When To Replace Roof Shingles?

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List of Simple Answers:


1. When they are worn out.

2. When they don't have any more granuals on them.

3. When they are ripped, torn, dented, or have holes in them.

4. When they are causing leaks into the house.

5. When you want a new color.

6. When they were installed incorrectly.

7. When you feel like creating a how to replace roof shingles youtube video.

8. When you are bored and want to feel handy and useful.

9. When you are trying to safe an extra buck or two.

10. When a tree, a tree branch, or even hail have fallen on them and caused damage.

* If you want to learn more about when to replace roof shingles, feel free to read on below. Don't forget our Table of Content box to the right. It is really easy to use and helps you navigate through this Roofpedia article!

Do You Need a New Shingle Roof?

…or just some repairs?

When to replace roof shinglesTaking care of your roof is one of the most important aspects of home maintenance. After all your roof is responsible for a lot. It keeps out the rain and keeps your home either warm (in the winter) or cool (in the summer). It is that element of your home that must be doing its job 24/7 to keep your family safe and sound.

If you are like many home owners, you may only look at your roof once in awhile and if you do at all, it isn’t very closely. Because the roof often goes un-inspected until a problems arises, there are many problems that could be prevented with just a little TLC.

Step 1: Understanding Your Shingle Roof

What kind of roof do you have? For many homeowners, they don’t know the answer to this question. If you don’t either, that is ok. This next section has been created to help you understand what type of roof you have. We are going to make one assumption up front and it is that you have an asphalt shingle roof.

Determine What Type of Shingles are on Your Roof

It is important to know what type of roof you have and its age because each asphalt shingle roof has a warranty. If your shingles are having problems, they may be covered by the manufacturer’s warranty.

*However, most shingle roofs have problems because of mistakes made by the installers or because the shingles are simply really old and need to be replaced.

Determining what type of shingles are on your roof can easily be done by simply looking up at your roof. The type of shingles that are on your roof are either 3-tab shingles, architectural shingles or designer shingles. Pictures of each type of shingle with a brief explanation of them are posted below.

*You can also use a Shingle Thickness Gauge to see exactly how thick your shingles are (The thickness will help determine their year warranty). Remember to check their thickness when the shingles are cold. If you check when they are hot, it will not give an accurate reading because the asphalt shingles are softer and more malleable.

3-Tab Shingles

3 tab shinglesAbout 3-Tab Shingles

The three-tab shingle is the most basic asphalt shingle available. In fact, this shingle used to be the only shingle available for homeowners to put on their roofs. The shingle itself is easily distinguishable by its 3 distinct rectangular sections.

3-Tab Shingle Warranties

Three tab shingles generally come with a maximum 25 year warranty. However, there are a few brands out there that sell a 30 year 3-tab shingle. The 3-tab 30 year shingles are the GAF Marquis WeatherMax shingles & XT 30 Certainteed. These warranties are manufacturer warranties. Each manufacturer’s warranty differs. To better understand your shingle roofs manufacturer’s warranty please contact your shingle manufacturer or ask a friendly local roofer!
Photo Credit: Lowes

Architectural Shingles

architectural shinglesAbout Architectural Shingles

Architectural shingles or A.K.A dimensional or laminated shingles are a higher quality of shingle that not only lasts longer but looks better. If you are looking at your roof, it is really obvious if you have architectural shingles vs 3-tab shingles. Architectural shingles are becoming the shingle of choice and are fast replacing the traditional 3-tab shingles.

Benefits of these types of shingles are that they are thicker, which gives them a longer life span, they come in more colors, and raise the value or help maintain the value of the home.

Architectural Shingle Warranties

These types of shingles have 30, 35, 40 and 50 year warranties. Thanks to their construction and thickness these shingles can have a longer manufacturer warranty vs 3-tab shingles. Remember, if you have any questions regarding your architectural shingle warranty, please contact the manufacturer.
Photo Credit: Lowes

Designer Shingles

designer shinglesAbout Designer Shingles

Designer shingles are by far the most fancy, high quality, and expensive asphalt shingles on the market. The designer shingles are very similar to architectural in the fact that they are thicker/heavier which helps them last a lot longer than 3-tab shingles. Another similarity is their visual appeal. One of the main differences between designer shingles and architectural shingles is their shapes. Designer shingles vary in shape. Some designer shingles have square tabs, diamonds, circular tabs, and so forth. To get a better idea of the different designs available we recommend checking out manufacturers’ websites.

Visit our List of Shingle Manufacturers to access their websites.

