9 Telltale Signs Your Roof Is Past Its Prime

Posted on: 6 November 2014

Asphalt shingles are one of the most common roofing choices in America today, and have been for almost 150 years. While both reliable and durable, they are not meant to last forever. In fact, the average asphalt shingle roof will last anywhere from 15 to 30 years. Proper installation and ventilation is important, but the biggest factor affecting the life expectancy of your roof is your weather. Mother Nature can be brutal on shingles. Everything from the summer's blistering sun to the heavy snow loads of the coldest winter can take their toll. Likewise, sea spray, hail, harsh winds, and UV rays can all shorten the life of the average shingle. There is not much that a homeowner can do to slow down the process, but you can keep an eye on your roof for any of the following telltale signs that the weather is catching up to it. 

From the Ground:

You do not necessarily have to climb on your roof to inspect it. In fact, there are many telltale signs of roof failure that you can detect with your feet planted firmly on the ground. 

1. Curling Edges: As you stand directly below your roofline, look up. If you notice that the edges of the first row of shingles is starting to curl up, take it as fair warning that your roof is nearing the end of its useful life. 

2. Gravel in the Splash Guard: Shingles have a gravel-like substance covering them when they are installed. Over time, this substance just naturally wears off, little by little, and is washed through the downspouts and into the splash guards, where it collects. This granular loss is part of normal wear and tear on your roof as it ages, but weakens your roof over time. 

3. Broken Shingles in Bushes: Take a walk around the perimeter of your home. Look for broken shingles in your garden beds and behind your bushes. Strong storms can dislodge shingles from your roof, but you should know that it is unusual. Shingles are meant to stay firmly in place.

From Inside the Attic:

Another great hack to roof inspection is to head up to your attic. Through careful observation, you can check on the health of your roof from the inside, which is technically the underside of your roof. 

4. Light Filtering In: As you enter your attic, leave the lights off initially. If you see sunlight filtering in through pin holes and cracks, you have a problem. If the sun can get in, it means that water can get in as well. The shingles on your roof are no longer protecting your home from the elements and need immediate attention.

5. Damp Insulation: Feel the insulation in your attic. If it is wet or even damp, you have a problem. Again, your roof is meant to keep out water and damp insulation is a warning sign. In fact, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) states that any leaks in your home not cleaned up and resolved can lead to mold in as little as 24-48 hours

6. Dark Spots: Dark spots are a final item to look for in your attic. Plywood sheathing that has been damaged by water in the past will have large darkened areas indicating water damage. Call a professional roofing company in to have a closer look.

From the Roof:

If you are brave and own a ladder, you can climb onto your roof for a closer look. Be sure to only do this when someone else is home and knows where you are to avoid accidents. 

7. Gravel in Gutters: Like sign #2, having a gravel-like substance in your gutters means that the shingles' protective coating is washing off with each rainfall. It is not meant to come off, and this is a sign that you need to call in the professionals for estimates on a new roof. 

9. Missing Shingles: Stand in one spot and survey the expanse of your roof. If you notice cracked, broken, or missing shingles, you are standing on a roof that is nearing the end of its life expectancy. 

10. Soft Roof: Lastly, pay attention to how your roof feels. It should be sturdy and solid under your feet. If you could describe your roof as 'spongey', 'squishy', or 'bouncy', it likely means that water has damaged the plywood underlayment. A professional roofer needs to be called before any further damage can occur.  

Examining your roof is not a difficult task for a homeowner. If you look for these telltale signs, you will know when to call in the pros.  Check out sites like http://www.conradroofing.com for more info.