Why is My Brand-New Roof Leaking? (And What to Do About it)
Leaks – one of the most annoying problems any homeowner can have when they just had their new flat roof installed, or any other type for that matter. This is also one problem that makes people want to scream in frustration and tug their hairs out when they get it fixed, only to discover a new leak in another place.
On this page:
- What You Need to Do When Your New Roof Starts Leaking
- Signs of Roof Leaks
- Dangers of a Roof Leak
- Causes of a Roof Leak
- What to Do When Your Roof Leaks
- Roof Still Leaking After Repair
- How to Find a Roof Leak
- Why You Should Contact a Licensed Roofing Company
- Get Quotes from Competing Contractors
No one wants to wake to the sound of constant dripping. Remember the sleepless nights you had to endure because of it? It’s enough to drive anyone crazy! Do you also recall the body pain you had to endure when you accidentally slipped up because you failed to notice the puddles of water on your floor?
How many times have you ran around your house to get a bucket or any container to catch the water dripping, perhaps from the bathroom exhaust fan or ceiling vent? Consider yourself lucky if you have yet to experience lugging around those full containers, only to accidentally spill the water all over your beautifully polished hardwood floors that you just had installed.
But do you know what’s more annoying than any of these? It’s having to change your roof because of leaks, only to discover that your new one is also leaking. Ouch.
What You Need to Do When Your New Roof Starts Leaking
The first thing you need to remember is that panicking about it will not accomplish anything. You need to get in touch immediately with the roofing company that worked on your brand new roof, but you also need to be calm when you deal with them. The situation might be frustrating but they’ll help you resolve the issue as soon as they can, but don’t also forget to assert your rights as a customer.
It’s likely that your new roof is still covered by warranty, so you can get it checked out and resolved without having to pay for it. That is, if you got the services of licensed professionals. If you got unlicensed roofing contractors to work on your new roof, you’re out of luck. Even if it is a manufacturing issue, the company that made your new roof may not honor the warranty because it was not installed by a qualified professional and they may attribute the issue to human error.
Installation issues are usually the culprit for leaking roofs that are relatively new; sealants may just have to be added to stop the leaking. Another possibility is that the other parts of your home are actually leaking and you are just mistaking it as a roof leak. You should also not discount the possibility that you did get a faulty roof, even if it is new. Manufacturing defects are always possible, even with roofing materials.
No matter what the problem is, leaking on a new roof is a generally minor issue that can be quickly resolved. It’s actually harder to address leaks on an old roof than a new one.
Signs of Roof Leaks
If the following are present, you may need to get in touch with your contractor to confirm if you really have a leaking roof on your hands or not:
- Dripping – if you have an exposed roof, it would be much easier for you to confirm a leaking roof because you only need to look up and watch out for water drips. But if you have a ceiling below your roof and water is dripping from it, the leak may either come from your roof or from some other part of your home.
- Stains on the walls or ceilings – if you see any discoloration on your ceilings or walls that look like rings or puddles of water, and it feels damp or wet to touch, this may be due to a leak. It is easier to see discoloration on light-colored walls or ceilings, and you’ll have to exert a bit more effort to see them on darker ones.
Discoloration wont only happen inside your home, as they can also be visible on your outside walls. Whether you use brick, wood, or cement walls, they will all be stained with prolonged exposure to water. Don’t forget to check the area under your roof line, as this where most stains due to leaks will appear.
- Visible growth of algae – did you know that the presence of leaks is the most common reason why molds appear inside any home? Frequently appearing in humid and temperate environments, you’ll know if you have a potential leak if you see mold, mildew, or algae growing where they aren’t supposed to.
- Sagging Ridge – another indicator that you have a possible leak is if the ridge line of your roof is starting to sag. Have a professional identify the cause of the sagging because it may be due to rot caused by leaks
- Fascia or soffit rot – you can also check on the condition of your home’s soffit and fascia. If one or both of them show signs of rot, it may also be caused by leaks on your roof.
