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Is Your Shingle Roof Losing Granules? Here’s What You Should Know

All roofs lose granules.  Sometimes it’s a cause for concern and sometimes it’s not.  In this article, we’ll help you know what granule loss means and what you can do.

What’s the purpose of granules?


The primary protective component of roofing shingles is asphalt.  It keeps water from penetrating the shingles.  But UV rays from the sun cracks and deteriorates asphalt quickly enough that the asphalt needs to be protected.  Granules are that protection.  They’re tiny stones and minerals layered on shingles, and they’re the main thing you see when looking at shingles on your roof.

Granules provide secondary benefits as well:

  • Mineral composition can inhibit algae growth.
  • They make shingles more durable and safer to walk on.
  • They give the textured appearance to roofs, and are made in a wide range of colors and patterns.
  • Additional fire protection.

The primary purpose of granules is UV sunlight protection.  Without that, roofing shingles would not last that long.  So, knowing the state of the granules on your roof can tell you the state your roof is in.

What’s the normal loss rate of granules?


There are 3 main reasons your roof might be losing granules:

  • It’s new.
  • Manufacturing defect.
  • The roof is old and near the end of its life.

Freshly installed shingles will always shed some granules.  Having the right amount of granules is so important for shingles that manufacturers put extra on so that every granule that can adhere to the shingle does.  This means that shingle packaging will have extra in them, and that newly installed shingles will have some granules that aren’t fully adhered and will come off easily.

The process of granule loss for new roofs can take a few weeks.  You may notice more granules in your gutters or on the ground by downspouts following rain.  If your roof is new, this is not cause for concern.  After the loose granules are washed out, the shingles will only lose granules at a much diminished rate.

If, however, the granule loss doesn’t slow down, or if it picks up just a few months or years after new installation, it’s possible the shingles are defective.  This is rare, but it does happen.  You’ll want to contact the manufacturer and see if you have a warranty claim.  This can be a hassle, and many roofing warranties aren’t as good as they claim.  Best case scenario would be if you got a GAF roofing shingle with the Golden Pledge warranty.

The third reason for granule loss is common and happens with many roofs.  Eventually, the shingles’ integrity will deteriorate enough, and one of the first things you’ll notice is granule loss.  If your roof is 10+ years old and you’re seeing more granules in the gutters or by downspouts than normal, chances are your roof is at the end of its life.

Other signs of deterioration show up at this time too:

  • Bald spots.
  • Shingle edges curling.
  • The fiberglass matting is starting to show.

Bald spots show when parts of shingles have lost most of their granules.  This causes the asphalt to deteriorate quicker than normal, and can reveal the fiberglass beneath it and reduce the durability so that edges may curl.  If you’re seeing any silvery, stringy looking stuff on shingles (sometimes at the edges), it’s probably the fiberglass.  Shingles in this bad of shape are either already leading to water leaks, or will soon.

The best ways to prevent excessive granule loss


If your roof is already installed, the main thing you can do to avoid granule loss is to not disrupt it.  While roofs sometimes need to be walked on, doing so knocks granules off.  Walking on roofs should be avoided unless necessary for maintenance or inspections.

Don’t pressure wash.  This is one of the biggest mistakes homeowners (and some contractors) accidentally make.  Pressure washing a roof can immediately put it into an end of life scenario because it can knock off so many granules.

If your roof needs to be cleaned, the most non-intrusive method possible is best.

Some of the best things you can do to avoid granule loss come before installing the roof because this allows you to choose a reputable shingle and warranty.  We recommend GAF manufacturer with Master Elite installer (like us) who can provide the best warranty in the industry: the Golden Pledge.  Their Timberline HDZ shingle (or higher-end designer shingles) are all fantastic and have a stellar track record.  The Golden Pledge warranty makes it substantially less difficult to get warranty work done if your roof is actually defective.  Most manufacturer or contractor warranties make it tough to get warrantied work done or costs covered.

If you live in the south Puget Sound area of Washington State and you need a new roof, give us a call or fill out our free estimate form!

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