Mother Earth News Blogs > Green Homes

Green Homes

Building for the future, today – combining the best of historical wisdom and modern technology.

Should You Replace Your Roof Before This Winter?


Have you inspected your roof yet this year? Your roof is on the front lines of exposure to nature’s harshest elements all year long. Because it’s bound to take a beating, it’s crucial to inspect for missing shingles, weather damage or possible sagging, at least annually.

Luckily, even if you haven’t inspected your roof since last winter, there’s still time before the next round of snow and sleet arrives. After all, though he meant it metaphorically, John F. Kennedy did once say: “The time to repair the roof is when the sun is shining.”

The last thing you want is to have structural issues with your roof that you can’t address during the bitter cold months. Getting a good look at your roof is less dangerous in the late summer and fall—and should you find missing shingles or need for repairs, an inspection could save you lots of money in the long run. A damaged roof can lead to many burdensome and expensive issues. I learned this the hard way.

Photo by

Two winters ago, my roof fell victim to ice dams that caused thousands of dollars of damage to several areas of our home. Ice dams form when melting snow refreezes and blocks drainage into the gutters. The water has to go somewhere, and it usually finds its way into the home. Had we inspected our roof for structural deficits in the summer or fall, we could have installed proper preventative flashing on the edges and over the  valleys. Instead, the damage went unnoticed and got even worse.

The average home’s roof lasts 20-25 years and can cost up to $12,000. In some cases, installing a brand new roof is actually cheaper than retroactively repairing the water damage caused by not adhering to proper upkeep.

Signs Your Roof May Need Repairs or a Full ReplacementRoof2

• Visible water damage
• Leaking
• Sagging
• Buckling of shingles
• Missing shingles
• Shingles and debris are found in the yard or gutters
• Seeing light through the roof boards

If you have serious signs of damage or your roof is over 20 years old, it is definitely worth considering replacing it entirely. In the end, even worse than the cost of repairing structural damage to your home is the level of stress and grief that comes with it.

Green Roofing Options

If a new roof is in your future, there are several environmentally friendly options to consider. The greatest advantage of a green roof is its durability—the longer your roof lasts, the less waste you’ll create. Here are some of the best materials to choose from:

Metal roofing is eco-friendly because it can often be installed right on top of your old roof, depending on the current roof’s condition. It’s durable and lasts a whopping 30-50 years. Metal reflects sunlight, which is ideal for hot climates and greatly reduces the need for air conditioning. Metal roofing is also largely made from recycled material.
Recycled shingles are made from reused materials such as plastic or rubber. These roofs usually have warranties of up to 50 years. When you choose recycled shingles, you're also helping to keep waste out of landfills!
Solar roof shingles don’t only protect your home from harsh weather—they even help generate energy. In fact, photovoltaic cells could save you 40-60 percent on your electricity bill! Plus, it’s worth checking to see if you qualify for a clean energy tax incentive to offset the cost of installation.

Whether your next inspection reveals that you you need to make spot repairs or replace your entire roof, make sure you consider recycling or reusing your old shingles. According to the Environmental Protection Agency, more than 11 million tons of asphalt shingles enter U.S. landfills each year. Luckily, asphalt scrap recycling is a growing industry—so encourage your friends and family to be a part of the solution!

Learn from my mistakes—inspect your roof while the weather is on your side! Now’s the time to make any necessary repairs or replacements because winter is coming fast!

Sommer Poquette is the Green and Clean Mom who writes for The Home Depot about accessing your roofing and the replacement options available. To find more information on roofing installation and options that Sommer talks about in this article, visit The Home Depot.

All MOTHER EARTH NEWS community bloggers have agreed to follow our Blogging Best Practices, and they are responsible for the accuracy of their posts. To learn more about the author of this post, click on the byline link at the top of the page.