As the rains settle in you don’t want any surprises, like a leaky roof. It’s one of the most expensive repairs homeowners can face. Instead of shelling out big bucks in an emergency, you should regularly inspect your roof before something goes wrong, and you’ll want buy a product that will last.

“Roofing isn’t cheap. It can range widely,” explained Doug Wells with the Roofing Contractors of B.C.

Some signs of wear can include moss growing on the shingles, lifting, and granule loss. But experts suggest observing these issues from the ground. Don’t go up.

“It can be very slippery and very dangerous and we would recommend against it,” said Wells.

It’s best to leave it to the experts.

To find a roof that lasts, Consumer Reports tested three different types of asphalt shingles.

“We tested three tab shingles which are kind of your standard shingle most people go with. We tested architectural shingles which offer a little bit more layering, a little bit more material at a slightly higher cost and finally multi-layered architectural shingles which offer significantly more material, a much more layered look but come at a significantly higher cost,” said Misha Kollontai, Consumer Reports Tester.

A machine was used to test the adhesive to see how well the shingles would hold up in a strong wind and how much force it would take to tear through a nail. A weathering machine also hit the shingles with 500 hours of simulated sun and rain.

The pricier multilayered architectural shingles came out on top. Consumer Reports recommends the Owens Corning Berkshire Collection at about $300 dollars per square – enough to cover 100 square feet.

A cheaper alternative is the Atlas StormMaster Slate three-tab shingles at about $178 per square. Consumer Reports said they performed very well in tests.

But if they aren’t installed properly, they won’t last. The Roofing Contractors Association of B.C. offers its own Roof Star guarantee. If you use a certified installer and pick a shingle from a recommended list of products, you can get a guarantee up to 10 years.

The association offers a warranty up to 10 years to residential homeowners for about $1,000. For bigger jobs, the cost of the warranty is about five per cent of the total job.

Some manufacturers offer their own warranties, but read the fine print. If your roof failed, they may only pay the depreciated cost, meaning if you got some life out of the shingles that will be calculated and deducted. Labour and the removal of the old shingles may not be covered either.

Look for a manufacturer’s warranty that has full replacement cost including labour for removal and installation. It’s recommended you get at least five estimates, and once your new roof is installed, be sure to have it inspected every five years.

(With files from Consumer Reports)