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In The House – How Long Do Roofs Last?

Ask The Experts

-“In the House” radio show airs on Sundays at 2pm

Jared: This comes to us from Rachel in Orlando. She writes, “My roof is getting older; it’s about 15 years old. It is a shingle roof. How long do they last? When should I think about replacing it? I currently do not have any leaks.”
Ken Mellick: That is a really good question. Floridians are often told that roofs only last 15 years. I have learned over the years that a roof is a system. Unless you ventilate it properly and get the hot air out of the attic, manufacturer defects show up causing the roof to prematurely wear out. But, if the roof is cared for and is properly ventilated from the beginning, the roof can last a very long time. When we meet with homeowners, we examine the system of the attic.
We consider how the air is coming in. Does the roof have enough intake? Does it have enough air going out? Is it a hip roof or a gable roof?  We consider the style of ventilation that it needs to get the proper amount of air out of the attic.  When we start a roof replacement, we usually adjust the ventilation in someone’s home to five-to-ten times of what it was previously. For the homeowner, it’s an important long-term investment. By adjusting the ventilation and getting that hot air out of the attic, it’s going to save them money on their power bill each month.
Another money-saving consideration with regards to improved ventilation is the air conditioning unit. How hard is that air conditioning unit working? If it doesn’t have to work as hard, it’s going to last longer. If you replace the roof with proper ventilation, you are only going to have to replace your roof every 25 or, perhaps, even 30 years.
Jared Mellick:  We recently replaced an asphalt shingle roof this year that was 35 years old. The majority of our competitors will advise you that roofs only last ten to fifteen years. Yet we replaced an asphalt shingled roof here in central Florida that was 35 years old and didn’t have a single leak. The owner simply decided, “Okay, it is getting time to replace it now.”  To answer your question, Rachel, just because your roof is 15-years-old, doesn’t mean it requires replacement.
Obviously, we would have to look at your roof to better advise you as the age of the roof is only one factor. There are multiple factors that would cause us to have to replace a roof prematurely. One, as Ken mentioned, is ventilation. Ventilation is a major factor.
Ken Mellick: Manufacturer defects can exist as well.
Jared Mellick: Yes, another major factor to consider is manufacturer defects. What often happens is use of a cheap asphalt, or there may be some separation in the fiberglass, or there may be too much moisture during the manufacturing process that can cause some blistering.  Defects like those may produce a shingle that would fail prematurely.
Yet another factor is installation issues. The company or people working on your roof install products improperly. Another reason for premature roof failure could be components like flashings failing prematurely.
Here in Florida, roofs often fail because of storm damage. Roofs may need replacing not because the actual product failed, but because of severe weather or a hail or wind storm will actually tear pieces of it off.
If you give us a call at the office, we’ll come out and take a look at your roof. We’ll give you our honest and professional opinion.
Ken Mellick: It’s completely free. There is no charge for us to come out and inspect your roof.