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How Long Can You Ignore Missing Shingles on Your Roof?

Shingles are the only reliable protection from leaks for roofs with asphalt composition shingle systems.  But sometimes shingles can be blown off by heavy winds or go missing for other reasons, and leaks seem to not arise.

This suggests that there may be an amount of time where if your roof is missing a shingle or more, you can wait before getting it repaired.  In this article, we’ll discuss what to look for and why you should have missing shingles replaced sooner than later.

If shingles were the only layer of protection from rain, missing a shingle would result in leaks showing up inside your house usually the first time it rains.  Water penetrates the cracks in the wood substrate pretty easily.

But every roof should be installed with protective underlayment that acts as a secondary layer of protection in case of missing or malfunctioning shingles.  There are two main types of underlayment, felt paper or high quality synthetic like GAF Tiger Paw.

Older roofs or even newer cheaper roofs often will have felt paper.  It can serve its purpose, but the product isn’t nearly as good as high quality synthetic underlayment.  There are many pluses to synthetic underlayment, but the most important point for this topic is that felt paper can get brittle quite easily over time.

Which means that if you have an older roof and a shingle gets blown off, the felt paper under it may not be protective at all.  In this case, you would want to contact a roofing contractor immediately, because your roof could develop a leak after just the first rain.

But what if you have a younger roof with high quality synthetic underlayment and you lose a shingle?  Theoretically, the underlayment could protect your house from leaks up to multiple months.  But there are two main reasons why relying on this is deceptive:

  1. When a shingle gets blown off, it can disrupt the underlayment or it can expose nail holes. This can mean that even if the synthetic underlayment is in excellent shape, a leak can still develop.
  2. You can never truly tell if there isn’t a leak. Many roof leaks travel through the roof and framing of the house in strange ways.  You could have a leak for months or years before it shows signs inside the house.  By then, a ton of damage could have been done.

While it can be enticing to think that a missing roof shingle won’t lead to imminent leaking, the fact is that nobody really has any way of telling.  We can only say if it’s more likely to start leaking or less likely.  But the truth remains that if a shingle gets blown off your roof, it will probably start leaking soon.  And if it doesn’t, that would be from luck.

The best advice is to treat the underlayment of the roofing shingles as emergency protection for a problem that needs to get solved ASAP.  Yes, the underlayment will sometimes prevent a leak from happening immediately after shingles get blown off, but because there is no way to tell for sure, you’ll want to contact a local roofing professional to conduct repairs as soon as you’re able.

If you live in the south Puget Sound of Washington State and you’re having any roofing issues like missing shingles or you need a roof replacement, please call us at (253) 544-3651 or fill out our quick estimate form.

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