- Certain parts of your house smell musty – it is common for poorly-ventilated homes to have a musty smell, but if your house has a great ventilation system, yet you smell this all over your home or at certain areas, leaks are a probable cause for it.
- Windows show more condensation than usual – not a lot of homeowners know this but leaks can also cause faster condensation. If you noticed that your windows get fogged up or water droplets appear more than usual on the interior windows, a possible culprit is a leak or two somewhere.
- Walking on the roof feels different – get someone to climb up on your roof and walk over it. If your roof is still in great condition, it should feel solid but if it feels springy or spongy while being walked over, it may be a sign of water damage
- Paint looks swollen – if you see sections of your walls or ceilings that seem to have large paint bubbles that remind you of water balloons, there is a chance that the paint has trapped the water coming from a leak. Don’t pop it until you’re ready to catch all that water with your bucket.
Whenever any of these signs come up, immediately set an appointment with a contractor. Leaving them alone and just being content with using water buckets to catch the leaks is a disaster waiting to happen. You don’t want to wake up one day and discover that your ceiling or roof has completely gone down.
Dangers of a Roof Leak
Never underestimate a leak. This is one thing that you should always keep in mind. They will cause havoc to you and your home.
Who would have thought that something as seemingly simple as leaks can bring someone to his or her knees out of frustration? You might think we’re exaggerating, but we’re not. Leaks per se would not immediately cause damage but once you ignore them, they will definitely make their presence known by causing all kinds of trouble, such as:
- Speed up the growth of mold, mildew, and algae – remember how we talked about the appearance of these stuff can indicate that there are leaks possibly present in your home? This is because they thrive best in damp, humid, and warm environment, and any part of your home that has a leak is an ideal candidate for it. They will eventually spread out to other parts of your home, particularly through your HVAC systems unless you address the issue asap.
They are not only eyesores, but they will also affect anyone’s health in the long run. Those with allergies and respiratory issues are the ones who will be most affected by it, as mold spores will likely trigger allergy attacks, rhinitis, nasal congestions, and other illnesses. Prolonged exposure, especially to black mold, can be fatal.
- May start a fire – you might scratch your head and wonder how water leaks can start a fire. This is a real possibility, especially if the leaks end up on your electrical wirings. These two, together, can cause a short circuit that will trigger electrical fires. And if you’re not aware, electrical fires should never be put out using water.
- It can cause electric shocks – fires are not the only potential hazards of water interacting with your electrical wirings. If you accidentally touch water that is in contact with any electrical connection, don’t be surprised to get the shock of your life, literally.
- Cause damage to your home – leave leaks alone and they will cause discolorations, plasters and paint bubbling up, and wood rot, as well as affect the structural integrity of your home, ruin your appliances and other stuff, and so many others, especially if you do not immediately address them.
- Might lead to accidents – you have probably learned it the hard way that ‘slippery when wet’ warnings should always be taken seriously. The same goes to your home if you know leaks are present. Many surfaces don’t play nice with water, and their combination may cause anyone to slip and fall.
- Can affect your home’s insulation – if the water leaks get into your insulation system, it will become waterlogged and take more time to dry out. As a result, your HVAC system will operate harder for lengthy periods and this will definitely raise your household bills.
Causes of a Roof Leak
Leaks on your roof will not happen randomly; there is always a cause for it but it may or may not be immediately obvious to you or to a roofing contractor. It’s really not that easy to trace the source of a leak on the roof of any home, unless it is blatantly obvious.
Earlier, we talked about the possible causes why new roofs may leak. In this section, we’ll give you more reasons why these leaks happen, regardless of the age of your roof:
- Age – unless you have a relatively new roof, age is a big factor why you are having issues with your roof. This is not limited to leaks. Roofs will also become brittle over time due to them being exposed to various weather conditions, which makes it prone to various problems.