Designer Shingle Warranties

Designer shingles are the most common shingle to have “Lifetime” warranties, which some see as simply an advertising gimmick. Other warranties common are 30, 35, 40, & 50 year warranties. If you have a designer shingle roof, please contact your shingle manufacturer to learn more about its warranty.

Photo Credit: GAF

Step 2: What's Wrong with the Shingles

There are many different things that can go wrong with a shingle roof. It is important to determine what is happening and why. Below is a list of the most common problems experienced with asphalt shingles.

Shingle Lifting

It is really important that the asphalt shingles on roofs stay flat and flush with each other. Whenever the shingles begin to lift, this can lead to water leaks causing roof damage. Some of the common reasons why asphalt shingles lift are as follows:

1. When the shingles were installed some of the nails may not have been nailed in all the way, thus not being properly secured which allows for lifting.

2. High winds can cause shingles to lift and even tear away from the nails.

3. A build up of debris with the help of wind can cause lifting.

4. Moss can grow under the asphalt shingles and lift the shingles.

Curling Shingles

Curling shingles are a common problem, especially among older roofs. There are different reasons why shingles curl and in fact different types of curled shingles. For example, shingles can curl upwards and downwards. Shingles can curl from the middle, sides, or bottom. “Fishmouthed” is a term for asphalt shingles that have curled in the middle of the shingle tab. This is most often caused by an excess of moisture accumulation and or venting problems. Depending on the type of curling of the shingles, will help determine why the problem is happening.

If your asphalt shingles are curling, you will want to either replace the curling shingles or you may need to replace the entire roof. Be careful not to walk on the the damaged curling shingles. Curled shingles can easily break which can cause roof leaks. If you are having an inspector or roofer come out to look at the problem, make sure they do not trample or walk all over the roof. In fact, it is best if the roofer or roof inspector simply uses a ladder to look at the roof rather than walk on it.

Granule Loss: Asphalt Shingles

Another common problem that occurs with asphalt shingle roofs are granule loss. Granule loss most often occurs with older roofs but can also occur with newer roofs and even brand new roofs. To check to see if your shingles have lost or are loosing granules you can do a few things. Remember that granule loss is normal during the lifespan of the roofs.

1. Check at the bottom of the downspouts. If your roof is loosing large amounts of granules, you will see deposits of these granules at the downspouts.

2. Another place to check if the roof is loosing an access of roofing granules is to check the gutters. If your gutters are full of granules, then this is a sure sign that the shingles on the roof are loosing a lot of granules.

3. The last place to check is the shingle roof itself. Get a ladder to access the roof. If the roof has a significant loss of granules, you will be able to notice this by looking at the shingles themselves.

Why Losing Granules is Bad

The granules on asphalt shingle roofs are adhered to asphalt shingles in order to protect the asphalt from the uv rays of the sun and to give the roof a better visual appearance. If the granules are lost, then the asphalt begins to be exposed thus causing deterioration.

Blistering Shingles

Blistering shingles are a debated topic in the roofing industry. Manufacturers generally take the stand that blistered shingles are purely a cosmetic problem while some roofers and others in the industry feel that it can reduce the life of the roof itself. Blistering shingles look like they have blisters, pimples/bumps on them. Blistered shingles can reduce the life of the roof because the asphalt matt is exposed and can wear faster than the shingle sections around it that have granules.

Although it is speculated on exactly how shingles begin to blister it is commonly agreed upon that blistering shingles are caused in the manufacturing process. Many asphalt shingle warranties will not cover blistering shingles.

Ripped, Torn, or Punctured Shingles

Shingles are not bullet proof and can have problems due to ripping, tearing, or being punctured. Some of the most common causes for these situations are:

1. Heavy foot traffic.
2. High wind speeds.
3. Hail Damage (storm damage)
4. Falling debris (trees or tree limbs)

Step 3: Replace the Shingles or Get a New Roof

Once you know what type of roof you have, understand your shingle warranty, and understand what is wrong with your roof; you can now decide on a solution. You can either choose to replace the damaged or problem causing shingles yourself or call a trusted local roofer to do the repairs. If your asphalt shingle roof is beyond repair, then we recommend getting a qualified roofing company to give you a shingle roof replacement. We don’t recommend replacing your roof on your own unless you are qualified and experienced.

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Professionals Interviewed:

Thanks to Michael from The Affordable Construction Company in Norman, Ok.
Thanks to Duane C. from E.M. Blue Roofing in Peachtree City, GA.
Thanks to Randy Savage from Blair Roofing & Construction LLC in Millersville, MD.

Other Resources Used:

A comprehensive article on shingle curling by Inspectapedia.com
A blog post by Jamar Roofing Services
A great article highlighting common shingle roof problems by Kirkey Roofing