How long does a roof last in NY?

Alex KotsyubaRoofing

shingle roof lifespan

How long does a typical shingle roof last in New York?

Knowing when to change the roof on your home can save you a lot of un-necessary expenses in repairs and can help you budget for your next roof replacement if one is necessary. Since the lifespan of a typical shingle roof is dependent on several factors, we have broken down each of these factors to help you assess the condition of your current roof and help you navigate through the roof repair and replacement process if needed. 

The Simple Facts

According to the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors, or NACHI , the average lifespan of a 3-tab shingle roof is 20 years, while an architectural shingle roof is expected to last 30 years. However, they warn that the life expectancy of the roof is drastically reduced in areas that have severe weather, hot climates and also depend on the local weather conditions. Home Evolution inspects thousands of roofs in a normal roofing season and we rarely see roofs in the Greater Albany, NY area meet or exceed the normal life expectancy for standard 3-tab and architectural shingles.

As a homeowner living in the greater New York State area, you can expect your roof shingles to last an average of 15 years if they are 3-tab shingles, and an average of 20-25 years if they are architectural shingles. There are premium architectural shingles that will last 30 or more years. However, they will always come at a premium price. The drastic temperature changes that we experience cause shingles as well as the roofing system as a whole to deteriorate much quicker. Areas such as the rubber around the vent pipes tend to crack and disintegrate and the flashing around the chimneys as well as sidewalls tend to pull away and allow water beneath the surface. Keep in mind, other roofing systems such as metal roofs, torch down flat roofing, clay tiles, as well as wood shake roofs all have their own lifespan. In this article, we focus specifically on shingle roofing systems.

One factor to consider, no matter what part of the country you are in is how well the roof was originally installed by the roofing contractor. If the roofing company used sub-par materials, or inadequate ice and water barrier in critical areas that need it, especially in New York State the result will be a roofing system that will fail prematurely. We have encountered roofing systems during our roof inspections that were only a few years old, but were already leaking due to the poor workmanship of the roofing contractor when installing the roof.

How do I find the age of my roof?

Knowing how long it has been since your roof has been replaced can help you be proactive and avoid having un-necessary costs stemming from roof leaks. It can also give you an idea of how much life is left in the roofing system so that you can budget accordingly, if needed, for a new roof. Below is a list of tips that can help identify the age of your roof.

1. Inspect the roof yourself

The best place to start is to do a visual inspection of the roof yourself. If you do not feel comfortable walking on the roof, or if the roof is a steep pitch, you can safely do a visual inspection from the ground. If you are not sure what to look for, you can use some of the resources we provide on our site including the roof components page as well as the roofing basics page to get an idea of what you are looking for. We have also included a handy visual roof inspection guide at the bottom of the page as a reference guide for homeowners that want to inspect the roof themselves.

2. Check with the roofing company

If you have recently purchased your home, or in process of purchasing the home, it is always a good idea to ask who installed the roof on the home, and how old the roof is. Sometimes, the previous owners will leave paperwork with the home. Knowing which roofing installed the roof help you get an idea of when it was installed. If it was recently installed, you may still be covered under a warranty workmanship warranty.

3. Check with your locality

If your local town or city requires a roofing permit to be pulled when a roof is being replaced, this is a good place to start. If a permit was ever issued, this will let you know exactly when the roof was replaced since this is public knowledge.

4. Have the roof inspected by a qualified roofing professional or home inspector

If you are still not able to determine when your roof was installed and what the current condition of the roof is, it may be a good idea to get help from a professional. Although a home inspector may be able to inspect the basics of a roof, in our experience, a qualified roofing contractor is the best go-to for roof inspections. Keep in mind, a roofing company will typically charge a fee if you are calling to specifically come out to inspect your roof.

Common factors that affect the lifespan of a roof in NY

1. Materials used in the roofing system

One thing that homeowners don't often realize is that not all roofing systems are the same. Every roof component on your roof comes in varying grades of quality and will directly affect the lifespan of the roof once installed. When it comes to roof installations in New York, for example, a critical roof component is the ice and water barrier. Not having enough ice and water underlayment installed, or not having it installed in a critical area like a valley, can cause leaks during heave rains or when ice damming occurs in the winter.

2. Weather Conditions

The weather conditions in New York can change rapidly with extreme cold temperatures in the winter, and scorching hot temperatures in the summertime. These drastic changes can put a lot of wear and tear on the shingles. When the shingles freeze in the winter, this will often loosen the roof granules on the shingles. These drastic temperature changes can also cause cracking of the rubber gaskets around the vent pipes. Flashing can also pull away from walls as well as away from the chimney as well.

