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Roof Shingles Losing Granules? You May Need Repairs

Are Your Shingles Losing Granules? You May Need Roof Repair

Granule loss in asphalt shingles is normal on a shingle roof, and it’s not always an indicator of excessive material wear.  However, if you notice a large increase in shingles losing granules and material loss, particularly in the gutters and downspouts, you may need repair or roof replacement. This is one problem that is specific to an asphalt shingle roof, and one of the advantages of a metal roof.   

The condition of your roofing materials, including the underlayment and nails, determines how well the roof will hold up in a storm. While metal roofs are not subject to granule loss, the condition of the nails and sealants is what is preventing water damage.  If there is more than one layer of shingles losing granules or showing significant wear you may or may not need a tear off and re-roofing.  This is an ideal time to replace the vents, valley flashing, and fascia boards as well.  

To learn whether or not your asphalt shingles or other roofing materials including nails, underlayment, and vents, are wearing down prematurely, contact a roofing professional for an evaluation.  Sometimes, if a discrete event has caused minor damage, even something causing roof leaks into the attic insulation, a dab of roof cement in, for example a valley flashing, can solve the problem.  Even if a re-roofing is necessary it may not require a tear off, and a roof inspector can help keep expenses down.  

Common Causes of Shingles Losing Granules

Asphalt shingles are comprised partly of minerals and crushed stones, and come in a variety of colors, shapes, and sizes (for example, 3 tab).  As your roof ages, a normal process is for some roof granules to become loose from the asphalt layer. However, sometimes this loss can become accelerated and excessive.  This process happens for several reasons, such as:

Shingle Blisters

Blisters are bumps that can form in shingles when hydrocarbons or sometimes water become heated to the point they form gas bubbles inside the structure of the shingle layer.  This can cause the shingle to fail and typically happens when the shingles are relatively new.  Depending on the type of roofing, if blisters are too extensive it can require a re-roofing.  The distortion in the shingle can also loosen the roofing nails and compromise other elements.  To keep down costs it is important to address the problem quickly.  Also look for raised spots where nails may be coming loose.  Costs can increase rapidly when these problems compound.  

Foot Traffic

Excessive foot traffic on a roof can create “bald spots” from the shingles losing granules as well as cracking, and if not done carefully, getting onto a roof can loosen the fascia boards.  This isn’t to say regular maintenance and inspection will decrease the life of your roof, but the surface of a roof is not designed for foot traffic and the work has to be done carefully and safely.  The roof edge should also be treated carefully when working on gutters as well as the soffits. 


Shingle wear happens because of exposure to the elements.  Sun exposure, snow, hail, high wind, and temperature extremes will cause them to lose the surface layer and flexibility more rapidly.  The end point of this process is roof fail, but a roof will typically have a long service life before a complete roof replacement.  Wood sheathing also experiences wear at a similar rate and may require periodic inspection.  General wear doesn’t occur because of one issue, and it typically affects the entire roof.  Long-term costs are dependent on the type of roof.  For example, tiles wear differently than metal roofing systems but all have characteristic up-front costs, maintenance requirements, and aesthetic considerations. 

Hail Damage

Severe weather creates pits, and the roof potentially will have a shorter life span requiring replacement sooner.  Ice dams, which may slide off the roof, also cause physical abrasion.  Some composite types, for example tiles, are more resistant to abrasion, but other associated features like the nails may have a shorter service life.  A certified roofing contractor will evaluate the system as a whole.  

Faulty Products

Shingles sometimes fail prematurely, as do additional features like roof vents. If a product is defective, it can result in bald patches.  Up-front investments in quality products will pay for themselves by avoiding roof servicing later.  Some products, like tiles, may last a very long time if they are sound from the beginning. There is a practical calculation balancing an initial material and time investment and resistance to damage from unusual events, more frequent repairs, and re-roofing later. 

How to Check for Roof Granule Loss

As mentioned above one of the best places to examine roof granule loss is in your gutter downspouts.  Some is normal, but if there is more than a small handful check the edge of the roof, assuming your roof is stable enough. Check the gutters themselves and then the shingles for holes, cracks, and bald spots. If you don’t notice actual bald spots then surface loss probably isn’t an issue.

Is It Time for a New Roof?

1. Roof Age

The service life of a roof depends on the type and design of construction, but 20 years is typical unless unusually harsh conditions cause premature aging.  If your roof hasn’t had a comprehensive inspection for a couple of decades, a professional roofing contractor can spot warning signs and save you money and time in the long run.  

2. Leaks

If you experience any leaks, besides addressing the specific issue, have a complete inspection of your roof by a specialist. 

3. Missing Shingles

Shingles are your first line of defense for keeping water out and if any are missing your roof is compromised. 

4. Sagging Roof

If you notice a sag in the roof line, have an evaluation done as soon as possible.  A certified professional will be able to identify any structural elements that may be compromised.  This can become a dangerous condition if the building is no longer meeting its design specifications. 

5. Moss

Moss is another common problem with roofs if wet conditions persist, usually from overhanging branches. If you notice patches of green that’s a sign there is moisture trapped against the surface of the roof.  Also, fungi will grow in conjunction with moss and both ‘root’ to the surface, which can damage the roof and create additional surface area for high winds to work against. 

6. Buckling Shingles

In order to properly protect your home, shingles must lay flat.  If curled and buckling they are past their life expectancy.  It could also mean that the roof is defective, but in either case should be fixed immediately.  Keep in mind the roof edge is naturally less supported and can show wear more quickly. 

7. Roof Valleys

If the shingles or flashings in the “valley” areas of your roof are falling apart they need immediate attention.  These are the areas where most of the water is directed to the gutters.  If this part of the roof is damaged, it’s prone to leaks.  This is a good time to check the soffits as well.  


Blue Nail Roofing has a Master Elite contractor status awarded by the largest roofing manufacturer in North America, GAF. Only 2% of contractors in the US meet the rigorous standards to achieve this status, which means you can be assured you are making a good choice when you select the professionals at Blue Nail to execute your home and business roofing repairs. Call today to schedule a professional evaluation!

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