Most don’t think about the roof of their home very often, and that’s how it should be. Odds are, if you have been thinking about your roof lately it’s because you’ve experienced a bad storm or have recently noticed new and/or worsening leaks. Occasionally, all a homeowner needs to do is patch things up and replace a few shingles.

So, how do you know if you can repair the damage to your roof or if you should simply replace it entirely? While you definitely want to have your roof checked by an expert before making a decision, here are 7 easy DIY assessments to help you get a better idea.

Is Your Roof Ready to Retire?
Depending upon the quality of materials used, some roofs may last up to 50 years. Most roofs, however, are laid with typical asphalt shingles, the majority of which are ready to retire after 20. For those who purchased their home from a previous owner, reshingling and other repairs have most likely been made on top of the original roofing. And if this sounds familiar, it’s also likely that you’re not entirely sure how old your roof actually is.

Luckily, homeowners are required to keep record of all the improvements they made to their homes, and a simple review of those records should provide you with the information you need. If not, an experienced professional will be able to tell exactly you how much longer you can expect your roof to last.

Is Your Roof Missing Shingles?
If your roof is relatively new and you haven’t experienced any hail or recent storms, it’s perfectly practical to replace a missing shingle or two every now and then. But before you attempt such a seemingly easy DIY roofing project, you should first have your roof examined by a professional.

Visible damages are often caused by a more serious underlying issue that an amateur may not be able to detect. Additionally, your roof is constantly exposed to rain, snow, and sunlight, and it doesn’t take long for these natural elements to fade and alter the original color of your roof. It’s nearly impossible to find new shingles that even remotely match the old, so unless you’re fond of the mismatched patchwork look, you’ll eventually need to replace your roof entirely.

Do Your Shingles Lie Flat or Curled and Cracked?
Your shingles should lie flat and tight against the roof of your home. If you can see gaps between them, if the edges are curling upwards, or if the shingle edges are flat but they seem to be bubbling in the middle, it’s a good sign that you need a new roof. These are signs that the adhesive is eroding, which can lead to serious leaks and other damages that cannot be ignored.

Your shingles may not be curling yet, but if they’re cracking, it’s only a matter of time before they do. Wind damage is the primary cause of cracking shingles, but don’t think you need to live on the Great Plains for this type of damage. After a decade or two of continuous exposure to even moderate winds, shingles will eventually crack under pressure.

Does Your Roof Have a Green Thumb?
Who doesn’t love a little picturesque moss growing up the shady side of a home? But if that moss is growing on the roof, resist all urges to be charmed. Like mold inside an unwashed coffee mug, moss on your roof occurs when moisture is collected with no way to escape.

While you might be able to temporarily clear away the moss with some bleach and a stiff brush, this won’t solve the larger, underlying issue at hand. Moisture has been trapped beneath the surface of your shingles for quite some time, and it will only take a few humid days and a good rain to create the perfect environment for that moss to reappear.

Has Your Roof Become a Litterbug? (Ask Your Gutters)
When you’re beginning to suspect that it’s time to replace your roof, your gutters can probably tell you everything you need to know. Asphalt granules play an important role in protecting your roof from the damages of continuous sunlight, but once a roof is nearing retirement, those granules crumble and flake away.

A brand new roof will shed quite a bit of its granules, most of which are extra and already loose, within its first year or so. But if your gutters are littered with granules, and you know your roof is more than 10 years old, it’s a good sign that you should start planning to replace it.

What’s Up? (In Your Attic)
Perhaps your roof looks just fine from the outside, but what’s going on underneath? More specifically, what’s up in your attic? If your attic has been under attack by bats, birds, possums, racoons, and other signs of wildlife, then you don’t need us to tell you that your roof is far past its retirement day.

There are, of course, other ways your attic can tell you whether or not it’s time to replace your roof, and all you’ll need is a simple flashlight. Examine the ceiling and walls for water stains, streaks, and wood rot as these are signs of leakages that have yet to reach the rest of your home below. You should also check for cracks in the ceiling, which is easiest to do during the daytime because you’ll likely see streams of light of shining through.

The Obvious
If you recently experienced a severe winter, tornado, hail, or other harsh types of weather in your area, call a professional as soon as possible to have your roof examined for damages. Every day that passes without addressing nature’s consequences may put your home at further risk, ultimately increasing the final cost of repair.