10 Ways to Determine the Age of Your Roof and Its Expected Lifespan

The roof of your house is one of the most expensive systems you will ever replace on your home, which is precisely why it’s a good idea to learn how they work and what quality workmanship looks like. This very detailed article is about how roof systems work and how to determine the remaining lifespan of a roof system.

Type of Roof

The type of roof is the main factor in determining the useful life of any roofing system and the different types vary in durability, sustainability and cost. Below are 9 different varieties of roofing systems and their expected lifespans. The lifespans vary greatly due to the type and complexity of roof designs and the quality of the installation.


The Effects of the Elements

The elements play a major role in the life cycle of any roofing system. Although we in Myrtle Beach do not live in a climate with extreme temperatures, we do have to deal with plenty of other circumstances such as wind and hail. These are just a few of the issues that your Myrtle Beach Home Inspector will be looking for:



The Home Inspector always makes note of any trees in close proximity due to possible foundation and roof damage. These are several issues with trees being too close to a home:


Flashing & Sealants

A very important component of any roofing system is the use of flashings and sealants. These bent pieces of metal provide and effective waterproof barrier, and the absence of them normally indicates poor workmanship which was not carried out by a professional.



This is the primary indicator to determining the current age and the expected remaining life span of any asphalt shingle product. Granules (slate, schist, quartz, vitrified brick, stone, or ceramic) typically start to deteriorate at or around 75% of the intended lifespan and can vary depending on the quality of the product used. They can, however, begin to deteriorate much sooner, depending on the installation and if best practices were used during installation. Foot traffic on asphalt shingles will deteriorate these shingles faster than any other cause. It is therefore vital that foot traffic during the installation process is kept to a bare minimum.



The Seller’s property disclosure will tell you pertinent information such as the age of the roof. What it will not tell you is who installed it and the methods used during installation. It is important to obtain as much history from the Seller as possible. This information should include who installed the roof, what methods they used, and a history of any defects with the current roof and who made the necessary repairs.


Lack of Experience; DIY Methods & Workmanship

The next 4 categories will be summarized under one main heading called Do-it-Your-Selfers. In most cases, it is relatively simple to spot a roof installation done by inexperienced individuals, but here are 4 great examples of what to look for!

DIY Foot Traffic

The life span of any roof depends mainly on its ability to withstand the impacts of the environment. All professional roofers know that minimizing foot traffic on a newly installed roof is essential in preserving the integrity of the roof and its lifespan.

DIY Lapping

We all know that water travels on the path of least resistance and always downhill. If any roofing product is not lapped properly to prevent water intrusion below the surface, the result can be catastrophic – and this makes it critically important to understand the installation procedure of any roofing material to avoid future problems. Here are few examples of major concerns regarding improper installation of roofing materials:


Incorrect DIY Installation or Absence of Important Roofing Materials

Your Myrtle Beach Home Inspector is going to know where to look to find deficient workmanship and or materials that have not been installed, installed incorrectly, or overlooked completely. These are several examples of what you may find when assessing a roof installation done by non-professionals.


DIY Layers

National Building Code minimizes the number of layers of shingle on a roof to just two layers. The reasons for this is weight and fastener penetration. A professional roofing contractor will always advise on the importance of removing the existing roofing system for 3 reasons: 1) weight, 2)  increased labor to move two layers of shingles later on, and 3) removing the existing roof and exposing the roof structure allows identification of latent defects below the existing roof covering.


Keeping an eye open for any number of these deficiencies will give you a great idea as to how long any roofing system is expected to last while providing you with comprehensive knowledge on what else to look for if any one of these defects presents them self.


Me and my team at LAB Home Inspections hope you really enjoyed this article!


If you have specific questions about your home, or would like to schedule a home inspection, please contact Darren directly:

Darren Dawson, Certified Master Inspector (CMI)®

Myrtle Beach, SC

(352) 665- 9900

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