Extend The Life of Your Roof

How to Extend the Life of Your Roof

Replacing an existing roof can be a costly endeavor. The average lifespan of asphalt shingles ranges from 20 to 40 years depending on the manufacturer, although most warranties only cover between 15 and 25 years. Moreover, these warranties may be voided if specific installation and maintenance conditions are not met.

Here are some things you can do to maximize the life of your roof.

Roof Inspections

Given the fast pace of life, it can be easy to overlook roof problems. Making time to inspect your roof, once in spring then again in the fall, can help to keep small problems from becoming big ones.

Examine Roof Shingles – Make note of any displaced, curled, or cracked shingles, and any bald spots. If you have a widespread problem, you may be dealing with inferior materials or a faulty installation. If you find only a few damaged shingles, correct the problem early to prevent further damage.

Moss growth –  Moss can be a problem especially for roof surfaces that don’t get much sunlight. Moss can retain moisture and cause damage to shingles; it should be carefully removed to prevent it from spreading.

Animal damage – Inspect your roof and soffit for signs of animal damage. Animals like raccoons, bats, and rodents will literally chew through the roof structure to gain access to the attic and build a den. They can gnaw their way through the outer shingles and wood sheathing of your roof, and tear through aluminum soffit screens to gain access.  Click here if you suspect you have wildlife in your attic>

Gutters & Downspouts– Inspect your gutters and downspouts, make sure they are properly secured, not bent or damaged, and test them for blockages. A backed-up gutter can cause damage to shingles and roof sheathing.

Inspect Your Attic

Your attic plays an important role in the performance and longevity of your roof. A poorly ventilated attic can lead to premature aging or more serious structural damage to your roof over time.

You should inspect your attic every year. If you have never inspected your attic, here are some important things to look for:


Moisture vapor from cooking, bathing, and other activities (especially in winter when windows and doors remain closed) can rise up through the building to the attic where it condenses on surfaces including the wood sheathing (underside) of your roof. Over time, this moisture can lead to wood rot, mold problems, and destroy your attic insulation.


Even if you don’t find moisture, make note of any mildew smell and look for mold. Mold can appear black, gray, green, or even light tan.  Mold can grow on nearly every type of surface and requires only moisture and organic matter like paper, cloth, wood, or dust to thrive.  Moisture in spring or winter may dry up during hot summer months, so if you are inspecting in summer and find mold, it is likely the moisture problem occurs during months when doors and windows are kept closed most of the time.  Mold will not damage your roof, but the moisture issues associated with mold can.  Learn more about attic mold here>

Attic Ventilation

Attic ventilation is an affordable way to extend the life of your roof and address other problems resulting from insufficient attic ventilation including moisture issues, insulation damage, mold, ice dams, wood rot, and heat build up.

Good attic air circulation removes moisture vapors from the attic, keeps your roof cooler in winter thereby minimizes the risk and damage associated with ice dams. Learn more about ice dams here>

In summer, good attic ventilation prevents heat buildup in your attic which can lead to hefty electric bills and/or very uncomfortable living spaces. Over time heat buildup in the attic can lead to premature aging of certain types of roof shingles.

Intake & Exhaust Vents

Proper attic ventilation is the result of properly placed intake and exhaust vents.  Click here to learn more about roof and attic ventilation.

Due to the importance of attic ventilation, most asphalt shingle manufacturers will void their warranties if the following ventilation rules are not followed:

  • 1 square foot of net free vent area (NFVA) per 150 feet of attic floor.
  • 1 square foot of NFVA per 300 square feet of the attic floor if a vapor barrier is installed on the ceiling below.
  • The IRC adds that the NFVA ratio can also be reduced to 1:300, if 50% to 80% of the required ventilation is in the upper portion of the attic (or cathedral ceiling) and the rest, is located at the eaves, with the upper vents at least 3 feet above the lower.

Blocked Intake Vents

We see many homes with limited intake vents or worse, blocked vents. Here are the most common examples of blocked intake venting in an attic:

Deliberate Blocking of Vents – Some homeowners misunderstand the importance of intake vents so they shove insulation or wood panels over the vents to warm up the attic. This is a mistake, but one that is usually easy to fix.

False Perforated Soffit Vents – Often, in older homes with aluminum or vinyl exterior siding or soffit coverings installed, we find that perforated soffit vent panels were installed directly over solid wood with no actual attic vent. To find out if you actually have ventilation, you need to remove the perforated panel.  If you don’t find an opening in the wood, you have a false vent.  False soffit or eave vents can usually be converted to proper intake vents.

Insulation Blocking Vents – A good insulation contractor will install vent baffles to prevent insulation from blocking intake vents, but we find many situations where this has not been done.

Exhaust Vents

Intake vents placed low on the roof allow air to flow up into the attic and displace hot, stagnant, and moist air by pushing it out through exhaust vents place high on the roof. The number of exhaust vents needed will depend on the size of the attic. A powered attic ventilator or Attic Fan can dramatically improve air circulation by pulling attic air out of the attic.

Attic Ventilation & Roof Longevity

There are many reasons a roof can fail, including poor installation, inferior materials, or damage from animals and environment, but barring those rare situations, the leading cause of premature roof replacements is related to poor attic ventilation. The good news is, attic ventilation is far more affordable than a new roof.

Free Attic Inspection

We offer free attic inspections including ventilation assessments.  We are The Attic Experts offering attic insulation and ventilation solutions to homeowners in Chicago & All Suburbs.  Call us today at 630.941.3800

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