- Shingles are damaged or missing – shingles are known to be hardy but will get damaged and even loosen up and detach from the roof. This is often caused by having a roof slope that is too shallow, which allows strong wind to lift these shingles up. When this happens, rainwater can get underneath them at the same time. Over time, water will penetrate the base of your roof and produce leaks.
- Rotting roof – some homeowners prefer using shingles that are made up of organic materials, and this type is actually prone to rotting with prolonged water exposure. Once this type of roof rots, leaks will follow.
- Flashing is damaged – leaks that seem to be coming from the roof may also not be caused by issues on the roof itself. There may be times that the problem lies with your flashing. If it is in poor condition, such as when it is no longer in the correct position, water will enter through the damaged or corroded parts and its gaps.
- Loss of granules on shingles and presence of debris blocked the gutter – shingles also come with granules that loosen up over time, and these may settle somewhere on your roof and cause water to be trapped and not flow to the gutter. In turn, this may soak portions of your roof and cause damage, leading to leaks.
- Insufficient ventilation in the attic – poorly ventilated attics can store up hot air and when trapped, it can cause the shingles of your roof to be baked and eventually cause leaking. It can also cause moisture to build up and mold to grow and reproduce
- Improperly sealed sections – roofs need to be properly sealed, especially in the sections where different parts intersect or overlap, to prevent water from entering the inside of your home. If not, water can seep through those. This is common to roofs with valleys
- Having a chimney made up of bricks – this type of chimney is one of the longest lasting types, but it doesn’t mean it is immune to any damage. Because of exposure to harsh weather conditions for lengthy periods, it is inevitable that it will develop cracks on the mortar that binds them together. The cracks are where water will pass through.
- There are holes or gaps – if your roof is damaged and has holes, water can easily enter. Do note that not all holes can be easily seen; some may be hidden under your roof, may be too small, and some may also be the result of doing repairs on your roof. The latter usually happens when roofing nails are removed and the nail holes are left uncovered.
- Presence of skylights – one of the best ways to spruce up a room is to get skylights installed. However, most homeowners are not prepared to deal with the issues that come with them, specifically leaks. Poorly installed skylights are actually prone to causing leaks. And the rubber used as the seal dries up over time and is not immediately replaced, water will enter from the spaces that appeared.
- Ice dams – if your roof seems to only leak during winter, this is probably due to ice buildup at the roof’s edge, specifically ice dams. When this happens, water produced when snow starts melting is prevented from being drained due to the blockage. As a result, it will seep through the roof and cause leaks
- Issues with roof vents or vent boots – most homes come with roof vents that are sealed with rubber to prevent water from entering the area. They are installed where the hole in the roof is present to make way for a vent. With prolonged exposure to heat, the rubber will shrivel up and detach from the roof and the vent, creating spaces for water to pass through.
- So-called ‘shiners’ – some nails end up missing the spot where they are supposed to go and end up playing peekaboo with your roof or the truss. During winter, these exposed nails, known as ‘shiners,’ can freeze up. When the temperatures start rising, the ice that covered these nails will start thawing, causing water to drip down and you might mistake it as leaks coming from your roof.
What to Do When Your Roof Leaks
The infamous Murphy’s Law states that “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong,” and if you believe this, you will probably blame it when your roof suddenly starts leaking badly in the middle of a horrible storm. As they say, roof leaks will happen when you least expect it and at the most inconvenient time for any homeowner.
A leaking roof is a very common issue that homeowners will face at least once in their lives. You can think of it as a rite of passage – you can’t consider yourself a full-fledged homeowner until you experience your first leak at home.
When this happens to you, you might wonder what you should do first. You know that this job requires the expertise of professionals, but you can also do some things to lessen the possible damage to your home until help arrives. These include the following:
- Remove all the stuff that can get damaged by water and moving them somewhere else temporarily. This includes your electrical appliances. If moving your stuff to another location is not possible, you can cover them up with waterproof covers, such as plastic
- Get buckets or other containers than can catch and hold the water dripping down. Avoid trying to resolve the leaks just by blocking the suspected leaking areas. Chances are, the water will just go elsewhere and affect other parts of your home as well. When this happens, the problem will be much harder to fix.
