Seeing the signs of a roof leak can be stressful. Whether you find yourself scrambling to find a bucket to protect your floors or you just looked up one day to see a dark, wet stain on your ceiling. Whatever the sign is, if you think your roof may be leaking, you need a full roof inspection, pronto!
Roof leaks can be caused by a variety of factors, none of which are easy to track down. By the time the leak gets into your home, to the point you notice it, it has likely snaked around the house so many times, it’s tough to tell where it starts and how much damage has been done without extensive work.
The good news is, roofing contractors have been dealing with leaks so long, we’ve got tracking them down to a science. In fact, we often work from a list of common areas where leaks start which gives us the advantage of narrowing the search criteria, such as:
Flashing is the thin metal installed beneath your shingles around the edges and joints of your roof for water resistance. Often the tar roofers use to seal your flashing breaks down over time allowing water, wind and debris to get under it and damage it, resulting in leaks.
Generally replacing the flashing will fix this.
Broken or Missing Shingles
After years of sun and storm exposure, shingles break down over time which results in broken or missing shingles. As shingles are the first line of defense against the elements, any breakdown results in leaks.
Replacing the missing and broken shingles will solve this but a full inspection should be performed as if the problem is due to aging, you may need to replace it all.
Improperly Sealed Valleys
Too many roof contractors use shortcuts or rush through their roofing jobs resulting in a variety of problems the homeowner must deal with in the future. One of these is improperly sealing the valleys of your roof.
As water is naturally drawn to these areas by gravity, it is one of the most important areas of your roof to get right. Not all roof valley problems are due to improper sealing, like the rest of your roof, it is also subject to the effects of aging and strong weather.
Whatever the cause, having the valleys resealed professionally by a proper roof contractor, is the answer to this problem. As sealing is a tricky business, this is best left to the pros.
Cracked vent booting
Those things that look like pipes jutting out of your roof are called roof vents. These help alleviate moisture buildup in the house and give it an escape route. When this is blocked or broken, moisture builds up in the house causing moisture that looks a lot like a roof leak or improper ventilation.
Flashing around this area are subject to decay and breakdown. When this occurs it leaves telltale dark spots and mustiness around these areas and is clear when there is a problem with these vents.
Resealing these areas will clear up this problem. Best done by a pro, if you are the DIY type and can safely work on a roof, there are DIY solutions for this out there.
You may see leaves peaking over your gutters or when it rains you see the downspouts are dry or water is pouring out in areas it’s not supposed to be.
When the gutters are clogged, there is a whole host of problems that can occur. As gutters are specifically designed to route water away from areas it can do damage, any blockage can route the water randomly and cause problems from the top of your home to your foundation.
Keep your gutters and roof clear of debris to avoid these problems.
Improperly Installed Skylights
Skylights are made to go onto roofs and remain leak free their entire lives. When it comes to skylight leaks the vast majority of the problems can be traced to the initial installation.
If you find your leak is caused by your skylights, locating the source of the leak is crucial, if it’s improper sealing you may get away with resealing it but if it’s due to mismeasurement or other installation mistake you may need to have it completely redone.
The mortar that is used in constructing chimneys is subject to the effects of time and harsh weather. It’s essentially a mix of water, sand, and concrete and doesn’t last forever. When it breaks down it leaks.
If your chimney is leaking, it’s best to have a professional reseal your chimney as the materials needed for chimney repairs varies from chimney to chimney and making a mistake could be disastrous.
Improper Ventilation (Condensation)
For many, many years, there were instances of roof leaks where even the best roof contractor had a hard time telling where the problem was. Then, just a decade or so ago, the construction industry learned of the benefits (and problems) of ventilation.
It turns out most of these “mystery leaks” were simply the result of improper ventilation, which affects 80-90% of homes nationwide. Now that we know what damage improper ventilation can cause (and mimic things like roof leaks) we now know how to fix the problem now and into the future.
If ventilation is your problem, you should be consult with a professional roof contractor. Calculating proper ventilation is best left to a professional so that it’s done correctly.
Obviously these aren’t every cause of every roof leak but is a great list to start from when trying to determine what is causing your roof leak. Some of these repairs can be done by a qualified Do-It-Yourselfer (with proper safety equipment) but to guarantee the job is done right, we always recommend a professional roof contractor to fix most roof problems.