Aside from the foundation, the roof is one of the essential constructional features of your home.
With that said, it is equally important to treat it with care, maintain and preserve it in a professional way. Well, nobody would like it, if they were forced to run back and forth for another bucket every time water drips through the ceiling – it would be outrageous, wouldn’t it?
If you want to save yourself some effort and time (not to mention financial resources), take a look at the list of 10 most common roof leaks that haunt our households. Moreover, we will provide you with the background behind their appearance and with fixing solutions.
It doesn’t matter if your roof is brand new or it’s already outlived you – these leaks can happen to any construct, regardless of age, type, and initial condition.
1. Cracked flashing
- How to detect it: In order to answer this question, one has to know what flashing are. These are thin pieces of metal incorporated into your roof under shingles and on its joints. They create a water-resistant barrier to protect a house from heavy storms, which can be either sealed or exposed. If sealed, they have a coating that is rubberized. Should they be exposed, they will resemble long runs of sheer metal sheets. Broken flashing will display noticeable cracks, so you will easily detect them.
- The reason behind the issue: As tar is frequently used by roofers to seal the flashing together, a tarred roof can corrode with the passage of time. Given the flashing is exposed to wind and rain, they could deteriorate the already uneasy condition of your flashing.
- Fixing solution: Lift the nails that are used to secure the old flashing. Pry up any shingles and dispose of the cracked segment. Once you’re done, replace it with a new run of flashing and fasten it in the same manner as you did with your former installation. At the end, adhere a roofing coat to the nail heads.
2. Broken Shingles
- How to detect it: This is actually easy to figure out – Shingles are the exterior layer of a roof, so any missing shingle should be able to be easily identified by the owner, as they will form different-colored patches on the roof. Shingles may also litter your yard after a heavy storm, so finding them accidentally the day after should be no surprise to you.
- The reason behind the issue: The enemy is persistent and exceptionally harmful. And its name is weather – with winds and heavy rains on its wings.
- Fixing solution: In order to fix this issue, you will need a pry bar underneath the row of nails, with which you will lift up all the nails until they pop. After that, press down on the shingle while removing the nails. Do the same thing with the remaining nails and remove the broken shingle and replace it with a new piece. Needless to say, you have to secure the new shingle with four new nails.
3. Wrongly sealed valleys
- How to detect it: Valleys are where two planes of the roof meet one another. These areas are usually sloped, so if the valleys are not sealed together decently, they will let the rainwater in, which will later run down the roof. Thus, you should search for wet spots running along the connections of your roof.
- The reason behind the issue: There are multiple reasons that cause the roof to leak in this area; firstly, the sealing may not have been finished accurately. Secondly, it may have cracked when someone have stepped on it. Thirdly, if you live in a place that is characterized by unstable weather conditions, it may be caused by rain and ice that drill into the roof over time.
- Fixing solution: It’s not recommended that you solve the problem yourself. It’s way better to call a professional because the issue is complex; nonetheless, an experienced roofer should handle the task smoothly by laying a new leak barrier along the valley.
4. Cracked vent booting
- How to detect it: Roof vents resemble small pipes that stick out of the top of a roof. They serve for getting rid of extra moisture from your house’s interior. Leaks in this sector are marked by akin dark spots.
- The reason behind the issue: Roofers seal the construction with flashing around the opening, slipped with a tight rubber boot where the pipe meets the outdoors. The roof can decay over time as the flashing may break because of the overwhelming moisture.
- Fixing solution: It all boils down to removing the old rubber and replacing it with the new one. To do so, get a knife and remove the rubber around the vent. Then, with a little help from a pry bar, break the seal on any linking shingles. After that, attach the new rubber boot over the vent, under the shingles and bring it to the finish line, i.e. onto the roof. The new boot should be secured with roofing nails on both sides and with caulk under the shingles to merge them with the new flashing.
5. Ice dam buildup
- How to detect it: An ice dam amasses when the ridge of ice is formed at the edge of your roof and prevents melting snow from being washed away. Te already impressive weight of the ice can damage the roof, let alone the amount of water that is just being gathered on the roof’s surface.
- The reason behind the issue: The problem here is the conflict of temperatures on the inside and on the outside of your house. The house (and the attic in particular) is above freezing, which makes the snowfall melt, albeit the temperature outside is above zero. As a result, the water runs between the roof’s surface and the snow is frozen into ice, as soon as it reaches the roof’s outer edge.
