10 Ways to Make Your Roof Last Longer

roof against a blue sky

You’ve just replaced the roof on your home and want to make sure your new roof will have a long lifespan. It’s important to maintain your roof so that it will keep taking care of you. After all, no one wants to deal with a leaky ceiling or a shabby roof missing shingles.

If you’re looking to extend the life expectancy of your roof, here are several maintenance tips to make your roof last longer.

10 Ways to Make Your Roof Last Longer

1. Avoid Power Washing

Photo credit: S.Buckalew / Wikimedia Commons / CC-BY-SA-3.0

Powerful water blasts dislodge and loosen granules from the shingles’ coating, causing shingles to become brittle and crack easily.

Old roofs are susceptible to power washing damage. Roofs are designed to protect you from the weather, not to withstand highly concentrated jets of water. 

Instead of power washing, have your roof cleaned with a leaf blower or broom. Soft washes use gentle, low-pressure rinsing and cleaning detergents and are a great way to remove dirt, moss, sand, or dust from your roof.

Rather than clean your roof yourself, it’s better to hire a roofing pro. Slippery, wet rooftops are very unsafe and dangerous for homeowners unaccustomed to walking around on the roof. Falling off of a roof or ladder can result in serious injury and can even be fatal. It’s important to clean your roof approximately every 1-3 years, just use methods that won’t shorten your roof’s lifespan – or yours. Instead, trust an expert to clean your roof. 

2. Unclog Gutters

Leaved in gutter
Photo Credit: Pixabay

To increase the life expectancy of your roof, regularly check that your gutters and downspouts are free of leaves and debris.

Leaves, pine needles, sticks, and acorns get jammed in the gutters, causing clogs. Clogged-up gutters result in a buildup of water at the edge of your roof, which causes leaks or rot.

Trapped water and leaves in your gutters offer an ideal habitat for pests to hide, and you don’t want that kind of trouble bugging you.

In cold climates, cluttered gutters are more prone to developing ice dams on the edges of your roof.

Routinely check and clean your gutters so that water flows freely off your roof. If you clean your gutters yourself, exercise caution, as jobs that require a ladder are dangerous. If you don’t feel like cleaning your gutters yourself, hire a professional for the job. 

3. Keep Leaves, Moss, and Mold Off Your Roof

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Leaves, branches, moss, mold, and algae belong in a forest, not on your roof. Gathered leaves trap moisture on your roof, and fallen branches puncture shingles.

Moss causes damage to roof shingles by loosening and lifting them as the moss grows. As a plant that absorbs and stores water, moss leads to mold and bacteria destroying your roof. It’s best to scrub off growing moss with water and a scrub brush to prevent it from causing decay on your roof.  

Inspect your roof after a rainstorm or gusty winds and clear it of any debris that accumulated during stormy weather.

4. Have Good Attic Insulation

Not only will properly installed insulation protect your roof from damage, it will save you money on power bills and help maintain comfortable home temperatures. Insulation keeps cool air inside during the summer and heat inside during the winter.

Good insulation prevents condensation and moisture forming on the underside of the roof. This prevents rot and mold. Attic insulation also protects shingles from decaying from hot air exposure. Attic insulation costs between $1,680 and $3,125 to install.

5. Have Good Ventilation

Good ventilation in your home and attic prevents condensation and moisture from damaging your roof.

For good attic ventilation, soffits, vents, and exhaust fans needed to be properly placed. Badly placed soffits and vents can lead to condensation forming on the decking supporting your roof, which causes rot or mold. Poor ventilation also can result in ice dams forming on your roof in the wintertime.

Soffits need to be placed near the lower part of the attic, and roof vents should be placed in the higher part of the attic. This helps the cool air flow in and the hot air flow out. If your attic overheats, it can crack or damage your shingles. 

Remove debris that is blocking attic vents. This gives your roof proper ventilation and protects it from moisture damage.  

6. Do General Inspections

Have a professional roofer inspect your roof annually. Regular checkups will determine the integrity of your roof and catch problems early on while they’re still small and easily fixed. 

It’s also good practice to inspect your roof for damage after a rainstorm or hailstorm. 

A full inspection of your roof includes inspecting your gutters and drainage system as well. An inspection of your attic helps assess possible issues from the interior side of your roof.  

