix my roof.”

The question then becomes, “Should I replace my leaking roof or just repair it?” If you’re wondering whether it’s time for a new roof or just a repair, keeping reading for our guide on making that choice.


Like it or not, budget is a major consideration when worrying about things like how to fix my roof leaks. On average, a new roof will hit you in your wallet to the tune of just under $8500. Even in homes with careful budgets and emergency funds, $8500 is often a big ask on short notice.

A new roof is something people often budget for starting a year or two in advance. Most roof repairs max out around $1500. It’s still a meaningful amount of money, but far more manageable for most people.

If you spot a leak in your roof and a new roof isn’t even a possibility, then go for the repair.

Roof Age

If finances don’t put a nix a new roof, you should consider the age of your roof. You can typically expect about 20 years of life from a roof.

If your roof is only 5 years old, there’s still a lot of life left in the part of the roof that isn’t damaged or leaking. In that case, you might want a few more years of service from the rest of the roof before you shell out for the full replacement.

On the other hand, what if your existing roof is already 15 years old? You’ve already seen most of the existing roof’s useful working life. There is a new roof on the near horizon one way or the other.

In those cases, it’s often a more practical step to simply replace the roof now.

The Extent of the Damage

Let’s say that there was nothing wrong with your roof yesterday, but a big storm blew through the night before with high winds. A nearby tree limb ripped loose and crashed into your roof. How extensive is the damage?

If it’s a small limb, the damage might stay relatively confined. If it’s a large limb, it might well destroy half your roof.

If the damage is confined to a small area, a roof repair is often the faster and better option. With more extensive damage, you’re often looking at a repair that comprises half your roof. If you must replace that much of the roof, you may just want to replace it all and be done with it.

The Severity of the Leaking

So, you head up to your attic one fine day to retrieve something and notice staining on the wood of the roof. It wasn’t there the last time you came up, which means your roof sprung a leak. You must evaluate the severity of the leak.

Is the stain huge and run clear down to where the wall meets the roof? Is the stain small and only extend for a few feet? Is there more than one spot where you can find this sort of staining?

If you can only find one or two spots with minor staining, you can often get by with a roof repair. It means you caught the problem early. That means limited damage.

If you find lots of spots of several spots with severe staining, that’s a bigger problem. It means there are serious problems with the roof in more than one place. In that situation, you often face more severe problems that make a new roof the best option.

You can learn more about roof leaks and managing them in this article by Wolcott Roofing.

Plans to Sell

Your long-term plans can also influence your choice of repair or replacement. Let’s say you live in your forever home. Let’s say your roof is around 10 years old.

In that situation, with years of useful life left in most of the roof, you might well opt for a repair. You might rightly reason that you can move up any planned roof replacement a few years if necessary.

What if you don’t plan on living in your current home for more than a few more years? The condition of the roof often proves a make or break point for homebuyers. Most people don’t relish the idea of dropping over $300,000 on a house just to face a major and pricey repair almost immediately.

If you plan on selling in the near future, a roof replacement might cost more now but help sell your house later.

Contractor Recommendation

Before fully committing to the idea that I should fix my roof with a repair or replacement, you’ll want some professional input. A roofing contractor can come in and check:

  • The overall state of your roof
  • The condition of your shingles
  • The sheathing
  • Any exposed underlayment

Then, they can offer an informed opinion about which option will offer you better value. In worst-case scenarios, they can also tell you if you absolutely need a new roof.

How Should I Fix My Roof? Repair or Replacement

The how should I fix my roof question isn’t always as straightforward as homeowners might like. You can repair most problems. Yet, repairs aren’t always the best solution for lots of reasons.

The age of the roof or extent of the damage might make repairs impractical. The same holds true if you plan on selling in the near future. Of course, you must always consider your budget.

An affordable repair always beats a new roof you cannot afford.

Looking for more home improvement tips? Check out the posts in our Home & Garden section.

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