Roof Life – How Long Will Your Roof Last in S FL?

The life expectancy of a roof in south Florida can be pretty short, compared with cooler areas. The intense heat from the sun makes it deteriorate fast.
A rule of thumb for life expectancy of roofs in south Florida is:
concrete tile roof life – about 25 years
shingle roof life – about 15-20 years. Architectural or dimensional shingles will last longer than a 3-tab shingle.
flat roof life – could be as little as 7 years

There are many factors that can affect the life expectancy of a roof.
The color of the roof: a lighter color reflects more heat and makes a roof last longer
The pitch of the roof – a steeper roof tends to last longer
The manufacturer and quality of the materials
Installation – a poor job will not last as long
Tree branches overhanging the roof – debris and/or branches rubbing on the roof can shorten roof life.

Roofs are expensive so what can you do it make it last longer and avoid leaks?

See also shingle roof problems.

Attic Problems Found During Home Inspections

Inspecting an attic

Attic Inspection

What is there to check in an attic?  It’s just trusses and insulation, right?  Actually, it’s surprising how many attic problems I  find during home inspections.  The most important item is roof leaks.  Sometimes the roof looks fine from above and it’s only when you get inside the attic that you can see the leak.

attic inspection problems

Roof leak seen from an attic inspection

Another attic problem I have been seeing a bit of lately is leaking air conditioning ducts.  Instead of all that cool air going into the house it is going into the attic!  Not only does this lead to the air conditioner working harder and higher electric bills, the cold air causes condensation which leads to mold.  Sometimes, it is just a little mold on the duct in the attic, but when it is really bad, the condensation drips onto the ceiling and you end up with mold on your ceiling.

mold on a.c. duct

Mold on leaking air conditioning duct

The most common attic problem, and one easily fixed, is insulation blocking the vents.  Insulation is put up there to keep the house cool but when it is not installed properly it is also keeping your attic hot – a little counterproductive!   An attic in the afternoon in the summer can be 120 to 140 degrees and some even hotter.  Still, some argue that it does not make that great a difference – that may be true if the attic is really well isolated from the rooms below.  If you have downlights, for instance, you may have a lot of superheated air being pushed inside your home.

Insulation blocking soffit vents

Insulation blocking soffit vents

One attic problem concern that I don’t think anyone will argue about is termites and rodents !

Termites in the attic

Termites in the attic

One last attic problem that I have sometimes found in attics is a plumbing problem, especially in villas.  This problem is polybutylene pipes.  Polybutylene pipes were used extensively from the mid-70s to the early 1990s in many areas, including Sunrise, Tamarac, Coral Springs and Margate.  It corrodes from the inside so you can’t tell from looking at how long it will last.  It can be very expensive to replace, so, if you have polybutylene pipes make sure that it is covered in your insurance policy!

plumbing issue in the attic

Polybutylene pipes found in the attic

The lesson to be learned here is to make sure that you choose a home inspector who does more than stand on a ladder at the attic entrance.  Unless it is an attic that is only 2 or 3 feet high and blocked by a.c. ducts, inspectors need to get inside the attic to make sure there are no problems there.

Schedule Your Home Inspection



Shingle roof problems in south Florida

What are typical problems with shingle roofs in south Florida? The number one problem is that they don’t last very long! InterNACHI gives 3-tab Asphalt Shingles 10 to 12 years and architectural or dimensional Asphalt Shingles 15 to 20 years. There are many factors that can affect their life, from the manufacturer, to how well they were installed, to which way the roof faces, overhanging trees and even the color of the shingles. If you are willing to spend money on repairs you can often extend the life of the roof as often the are parts of the roof where the shingles deteriorate quicker.
If you are not sure of the difference between the two types of shingles, have a look at the pictures below. 3 tab shingles lay flat whereas architectural shingles are thicker and you can see the different layers, hence the term dimensional shingles.

Dimensional or architectural shingles

Dimensional or architectural shingles

Three tab shingles

3 tab shingles








You can see several of the 3 tab shingles are missing. This is not uncommon on an older roof. You can have individual shingles or sections of shingles replaced if the rest of the roof is in good condition.

worn 3 tab shingles

worn 3 tab shingles








Here you can see shingles that are well and truly worn out.

3 tab shingle starting to lift

3 tab shingle starting to lift




If there are a number of shingles starting to lift this can be a sign that the roof is getting old.





Sometimes a roof may look okay but still be leaking.

The best way to see if a roof is leaking is to look in the attic.

Roof leak seen from inside the attic

Roof leak seen from inside the attic