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Can Roofing Shingles Fail Prematurely?

Unsurprisingly, one of the leading causes of early roof replacement is premature shingle failure. Roofing, like anything else your house is built of, is not going to last forever. But you do want to get the full lifespan out of them.

It helps to understand the way in which asphalt roofing shingles deteriorate over time and to be aware of why they may sometimes fail prematurely. That way, you may be able to keep it from happening to your roof!

Below, we will look a little at how roofing shingles naturally age, how they can age prematurely, and what you can do to help prevent needing roof replacement early.

How Do Roofing Shingles Age Over Time?

When new roofing was first put onto your roof, whether or not you lived there at the time, the clock started ticking on roof replacement. It’s a fact of life – nothing lasts forever.

But your roofing material also came with a manufacturer’s warranty (usually around 25 years) and a promise that it was likely to last a certain amount of time while continuing to function properly.

How long will your shingles last? That depends on several important factors:

  • The quality of the shingles themselves. Some material is simply higher grade and able to stand up to the elements better and longer.
  • How good of a job did the installation contractors do? Who does the roof replacement makes a big difference in how long before it’s needed again.
  • The climate conditions to which your roofing is exposed, including both routine weather and high-impact storms.
  • The degree of upkeep you perform on your roof. Good roof maintenance can add years to the life of your roofing!

But why do shingles ever go bad? What causes them to gradually deteriorate over time so that roof replacement is (ultimately) inevitable? Here are some basic processes that explain this:

  • Wind and rain gradually dislodge the tiny granules embedded into the top of asphalt shingles. Over time, they become “bare” and granules build up in your gutters.
  • Any material naturally wears when it is exposed to numerous up-and-down temperature changes over many years. This can eventually make the shingle mat become brittle.
  • When wood below the shingle takes in moisture or when the roof deck shifts around because of excessive heat, it puts pressure on your shingles. They may buckle, bend, or eventually split.

Now, these sorts of issues can be minimized and should not cause asphalt roofing shingles to deteriorate before their time under normal circumstances. But there is no way to 100% eliminate the attrition – sooner or later, roof replacement will become necessary.

Why Do Roof Shingles Fail Prematurely?

When roofing fails early, it’s a very unpleasant matter. But many people, unfortunately, find out their shingles are in really bad shape only halfway or maybe two-thirds through the predicted lifespan. That’s a major disappointment, so how does it happen?

The reality is, there are numerous ways that “shingle death” can occur early. Here are 8 of the most common factors that may shorten your roofing’s lifespan:

  1. Poor attic ventilation may allow moisture to build up under the roofing shingles. This can lead to greater roof deck movement, which in turn tends to shorten shingle life. It may also lead to “heat shock” which also takes its toll on roofing materials.
  2. A shallow roof pitch increases the ill effects of water on roofing. Steeper roofs shed water faster, while it may move more slowly or pools on low-pitch or flat rooftops. In some cases, it may even be advisable (and possible) to raise the pitch of your roof to extend shingle life and reduce the likelihood of frequent leaks.
  3. Poor installation work can also cause roofing to go before its time. This underscored the importance of choosing a reliable roofing contractor to do the job.
  4. Lack of roof maintenance is a major reason for early roof replacement. Don’t delay minor roof repairs or let leaks persist for months on end. Don’t fail to clean out the gutters each year and to sweep debris off the roof periodically. Also, an annual professional roof inspection can help you identify problems in order to fix them in a timely manner and extend roof life.
  5. Roofing over, or putting new shingles atop the old layer, is just asking for early roof replacement. It causes the imperfections of the bottom layer to “telegraph” to the top layer. Since the top layer can’t lay down flat enough, it is easier for the newer shingles to bend and eventually break. Multi-layered roofing also makes it difficult to find and fix roof leaks.
  6. Overhanging tree branches are another problem to look out for. Not only can they hurt your roof during a storm, but they can rub and scrape shingles even during an ordinary wind.
  7. Mold, moss, mildew, and algae are yet another reason shingles don’t always last as long as they should. Too much shade on the rooftop or close proximity to moist, salty sea air can encourage this kind of undesirable growth on your shingles.
  8. Storm damage is certainly a major cause of early roof replacement. This, of course, is not something one can predict or prevent. Hail damage can be especially devastating in some cases. In Florida, hurricanes, strong tropical storms, and tornadoes are also common and cause a lot of roof damage each year.

What Can I Do to Prevent Premature “Shingle Death?”

Roofing will eventually need to be replaced no matter what, and some causes of roof damage or early roof replacement may not be preventable. But many are. There are things you can do to reduce the odds of having to replace your roofing early.

First of all, choosing superior materials to begin with greatly extends shingle life. High-quality asphalt shingles, well built, and that have additives to better stand up against UV light, wind, fire, water, mold, and more is going to make a big difference.

Second, choose your roof contractor carefully. Check up on local reviews by past customers. See if they have a good rating with the BBB or other industry standards. Ask about the experience level, safety practices, advice on material selection, and work ethic. Don’t be afraid to comparison shop and get several quotes.

Third, have quality underlayment and proper flashing installed along with the roof material itself. This will reduce the risk of water getting between the shingles and the roof deck or into your home.

Fourth, insulate and ventilate your attic. This reduces heat shock and moisture problems on the roof above and tends to extend shingle life.

Fifth and finally, lack of proper and timely TLC and general roof maintenance over the years will reduce the odds of roofing going its full lifespan. That’s why roof repairs should never be delayed.

To learn more about getting the most out of your roofing shingles or for a free, no-obligation quote on roof replacement or a roof repair, contact the experts at Sheegog Contracting in Central Florida today!

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