Asphalt Roofing – Problems and Pitfalls Home Owners Must Know About

Asphalt roofing is the most frequently used roofing material in many parts of the country. Asphalt shingles are usually composed of a base of fiberglass in which other granules are embedded, and a coating layer superimposed. The base material is what gives asphalt roofing its strength and durability. The asphalt component helps resist wear and tear due to extremes of weather. Granules in the tiles protect the roof against radiant heat and preserve the shingle colors from fading over time.

Asphalt roofing has a long durability, with typical lifespans being 15 to 20 years. There are many factors that determine how long your asphalt roofing will last, including the thickness of your shingle layer (thicker shingles last longer) and shingle color (lighter shades will reflect more heat). This is the reason many home owners prefer light colored asphalt shingles that are thicker and stronger.

When it comes to longevity of asphalt roofing, there are other factors at play as well.

Roof slope

When you have a steep roof, asphalt shingles are likely to last longer. This is because water and snow do not remain on the roof for long periods, sliding off the roof. There isn’t any pooling which could make the material leak or loosen the shingles. Flat roofing systems, on the other hand, accumulate damp for a longer period, making it more likely that they will get damaged.


Ultraviolet light rays damage roofing shingles. In brighter areas where more UV radiation strikes the roof covering, wear and tear of the asphalt roofing is more likely. The portions of the roof that are relatively protected against the direct rays of the sun are likely to be less damaged.


Roofs that receive excellent air flow and are quicker to dry out are often better maintained over time and last longer. Ventilation permits cooling of the undersurface of your asphalt roofing, which in turn prolongs the longevity. The intelligent use of gable vents, ridge vents and attic vents can help aerate your roof well.

Defective Shingles

Asphalt roofing that utilizes faulty shingles is more prone to early damage. Just because shingles are on sale, don’t compromise on quality. Heat splitting is the most frequent manufacturing defect that affects asphalt shingles.

Extreme Weather

Harsh extremes of heat and cold will cause your asphalt roofing to wear away faster. Cold and damp climates are particularly damaging. Make sure to select the right kind of roofing material to match local weather conditions.

Asphalt Roofing Shingle Problems

While the other problems mentioned above affect all asphalt roofing, there are specific problems related to asphalt shingles including:

Heat cracking – Thin fiberglass layers in the shingle causes it to crack and split easily, or tear off the roof. Changes in climate conditions worsen this effect.

Thinning out – Sometimes asphalt roofing shingles thin out in the middle, becoming somewhat bent out of shape. It happens in older roofs, and makes the shingles very brittle and prone to snapping if someone walks on them.

Loss of granules – The granules embedded within the shingles can fall out over time. This causes exposing the interior of shingles which are then subject to further damage from the elements.

Curling – As your asphalt roofing ages, another sign of wear and tear may be the edges becoming curled. Again, the shingles are very brittle at this stage and need to be replaced promptly.

Fish mouth changes – When shingle tabs separate and move apart, they may open up between layers, giving the impression of an open mouth of a fish. It is more often seen in moist climates and in roofs without adequate venting. This is a problem that goes beyond just shingle faults and needs more comprehensive repairs.

Asphalt roofing is a stable, economical and reliable roof solution. But at the same time, there are some inevitable risks and dangers with using them. Home owners should be aware of these drawbacks and be watchful to institute corrective measures at the earliest sign of faults.


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