Repairing or replacing your roof os one of those questions that can be difficult to answer correctly unless you either have absolute proof or ask yourself several questions. Obviously, if there is a giant hole in the roof, you replace it. But chances are that you'll face issues that aren't as obvious over the entire life of the roof you have now. If you're having trouble with your roof, ask yourself these questions to see which way to go.

Major vs. Minor Leaks

A minor leak from your ceiling is not good, but it might not signal the need for total roof replacement. If the leak is new, and it's small, it could very well be that there's a small area of the roof that needs patching. However, should the leak suddeny grow and spread -- this could be either one leak extending in a line, or having several small leaks appear -- then a replacement is a more likely solution. When your roof leaks, water pools on the floor of the attic or crawlspace, rolling to the lowest point possible and dripping through weak spots. If you have several leaks or a line of them (almost like a curtain of drips), though, that indicates a lot of water is getting in through your roof.

Peppered With Damage

Even if there are no leaks yet, if you look at your roof and see small spots of what could be damage all over the roof, then that's a replacement job. As roofs get older and are exposed to more weather, you could see some visible damage, and one area could be patched. But several areas wouldn't be cost-effective for patching; a total replacement would be more efficient.

Plant Invasion

If any plant material has started growing on your roof, from vines that reached the top of your house to patches of moss that have started creeping up the shingles from the gutter, for example, that is actually a sign to replace the roof (as well as to have landscapers cut that vine and gutter contractors check out what's going on in the roof gutters). Plant material, especially mosses, can make tiles and shingles deteriorate faster. There may be the chance that you would have to do only a partial replacement or a repair if the plant material was just now showing up in a small area of the roof. But larger areas that you can see from the ground indicate that there may be additional small patches all over the roof that you just can't see from your vantage point.

Call a roofing contractor and have the workers start inspecting the entire roof. If it is possible to repair insteadof replace, go for it; that's going to be less expensive, especially if you have the repairs done quickly so the damage doesn't get worse. But if they say you need to replace the roof, and you get second and third opinions that agree, you should have the roof replaceed as soon as possible.