Congratulations! You own a home. Now, the real work begins: you must take care of it. The average home in the United States costs over $220,000. At nearly one quarter of a million dollars, Forbes lists buying a home as one of the most expensive purchases made in a person's lifetime. Taking care of that investment should be a top priority for all homeowners. Doing so is much easier when you understand the basic components, like your roof. 

1. Life Expectancy: If your home has asphalt shingles, you can expect them to last up to 20 years. Most homeowners have an inspection before buying a home. The inspector will point out any issues with the home as well as give a rough estimate on how many more years of service can be reasonably expected from each of the mechanical systems. 

2. The Weather: The USPS may not be bothered by rain and snow, but your roof is. Over the years, your roof weathers many storms and they all take their toll on its life expectancy. From ice storms that coat everything in a sheet of ice to pellets of hard-hitting hail, your roof serves to protect you, your family, and your home from the weather. The more extreme your weather, the shorter that expected lifespan can be. 

3. Wind Speeds: Shingles are meant to stay put. You may see broken pieces or even entire shingles in your yard after a storm, but unless you just lived through a hurricane, it is not normal. Shingles are requires by the International Building Code to stay attached in up to 110 mph winds, slightly below hurricane strength. If you see them after a brief summer rainfall, call in the pros to take a closer look. 

4. Curling: If you stand directly below your roofline and look up, you can see the first row of shingles fairly clearly. If they are still flat against the surface of your roof, then they are more than likely still in good shape. If, however, the corners are curling up, it is an indication that they may be nearing the end of their usefulness. Shingles are pliable when first installed, growing brittle over time. The brittleness is a sign of advanced age and the need for a new roof. 

5. Water Damage: When your shingles start to deteriorate, it can affect other areas of your home's structure and lead to water damage. Check your attic for both previous water damage, such as dark stains on wood members, as well as signs of new infiltration, like damp insulation or even puddles of water. 

6. Mold: The EPA states that mold will grow in your attic in just 48 hours unless the water is cleaned up and the source of the leak is repaired. You will need to work quickly to protect your investment. 

When you have the basic facts about how your roof works, why it breaks down, and what signs to look for, you are better equipped to keep a watchful eye on your investment. Contact a company like Absolute Roofing to learn more.