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Asphalt Shingle Roof | Roof Lifespan

5 Tips to Extend Your Asphalt Shingle Roof’s Lifespan

March 22nd, 2023 | 7 min. read

5 Tips to Extend Your Asphalt Shingle Roof’s Lifespan

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Your asphalt shingle roof was an expensive investment. So, I understand wanting to get as many years as possible out of it.

Unfortunately, there are plenty of cases where an asphalt shingle roof’s lifespan was cut short. But while an asphalt shingle’s roof lifespan can be short, it can also be extended to maximize your investment. 

For over 30 years, the team at Bill Ragan Roofing has helped homeowners get the most out of their roof investment. Because of this, I’ll give you tips to extend your asphalt shingle roof’s lifespan. 

This article breaks down the following 5 tips to maximize your asphalt roof investment:

  • Make sure your attic is adequately ventilated 
  • Trim back tree limbs and branches 
  • Keep your gutters clean and roof clear of debris
  • Get annual roof inspections
  • Don’t Pressure wash your roof to clean off moss and algae

1. Make sure your attic is adequately ventilated

One of the biggest ways to extend your asphalt shingle roof’s lifespan (and maximize it in general) is ensure your attic is adequately ventilated. Your attic’s ventilation system allows your home and roof to breathe properly. 

It has a huge impact on your asphalt shingle roof’s lifespan and your home in general. As long as you hired a reputable roofing contractor, you should have the right amount of vents when your asphalt roof was installed. 

But if you don’t have adequate attic ventilation, the trapped hot and cold air drastically shortens your roof’s life. In the summer, heat builds up in your attic and leads to the hot air burning your roof, which causes the adhesives in the decking to deteriorate and your shingles to crack or curl.

In the winter, heat and moisture from your home’s interior travel into the cold attic, causing condensation to get trapped in your roof decking. This trapped condensation leads your roof decking to lose its ability to hold the nails, lose its load-bearing capacity, and cause mold/mildew.

2. Trim back tree limbs and branches

The next way to extend your asphalt shingle’s lifespan is to trim back any close or overhanging trees. The first thing to worry about with tree limbs over your roof is what bird droppings do to asphalt shingles. 

It’s been proven that constant bird droppings shorten an asphalt roof’s lifespan because they are highly acidic and eat away at asphalt shingles. The next thing you have to worry about is the tree limbs and branches that overhang the roof. 

tree branch hanging over a roof

Overhanging tree limbs erode your roof’s protective top layer by allowing water to drip continuously every time it rains. You also have to think about leaves, sticks, and other debris from tree limbs falling on your roof. 

leaves, sticks, and other debris in roof valleys from an overhanging tree(Leaves, sticks, and other debris in valleys from overhanging trees)

This hinders drainage and sends water where it’s not supposed to go until it finds the path of least resistance into your home. The last thing you have to worry about is a tree limb(s) falling on your roof. 

Fallen limbs are guaranteed to damage your asphalt shingles and can even cause serious structural damage if large enough. I’m not saying you have to remove the tree to prevent it from impacting your asphalt shingle roof’s lifespan. 

Just keep your tree branches trimmed back as much as possible, and you should be able to avoid most of the issues I just mentioned. 

3. Keep your gutters clean and roof clear of debris

The third way to extend your asphalt shingle roof’s lifespan is to keep your gutters clean and clear your roof of debris. Gutters control where water goes after it leaves your roof, but they can’t drain properly if a dam of debris blocks it.

This leads to overflowing gutters that, if left alone too long, lead to rotting on the edges of your roof decking. It can also wash out the areas around your home’s foundation and cause cracks. 

I already mentioned this in the last section, but you also need to keep your roof clear of sitting debris. Built-up debris on a roof creates a “dam” that doesn’t allow water to flow properly. 

leaves and other debris in a roof valley(Debris sitting in a roof valley)

While this can lead to a leak, you also have to worry about the impact of wet debris sitting on your roof for prolonged periods of time. Sitting debris saturates your asphalt shingles and actually shortens their lifespan

The longer you let the wet debris sit, the more damage it does to the asphalt shingles. Luckily, the next way helps you do this regularly. 

4. Get annual roof inspections

Your car needs an oil change and other general maintenance to keep it running smoothly. Your roof is no different; roof maintenance is actually one of the best ways to extend your asphalt shingle roof’s lifespan.  

Maintenance is crucial to catch potential problems with your asphalt shingle roof and prevent future leaks before they can start. Without roof maintenance, you won’t catch a small problem until it snowballs and turns into an expensive, costly repair. 

Roof maintenance is also the perfect chance to do the other things we already talked about, like clearing your roof of debris and trimming back tree limbs. I recommend getting maintenance at least once a year if you really want to maximize your asphalt shingle roof’s lifespan.

Just know that most roofing contractors offer a maintenance program to help you keep up-to-date on your yearly inspections. These programs usually come with other perks to make the deal even sweet. 

5.  Don’t pressure wash your roof to clean off moss or algae

Your asphalt shingle roof gets dirty as it ages with dirt, bird droppings, algae, and moss. This leads some homeowners to get their roof cleaned. 

Unfortunately, the first instinct to clean their roof is to use a pressure washer. While it makes sense for most external home cleaning, you should never use a pressure wash on an asphalt shingle roof. 

granules in gutters(Loose granules in gutters)

Pressure washing damages your asphalt shingles and blows the protective granules off the shingles away. This shortens the life of your asphalt shingle roof and speeds up the timeline for a roof replacement.

While pressure washing your asphalt shingles is bad for their lifespan, it also voids your roof warranties. If you really want to clean your roof, find a company that specializes in soft washing and roof cleaning specifically.

Is it time to replace your asphalt shingle roof?

You now know 5 things you can do to extend your asphalt shingle roof’s lifespan. With these tips, you’ll get the most out of your investment. 

While doing these things will extend the lifespan, they shouldn’t be used to push out a roof replacement. Trying to do this on a roof that’s reached the end of its life won’t stop the need for a new one. 

In fact, waiting too long leads to problems that can be costly. I understand getting a new roof is an investment most homeowners want to avoid. 

But if you need a new roof, you need a new roof. That’s why you need to determine if you should replace your asphalt shingle roof instead of trying to extend its lifespan. 

Unfortunately, most homeowners don’t know it’s time until it’s too late. To help you avoid this happening to you, I wrote another article breaking down the signs that you need a new roof. 

Check out the 3 Signs That You Need to Replace Your Asphalt Roof to learn if it’s time for a roof replacement.

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