Most Common Causes of Roof Leaks

Most Common Causes of Roof Leaks

The Most Common Causes of Roof Leaks

Let’s face it, no one wants weather in their home, but that is exactly what can happen if you don’t keep an eye out for damage to the roof of your home. Roof leaks and moisture are not your home’s friend. One small drip of water can symbolize a much larger roofing issue and we all know that roofing issues mean an investment of time and money.

We’ll tell you what they look like, why they happen, and how to fix them. Whether your roof is two years old or twenty keep this list handy. You never know when it could mean the difference between doing a quick repair or a major remodel.

1. You Have Ice Dam Buildup

What Does It Look Like:

An ice dam is a ridge of ice that forms at the edge of a roof and prevents melting snow (water) from draining off. The combined weight of the ice itself can damage the roof, as well as the water just sitting on the roof’s surface.

Why It Happens:

The heat from your attic (and the rest of your house) is above freezing, which causes some of the snowfall to melt, despite the cold temperatures outside. The water will then run between the roof’s surface and the snow and will refreeze into ice once it hit’s the roof’s exterior edge. As ice forms on the edge, water builds up behind the dam of ice that is created. That water then becomes standing water, working its way under the edges of your roofing and into your attic.

Ice Dam Build Up

How to Fix It:

Invest in a roof rake, which looks like a sideways shovel with a long handle, and use it to reach up onto the roof and remove at least the lower four feet of snow from the roof edge. If you see an ice dam forming, consider treating it with an ice melt product, according to manufacturer’s directions. For severe and heavy ice dams, do not try to remove them yourself, as you may cause more damage.  Have a professional team come out and steam the ice away from your roof, limiting damage to your roof, and keeping you safe.

2. Your Vent Booting Is Cracked

What Does It Look Like:

Roof vents are those things that look like small pipes sticking out of the top of your roof. They’re used to expel excess moisture from the inside of the house. Leaks from roof vents will leave a mustiness in your attic or home where water has seeped through.

Why It Happens:

Roof vents are often sealed by placing some flashing around the opening and slipping a tight, rubber boot over the area where the pipe peeks out of the roof. Over time, the flashing can break or the roof can decay. Many home owners will also damage these while shoveling their roofs in the winter if they are not careful.

Cracked Vent Boot Close Up

How to Fix It:

Use a knife to remove the rubber around the vent. Use a pry bar to break the seal on any connecting shingles. Slide the new rubber boot under the shingles, over the vent, and bring it down onto the roof. Then, secure the new boot with roofing nails on either side and caulk under the shingles to seal them to the new flashing.

3. You Have Broken Shingles

What Does It Look Like:

This one is easy to spot, just look up at your roof. Since shingles are the exterior layer of a roof, you should be able to identify missing shingles by seeing different-colored patches on your roof. Alternatively, you may find the shingles themselves littering your yard after a heavy storm.

Why It Happens:

Shingles begin to break down over time. This breakdown causes the shingles to become more brittle and susceptible to breakage. Weather is the number one cause of shingle damage. High winds and heavy rains can dislodge shingles over time. Animals on your roof, including cousin Vinnie, can also dislodge and break shingles as they move across your roof.

Damages Roof Shingles

How to Fix It:

The easiest an safest way to fix shingles is to call your local roofing contractor to inspect the roof for further damage from the broken shingles. They are able to reattach or replace the damage with speed and skill.

This DIY Fix: Slide a pry bar underneath the row of nails that connects the damage shingle to the one below it. Lift up until the nail pops and then press down on the shingle while you remove the nail. Repeat for the remaining nails. Pull out the damaged shingle, replace it with a new one, and secure it with four new nails.

4. Your Gutters Are Clogged

What Does It Look Like:

You may notice the lack of water trickling out of a downspout during a rainstorm. In the winter months, ice may form inside of the gutters clogging the flow of water. In the fall, you may be able to see the leaves sticking out of the gutter.

Why It Happens:

Your gutters are meant to help water flow off your roof and away from your home, without dripping directly off the roof. Blockages of the flow, like sticks and leaves, allow rainwater and snowmelt to pool in one area of the roof and have more of an opportunity to seep through cracks and under roof tiles.

Clogged Gutters

How to Fix It:

Time to get up on a ladder, and get in there with your hands. Place a large tarp underneath the area where you are working to catch any debris as you go. When done you can wrap it up for easy disposal later. Once clean, consider installing rain gutter guards, that will let the water through by keep leaves and debris out of the line. For the winter months you can also consider electrical heat tape that will keep ice from forming in the gutters and downspouts.

5. You Have A Cracked Chimney

What Does It Look Like:

Look for signs of wear and tear along the mud cap, or mortared area around the top of the chimney. Look also for any holes in the mortared joints where the chimney connects with the roof. Loose flashing and shingles in the surrounding area can also be a sign of roof issues.

Why It Happens:

Mortar erodes easily in harsh weather as it is essentially just a thick mixture of water, sand, and cement.

Exterior Damaged Chimney

How to Fix It:

In some cases, all you need to do is find the source of the leak and replace the missing mortar. However, since the materials used for chimney repairs are different than those for standard roofing fixes, it is recommended that you hire a professional handle the repairs.

6. Condensation In Your Attic

What Does It Look Like:

A strong, musty odor emanating from the attic is a sign that water has gotten inside your home. The attic may also show signs of mold growth or mildew.

Why It Happens:

Your attic plays an intricate part in the insulation of your home and must regulate temperatures between indoor and outdoors. When cold air outside meets the hotter humid air inside your home condensation can form. Where there is condensation, there is potential for mold to form. Blocked roof vents can cause temperatures to rise inside the attic as well.

CondensationInActic

How to Fix It:

First, remediate any mold growth. Make sure that all of the roof vents are clear from the interior end and from any snowfall. If necessary, install a large ventilation fan to cool the attic. Finally, take the time to insulate your attic to prevent large fluctuations in temperature.

7. Roofs Weren’t Made for Walking

What Does It Look Like:

All homeowners should be careful with how often they venture out on to their roofs. Roofs are not intended to be walked on, sat on or used for any purpose other than to cover your home, even if you are Mario.

Why It Happens:

A lot of roofing materials are very fragile. By walking on the roof, you may accidentally step on a crucial element or crack an already precarious seal. Small cracks can cause lots of damage and be hard to locate for homeowners.

Party on Roof

How to Fix It:

Avoid walking on your roof whenever possible. Let that Frisbee go and buy a new one or use your roof rake to pull it down without walking on the roof. Hire a professional roofer to do your fixes, since they are trained on how to avoid the most easily-damaged areas of your roof. Wear and tear on a roof is unavoidable. Catching a leak early saves you time and money. There will be rainstorms, long winters, and heavy winds. With the right care, every roof should have the ability to keep your family warm and dry for decades.

8. Your Skylights Were Improperly Installed

What Does It Look Like:

Leaks from skylights should be very easy to spot. If you find yourself noticing wet spots or constantly needing to place drip buckets around the sides of your skylights, you’ve found the cause. However, leaks and wet spots near the top of the skylight may be a flashing issue instead.

Why It Happens:

There are two main causes for skylight leaks; improperly measuring and fitting the skylights upon installation or decayed insulation along the skylights edges.

Sunroof Damages

How to Fix It:

Clear any debris off of the skylight and check for cracks in the window itself. Seal any cracks with a layer of clear silicone along its length, if necessary. If that is not the cause, check the surrounding flashing and replace as needed.

2017-11-30T19:55:10+00:00

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