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What Happened to My Roof?

American Metal Roofs of Michigan offers DIY programs

What Happened to My Roof?

Millions of Americans are wondering the same thing. The roof you bought less than 15 years ago (less than 10 for some) are failing. You thought you bought the heavy duty roof   that would last 30, 40, or 50 years. You bought based on past experience. So what happened? Why is my roof failing?

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It is true. Asphalt and fiberglas roofs come with warranties that range from 25 years to lifetime, however professional roofers have been skeptical dating back to the early 1990’s. They began to notice a change in the shingle composition and were seeing rapidly deteriorating roofs. The roofers were told the failures were due to improper installation, poor ventilation, and occasionally a bad batch of shingles.

Fast forward 20 years and you see millions of failed roofs. The shingle had changed.

Many years ago manufactures began selling the public on the idea that they should expect a naturally aging process of their roof. This statement published by Certainteed in The Lifecycle of Your Roof.

 

“Due to the severity of the roof environment, even a one year old roof may look different from a roof that was just installed.  While you may have first noticed the cracks or blistering from the ladder as you were cleaning the gutters, please be mindful that these normal weathering characteristics may not be visible when you view your roof from your front lawn or driveway.”
– ASPHALT MANUFACTURER, Certainteed

Shingles were once manufactured with large amounts of asphalt or oil content. This gave the shingle its life. Today’s shingles have very little asphalt (10-30%) and have as its major component limestone and fillers. Richard Tippet of Applied Roofing Technologies during laboratory testing of shingles addressed the asphalt content:

“New shingles contain less than 25%. This asphalt is mixed with sand and fine mineral matter and then has granules embedded in it. There is not separate asphalt mat ‘coating’; there is only asphalt binder for the filler. What coating exists on the back of the shingle appears to have bled through the mat from the top side during manufacture.  No wonder shingles “weep” water after only a few years.”

The cost of the shingle was kept down as oil prices rose tenfold over the last 20 years. The result is a very dry shingle that fails rapidly and exhibits streaks of black mold that feeds on the limestone.
Why did the manufactures intentionally lower the quality of their products? Dwain Bouton President of Certified Roofing Consultant explains …

“The pressures placed on large, public companies to maintain profitability brought forward good old American ingenuity, reduce fiberglass mat weight(fibers were expensive) and increase filler content (asphalt was also expensive.)”
– Dwain Bouton, President of Certified Roofing Consultant

So what’s next?

Asphalt manufactures have known of the issues associated with their products for two decades and have been involved in dozens of class action lawsuits. To restore confidence in their products asphalt manufactures in January 2011 increased the warranty period on most of their products to lifetime.  Bob Villa warned against this practice several years ago saying…

“Since warranties are a marketing device, they are not reliable predictor of lifespan.  In the past decade, there have been complaints of asphalt shingle failure long before warranties expired.  Many homeowners have been dissatisfied with warranty payouts that didn’t cover all the costs of repair or replacement as well.”
– Bob Vila, Home Improvement Expert

What needs to happen is to restore the shingles with the original components.  Make a shingle like they did 40 years ago. However, in order to do that, the oil content of a shingle would need to be dramatically increased making the product cost prohibitive in today’s market.

Where does that leave me?

It appears the asphalt and fiberglas shingle manufactures have plenty of money to fight class action lawsuits. The payout is small for them as most will not go through the hassle. Homeowners need to look at other options they have available. Looking around the globe we see homeowners using permanent roofing options of slate, tile and metal. In fact if you talk to someone from Europe you will find they think we are wasteful and short sighted for the use of temporary roofing products such as asphalt.

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