The idea of having to replace a roof flat-out scares some people. They have no idea when they can wait another year or two and when they need to act fast. Contrary to popular belief, it is actually pretty easy to understand your roof and its needs.
How Long Do Roofs Last?
Asphalt shingle roofs are not meant to last forever. They will generally protect you and your home for 20 years. This number depends on many factors, including how well it was originally installed. The most common factor that determines how long your particular roof will last and whether you can eke another year out of it is none other than Mother Nature.
No one lives with sunny skies and mild temperatures year-round. Every part of the country has weather issues that affect their roof. In the northern states, heavy snow loads and ice storms can take their toll on the health of a roof. Roofs in southern states have high temperatures, high humidity, and the sun's UV rays to contend with. Even saltwater present in the precipitation near homes on the coast can wear down the shingles over time.
Can I Protect My Roof From Damage?
While you can't stop rain, snow, or sleet from hitting your roof, there are things you can do to help. Remove debris, like fallen branches and Frisbees, from your roof regularly. They can damage the surface of the shingles. Likewise, trim back any branches that are touching the roof. The wind can move them back and forth, and this rubbing action could cause portions of the shingles to break off.
How Can I Tell My Roofing Is Starting to Age?
There are several signs of an aging roof that are easy for a homeowner to catch. If you look up at the edge of your roof, all the shingles should be lying flat. When the edges are curled up or, worse, broken off, your roof is nearing the end of its lifetime. When shingles are first installed, they are flexible and soft. As they age, however, they become brittle, curl, and break. While this process cannot be prevented, it gives homeowners a warning sign to start preparing financially for a new roof.
Another sign that your roof is aging is when you start to notice a fine gravel in your gutters and splash guards. Asphalt shingles are manufactured with a gravel-like substance on their exterior. This substance is meant to help protect your roof. Over time, this gravel wears off and washes down into your home's gutter system. When you start to notice it, know that the time is ticking on your need for a new roof.
The last spot to look for signs of an aging roof is actually inside your house. Take a look around your attic every few months, particularly after a big storm. Be on the lookout for any standing water, damp boards, or wet insulation. These are all signs that your roof is failing and water is getting inside your home through cracks in its protective surface. You need to clean this up as soon as possible and talk to a roofing contractor in your area to prevent further damage. In fact, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) states that mold — yes, that black mold that you hear horror stories about —can develop in as little 24 to 48 hours if the water is not cleaned up and the area is not dried.
Replacing a roof doesn't have to be a nightmare project. Keep on eye on it and protect it where you can. A watchful homeowner will know when it is time to call in a roofing company to replace their roof.