As a homeowner, it’s a good idea to know the common roof leaks and their causes. In order for you to solve the problem, you should know what you’re up against. It’s really unfortunate that most homeowners don’t know what to do when their roofing starts leaking. They don’t even know where to look. It’s hard to blame them, really, considering that they’re not trained licensed roofers. Identifying the cause of a leak is not as simple as looking up to see where the water is coming from.
We’re treating this as an emergency. We believe that all homeowners should know the common types of leaks and what caused them. Knowledge is the important first step. This knowledge will help homeowners understand what needs to be done.
In this article, we will of course tell you all about the common roof leaks. Yes, there are several of them, and we’ll present them to you in an easy-to-understand manner.
Of course, we will also tell you about the common causes. This is to help you prevent a repetition of the leaking because you’ll know what causes it so you can avoid it.
Why are we treating this as an emergency? It’s because there are dangers that are lurking. While leaks may seem like a simple annoyance, they can lead to a lot of dangers to your home and your family.
You’ll also learn about how to inspect a roof after a storm. This information is helpful especially if the leaking only happens when it rains hard. You’ll also know about other helpful information like if a shingle missing will lead to a leaking roof.
Common Roof Leaks
These are the most common roof leak locations. If your roof is leaking, there’s a very good chance that it’s at one of these locations. Note that we’re just going to list down the locations. We’ll discuss the specific causes later on in this article.
While more and more homeowners are having a skylight installed, the fact still remains that it’s not really a natural part of a roof. It’s something that you add to a roof because it presents several benefits like improved natural lighting.
A skylight installer will make a hole in your roofing structure in order to accommodate it. While certain measures will be implemented to prevent leaking, these measures can fail.
- Vent pipe
Just like a skylight, vent pipes are not natural parts of a roof. Holes will be made in order to accommodate them. A flexible boot is used to form a seal, but this is not a fool-proof measure. It can fail as well.
Shingles by themselves won’t cause an issue. The issue happens if they’re damaged. Damaged shingles can lead to cracks.
A gutter by itself shouldn’t cause a leak. But if it’s clogged, then there’s going to be a problem. How can water flow if there are clogs? If they can’t go where they’re supposed to flow, then they will find other places where they can leak.
There are several ways on how a chimney can leak. It’s a rather big structure that’s added to a roof and a lot of things can go wrong.
- Roof vent
A lot of homeowners have a roof vent installed to improve the air circulation in their attic. This helps make the attic cooler which is especially helpful during the summer months when the attic can get very hot.
There are different styles of roof vents. No matter what the style is, it can cause leaking.
Depending on the style of your roof, it can have one or more valleys. These can be problematic as well.
Additional structures like the skylight require a flashing. In addition, roof flashing is also installed wherever a roof line curve comes in contact with another curve.
Other flashing locations are in the head wall, wall step, plumbing vent and furnace.
So what exactly causes this problematic issue? There are several causes, actually. Here are the most common ones:
- Deterioration that comes with age
A good roof installed by a competent roofer can last for decades. In fact, some can last for more than a century, like certain types of metal roofs. However, it will still deteriorate. You can’t expect a 30 year old roof to be as good as a brand new one when it comes to keeping water out.
It doesn’t help that it’s exposed to the harsh elements. It contracts and expands as the temperature and weather condition changes. These things will make the structure more brittle and prone to damages.
- Flashing issues
There are a lot of flashings used. There’s one for the skylight. It’s also used in the head wall, wall step, plumbing vent, furnace and more. Some sections may have been pulled out of place because of missing nails. Dried out and cracked caulk is also a culprit.
- Exposed areas
You may not know it, but there could be shingles that are missing. A strong gust of wind can peel out several shingles.
This also applies to seals. All installations that created holes like the skylight, vent pipes and the likes should be properly sealed. These are usually sealed by gaskets and they can fail over time.
There could also be holes. These are holes made when you added installations like a TV antenna or even the vent pipes. Branches from trees can also create holes as they brush or slam on the roof, which is why tree trimming is so important.
- Poor design
This usually happens with the valleys. If they’re poorly-designed, they will be a place where debris will pile up. These will also catch snow and ice. Water will gather and this will make the flashing deteriorate faster as water pools around it.
Poor design can also apply with the slopes. A roof with a shallow slope can lead to leaking with a gust of strong wind that will lift up the shingles which will lead to rain being driven underneath them and into your home.
This can also be an issue with your choice of vent style. Some outdated styles have this hood that resembles a mushroom with the sides exposed. A gust of sideway wind can blow water through the sides and lead to leaking.
- Debris buildup
There are a lot of places where debris can build up on your roof. There’s the gutters for starters. It’s where water flows and water from the roof will bring leaves and other debris with it.
Debris can also build up along the top of your chimney and skylight. It can also form across valleys.
In some cases, it could be a simple case of condensation. This can happen with skylights.
