What Is the Life Span of a Roof in the Pacific Northwest?

Articles | Roofing
April 7, 2023

Local weather patterns may only be a small part of the puzzle when estimating roof lifespan, but they absolutely do matter when it comes to making long-term maintenance plans. If you are lucky enough to live in the Pacific Northwest, you’re probably used to a mild climate and a lot of precipitation. And while few things are more relaxing than listening to the pitter-patter of raindrops as they fall outside, those same raindrops might be doing a number on your rooftop, especially over the course of years. Eventually, damage will build up and necessitate repairs, and, ultimately, roof replacement.

In this article, we’ll help you identify the tell-tale signs that your roof is in need of maintenance. We’ll also help you to estimate how long you can expect your roof to last, something that depends not only on the weather, but on the composition of the roof and a number of other factors. Finally, we’ll help you to determine when the time has finally come to ask the experts at Interstate Roofing to replace your old roof entirely.

Factors That Age a Roof

A well-built, sturdy roof consists of several equally important layers, each designed to keep harsh weather safely outside of the home. On most roofs, the shingles are the first line of defense. These are the thin, overlapping pieces of material that give your roof its distinctive appearance. They are most commonly made from asphalt (also known as composition shingles), although they may also be slate, wood, or even metal.

Whatever material is used, it should be lightweight and strong, capable of withstanding heavy winds, strong rainfall, and a nearly constant barrage of high-energy ultraviolet solar radiation. All of these will gradually wear their way through the shingles, and strong winds may pull them away completely, leaving unsightly bare patches on the roof.

Missing shingles can create greater problems than just being an eyesore, however. Without them, rainwater is likely to seep through the next layer, or underlayment, of your roof. If it does, it may begin to work its way into the decking, or wooden boards, of your roof. Rainwater and wood are a dangerous combination since moisture can encourage the growth of microbes and fungi that will consume the cellulose in the wood. Eventually, this will cause the wood to become spongy and weak. If this fungal growth isn’t brought under control, it will end up compromising the roof entirely, shortening the roof life span and necessitating a costly replacement years before it is necessary.

Moisture is your roof’s greatest enemy, and it doesn’t necessarily have to come from above. Humidity in the air inside the home can also be a cause of roof rot, particularly if the home has inadequate ventilation or poor insulation.

Signs Your Roof Needs Some Care

Even the most well-built man-made structure is no match for the elements, and your roof is no exception. It may have been the pinnacle of roofing technology when it was first constructed, but one way or another, the weather is eventually bound to find its way in. Identifying the damage quickly is the most important factor in preventing its spread. Learn to keep an eye out for the—sometimes subtle—signs that your roof needs professional attention.

We’ve already mentioned that missing shingles are a sure sign that a roof is in need of repair. Shingles that are curling upward or have otherwise become deformed or discolored are also early signs of wear and tear.

The flashing of your roof, which is the flat metal that surrounds the perimeter of your roof for waterproofing purposes, will also be one of the first parts to deteriorate. While the metal that is used to construct flashing is usually treated in order to be resistant to corrosion, over time, it can still develop holes and weak points as rust sets in.

Some of the key indicators that a roof is in need of maintenance can be noticed inside the home. Discoloration on the ceilings, for example, is often a sign that water has gotten through the roof and is forming pools in one or more areas of the home. Even more subtle indicators, such as an increased energy bill, can indicate that the roof is doing its job less effectively and allowing warm air to escape.

When Is It Time to Replace the Roof?

Most of the issues we have mentioned can be corrected fairly easily after a few hours of work by an experienced roofer. Shingles can be replaced; roof flashing can be patched or otherwise repaired. Holes in a roof can be plugged; more minor cases of wood rot can be addressed through timely intervention by a licensed professional.

If you are diligent with your maintenance, you can greatly extend your roof lifespan, although eventually, it will still need to be replaced. In the Pacific Northwest, composition roofs can last as long as 18 to 20 years if they are properly cared for. This is in spite of all the rain and other adverse weather conditions. Once your roof has begun to approach that age, however, you will need to talk to a roofer about possibly performing a replacement.

If roof replacement isn’t performed in a timely manner, the issues plaguing it will continue to worsen. It will begin to leak, more and more, and may collapse entirely if the problems are not addressed. If you notice that your roof is bowed or sagging, call a roofer immediately: this is an emergency situation. The decay may have become so advanced that the wooden rafters can no longer support the weight of the roof. If the roof collapses, it can be a catastrophic situation for the homeowner. The house will become uninhabitable until the roof is repaired, a task which may take weeks and cost tens of thousands of dollars.

If you believe your roof is due for a replacement, contact the professionals at Interstate Roofing. We will perform the necessary inspections to determine what level of maintenance your roof requires. We are also available for 24/7 emergency repairs if you discover an issue that needs immediate attention.