How To Look At A House

McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of  

site-built, mobile/manfuactured and modular homes

How can I make my roof last longer?

Friday, August 10, 2018

Examining your roof and doing minor maintenance regularly is the key to extending the life of a roof. Here’s six suggestions for asphalt shingle roofing, most of which apply to other roof types too:

1) Take a look your roof twice a year from the ground and, if necessary, from a ladder for any areas that are not visible from ground level. Look for damaged, loose and missing shingles, loss of granules (as in the photo above), any deterioration of the sleeves at vent pipes, and corrosion or damage of flashings. Binoculars are helpful for distant areas. Also, take a look after any severe weather event. Look at the underside of your roof deck from the attic also, paying special attention to areas around roof penetrations, such as chimneys, vent pipes, flues, and skylights for stained areas of sheathing that indicate leakage. Have any problems you find repaired promptly.


2) Trim back any tree branches close to the roof. The wind can push branches back-and-forth over the surface and abrade away the surface of the shingles. Keep any climbing vines, especially thorny ones like roses or bougainvillea, off the roof for the same reason.

3) Don’t let leaf debris accumulate on the roof, and remove any buildup gently. We suggest using a leaf blower on low setting or soft-bristle broom. The acidity that is created as the leaves rot will shorten the life of the roofing under it, and a layer of leaves makes it difficult to evaluate the condition of the roof.  

4) Coat the roof with an elastomeric paint only as last resort. It will void the roofing manufacturer’s warranty and, although it can seal small defects in the shingles for a couple of years, the coating does nothing to repair the lack of tab adhesion that comes with age, and an older roof will continue to be vulnerable having shingles snapped off in a storm.

5) Never pressure-wash the roof to clean it. No matter how careful you are, a pressure-washing blows off too much of the protective granules on the surface of the shingles and deteriorates the tab adhesion. 

6) Do not allow the roof to be walked on any more than is necessary for maintenance. Foot traffic scuffs the surface, and those areas will deteriorate faster than the rest of the roof.

    Also, see our blog post What's the average lifespan of a roof?

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  To learn more about roofs and attics, see these other blog posts:

Why is my roof sheathing sagging between the trusses?

Why is granule loss a problem for an asphalt shingle roof? 

What are the mistakes to avoid when doing attic improvements?

What causes roof shingles to curl up at corners?  

What causes shingles to buckle along a line on the roof?

What causes leaks at a fake roof dormer? 

What causes a sagging roof ridge line?

What causes bubble-like blisters in a built-up and gravel roof?  

Why does it cost so much more to replace a steep roof than a low slope roof? 

What is "ponding" on a flat roof?

Is an attic required to have a light by the building code? 

How can I inspect my roof for hurricane damage?

Why is premature curl of roof shingles a problem?

How can I tell if a roof has more than one layer of shingles? 

What are the common problems with attic insulation? 

What is the life expectancy of an asbestos cement shingle roof? 

What's the average lifespan of a roof?

Why is it a mistake to replace a roof and not replace its flashings? 

Why is there no attic access hatch in the house?

What is the building code requirement for an attic access hatch, scuttle, or door? 

Does a roof with multiple layers of shingles last longer?

What can I do to prevent roof leaks?

Are roof trusses better than roof rafters (stick framing)? 

Why is a popped nail in a shingle roof a problem? How do I fix it?

What are the most common problems with wood roof trusses?

What causes a lump or dip in the roof? 

If my roof is not leaking, why does it need to be replaced?

How can I be sure my roofing contractor got a permit?

How many layers of roofing are allowed on a home? 

What are the dark lines running parallel to shingles on my roof?

Can metal roofing be used on a low slope/pitch roof? 

What are the warning signs of a dangerous attic pull-down ladder?

How can I find out the age of a roof? 

Should I buy a house that needs a new roof?

Should I buy a house with an old roof? 

What are those metal boxes on the roof?

What does "lack of tab adhesion" in an asphalt shingle roof mean?

Why do roof edges start leaking?

Why do my dormer windows leak? 

Do home inspectors go on the roof? Do they get in the attic?

Should I put gutters on the house? 

How much of a roof truss can I cut out to make a storage platform in the attic? 

What's the difference between an "architectural" and a regular shingle roof? 

What does a home inspector look for when examining a roof? 

Do stains on the ceiling mean the roof is leaking?

How can I tell if the house needs a new roof?  

 Why does my homeowner's insurance want a roof inspection?

What are the hazards to avoid when going into an attic? 

     Visit our ROOF AND ATTIC page for other related blog posts on this subject, or go to the INDEX for a complete listing of all our articles.

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