Dangers of Water Leaks
A small roof leak is a valid cause of concern. Yes, even if it’s a small one, because the smallest of leaks can lead to the biggest of damage.
While there are tasks around the house that you can put off for the next weekend or when you’re not too busy, you need to have a leaking roof fixed. If you’re not convinced, here are the dangers of water leaks:
- You can slip or fall.
This is the most immediate danger. You don’t really notice the puddle of water on your floor until it’s too late and you’re already on the floor holding on to your painful hip. That can be a very painful and expensive trip to the hospital especially if you’re a senior.
Be sure to also read our guide on remodeling a home for seniors.
This can also be a problem if you have kids. Kids don’t really look where they’re stepping on and active kids will be running around the house especially when it’s raining hard outside so they have nothing else to do but stay indoors. You wouldn’t want your kids to slip and fall, would you?
- It can cause damages.
There’s obviously the damage to the roofing structure but it doesn’t end there. Your attic will get the bulk of the damages because the water will come in contact with the attic first. If you’re like most homeowners, you have important stuff stored in your attic. At the very least, they’re important enough to store rather than throw or give away.
The damage can spread to the ceiling if you don’t do something about it because it’s going to get worse. This means that fixtures mounted to the ceiling will come in contact with the water and will get damaged as well. Once it starts leaking to your home’s interiors, you’d also have to worry about damages to your carpet, furniture and the likes.
These damages will affect the integrity of your roof structure. The rafters will get damaged along with the joists. The whole structure of your home can be affected as well including your walls because the framing can get water-damaged as well. Obviously, this is a huge problem because you can’t live in a home with a structure that has questionable integrity. You shouldn’t let this happen in the first place for that reason and of course, for the reason that it’s going to be very expensive to fix.
Water damage can also lead to mold and mildew. These can wreak havoc to your home as well.
- You’ll be exposing your family to health issues.
Speaking of mold and mildew, the damage that they can cause to your home is actually the least of your worries. You should be more worried about the damages that they can cause to your family’s health. There’s a reason why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a whole fact sheet about them. They can cause serious health issues including but not limited to the following:
- Skin, eye or throat irritation
- Upper respiratory tract infection
- Stuffy nose
- Hypersensitivity pneumonitis
- Respiratory allergies
- It can cause a fire.
Wait, water can cause a fire? In this case, yes. There’s a good chance that you have lines of electrical wiring in your ceiling or even your attic. As mentioned, these areas are the first areas to experience damage from a leak. This means that the electrical wiring will come in contact with the water and we all know that water and electricity don’t play well together. The wires can short and spark and that can start a fire.
- You can get the shock of your life.
When water finds its way to an open wire, it can start an electronic charge. This means that you can get shocked when you touch it.
- You’ll waste energy that will lead to higher electric bills.
A water leak will also affect the insulation of your home. This will affect its efficiency and it won’t do a good job of maintaining hot or cool air inside your home. This means that you should expect higher electric bills.
Will a Roof Leak with One Shingle Missing?
Okay, so we’ve already established that missing shingles can lead to leaks. What if you check your roof after a storm and you see one, just one, missing shingle? Should you be concerned? Will a roof leak with one shingle missing?
Here’s the thing. When there’s a shingle missing, there’s a good chance that it’s actually a tab with 3 shingle tabs. Installation is done side by side wherein the row of shingles on the upper portion covers the seams at the side located between the row of shingles at the lower part.
This means that if you see one missing tab, it’s likely that it was laid right above a seam. This setup allows the roof to shed water so without this, there’ll be a gap that is prone to rainwater. The water will enter and pass under the shingles.
While the felt paper will provide temporary protection, it’s not going to hold. Soon, the water will find its way into your attic, the ceiling, and your home.
Besides, it may be a small issue of a missing shingle now. But if you don’t do something about it, the damage can get bigger which will lead to a bigger leak. So yes even if the missing shingle doesn’t really expose a gap, you still have to do something about it before the damage becomes bigger. It will get bigger because the upper shingles actually serve as protection from the sun. The lower shingles can’t stand the heat of the sun.
Inspecting a Roof After a Storm
There’s really nothing we can do while there’s a storm outside. You just hope and pray that it stops soon and that there’s no major damage. But as you hear the nasty winds, the bullet-like rain and the branches snapping and falling on your roof, you just know that you’d be dealing with a repair issue.
The only way to know for sure is to inspect the roof, the same way you’d inspect your home in general. It goes without saying that you should wait until the storm has passed before you start the inspection. But even so, you have to make sure that you’re safe. Going up the roof is a risky process especially if you have sharp slopes rather than it being a flat roof. Only inspect the roof on your own if you feel confident doing so and you’ve taken the necessary safety precautions.
You can actually start on your own by going up in the attic. That’s a good place to start. Do so during the day when the sun is out. Look up and try to see if there are rays of sunlight that pass through the decking. If there are, then there could be holes that need to be fixed.
