Since a roof can cost several thousand dollars to replace, it’s in your best interest as a homeowner to make sure your current asphalt shingles stay in good shape. Asphalt shingles are incredibly durable, but they do wear out more quickly in certain environments and conditions.
Here are some tips for extending the life of your asphalt shingles, giving you a little longer to save for roof replacement. Even if your roofing material is brand new, taking steps now to prevent premature wear and tear can save you money and time.
Once a year, take the time to clear accumulated debris from your roof. This is especially important if you have a tree that casts shade over the house. Fallen leaves can gather and trap moisture in your shingles, reducing their overall effectiveness.
Too much debris on the roof can also start to lift the pebbly exterior of the shingle that provides durability. Keep in mind that you may need to clear debris more frequently if you’ve had a bad storm or if you have several trees that regularly drop fruits, leaves, or needles on the roof.
Check for Moss and Algae
In moist climates, it’s not uncommon to see dark streaks on asphalt roofs. Algae growth causes this discoloration. It usually is not harmful to your roof, but it can cause staining. Moss, however, can be damaging and it should be removed.
Some homeowners try to remove algae stains and moss with vigorous scrubbing or pressure washing, but these can damage the shingle and shorten its life. You should talk to roofing supply company about proper cleaning for discolored and moss-covered shingles.
Clean the Gutters
Healthy gutters make a world of difference for shingle longevity. If your gutters are backed up with leaves and dirt, water cannot properly drain from the roof. The moisture wicks underneath the shingles and damages the foundation of the roof.
Asphalt shingles are more prone to moisture damage on their undersides. Moisture-damaged shingles begin to swell and curl, decreasing their effectiveness at preventing leaks. Clean your gutters to prevent problems.
Inspect Shingles for Damage
Possibly the most important part of extending the life of your roof is staying on top of damage control. Asphalt shingles are not easily damaged, but when damage does occur, it can be hard to see. Hail and wind are the most common cause of asphalt shingle damage. These signs can indicate damage to one or more shingles:
- Small rocks in gutters and downspouts. Hail can strike with great force, displacing the rocky granules that coat the exterior of the shingle.
- Large areas that have light-colored rings. The lightness is residue from melting hail stones.
- Missing, cracked, or broken shingles. Wind can blow shingles from the roof, while hail can rip them out of place if it strikes with enough force.
- Dark patches where the outer coating of the shingle has rubbed away.
Damage from hail and wind can be very difficult to spot. If you have a bad storm, it’s best to get your roof inspected by a professional, because even though some damage may not be entirely obvious, it can still mean costly repairs if left unfinished.
You can replace damaged shingles or fix a portion of your roof as needed. When you leave damage unchecked, the problem can spread and you’ll have more trouble with moisture, more missing or weakened shingles, and more difficulty getting insurance to cover the repairs.
Attic ventilation is not only important for the longevity of your roof, but also for the structure of your home. Ventilation and insulation in the attic prevents the formation of ice dams during wet winter months.
An ice dam forms as water pools and cools on the edges of your roof. If the roof is properly ventilated, the snow on the shingles will not melt and refreeze, making ice dam unlikely. When an ice dam does form, it forces water back underneath the shingles, sending it draining down through exterior walls.
Most modern homes are well insulated, but if you have an older house, properly ventilating and insulating your attic space can save your shingles from early, water-logged death.
Only Walk When Necessary
While you may feel perfectly safe climbing up on your roof from time to time, the reality is you should only walk over your roof when it’s absolutely necessary. Foot traffic shortens the life of your shingles because shoes and boots can thin the granular layer of asphalt shingles.
If you must do work on the roof without the help of a professional, take time to rent proper safety equipment and to work from scaffolding or a properly secured ladder when possible.
When you do walk on your roof, step lightly and carefully for as little disturbance as possible. It’s best to do roof work in spring or fall during moderate temperatures, as cold weather makes shingles more brittle and warm weather makes them more malleable. Cold and hot shingles are easier to damage.
For more information on asphalt shingle lifespans, contact us at American Building & Roofing, Inc.