Here’s some things to look out for when inspecting your roof:

On Your Roof

  • Missing or loose shingles
  • Torn, cracked, or curling shingles
  • Sagging or leaning roof
  • Dents
  • Holes
  • Debris on roof and around chimneys, pipes, and vents
  • Lots of visible shingle granules
  • Algae or moss growth
  • Protruding nails
  • Gutters and downspouts

Inside Your Home

  • Leaks
  • Ceiling wet spots
  • Damaged flashing
  • Wood damage

The safest way to inspect your roof is to hire a roofing contractor for the job. Not only will hiring a pro ensure you stay safe and avoid risking a fall, but a hired professional’s trained eye will know precisely what to look for and catch issues with your roof you might miss.

7. Remove Snow and Ice

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Ice and snow are bad news for your roof. Heavy snow piles can cause your roof to collapse under the weight. Ice dams prevent water from properly draining off your roof, which could cause leaks and damage your gutter system.

To avoid ice dams accumulating on your roof, remove snow from your roof with a roof rake or a snow rake. A snow or roof rake will allow you to knock snow off your roof safely from the ground. Don’t use tools that might damage the shingles. 

Good insulation is the best way to prevent ice dams from forming. If your home forms a lot of ice dams during the winter, your insulation needs to be replaced or repaired. 

8. Fix a Damaged Chimney

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Have your chimney inspected once a year. Chimney cracks let in water and moisture, which harms your roof system. Repairing your chimney prevents cracks from turning into expensive problems.

Here are some signs to look out for if your chimney needs repair:

  • Leaks
  • Cracks
  • Flaking or fallen tiles
  • Missing or damaged shingles near chimney
  • Damaged or deteriorated flashing
  • Crumbling masonry
  • Rust on the metal elements of your chimney
  • White staining on the outside of your chimney
  • Ceiling and wall stains near chimney
  • Damaged mortar joints

9. Keep Trees Trimmed Away from Your Roof

Trim back any tree limbs hanging over your roof. Keeping tree branches away from your roof prevents them from falling on your home and damaging shingles or puncturing your roof. 

Overhanging branches drop lots of leaves. These leaves will clog your gutters and you will have to regularly clean them. 

Also, too much shade from trees is bad for your roof. It prevents your roof from drying out, so moisture left on your roof provides a ripe ground for growing moss and algae. 

Aside from that, tree limbs near your roof grant wildlife access to your home. Critters such as squirrels may climb from trees over your roof and find their way into your home and damage your insulation, which is also harmful for your roof. 

It is recommended that you trim your trees so that their branches are about 10 feet away from your roof

10. Keep It Wind- and Storm-Resistant

Your roof is always battling the elements, so you’ll want to protect it from fierce storms. It’s especially important to protect your home if you live in an area that regularly experiences hurricanes, tornados, or nasty rainstorms. 

Some things you can do to protect your roof from storms and fierce winds:

  • Regularly inspect your roof. A roof in good shape is less susceptible to storm damage, so regularly check the state of your roof. 
  • Keep your roof free of debris and your gutter free of clutter. Prevent clogs and allow your drainage system to work efficiently. 
  • Invest in a good roof design. Some roofs are better designed to be storm-resistant than others, so it’s a good idea to invest in one built to withstand storms. Metal roofing is usually the best option for a stormproof roof, but slate, asphalt, and tile are also good for enduring storms and high winds. 
  • Choose good roofing materials. Metal roofs are particularly durable and the best option for weathering storms. 
  • Make sure your roof is well-maintained. Your roof will be less effective in staving off storms if it’s in bad condition.
  • Check your trees. Trim tree branches back and remove dead branches. Test the stability of your trees, as trees can be knocked over in storms and pose a danger to your home. 
  • Cover your roof with protective material. Shielding your roof with plywood protects your roof from a fierce storm and wind damage. 

Why It’s Important to Make Your Roof Last Longer

A roof protects you from the elements. Whether the climate is gusty winds, baking sunshine, heavy downpours, or freezing snowfall, your roof weathers it all. 

Furthermore, a well-kept roof increases the value, aesthetic, and curb appeal of your home. Houses with missing or broken shingles will make your house look shabby and rundown.

The cost of repairing or replacing your roof is expensive. Maintaining the roof you have costs a lot less than buying a completely new roof. On average, the cost of replacing your roof is approximately between $5,000 to $11,000. Roof repairs are much cheaper, ranging around $350 to $1,200.