3. Ventilation

Not having adequate ventilation in the attic can drastically shorten the lifespan of your roof. Not only will the shingles deteriorate quicker but could lead to further problems including mold issues in the attic as well as rot and warping of the roof decking itself. In order for your roof to have adequate ventilation, you should have cool air coming in through the soffit areas and escaping through the peak of the roof as it heats up. Trapping the warm or hot air creates a lot of problems for your attic as well as for your roof in the long run.

4. Attic Insulation

Not having the proper amount of insulation in your attic can cause ice dams in the winter due to heat escaping from the home interior. According to the insulation institute, New York falls into a zone 5 or zone 6 depending where you live. A zone 5 requires a minimum of R39 for insulation, and R49 in a zone 6. Most homes that we inspect during roof estimates are under-insulated. This means that there should be a minimum of 12"-15" of insulation in your attic depending on the insulation type. If you can see your roof rafters showing through the insulation, your attic is under insulated. This simply means that not only are you paying more in heating and cooling costs for your home, but the lifespan of your roof is shortened as well.

5. Preventative Maintenance

Doing a little bit of preventative maintenance on your roof every year can prolong the life of your roof. Caulking visible cracks around pipes, chimneys, cleaning out debris from the gutters, removing leaves and debris, as well as trimming back branches away from the roofline can go a long way in extending your roofs lifespan.

On flat roofs, you can extend the life of the roof by making sure to caulk any seams or visible cracks and coating the surface with silver coating or liquid silicone products that are available on the market today.

6. Slope of the roof

The lower or shallower the roof pitch on a roof is, the more susceptible it is to roof leaks. Naturally, water runs off much quicker from steep roof slopes. Roof slopes that are shallower than a 3/12 pitch require different materials other than shingles to be installed like rolled roofing, EPDM flat roofing, or torch down roofing. Having shingles installed on shallow roof pitches in an area like New York almost guarantees you a roof leak at some point.

If you have a combination of shingles on your roof with flat roofing, you should always assume that the flat roofing sections will always fail before the sloped portions.

7. Exposure to Sun

Areas that are constantly being hit by the scorching sun will always age faster than those that are in shady areas. Areas that are in shady areas are also susceptible to aging as algae and moss tend to grow in areas that are not exposed to the sun, therefore attracting moisture. Algae and lichen tend to thrive on shingles in shady areas as they feed on the oil and limestone found in the shingles themselves.

If you see moss starting to grow and algae streaks on your roof, it is always a good idea to do a soft wash on your roof with one of the many cleaners available on the market today. You never want to use a pressure washer as the pressure

...But new line of shingles is algae resistant so I will never get moss or streaks!

Although technology has significantly improved throughout the years, no shingle manufacturer guarantees that their shingles will prevent 100% of algae and moss growth on the shingle. Many of the roof manufacturers have begun to incorporate zinc and copper granules within the granules on the shingles to deter the development of algae and moss growth. However, if you look closely through their warranty, the warranty period for moss and algae growth is typically 10-15 years.

7. Roof Age

Even the highest quality roof installation using the highest quality materials will eventually fail if it is old enough. This is something every homeowner needs to be aware of when considering whether to do a roof repair, or completely replace the roof. Since roof repairs are typically not cheap, it may not be the most cost effective route to take since the roof will continue to fail in other areas as it continues to age.

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    Visual Roof Inspection Guide

    The visual guide below is meant to give you an idea of what your should be looking for when it comes to warning signs on a shingle roof. Although this is not a 100% complete guide and leaks can develop in any area on the roof, this is meant to give you a good sample of problem areas that are typical on a roof.

    Cracked Shingles

    Cracked roof shingles

    Wavy Shingles

    wavy roof shingles

    Lifting Shingles


    Missing Shingles


    Curling Shingles


    Poor Wall Flashing


    Cracked Gasket on vent pipe

    cracked vent pipe boot on roof

    Failing Chimney Flashing

    failing chimney flashing

    Heavy Moss & Algae Growth

    moss on shingle roof

    Leaking Skylight

    leaking skylight on the roof

    Rotten & Loose Facia

    rotten and loose facia near roof

    Loose Or missing ridge vent

    loose ridge vent

    Wet Plywood In Attic

    wet plywood in attic

    Mold in Attic


    Nails Popping Through Shingles

    popped nails through shingles

    Granules in the gutters


    Fiberglass Showing

    fiberglass showing on shingles

    Visible Dips In Roof

    visible dips on roof decking