Can the Sun Damage Asphalt Shingles?

When it’s hot outside, like it is now, we usually notice the warmth in our home and the light through out windows. But we often forget about the roof over our heads – the place where the sun has the biggest impact. One of the reasons we offer metal roofing here at Cal Energy is specifically because our roofs take the brunt of the sun, and so replacing roofing with more energy efficient options has the potential to provide us with amazing energy efficiency benefits.

We know that our roofing can be damaged by rain, wind, debris, and general decay. But we don’t often think about the effects the sun has on roofing tiles. Solar radiation from the sun is not gentle, and asphalt shingles, especially, can be affected by its impact.

What Does UV Radiation Do to Asphalt Shingles?

The sun emits ultraviolet (UV) radiation, which can have detrimental effects on asphalt shingles over time. UV radiation breaks down the chemical bonds in the asphalt, leading to several issues that include, but are not limited to:

  • Loss of Flexibility – Prolonged exposure to UV rays causes asphalt shingles to lose their flexibility and become brittle. Brittle shingles are more susceptible to cracking and breaking, particularly in extreme weather conditions.
  • Degradation of Protective Granules – Asphalt shingles are coated with granules that protect them from UV radiation and add color. UV exposure can cause these granules to loosen and fall off, reducing the shingles’ protective capabilities.
  • Fading and Discoloration – The pigments in asphalt shingles can fade due to constant exposure to the sun, leading to a less aesthetically pleasing roof over time.

The radiation from the sun can cause both short and long term damage, and while *all* roofing tiles are at risk, asphalt shingles tend to take it harder, as they are less capable of reflecting rays back into the sky.

How Heat Affects Asphalt Shingles

It’s also not just the radiation that is a problem. It is the heat as well. The sun’s heat can cause asphalt shingles to experience a wide range of problems that can affect the performance of the roof. For example:

  • Expansion and Contraction – The heat from the sun can cause asphalt shingles to expand and contract. The constant movement can cause the shingles to crack, especially if they have already been weakened by UV radiation. Heat can cause the edges of asphalt shingles to curl or warp, compromising the roof’s integrity and allowing water to seep underneath. The stress from thermal expansion and contraction speeds up the aging process of asphalt shingles, reducing their overall lifespan.
  • Weakened Adhesive Strips – Asphalt shingles are often installed with adhesive strips that help secure them in place. High temperatures can affect the performance of these adhesive strips. Excessive heat can soften the adhesive, causing the shingles to slip out of place. This can lead to gaps in the roofing material, increasing the risk of leaks. Over time, the adhesive can degrade due to heat exposure, reducing its ability to hold the shingles securely.

Both of these issues can affect the longevity of your asphalt shingles and their performance. While all roofing can have issues with long term sun exposure, asphalt shingles, which tend to be the least expensive option, also tend to perform the worst when faced with these types of problems.

Alternative Solutions to Asphalt Shingles

If you already have newly installed asphalt shingles, then you likely want to stick with them for now. In these cases, you can double check the ventilation and make sure that you’re always getting inspections and repairs to minimize the long term damage. One advantage of these types of shingles is that they can be replaced if damage occurs, but you need to find a roofing company to handle those requests.

For new roofing, consider an alternative solution like metal roofing. Metal roofing does not store heat, reflects UV rays back into the atmosphere, and does not experience the same level of heat or UV related damage that asphalt shingles experience. They also make it easier to cool your home, adding to their advantages. At California Energy Consultant Service, this form of roofing is our specialty, and we encourage any homeowner to strongly consider this as an alternative to traditional asphalt shingles.

Taking the Next Steps

It’s hot here in Sacramento, and so it’s important for us to be aware of how the heat can affect all parts of our property – especially the roof and its shingles. We may not always think about our roof when it’s sunny outside, but the damage caused by the sun can be significant, and it’s important to pay attention to how this damage may affect the longevity of the roof.

If you’re looking for a roofing company in Sacramento to help with your roofing and related needs please reach out to California Energy Consultant Service, today.

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