- Fixing solution: To avoid the damage caused by an ice dam, be smart and invest in a roof rake – something that looks like a shovel with a long handle – and use it to remove the sufficient (at least four feet) amount of snow from the edge of the roof. In addition, you can try to treat the ice dam with an ice melt product, available in local house stores.
6. Badly installed skylights
- How to detect it: It’s as easily said as done to spot the flaw. Should you be finding wet drips constantly and have to refill the bucket around your skylights, then you know what’s happened.
- The reason behind the issue: The most common reason are skylights being improperly measured and installed. The other one, not a technical, though, is the installation that can decay over time. Fortunately, this can be prevented on a weekly basis, with a proper cleaning routine.
- Fixing solution: Dust and debris should be cleared off the skylight in order to give you the necessary vision when looking for cracks in the window. These cracks should be sealed with a layer of pure silicone on the whole length. If the water is still dripping despite having sealed the cracks, you should try checking the surrounding flashing and replace in accordance with the manual.
7. Clogged gutters
- How to detect it: When your gutters are clogged, you will simply notice the lack of water trickling out of a downspout during the heavy rain. Sometimes, you will be able to see the leaves sticking out of it, too.
- The reason behind the issue: Gutters are designed to transfer the water downside, away from the roof. If they are blocked by organic elements, they form a clog that stops the water. This will cause the rainwater to amass in one area of the roof and have the bigger impact on creating cracks.
- Fixing solution: Unfortunately, you have only one option here, which is to get a ladder, climb on it and get your hand dirty to remove the debris. You can place a large, thick cloth underneath the working space. This will help you wrap the dirt up and get rid of it quickly.
8. Cracked Chimney
- How to detect it: The mortared area around the top of your chimney and any signs of damage on its surface is where you should look for potential cracks. Any holes in the mortared joints in the meeting point of the chimney with the roof should also be checked in first place. Finally, look for loose flashing and shingles in your surroundings.
- The reason behind the issue: The damage in this section of your roof is caused by the erosion of mortar, which is a mixture of water, cement, and sand, in tough weather conditions.
- Fixing solution: Above all, you should figure out the source of the leak and replace the damaged mortar. Unfortunately, this will require hiring a professional, since the materials used for fixing chimneys differ from the ones used for regular roofing. A professional roofer will handle the problem without a significant leak in your budget.
9. Condensation in the attic
- How to detect it: If you have leaks in this area of the roof, you will be able to spot the signs of mold growing on top of the attic.
- The reason behind the issue: The attic is the most problematic sector of your house since it is located between the indoor and outdoor temperatures. With hot summers and cold winters overlapping time and again, your attic will most likely experience condensation followed by moisture growth.
- Fixing solution: To free your attic from over-moisturizing, you have to isolate it from fluctuations in temperature and clear all of the roof vents from the end of the interior and proceed with installing a big ventilation fan, for the sake of better air circulation. However, before doing so, get rid of any mold or mildew that surround your attic.
10. Wear and tear signs on the roof
How to detect it: Actually, there is no possibility of distinguishing this source of leaks from the others. Nevertheless, every homeowner should be careful about venturing out onto his or her roof.
The reason behind the issue: Should you already happen to draw any conclusions from this guide, one of them will have it that roofing materials are fragile by nature. Given their vulnerability, the roof may crack even when you accidentally step on an already perilous fragment.
Fixing solution: Try not to walk on your roof too often, if at all. Should your boomerang fail to return come the roof peak, leave it and buy a new one – if a storm comes, it will wash away any remaining items in the end, so don’t bother yourself with it; however, don’t act like Heisenberg and refrain yourself from throwing a pizza on the roof – it won’t bake faster but it will make you skim and scratch your roof tiles, which will deteriorate their present conditions.
To cut the long story short, we’d say that there are two major causes of the aforementioned roof leaks: the first is weather, and the second is the roof’s neglection by its homeowners. As roofing materials are fragile by nature, it is advisable to check them regularly, especially if you find disturbing water spots on the floor. Although you can solve most issues yourself, there are cases in which you’ll be pushed to hire a professional. If the situation requires, don’t undertake the activities you don’t feel fluent about.
And you? Have you already experienced some of those leaks in your roof? How many times have you been forced to call a pro to fix the crown of your home?