Evaluating Your Asphalt Shingle Roof

Asphalt roof shingle on two story residential house

Asphalt shingle roofs give a variety of signs when they are approaching the end of their service lives. Paying attention to these warning signs will allow you to take steps to either repair or replace the roof before the structure and/or its contents suffer serious damage. Here is what to look for when you are evaluating your roof.

1) Shingles that are curling at the corners – After long-term exposure to direct sunlight and heat, the corners of asphalt shingles will start to curl upward. Extreme temperatures in the attic can also play a significant role in the deterioration of asphalt shingles. During this process, the shingles will become increasingly brittle as well. At this point, the upturned corners are more vulnerable to breaking off while also making it easier for wind to lift shingles away from the deck.

2) Loose, missing or broken shingles – Isolated damage can occur with relatively new shingles in extreme weather events, but system-wide problems will likely be indicating that a full roof replacement is warranted. If the deterioration evidenced by curling corners is allowed to continue, shingles will continue to break, come loose or go missing. At this advanced stage in the breakdown of the roofing system, deterioration will likely accelerate as increasing amounts of water are trapped and start leaking into the structure.

3) A rippling surface – A roofing system that starts taking on a rippled pattern is the result of buckling asphalt shingles. As one side of the shingles buckles, the edge of the opposite side will lift slightly, presenting a larger surface for wind to attack. When winds hit these uplifted edges, the weakened shingles can be easily blown off of the roof or snapped, further weakening the roofing system as a whole.

4) Cracked and broken shingles around rooftop installations – Satellite dishes and HVAC systems that are installed on roofs are often done in a way that damages both the shingles and the deck. If you see evidence of damaged shingles after a rooftop installation, the deck may have been punctured as well, which can result in leaks even if the roof is new.

5) Granules at the downspouts – Granules are glued to the top surface of the shingles to absorb heat. As the adhesive breaks down, the protection provided by the layer of granules on each shingle will diminish as they wash away. Evidence of this breakdown in the form of sand-like accumulations can be found at the mouth of the downspouts after it rains. Like other processes of deterioration, the loss of granules tends to accelerate as the roofing system ages.

Signs of distress on an asphalt shingle roof may not immediately result in leaks. If, however, any of these signs are present with your asphalt shingle roof, repairs or a full replacement may be necessary in the near future.