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5 Ways to Extend the Life of Your Asphalt Roof

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A new asphalt roof is a major investment. Like any investment, you want it to last. But how can you get the most life out of your new asphalt roof?

In our 30+ years of experience, this is one of the most common questions we’ve heard from our customers. Our goal at On Tops Roofing has always been to provide homeowners with honest and reliable information (along with some of the best roofs in the business). That’s why we created this list of ways you can maximize your roof's lifespan.

We know the value of having a safe, high-quality roof over your head. So, let’s go over five different ways you can extend the life of your new asphalt roof.

1. Make Sure Your Attic is Properly Ventilated

The average lifespan of an asphalt shingle roof is 15-30 years. However, that lifespan can be drastically shortened to as little as two years if your attic isn’t properly ventilated.

As the uppermost part of your home, your attic is sandwiched between indoor and outdoor temperatures. When these elements clash, condensation and heat are bound to follow.

A diagram showing how air should enter the attic through the soffit vents, and exit through vents near the top of the roof

Without proper attic ventilation, heat and moisture will accumulate in your attic with nowhere to go. The damage caused by this buildup could cause leaks and other issues that could shorten your roof’s life.

For example, poor ventilation in the summer can cause heat to build up in your attic. This can deteriorate the adhesive in the roof decking and cause your asphalt shingles to crack, curl, or blister.

You can ensure proper attic ventilation by having soffit vents installed near the lower part of your attic and ridge vents near the upper part of your attic. This will regulate the flow of cool air into the attic and push hot air out.

2. Make Sure Your Attic is Properly Insulated

Proper attic insulation is also vital for the health of your asphalt roof. For example, homeowners who live in colder climates are at risk for ice dam formation if their homes aren’t well insulated. 

If your attic isn’t insulated, heat from your home will escape through your ceiling and into your attic. This will melt any snow on your roof and cause the resulting water to run down your eaves until it reaches the unheated bottom edge or soffit area of your roof. Once this melted water refreezes, it becomes an ice dam.

Icicles hanging on the edge of a roof as a result of ice damming

The water that builds up behind an ice dam can cause shingle deterioration, decking decay, and water leaks in your attic and exterior walls. This damage to your asphalt roof can be avoided by making sure your attic is properly insulated.

You can determine if you need more insulation by just taking a look at your attic. If your insulation is level with or below the spaces between your attic floorboards, you probably need more.

To counter the effect of ice dams, a contractor can install ice and water shields on vulnerable areas of your roof. 

3. Invest in Your Roof Maintenance Routine

Roof maintenance and inspections are like an oil change for your car. While there’s likely no major damage, oil changes help to keep your car in good shape and running smoothly. Just like an oil change, you shouldn’t neglect developing a regular maintenance routine for your asphalt roof.

Roof maintenance is the periodical checking of all the vulnerable areas on your roof that could be susceptible to damage. It is critical to preventing roof problems and keeping your roof in good condition for years to come.

Because maintenance is so vital to preserving your healthy roof, it should be done each spring, fall, and after any major storm. 

But how “regular” is a regular maintenance routine? Is roof maintenance something you can do on your own? Honestly, a good routine includes both biannual maintenance and biyearly professional inspections. Let’s take a look at what both look like to help you develop your schedule: 

  • Maintenance: Tasks like cleaning your gutters, trimming your trees, and inspecting your attic for signs of water damage should be performed twice a year. If you feel comfortable on a ladder and your home is less than two stories tall, you can perform these maintenance tasks on your own. Check out these self-maintenance tips to keep your roof in good working condition. However, if you can’t do maintenance on your own, you can always hire a professional roofer to help you.

  • Inspections: Even with a regular maintenance routine, it’s a good idea to have your roof professionally inspected at least once every two years. This will allow your contractor to catch any hidden issues you might’ve missed during your maintenance routine, helping to ensure a safe roof over your head. A professional will look for curling/blistering shingles, popped nails, cracked caulking, damaged flashing, and more to help you prevent further roof damage.

4. Clean Your Gutters

Your gutter system manages the flow of rainwater off the roof and away from your home. If they’re blocked with leaves, debris, or other matter, water won’t drain properly.  

However, it's not just your gutters that can suffer damage when clogged. Overflowing water can damage your shingles and the overall structural integrity of your roof. This is particularly true if you have asphalt shingles.

gloved hand cleaning debris out of gutter

Heavy storms can cause water to overflow out of clogged gutters and then pool at the edge of your roof. If not taken care of, this exposure to water can cause asphalt shingles to curl or buckle. When these shingles are compromised, water can seep underneath and damage the roof’s decking, allowing moisture into the attic that can create interior damage on your ceilings.

5. Hire a Certified Roofing Contractor

Hiring a top-notch roofing contractor is crucial to maximizing the life of your asphalt roof. 

The best way to ensure you’re hiring a high-quality contractor is to check their manufacturer certifications. Certified contractors have gone through years of training and upheld a consistent record of quality workmanship and proper material installation to earn the recommendation and trust of top roofing manufacturers like GAF, CertainTeed, and Owens Cornings. 

Certified roofers will provide warranties on both labor and materials because they stand behind their workmanship and history of proper installation. This gives you peace of mind that your new asphalt roof will be protected no matter what happens after their work is complete. 

Typically, contractor workmanship warranties are for one year or more. However, longer warranties are not necessarily more valuable than shorter ones. The length of the warranty is less important than the intent and ability of the roofer to stand behind it.  

Here’s a breakdown of some of the warranties offered by most certified contractors: 

  • Manufacturer’s Warranty- With this warranty, a manufacturer will cover the cost of replacing defective materials for the first few years and then offer prorated coverage from that point on. If any shingles are found to be defective during the initial period, the manufacturer will give you replacement shingles at no extra cost. 

While standard manufacturer warranties typically cover labor costs for installation, they usually don’t cover workmanship charges to remove and dispose of failed shingles. For that, you would have to upgrade to an enhanced manufacturer’s warranty. While these vary based on the manufacturer, they often cover the full replacement value as well as workmanship for a period of time.

  • Extended Manufacturer’s Warranty- Manufacturers only offer this warranty on new roofs installed by certified contractors who have a proven track record of installing roofs according to the manufacturer’s requirements. To qualify for an extended warranty, you must have a complete manufacturer’s roofing system installed.

Need Help Keeping Up With Your Asphalt Roof?

Now that you know five ways to extend the life of your asphalt replacement, you should feel confident in your ability to get the most life out of your new roof. While these tips should keep your roof happy and healthy for years to come, there may come a time you’ll need professional help to keep your roof safe.

For example, if you just went through a major storm, have patches of missing shingles, or notice water stains on your ceiling, it’s probably time to call your contractor. It’s important to hire a contractor that works close to your home so you can make sure they get there in a timely manner if you have a roofing emergency. Learn more benefits of working with a local contractor here. 

If you live in Raleigh or the surrounding areas and need a local roofer, consider us! We are certified by CertainTeed and hold the title of GAF Master Elite Roofers. On top of our roofing services, we also offer skylight installations, window replacements, and gutter repairs. Don't hesitate to fill out the form below if you want a free inspection, estimate, or to ask us questions about your asphalt roof.

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