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Just like people, asphalt shingles gradually age with the passage of time. Signs of this aging process may appear as early as the first couple of years during what is often called the Curing Phase. At first, you may notice small surface cracks or a few small blisters. These changes will not affect the ability of the asphalt shingles to protect your roof and are an anticipated part of the aging process.
Next is the Stable Phase, in which signs of aging will slow down dramatically. The duration of the stable phase may last 20 to 30 years, but is dependent on many factors, including the construction of the asphalt shingles, the condition of your roof, roofing ventilation, roof pitch, location, materials, design and underlayment, as well as the workmanship of your roofing contractor.
Near the end of the expected life of asphalt shingles, the aging process begins to speed up. This is what is called the Final Phase, during which most homeowners start to think about replacing their asphalt shingles. You may experience the following:
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One of the things you may notice is a slight curling of the shingles along the bottom edge, particularly during cold weather. This is a normal occurrence of asphalt shingles and results from the natural loss of the oils from the asphalt covering the felt. As the asphalt loses its oil, it slowly becomes more rigid and may shrink at a quicker rate than the felt.
Just like skin that has been exposed to the scorching heat of the sun, the surface of asphalt shingles reacts in a similar fashion. Like your skin, asphalt shingles may develop small surface cracks. This is a result of asphalt shingles becoming more brittle over time. Thermal shock and deck movement may also increase the occurrence of surface cracking.
As asphalt shingles age, large bubble-like blisters may appear on the surface, some as large as a quarter. They may be open, exposing the asphalt, or closed. Blisters are more likely to appear when there is inadequate ventilation or in areas where tree sap drips onto the shingles. Small “rash” blisters do not affect the performance of the shingles.