- If you know that a leak is present but it has yet to flow down and is currently held up by paint or other parts of your home, you need to drain the water to avoid exacerbating the problem. Poke holes on these suspected areas to release the water. Remember to place a bucket underneath before you attempt to drain it.
- Keep an eye out on the leaks and buckets until the contractor arrives. Don’t let these buckets overflow with water.
- If you don’t see any visible leaks yet, but you suspect there is one or more because discoloration is present on your ceilings or walls, you still need to have it checked out by a contractor. Catching it early will lessen the potential damage the leaks will cause and will also help you save money on repairs.
- For insurance purposes, take photos of the leaks and the affected areas. This issue may be covered by your insurance and they will require proof once you claim it.
- Contractors may not be able to immediately get to your house, so you can make temporary measures to avoid further damage until they arrive. Place a tarpaulin or other similar coverings over the general area of the roof itself where the leaks are suspected. It is important that this is placed on top of the roof, not on the affected ceiling below the problematic roof.
After doing all these first-aid remedies, you need to let the professionals take over. Finding the source of the leaks is never an easy task, and a roofing contractor has way better odds of finding them fast. They will also be able to tell how much damage was done on your entire house, particularly to the structure and house framing, because of those leaks.
The type of repair they need to do on your roof will depend on the source of the leak. Some may just require adding sealant to joints, putting roofing cement on the cracks, or patching them up, while others may require you to get your roof replaced altogether, if not just certain areas of it. The contractor will be the best judge of that.
Roof Still Leaking After Repair
Not all repairs done on your roof will immediately solve the issue. Sometimes, you need to do a lot of trial and error before the leaking problem is finally resolved. Unfortunately, this is something that homeowners experience quite often.
If leaks are still present despite getting a contractor to resolve it, here are a couple of possibilities why this is the case for you:
- The roof is not the only issue – there is a possibility that the leaks are coming from somewhere in the vicinity of your roof, and not just the roof itself. Contractors may miss it when they first checked out and repaired the roof.
- Wrong diagnosis of the issue – this is quite related to what we earlier pointed out. Due to the difficulty of finding where the leaks are coming from, it is easy for contractors to miss out where the other leaking spots are. As a result, they may not get to address all the leaks on your roof. Or, the problem is not actually the roof.
- Water traveled to other problematic areas – if the leaks occurred on the left side of your roof and they were repaired by the contractor, yet the right side is equally problematic but was not addressed, the water will likely go to the right side and new leaks will appear at that area. This is why it is recommended to get your entire roof checked out when you get it repaired.
- Using the wrong materials to make repairs on your roof – this is a common problem for homeowners who make the mistake of getting unqualified contractors who charge lower rates and use less-than-stellar materials. As a result, the issues with their roofs are not properly repaired, hence, the leaking persists.
- Your home starts to settle – by settling, we mean their foundations start to move away from their initial location. When this happens, the previous repairs done on your roof may develop new cracks or the old ones may reappear.
Even if you get frustrated with your contractor who failed to completely solve your leaking problem, you should still not take matters into your hands. Work on the roof is generally quite dangerous and you should never compromise your safety just to save money on repairs.
How to Find a Roof Leak
You might have noticed that we mentioned the difficulty of finding the source of the leaks on a roof several times already. This is primarily because unless they are blatantly obvious, it is hard for anyone with an untrained eye to see where the leaks are coming from.
When it comes to roof leaks, where the leaks seem to come from are often different from where the actual leaking areas are. Don’t be surprised to learn from your contractor that the leak on the corner of your living room is due to an issue on your roof, particularly in an area that is at the other side of your home.
This happens because water will flow downwards, moving in different directions when it meets obstructions. As a result, contractors will need to investigate and identify the path of the water to get a gist of which section of the roof is the leak originating from. Note that checking your roof for leaks is best done at daytime.
