Tips to Fix a Leaky Roof
Aspen Leaf Roofing: A Colorado Roofing Contractor
If you have noticed water leaking into your attic or home, the first thing you need to do is try not to freak out! Yes, leaks can be scary and problematic but sometimes the damage isn’t as bad as it seems, especially if you’ve caught the problem early on. Let’s take a look at why roofs leak, where they leak from, and what you can do to help resolve a leaking roof.
Usually, a leaking roof will expose itself during inclement weather. This seems like it’s very common sense and generally, it is a true occurrence. When mother nature decides to dump a lot of rain on your home, or possibly there have been sudden, drastic changes in the temperature your roof could expand and contract exposing potential leaks. The most common and obvious examples of leaks come from rain, so let’s look here first.
Roof Leaks in Heavy Rain
If a roof is going to leak, heavy rain will most likely expose the roof. It’s not necessary the rain falling that exposes leaks, but rather when the water pools up in a collection area. There are a few areas where this most commonly happens including the valleys, flat areas of the roof, and around vents as well.
Valley’s are formed where two roof slopes meet together, forming a natural trough or valley for water to flow down and away from the roof. Valleys consist of woven, close-cut, and open designs. The most important thing for you as a homeowner is what materials, if any, lie underneath your valley. Metal linings and composite linings are sufficient in keeping a valley structurally sound for many years. Leaks usually occur when improper underlayment or no underlayment is found under a valley. As mentioned above, the valley’s main purpose is to redirect water down and away from the roof. If the valley isn’t constructed correctly, you will have problems. If you’ve noticed water in your attic along these valley’s that’s probably a good indication that the integrity of the valley has been compromised, and should be investigated.
If you have an issue with one of your valleys, one of two things probably happened. The first is that the metal or underlayment may have moved around a bit from changes in the outdoor temperature. This is the best-case scenario because, depending on access, it may be an easy fix. Unfortunately, problems in valleys are usually caused by the absence of underlayment to properly protect the roof underneath. In order to correct the issue, an entirely new roof is usually needed. As always, if you think you’ve got leaks coming from a valley, call a local contractor to inspect the issue. A professional will be able to diagnose the real problem and offer you the best solution.
As mentioned above, if you have a flat roof and notice leaking in heavy rain, you may also need to do some digging around to try and locate the leak. Flat roofing is a very specialized trade when done correctly. Proper sloping of the roof, primarily to deflect and route water is absolutely essential for the functionality of a flat roof. It’s often very difficult to determine where leaks are coming from in flat roofs as the water will tend to pool up and leak from a low spot, which oftentimes is not the same spot as where the actual problem lies. If you have a flat roof and don’t have easy access to your attic to determine where your problems are coming from, we’d recommend calling a professional. Doing so will absolutely save you time and money in the long run.
The third major area of concern for leaks with heavy rain is in and around your vents. There are many different types of vents that you’ll find on your roof, but the most common are attic ventilation, bathroom vents, and HVAC vents. All of the vents are designed to take advantage of the slope of your roof and gravity, so they will be installed beneath the shingles on the high side of the roof, with the lower side of the vent moving water back above the shingles. It’s for this reason that most of the issues will again be present in areas of water pooling. These are the areas that are most easily diagnosed and fixed by homeowners as you should be able to see if the water is collecting under or around a vent fairly easily from your attic. Often times simple caulking can be added to plug a crack or popped nail from the vent, and the leak goes away. However, if you have an excessive amount of water pooling around a vent, there could be an issue with the slope design or perhaps something in the roofing system has failed in which case you’d want to call a local roofing company to fix the issue.
These are some of the main issues that we see from exterior defects in roofs. Leaks caused by exterior problems are far more common than interior ones. However, we occasionally get asked about leaks that occur from the attic or inside the home as well.
How to Stop a Roof Leak From the Inside
Most people have difficulty grasping the concept of why their roof leaks from the inside. In most cases, leaks are caused by weather conditions happening outside of the home, so this is a natural question. However, we see interior leaks that are quite common, especially among new roofs. The culprit is usually poor ventilation.
Your roof needs to breathe. Fresh air from the outside needs a way to enter into your attic and exit as well. Additionally, the ratio of this air entering and exiting your roof is important to its proper functionality. The International Residential Code (IRC) has set a minimum standard 1/300 rule which basically means that there is one square foot of ventilation required for every 300 square feet of attic floor space. In addition to this, at least 50% of the ventilation needs to be near the top of the roof. All newly manufactured vents have specific ratings which will designate their ability to move air in and out of the attic. A professional, certified roofer will perform a quick inspection to make sure that your roof is properly ventilated.
Many homeowners tend to run into problems when they have a new roof installed. The reason is that when a new roof and new vents are installed, the new vents actually work too well compared to the old ventilation of the roof. These new vents can throw off the balance of the airflow in the attic which leads to condensation. This condensation forms on vents and pipes within the attic, exposing themselves in the home as “leaks.”
Technically these are not leaks but are actually droplets from the formation of condensation around the vents. Gravity takes over, bringing down the condensation, usually through some sort of bathroom or kitchen vent, and they will seem like a leak to the common homeowner.
In order to fix this issue, one of two things will need to happen. Firstly, if the ventilation in your attic is out of balance, then you’ll need to have that rectified first and foremost. Incorrect ventilation can lead to mold issues, higher utility bills, and even air quality issues within your home. Again, any certified roofer will be able to quickly educate you and determine if you have a ventilation problem.
Most commonly, the simplest solution is to insulate the pipes which are condensing. The condensation forming can actually be a good sign, especially in dry climates (as long as it’s not extreme), and simply wrapping an insulating fabric around the problematic pipes will rectify the issue.
If none of these examples seem to fix your interior leak issue, then it may be time to call a plumber. Many modern homes have water lines running all through the attic, so your leak may be completely unrelated to the roof, in which case you’ll definitely want to call a professional to help you diagnose your issue.
The good news is that even if you think you have a leak, most likely the probably isn’t too difficult to fix. It’s always better to address and fix leaks sooner rather than later, so be sure to call in for help if and when you need it. At Aspen Leaf Roofing, we’ve seen our fair share of leaks, but it’s not something that we deal with very often. Most homeowners in Northern Colorado are keen to call a roofing contractor as soon as a hail storm arrives, so most potential issues are solved before they even become a large problem.
If you think you may have a leak, or have just had a hail storm come through and would like a free inspection, call or text us at 970-NEW-ROOF and we’d be happy to help!