A small leak on the roof raises an important question: can you patch it or must you install a new roof? The answers to the following questions can guide your decision.
How Many Shingles Are Missing?
One of the first things to assess is the extent of the damage. If only a few shingles are missing from a relatively small area, then a patch is likely possible. If a large number of shingles are missing or damaged, or if there are missing shingles spread all over the roof, it may make more sense to have a new roof installed simply because the cost and time will be comparable.
Can You Match the Shingles?
Sometimes shingles are discontinued by the manufacturer. Most roofers will try to track down a match, but it may be difficult to find an exact match to color and style. In this case, you will need to decide on whether you can live with a patched area that doesn't quite blend in. If you can't, then a full roof replacement is the only alternative unless you get lucky and find the matching shingles somewhere.
Is There Damage to the Cladding?
The cladding or sheathing is the layer of plywood that makes up the main surface of the roof. The shingles and roofing paper are attached to the cladding, and the cladding is attached to the roof trusses to secure it to your home. If leaks have compromised the cladding, in other words, there are holes or water damage to the plywood sheets, then you must replace the shingles and the cladding. A patch isn't usually a sufficient fix, so a whole new roof is needed.
Where Is the Damage?
The location of the damage can also determine whether patching is possible. If the damage is near a skylight or chimney, for example, there may be more than shingles causing the problem. Leaks can form around the seals that surround the rooftop penetrations, which may require a more extensive fix than just a simple shingle patch. Your roofer will have to determine the exact cause of the roof leak before you can decide on whether to patch or replace it.
How Old Is Your Roof?
Don't overlook age when deciding if a patch is a wise investment. If your roof is reaching the end of its useful life, a patch may be just wasting money. By the time you apply two or three patches on a roof failing from age, you could have paid for a completely new roof.
Contact a roof repair service in your area to have the damage assessed to see if a patch is possible.