Asphalt shingles are still a common roofing material in the United States, but the truth is, they’re far from being the most reliable option available. Although you’ll frequently find them in residential neighborhoods, homes with asphalt shingles face many potential hazards you can avoid by using more durable options, such as metal panels. Check out the helpful summary below to learn about the common asphalt shingle roof problems homeowners experience.
Asphalt shingles have been around since the 1920’s. Years ago, asphalt shingles, also called organic shingles, consisted of a heavy felt-like material that was saturated with asphalt, making the shingles water resistant. The shingles were then coated with adhesive asphalt and stone like granules that were ingrained within the shingles. Organic shingles contain at least 40% more asphalt than the fiberglass shingles that are made today, which provided more weight, durability, and resistance to wind. Back in the day, you could get 30 – 35 years out of an asphalt roof.
Starting in the late 1980’s and early 90’s, the composition of the asphalt shingle has changed dramatically. In an effort to keep the overall cost of asphalt shingles down, primarily due to the rising cost of oil, the heavy felt paper was replaced with a lighter weight fiberglass material. Fiberglass became the very popular because the material is far less expensive, easier to produce, and easier to work with. The fiberglass mat is then coated with a mineral filler which adheres to the mat to help make it waterproof. A final adhesive coating is used with additional ceramic granules that are embedded into the mat. A significant amount of the granules consists of limestone, which attract airborne algae, which leads to granule loss and the dark streaking you see today.
Lifespan of Asphalt Shingles
Today, asphalt shingles last between 14 – 17 years on average. The significant decrease in the life of the asphalt shingle is due to the cheaper materials and the lack of oil and asphalt content. In addition, the longevity of the asphalt shingle will depend upon how it was installed and where they have been installed. Shingles found in cooler locations will have a longer lifespan than in warmer climates. The average lifespan in hotter locations like the southwest is typically 14 years, and here in Ohio and Western Pennsylvania, the average lifespan is approximately 15 – 17 years. However, before asphalt roofing surpasses the 10 year mark, it typically falls victim to issues such as shingle granule loss, cracking, splitting, algae streaking and other signs indicating your asphalt roof is beginning to break down.
Seemingly Small Problems
Extremes in temperatures will have a major affect on the life of asphalt shingles. Warmer climates will limit the life of a shingle. Asphalt shingles that are exposed to extreme temperature changes within a short period of time will lead to premature splits, cracks, and other damage due to the intense expansion and contraction of the shingles. Splits, cracks, and other damage that are left exposed to the extreme temperature changes can lead to water getting into those areas and creating further damage.
Shingle granule loss is what it sounds like—the panel is literally beginning to deteriorate. Although it isn’t always noticeable at first, a clear sign of shingle granule loss is looking in your gutters and finding them filled with granules. To see what is happening with your asphalt roof, get on a ladder and inspect the first couple of rows of shingles. A roof showing significant granule loss will have uneven granule coverage, including areas where you can begin to see the fiberglass pad underneath. Your gutters will most likely contain a large amount of granules too. Look for splits, cracking, and curling within the shingles. If you are starting to see significant signs of these issues, it is probably a good time to have your roof inspected to understand the overall health of your roof and avoid any further damage.
Factors That Affect the Life Expectancy of Asphalt Shingles
- Color of the roof – A darker color absorbs more heat, which shortens the life of the shingle
- Slope of the roof – Higher pitched roofs tend to last longer
- Multiple-layer roof- An asphalt roof installed over an existing layer of asphalt will have a shorter life
- Installation – Poorly or improper installation will shorten the roof life
- Attic ventilation – An unventilated or poorly ventilated attic will reduce the life of the shingle
- Trees near the roof – Trees blocking the sun from reaching your roof can lead to algae and fungus forming on the roof, causing the roof to breakdown prematurely
- Harsh climate – Severe weather, harsh winters, hot summers, along with extreme temperature changes can cause an asphalt roof to age quickly
How To Avoid Them
So, now that you know the common asphalt shingle roof problems, how can you avoid them? The best method for side-stepping these issues is by choosing a better material from the outset. For instance, high-quality metal roofing can protect your home for more than 60 years without a problem. A major benefit of metal roofing for your home is its energy-efficiency. Metal roofs receive a finish of Kynar 500 coating, which reflects UV rays and greatly reduces the indoor house temperature. By using less electricity on cooling the home, you’ll see lower energy costs throughout the hot summer months. Plus, the Kynar 500 coating will resist chalking and fading, so your roof will maintain it’s color and beauty over the life of the product.
However, if you want reliable performance, always choose a metal roofing expert with years of experience and happy customers. With a professionally installed metal roof, you’ll rarely need to perform any maintenance, and you will have a roof that will protect your home…for a lifetime!