Asphalt shingles are the most commonly used roofing material in the U.S. Its estimated that three quarters of roofs are protected by these shingles. This is in large part due to their durability and resistance to temperature and other external conditions like winds, fire, etc. Furthermore, asphalt shingles are relatively budget friendly and offer a simple yet versatile installation process.

Asphalt shingles are available many varieties, each of which having their unique advantages and disadvantages. They are generally comprised of a base material which gives the shingles  strength and shape, an asphalt layer which provides a water resistant barrier, and a granular surface that reflects UV radiation and provides added durability, texture, and color.

Organic and Fiberglass Based Singles

Organic asphalt shingles consist of a base made from organic materials such as cellulose, wood, cardboard, or paper. These types of shingles are then coated over with a layer of asphalt. Organic shingles are typically heavier and thicker resulting in greater tear resistance and durability. These are, however,  more vulnerable to fires because of the organic matter base. Due to this disadvantage, the manufacture or organic shingles was brought to a halt around 2008, though many were installed during the years that followed.

Fiberglass shingles have a base layer of glass mat fibers attached to the urea-formaldehyde resin. The glass base material is then overlapped with asphalt making it more resistant to external factors. These base materials are safe and perform better in a fire or other like situations. Fiberglass shingles are lighter and thinner than organic shingles, making them the preferable choice for roofers. Fiberglass shingles are considered to perform better in windstorms, though, both types of shingles hold up well in most climates.


Architectural and 3-Tab Shingles

3-Tab shingles have a uniform pattern and shape that makes them easy to identify. They are made from a single layer of asphalt, which makes them a lighter and budget-friendly option compared to other roofing types. 3 Tab shingles have a typical lifespan ranging from 15-20 years.

Architectural shingles are often referred to as “dimensional” or “laminated” shingles. These are comprised of two layers of asphalt and fiberglass to provide a thick and durable surface. Architectural shingles are patterned in a manner that resembles original wood type shingles. Architectural shingles are more expensive compared to 3-tabs, but offer greater quality and strength due to their thickness. Architectural shingles have a typical lifespan ranging from 20-30 years.


Shingle Wear

Asphalt shingles deteriorate from exposure to UV radiation. As the shingles age, granules are removed by the elements which ultimately exposes the asphalt to harmful UV rays. Other factors that cause a roof to wear include leaves and debris, ice and snow, excessive heat, inadequate venting of the roof space underneath, low roof slope, multiple roofing layers and improper installation methods. When cracking, blistering, and or curling of the shingles become evident its necessary to hire a roofer to provide the required repairs or replacement of the roof covering.

Tips for Maintaining Asphalt Shingles

  • Regular cleaning extends the lifespan of asphalt shingles and helps mitigate problems which could have easily been avoided.
  • You should also regularly check the gutters to ensure storm water and ice melt are draining away from the roof and structure.
  • Check for standing water on the roof. This condition can deteriorate the asphalt shingles and result in significant a roof leak.
  • Make sure trees nearby are trimmed to prevent limbs from scraping the surface of your shingles or falling limbs from damaging the roof. Shade cast by trees can block the sunlight from evaporating water and melting snow. Prolonged exposure to moisture can result in accelerated wear of the shingles in these areas.
  • Remove moss and algae growth early on. Left unchecked, these fungi can accelerate the aging of your roof and cause excess granule loss.
  • Check what the warranty covers and choose the asphalt shingle that covers repair and replacement.
  • Hire a pro to perform routine roof check-ups to help identify potential issues.

Smoke alarms are designed to detect smoke automatically and warn you of the dangers of a potential fire with a sharp, distinctive sound. All-in-one smoke alarms consist of a sensor which immediately detects smoke and an alarm which is loud enough to alert everyone.


Progression of Smoke Alarms

Smoke detectors were invented a century ago and have rapidly evolved over the decades. With continuous efforts, scientists have developed sensors, alarms, strobe lights, voice features, etc. Smoke alarms today commonly work with the utilization of a battery backup and the option to be hardwired into the electrical system of the house.


How Do Smoke Alarms Work?

Smoke alarms work by sensing dangerous smoke particles in the air that can lead to a fire. Many homes today have smoke alarms wired right into the household electrical system. In addition, some homes have interconnected smoke alarms. This means if one alarm in the home sounds then the others sound as well. Presently, the two main types of smoke alarms are photoelectric and ionization.


Photoelectric Smoke Alarm – Senses small slow smoldering flames

A photoelectric smoke alarm consists of a chamber through which light passes. Inside of this smoke alarm, there is a light beam and sensor placed at 90-degree angles from one another. If smoke enters this chamber, the light beam will be scattered by the smoke particles and will activate the sensor. These smoke alarms are capable of detecting smoke particles from small flames before they result in a major fire. Photoelectric smoke detectors are quick and less prone to false alarms. These alarms are more effective at detecting fire originates from a smoldering source, like burning wires or a lit cigarette that falls into a couch cushion. Smoldering fires may fill a home with dangerous gases before a fire ever erupts.


Ionization Smoke Alarm – Senses rapid fire flame

An ionization smoke alarm consists of two electrically charged plates within a chamber. This allows a current of ionized air to flow between the plates. When smoke is present, the flow of ions breaks, and the current flow is reduced which then activates the alarm. These alarms are generally more responsive to flaming and fast fires such as clothes burning, indoor fabrics, etc.


Potential Problems and Hazards

In one quarter of the homes with smoke alarms, the smoke alarms are not operational. Missing batteries, dead batteries, and disconnected detectors are usually the culprit. When gone undetected a fire can quickly spread and become difficult to control.


Be Prepared

Have an escape plan. Smoke and flame can spread quickly so you need to react quickly. It is vital that you and your family know what to do on hearing a smoke alarm. You should plan an escape route from every area of the home and identify a safe area to meet outside the home. You should rehearse the escape plan with your family. Walk through and identify obstacles that may slow you down such as windows that are jammed or exits that are crowded with storage etc.


Advised Maintenance

  • Smoke alarms come with an ideal life span of 10 years, but this does not mean that you should rest assured they work smoothly.
  • The battery should be checked annually.
  • Performing power tests once a month can ensure sound and sensor are working.
  • The new battery should be replaced  according to the manufacturer recommendation.
  • Clean the smoke alarms using a damp cloth and remove any dust nearby.


Smoke Alarm Installation Tips 

  • It is good practice to install smoke alarms 10 feet away from the kitchen.
  • Install smoke alarms in every room and every floor for the best safety.
  • You should install smoke alarms on the ceiling.
  • Always consider an expert to install the hardwired system for interconnected smoke alarms and manually check it regularly.
  • You can install a combination of photoelectric and ionization smoke alarms for added safety.
  • Consider installing smoke alarms with strobe lights or vibration for anyone who is hearing impaired.