When to Replace a Slate roof?

I was told that my house's slate roof was installed in the 1940's. In the last few years a few slates per year fall off in the winter with the ice, but it has never had even a slight leak. I was told by a roofer that my roof probably has only about another 10 to 15 years left. He said my roof has "band" slate (I think that is what he called it), and that this type of slate will fail at some point. My question is, will it be obvious when I gotta replace the roof, or should I just continue to replace some slates every third year or so and just wait until it starts to leak? It still looks fine and even the slates on the overhang at the gutters have not started breaking like you see on some houses with late stage failing slates....
Rob NE PA
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Rob wrote:>I was told that my house's slate roof was installed in the 1940's. In

Hang on to it as long as possible. And when you do decide to go new, make sure you get a price break in trade for any full slates removed for resale. The roofer should deal with you. I would. Tom Work at your leisure!
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Replace broken slates when they fail not every three years. Unless it is cracking or deteriorating keep it . Valleys fail first but can be fixed. Removing the slate will lower your house value. Slate maintained, if good slate will last hundreds of years. Slate roofs cost a small fortune.
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I am asking the following just out of curiousity. I see you answering technical questions in many of the fields of home repair. Can you give us a little background as to how you obtained your expertise? If I am expected to take your advice I'd like to know that you are qualified. This is not meant to be a flame but an honest inquiry.
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I own Apt Buildings I manage buildings, and had a construction - remodling co for 20 years employing 15. I rehab and like fixing up buildings,.
Dont take what I say as being " Correct " its just my opinion and Im still learning ..
Yes I have a slate roof , Ive also repaired them. Slate quality is important but in europe there are 1000 yr old buildings with slate, Slate is the best, roofers often rip off the public on Slate and Tile tearoffs as each piece can sell for 5- 20 $. Keep your roof fixed , slate is good till it discintegrates from age
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On Fri, 20 Aug 2004 10:10:59 -0500, snipped-for-privacy@webtv.net (m Ransley) wrote:

It is not an uncommon practice to remove a slate roof, make any needed flashing or valley repairs, and then put the same slate back up with new nails, etc. The slate itself can last almost indefinitely. Its all the copper flashing and nails that give out every 75 years or so...
BB
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BinaryBillTheSailor@Sea++.com wrote:

From what I have heard what you say above is often the case, but it depends on where the slate came from. I've heard that slate from this region lasts usually between 70 to 150 years on a roof depending on the specific vein. There are other regions that produce harder slate (south central PA, New Hampshire, etc.) that lasts several hundred years or more. I was more interested in when to replace the roof in terms of symptoms since I am relatively sure that my home's slate is in its later stages of life. In this slate region, 20 years ago over 90% of the homes had slate roofs. Now it is probably down to 25% with slate roofs as many of them have failed....
Rob NE PA
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I have a tile roof that's 83 years old. Like a slate roof, the best way to deal with deterioration is to simply repair the deteriorated areas as needed. The roofing company I use simply takes off the tiles and stacks them to one side on the roof, repairs or replaces the roofing felt, the lathe "tile hanger" strips, and the underlying wood as needed, and then replaces the old tiles. Because this is the 21st century, they also lay down a modern waterproofing rubberized membrane against the wood and under the felt. My neighbor with a slate roof slightly younger than mine goes through essentially the same procedure.
I would never consider replacing the entire roof all at the same time. For one thing, the cost would be staggering, and the tiles on mine are no longer made anyway.
In 25 years I've had to repair the roof four times ... five if you count the time the tree limb fell during a major storm and tore off the corner of my detached garage. Two repairs have been to find and repair leaks and two to replace rotten copper valleys. I've also replaced several cracked tiles myself.
Several neighbors have taken the easy way out and had the tiles stripped from their roofs and replaced with regular asphalt roofing. The result looks OK, but ordinary, and removes considerable character from the house. It's fine by me, however, as these projects are my free source of replacement tiles.
Repairing slate or tile roofs is not rocket science, if you can stand to go up on the roof. I have my own personal height limits, and my roof is very high and very steep, so I often chicken out. For many repairs, you need merely replace a single tile or slate.
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(m Ransley)

(snip)
From the trips I have made to New England, it looks like most of the slate roofs fail from the bottom up, due to ice damming. Suspect it may be a side effect of people adding modern insulation and heating systems to these antique houses, especially if the attic is no longer 20 below in winter. A common repair is eaves or patches of standing seam metal, with the upper roof still in slate.
Even in a cost-is-no-object new house, doubt I would install slate. If I wanted that look, I would go with the fake slate made out of plastic? rubber? unobtanium?, simply becaue it isn't brittle and won't shatter. They used slate because that is what they HAD, not because it is a great roofing material. If you have a choice, whatever you put up there should be able to take at least some impact stress, and be resistant to weather and ice moving it around. More likely I would go with standing seam in a good grade of stainless. It'd last longer than I would.
aem sends...
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ameijers wrote:

I'm going with a metal roof when I ultimately replace it. This house would have originally had a wood shingle roof when it was built since the house was around before the slate industry here which started in the 1850's. Either wood shingle, slate or metal roofs are "right" for older stone farm houses like mine in this region. Asphalt shingles on a stone house like this just does not look right..... Any other type of house and I'd get an asphalt roof since they're cheap and easy....
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