The Average Lifespan of Different Roofs

Typically, roofs last approximately 15 to 30 years. However, certain types of roofs can last much longer, even up to 100 years!

If you’re deciding what type of roof to get or simply want to know what to expect for your current roof’s lifespan, here is a list of the average life expectancy for different roofing materials:

Type of RoofLifespan
Asphalt Roll5 to 10 years
Asphalt Shingles15 to 30 years
Architectural Shingles20 to 30 years
Built-Up Roofing (BUR)20 to 30 years
Concrete50 to 100 years
Clay50 to 100 years
Composite15 to 40 years
Metal20 to 70 years
Slate 50 to 150 years
Wood Shingles25 to 30 years
Wood Shakes25 to 40 years

If you’re deciding what kind of roof to get, homeowners should consider what local weather is like and how each type of roof will fare in the climate. The price of shingles is also an important factor to consider. 

Signs It’s Time to Get a New Roof

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How do you tell when your roof has reached the end of its lifespan? Here are some signs:

  • Roof looks old and worn
  • Sagging roof
  • Infestation of moss, mold, fungi, algae, or mildew
  • Missing shingles
  • Curling, buckling, or cracked shingles
  • Bald spots caused by heavy granule loss
  • Missing or damaged flashing
  • Leaks
  • Fallen shingles in your yard
  • Extra high energy bills
  • Dark streaks
  • Sunlight shining through your attic
  • Holes or gaps

Age is another factor to consider. All good things come to an end, and while some roofing materials last longer than others, all roofs eventually need to be replaced. If your roof has outlived its age expectancy, then it needs to be replaced. 

FAQ About Ways to Help Your Roof Last Longer

What is the Best Time to Have Your Roof Inspected?

Spring or fall are the best times of year to schedule a roof inspection.

The optimal time for your roof to get an inspection depends on your roof’s condition and the local weather. The heat of summer and the cold of winter is the most brutal times of year for your roof, so you want to avoid having an inspection during those seasons. 
After a big storm is always a good time to book a roof inspection, too.

If you live in an area with cold climates, you might want to set up a fall roof inspection so that you can prepare your roof for the snow and ice of winter. Homeowners living in warmer climates and facing stormy or scorching summers will want to schedule a roof inspection in the spring. 

Will Solar Panels Damage Your Roof?

Some homeowners have turned to solar panels to reduce their carbon footprint. But many homeowners worry about the risks solar panels pose to their roofs.

Despite the popular myth that solar panels damage roofs, solar panels will not damage or harm your roof if they are installed correctly. The key word here is “correctly,” as poorly installed solar panels can cause leaks.

In fact, solar panels protect your roof from the weather and even extend the overall life expectancy of your roof. Working as a shield for your roof, solar panels help cool your roof and house.

Not every roof is suited to hosting solar panels. If you are considering getting solar panels for your roof, you’ll want to consider the age of your roof and your roofing materials. The best types of shingles for solar panels are:

* Asphalt
* Metal
* Tar and gravel
* Tile

Aside from your roof, some things you’ll want to consider before installing solar panels is the local climate, how much sun your roof gets, and if solar panels are worth the investment. 

Is Spray Foam Bad for Roofs?

Spray foam roofing is a special liquid material made from polyol and isocyanate that is sprayed over an existing roof. After spraying, the substance then hardens over the existing roof, creating a long-lasting protective covering. 

It is a myth that spray foam will damage your shingles. They are not bad for your roof and, in fact, can last for up to 20 years. Whenever your warranty expires on your spray foam roof, you can simply install a recoat. 

Spray foam roofs are easy to install, easy to maintain, lightweight, eco-friendly, waterproof, and energy efficient. 

Hire a Roofing Professional

Extending your roof’s lifespan depends on making sure you maintain it properly.

Looking for a roofing company? Roofers provide specialized services to help you prolong the life of your roof, including inspections, snow removal, cleanings, repairs, and other services. Find a professional roofer near you to take care of your roof maintenance and keep your roof in top shape.

Main Photo Credit: Pexels

Danielle Gorski

Danielle Gorski lives with her family in Texas. She has a degree in Professional Studies and a minor in marketing. Her hobbies include reading, drawing, and writing.