You’re not out of the woods yet if you don’t see rays of sunlight. Grab a flashlight and use it to check the decking for signs of moisture. These signs could be in the form of water stains and streaks. Sagging could also be a sign of leaking.
You can also grab a pair of binoculars and walk around the house while viewing the roof from the ground. Here are the things that you should do:
- Look for shingles that are missing. You may see them on the ground or you can just look on the roof for gaps where the shingles should have been. While you’re at it, you should also check if there are shingles that have curled or cracked. These usually happen during a storm as they’re battered by strong winds and debris. Make sure to take note of the number of missing shingles.
- Check for dark patches. These are highly noticeable because they really affect the appearance of the roofing. Aside from its effect on the aesthetics, they can also make the shingles exposed to the harmful effects of the sun.
- Check the flashing. It plays an important role in channeling water away. It’s a very important part in chimneys, skylights, vent pipes and other installations that created a hole in the roof. The flashing can get cracked or bent. The storm can also rip it away. The roof loses its seal when this happens.
- Check for debris. It could be the smallest of tree branches but it still shouldn’t be there on the roof. Debris like this can indicate that there’s damage caused when it came in contact with the roof. Also, leaving it there could cause further damage.
Doing these things may not be enough. There are things that should be checked up on the roof. You can go up a ladder and check it yourself if you’re confident that you can safely do so. When in doubt, ask a roofer to do the following checks for you:
- Inspect the nails to see if some have loosened. Don’t wait until the next gust of wind to rip the shingle away.
- Check your gutter for any debris.
- Take this chance to better inspect your roofing installations. Check the chimney, skylights and the vent pipes for any damage. Pay particular attention to the flashing.
- Check for areas where water is pooling.
Checking these things can tell you a lot about your roof’s condition after a storm. You can pass on the information to the roofing contractor so they can fix the issue.
Why You Need to Look Out for Leaks that Only Occur When it Rains Hard
It’s easy to brush off leaks that only occur when it rains hard. It doesn’t rain hard all the time and depending on where you live, it could be months before the next strong rain comes. This means that you can easily forget about the leaking when it stops raining hard because the leaking stops as well.
That’s a dangerous mindset. These leaks are slow leaks that only occur when it rains hard and these can lead to bigger and more damages.
Your home could already be suffering from the ill effects of a slow leak. Here are signs to check:
- You see mold.
Check the attic for any mold growth. You should also check the rest of the upper areas of your home. Mold needs moisture to grow so its presence is a clear sign that you could be dealing with a leak.
- Dark spots have formed in your roof.
These dark spots are caused by the water slowly draining into a vulnerable area on your roof. Dark spots are annoying to look at. Worse, the weakened areas that have these dark spots will eventually fail due to the weight of snow and rain.
- Discolored ceiling
The discoloration shows that there’s water dripping onto your ceiling. It doesn’t have to drip onto your floor for you to worry. When there’s discoloration, there’s something wrong already. The water will eventually seep through.
- Bubbling and peeling wallpaper or paint
Moisture present will make wallpaper or paint bubble and eventually peel. Don’t make the same mistake that a lot of homeowners make wherein they simply paint over it. Solve the cause.
These signs should already tell you why you need to look out for leaks that only occur when it rains hard. Once you notice any of these signs, you need to have a professional take a look so they can take care of the problem.
Yes, don’t try to solve the problem on your own. Why risk your life and limb? Why risk more damages? Just have a professional take care of it once and for all.
Get Free Quotes from Roofers
It can be considered as an emergency but you still have to do your due diligence when it comes to hiring a roofing professional. Don’t hire the first contractor that you find. You have to make sure that:
- You are hiring the best person for the job.
- You are taking advantage of the best deal.
This is why you have to reach out to the best roofers in your area and ask them to send you their best quote. This way, you’ll be able to compare the quotes in order to find the best one.
There’s the challenge of making sure that you’re asking for quotes from qualified roofers. Make sure that you only ask for quotes from licensed contractors that specialize in roofing tasks.
These companies are in this business to make money, so they’ll try to make the most that they can. This is why you also have to ask around so you can find the best deal.
These two tasks sound like a lot of work, and they are. This is why we’ve put up this free service that allows you to get free quotes from roofers. They’re not just roofers. They’re the most relevant ones in your area. If you provide accurate information, they’re the best roofers nearest you.
You can use this free service by entering the required details on the form. Make sure to provide accurate and as many details as you can to describe the problem.
Send the form and you can expect to receive around 4 quotes. They’ll be 4 of the best deals available because these contractors know that you’re also receiving quotes from their competitors. They understand how it works. They need to send the most attractive deal so they can get hired. They know that you’re receiving quotes from equally-competent companies so at the end of the day, it’s usually the best deal that wins.
Now that you know about the common roof leaks and their causes, it’s time for you to take care of them. Try our free service today!