Water and a flashlight are the main tools of contractors for this particular task. The flashlight allows a contractor to see if there are holes on your roof that are invisible to the naked eye and where the water leaks travel, and the water lets him or her do the same when there is no rain.
Using a hose with water flowing out of it to discover the source of a leak is known as the roof leak test. In this method, one person will use a hose to pour water over the roof, and another person will see where the leaks will come out inside a house. Wetting the roof is done slowly and for a few minutes in each area, with the water pressure set high to simulate rain. This is done to check whether somewhere in that section is the source of the leak or not, before eliminating it and moving on to the other sections of your roof.
The flashlight will come in handy because your contractor will use it during a roof leak test or when it is raining. Since water is capable of reflecting light, having someone use the flashlight and pointing it to underside of the roof while he or she is in the attic can easily help in identifying which areas of your roof need to be repaired.
A contractor will also pay close attention to the various signs in your home that can indicate a possible leak. These can serve as clues to help the contractor discover the actual location of a roof leak.
If the contractor determines that the roof doesn’t have any damage, he or she will look at other possible sources of the leak. These include the following:
- Roof shingles
- Ridge cap
- Roof vent boots and rubber seals
- Dormer walls and valleys
- Roof vents and piping
- Roof Nails
Why You Should Contact a Licensed Roofing Company
By now, you are aware of the horror stories that involve leaks and roofs. To avoid contributing to those stories because of your own experience, always make sure that any roofing job you require at home is done by professionals.
Getting the services of a licensed contractor to work on your roof, from the installation to doing maintenance and repairs, will give you a piece of mind that you won’t have problems with it for a long time. Since their reputation is also at stake, the idea of getting poor workmanship is nearly impossible. They know how word-of-mouth will affect their business.
And if you are not satisfied with their work, you can either ask them to go back and redo the work because of the warranty or get a refund from their company or even from the city government, but only in certain states, if you file a complaint against them and the governing body sides with you.
These professionals may charge more than unlicensed contractors but with their higher rates, you also get the assurance that only suitable materials that are of the best quality will be used for your roof, the one they installed will serve your needs for a long time, and the people who will work on your roof have insurance to cover the bills for any workplace-related accidents.
Get Quotes from Competing Contractors
Referrals and recommendations alone should not be enough for you to choose a roofing contractor. While these will be of great help, the contractors they recommend may not be the one you need or they will charge higher, since they believe that they are close to signing a contract with you due to those referrals.
This is why you need to do your homework; check the recommendations, look for other potential contractors, and negotiate with the ones that seem promising. Homeowners who fail to compare the rates of different contractors often end up getting overcharged and they only realize this when the job is nearly completed.
When it comes to hiring contractors to work on your home, don’t just settle with the first one you get in touch with, or the cheapest you can get. It is more important to go for the services of a contractor who will provide you with the best value and at the fairest price. This applies not just for roofing contractors, but for all contractors in general.
That said, how do you determine which contractor offers the best value? This where their competition with other contractors will come in, and this is what you need to take advantage of.
When you first make inquiries with contractors, you might notice how their rates are nearly similar to each other for the same job. But as soon as you inform them that you are also in talks with other contractors, which they are likely familiar with, watch as they start lowering their rates or offer additional services voluntarily to get you to sign a contract with them.
Competition among contractors greatly benefits homeowners like you. They are always keen to get new customers and they know that the best way to do so is to offer great services at tempting prices. This is what you need to look for. If one contractor offers the cheapest rate to repair leaks on your roof, but another will include a thorough checkup of your entire roof for an additional $10 of the rate offered by the other, isn’t it wiser to go for the latter?
Fortunately, it is now more convenient to get bids from various contractors. All you have to do is fill in the form on our site and we’ll allow the most relevant contractors in your area to bid on your project. It’s that easy! Just fill out the form and we’ll do the rest!