When Christmas is over and it’s time to take down the lights and decorations outside, you might notice while you’re out there that a shingle or two is missing. Don’t worry, Santa and his reindeer didn’t do a number on your roof — blame Jack Frost before Rudolph! It’s likely that you had a shingle blow off, especially if you have a north-facing roof.

Blow-offs can be common problems for homeowners, particularly in the winter, when big temperature jumps (even though -10 and 20 may feel the same — COLD — that’s still a 30-degree swing that happens often around here) and strong winds are frequent. When shingles are installed, they lay flat, sealing to one another to protect your roof. However, sometimes they can become brittle and begin to curl at the edges, lose their seal, or loosen from wind and hail. Winds that travel up your roof can get under the shingles, pulling them out of place (and into your yard).

OK, how do you keep your shingles where they belong?

The most important piece is quality installation. When the roof is installed, it should be on solid wood decking, with a good underlayment, and nailed according to manufacturer instructions. Take away any one of those components and you have a recipe for a shingle pile in your front yard. That’s why we’re so careful at White Castle Roofing to make sure your roof is put on right the first time (and why we offer a workmanship warranty on it) — to eliminate as much chance for blow-offs as possible.

Next, choosing the right materials can make a difference. Traditional three-tab shingles are giving way in recent years to a sturdier architectural shingle, which holds up better to strong winds. The heavier the shingle, the less likely it is to be blown off. Most architectural shingles we install come with a manufacturer’s wind warranty of at least 10 years for winds up to 110 miles per hour. When installed correctly, their weight and design should help them hold fast to your roof, reducing the chance for a blow-off.

The time of year when the roof was installed can make a difference too. At White Castle Roofing, we generally do not install roofs during the winter months, as the shingles need some heat to be able to seal correctly. Without that opportunity, they become loose much more easily and run the risk of flying off. They don’t necessarily need the blazing hot days of July to adhere down — just a mild temperature and a good dose of direct sunlight — but unless the shingle is specifically designed for winter installation (which some manufacturers are developing now), it’s best to be installed in the more temperate months of spring through the pre-snow days of late fall.

Why does it matter? The shingles on your roof are like its coat. A missing shingle — like a tear in the coat — will expose what’s underneath it to the elements, which can be damaging to the underlayment and roof deck. And a damaged or rotting roof deck is a structural hazard! A missing shingle, again like a tear, can also make for an area of extra vulnerability — it’s much easier to lose more shingles around that area, like a tear can get bigger much more easily than an area of solid material.

So how can you protect your home against these frustrating blow-offs? Proactivity, a pair of binoculars, and a date once a month with your roof. These at-home tips can help you keep things where they’re supposed to be:

  • Look for missing shingles. Pay extra attention to north-facing sections of your roof, as well as the edges of your roof and just below the ridge lines. These tend to be the most vulnerable areas.
  • Keep an eye out for shingles that look like they’re broken or cracked, curling at the edges, or loose. They may not be missing yet, but they can be a sign of things to come that you can proactively fix.
  • Start a roofing “tip jar”. Each month that your roof stands up to the elements with no missing shingles, add a set amount of money to your roof replacement fund. When your roof does age enough that it’s time to replace it, the money you’ve saved along the way will help offset the cost of the new roof, or maybe even an upgrade to a higher quality material.
  • When you do see something that doesn’t look right, or you see some spots where shingles used to be, call us at White Castle Roofing! We have a repairs team that works year-round to patch up those areas. Taking care of it sooner than later can help prolong the life of your roof, and get an extra few years out of it that an untreated spot can otherwise take off of it.

Being a responsible homeowner doesn’t have to be tough, but knowing why and how to keep your roof functioning well is an important piece of the puzzle. A little proactivity can go a long way to keeping Jack Frost in the air and off your roof — so there’s a better landing spot for Santa and his crew come next Christmas!