As roof's age, the shingles begin to shed the granules that make up the color and provide UV protection. This shedding contributes toward the demise of the roof as the shingles dry out, curl, cup, crack and break. As they get drier, the shingles become more wind vulnerable and blow off more easily. Often, when that happens, they do not blow off singly but en masse, a little neighborhood of shingles all blowing away at the same time. This vulnerability exists on the windward and leeward side of the roof. These granules are important! But they come off.
Such was the case on a recent inspection. Each downspout revealed severe granular discharge where they eliminated gutter water.
This house is 17 years old. I do not know if the shingles used were intended to last 15 or 20 years, but it is fair to say this roof is very stressed. It might survive a while longer, but likely not much.
Home inspectors are not in the game of predicting how long a roof will last. Could they do that accurately I guarantee we inspectors would not inspect homes but roofs alone! That little prediction key would be golden! We could canvas a neighborhood with fliers telling people we could predict their roof's expected life span and the money dam would burst!
The sellers said that what you see on the ground in this photo is because they recently cleaned the gutters. Well, yeah! Of course! Where would the granules go first?
Another key I saw: all but one of the other houses in the neighborhood had new roofs (I routinely look at the other houses in a neighborhood to see how my subject house stacks up). There is a reason for that! People generally don't go about replacing things unless they need to be. Roofs are expensive and most don't have the discretionary money to replace them proactively.
My recommendation: glance at the roof, and at the bottoms of the downspouts. Look for signs of roof distress. See if you can calculate the age of the house, and perhaps the roof. Ask the sellers! Look also at the neighborhood to see what the other houses have replaced. That makes for great comparison.
Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC
Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.
Office (703) 330-6388 Cell (703) 585-7560