Roof leaks are one of the biggest nuisances a homeowner can experience. Leaks are not just an aesthetic issue, but can cause significant damage to your home, such as wood rot, mold growth, and ceiling staining. If not promptly repaired, a roof leak can actually threaten your safety as water that is allowed to soak into housing materials can cause structural instability. If you have recently spotted a roof leak in your home, act fast before the problem progresses. Here you will find some of the most common causes of roof leaks and what type of roof repairs can be used to address these issues.
Identifying Roof Leaks
Water trickling from your ceiling is not always the first sign of a roof leak. There are often earlier signs that could point to a leak in the roof. First, examine your ceiling for water stains. These stains typically appear as wet circular spots ringed with brown. Sometimes a water stain is simply smaller discolored spots. If you notice any discoloration on your ceiling, check to see if the cause is water, mold, or another issue.
Your ceiling is not the only area where water can hit. Your walls can also succumb to moisture damage. If water is able to make it to your ceiling, it will likely seep into the space between your wall and the exterior of the home. This may appear as discoloration on the walls or bubbling of the paint or wallpaper. You can also check the roof line outdoors for water spots. These spots often occur where the roof meets the wall and may point to a problem with your flashing.
Performing an outdoor inspection of your roof can also help you pinpoint a roof leak. You may notice missing or damaged shingles, loose flashing or ventilation pipes, gaps around the chimney, or problemsome gutters. If you have asphalt shingles, you may notice that they have loss their granulation or have started to curl. If you have a flat roof, you may see cracks, tears, or blistering. Soffits and fascia can suffer stains and decays and roofing cement may start to crumble. All of these visual issues can show that a roof leak may be in the vicinity.
Problems that Contribute to Roof Leaks
Determining the cause of a roof leak is not always easy. Unless the cause is an obvious event like a fallen tree limb, you may have to do some digging to find the cause. In many cases, there is no one contributor. Instead, the leak is caused by a roof that has reached its life expectancy.
Over time, roofing materials deteriorate and become less effective at keeping water out. Harsh weather conditions, temperature fluctuations, and lack of maintenance can speed up the natural aging process. The average roof lasts between 20 and 30 years depending on the material. If your roof has surpassed this life expectancy, it may be time for a replacement.
The slope of your roof may also be contributing to leaks. Roofs that are too shallow can allow the wind to lift the shingles. Water can then seep into these unprotected areas. The slope of a roof is measured as a ratio consisting of vertical rise over horizontal distance. Depending on the type of roofing materials you have, you may be required by building codes to have a minimum slope of 2:12. If the slope of your roof is between 2:12 and 4:12, it is crucial to have a double layer of underlay material to prevent leaks.
Problems with metal roof flashing can also contribute to leaks. You will usually find flashing in areas where protrusions meet the roof, such as around the chimney or on the edges of skylights. Harsh winds and other factors can cause sections of flashing to come loose or move out of place. If the caulk around these areas starts to crack and break, water can seep through the gaps and into your home. Gaps, holes, and similar problems with the ridge cap that covers the peak of the roof can also lead to roof leaks.
Repairing Roof Leaks
Before attempting to repair a roof leak, consider the extent of the damage. Unless you have experience with this type of work, it may be better to call in a professional. Roofing repairs in general are not DIY jobs as getting onto a roof poses certain dangers. If you are not comfortable performing roof repairs or if your roof is very high or has a steep pitch, consider hiring a professional to complete the repairs. If the roof is flat or fairly shallow, or if the repair job is very minimal, you may be able to finish the job yourself.
There are a number of ways to fix a roof leak. Clean cracks can usually be repaired with roof sealant and curled shingles can be straightened and reattached using a caulking gun. If shingles are missing or broken, they should be replaced. You can remove a broken shingle by carefully lifting the edges with a pry bar. A hammer is used to remove the nails. The new shingle can then be slid into place and secured down using new roofing nails and roofing cement.
Leaky joints around chimneys or valleys must be properly sealed to prevent water from seeping through. Small gaps can usually be repaired using roof sealant or caulk. However, larger tears in the flashing will require patching or flashing replacement. Any flashing that appears to be loose of rusted should also be repaired or replaced. A loose piece of flashing can usually be repaired by placing a bead of roofing cement beneath it and pressing it back into place.
Schedule Expert Roof Repair Services
Roof leaks are one of the most frustrating problems a homeowner can have. If you have spotted a leak or suspect that you have a leak in your roof, contact Beyond Exteriors to see how they can help you make any necessary repairs.