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Why is My Roof Leaking?

Why is My Roof Leaking?

Aspen Leaf Roofing: A Colorado Roofing Contractor

Did you hear the one about the roofer with a perfect safety record? He never had a shingle accident. But really, a leaking roof is not a laughing matter. Whether your roof has a Niagara Falls size leak or one you can barely even notice, it’s best to handle the situation right away to prevent further damage. Your roof will thank you.

Unless you’ve recently had your roof repaired or replaced, the most likely reason you have a leak is because of storm damage. This is every homeowners’ nightmare: a leaking roof!  If caught right away, the damage is usually minimal.  Holes can be plugged and with proper ventilation, the moisture in your attic will dry.  Again, it is recommended to take care of the issue quickly, as letting the problem linger on for too long is where major issues can arise.

What to do if Your Roof is Leaking

If your roof is leaking, there are a few things you can do to help the situation.

The first thing you should do is to prevent further water damage because water can destroy your belongings. Start by removing your positions from the area and covering the floor with a tarp or other plastic covering. Do this right away!

Second, capture as much of the water as you can by putting a bucket, garbage can, or container under the leak. Try to have many containers nearby so you can switch them out as needed. If you see the paint bubbling on the ceiling or a sagging bulge, you can puncture the water bubble and catch it in your bucket. I know, this sounds like a bad idea, but it’s important that you do it! If you leave it, the water may spread increasing the damage to the surrounding areas.

Next, be sure to dry all flooring, furniture, possessions: anything that got wet. It is very important to prevent the growth of mold in your home. If your leak is considerable, you may need to call a professional water extraction company.

Once you have the leak under control, you will need to get your roof fixed by a licensed roofing contractor. Be sure that the company you choose is licensed, insured, and will obtain all the required permits.

Lastly, you or your contractor will want to call your insurance agent. Depending on what caused the damage to your roof, your homeowner’s policy may cover the repairs. In many cases, if the damage is caused by the environment, the policy should cover the repairs. However, if the damage is caused by lack of maintenance the repairs are probably not covered. Your insurance agent can help you determine what your individual policy allows.

Most Common Causes of Roof Leaks

1.)    Missing or Broken Shingles

The most common causes of leaking roofs are missing or broken shingles. If you look up at your roof and see different colored patches on your roof, it indicates that a shingle is missing or broken. You may also find shingles laying in your yard after a storm. Be sure to contact a licensed roofing contractor right away for an inspection.

2.)    Roof Holes

Roof holes can be caused by defective roofs, hail, or by algae. Defective roofs more often occur with wood shingles versus asphalt roofs, for instance. Extreme hail can certainly cause holes in your roof as well. In Colorado, we don’t have this issue, but if you happen to be in a humid climate, algae or another plant might grow on the roof and promote rotting.  This can be prevented with regular roof cleaning. If you suspect holes in your roof, be sure to contact a licensed roofing contractor right away for an inspection. Holes in the roof most certainly lead to leaking roofs and need to be fixed right away.

3.)    Aging Roof

All roofing material has an expected lifespan, and leaks can indicate that your roof has outlived its time. Various roofing materials have different life expectancies. For example, asphalt shingles are the most common shingle, but have the shortest expiration date and can start leaking after your roof turns 20-30 years old, depending on your climate.  Many roofing companies will provide annual inspections for you, for around $100.  Make sure to do your homework and find a reputable roofing company because some will use this opportunity to take advantage of a homeowner.  One thing to remember is that just because your roof is old, doesn’t mean that it’s functionally compromised.  We’ve seen many 40 to 50-year-old roofs that are just fine.  If you’re comfortable with getting on your roof, jump up there and have a look around with the contractor.  If you don’t see linear cracks and large holes from hail damage, more than likely your roof is just fine.

4.)    Blocked Gutters

Gutters may look like they only serve to move rainwater out of the way since they are located on the lower edges of the roof, but a blocked gutter can be major trouble. Sometimes it’s hard to see the leaves sticking out of the gutter, but you will know if they are blocked when there isn’t a lot of water coming out of your downspout during a rainstorm.  If the gutter is clogged, water cannot flow properly and may seep under the ceiling. If all the gutters are blocked, the water accumulation can cause a collapse. It is very important to remove all leaves and debris from the gutters to prevent a roof leak.

5.)    Flashing Problems

Flashing, not to be confused with the indecent kind, are the metal strips that are installed under shingles and on the joints of the roof. Their purpose is to create a water-resistant barrier to prevent leaks.  One of the major areas that require flashing is around the chimney. In this example, the flashing covers any space between the roofing material and the chimney bricks. If the flashing has not been professionally installed or has aged, it may crack or rust, which leads to a roof leak.

6.)    Damaged Chimney

As we all know, chimneys are made of bricks and mortar and are one of the strongest parts of the roof. However, if you live in a climate that is hard on your chimney, deterioration can occur through the eroding of mortar. If the mortar begins eroding, rainwater could make its way into your house. If you think your chimney is part of the problem, have it inspected immediately, as a chimney collapse will not help Santa deliver your presents.

7.)    Vent Boot Damage

Simply put, a roof vent is a round thing that sticks out of the top of your roof and is used to remove excess moisture from your house.  Primarily, the vents are used to allow air flow from bathrooms, the kitchen, and your HVAC unit.  Vent boots can be made of metal, rubber, or a combination of metal and rubber. If the vent boot is damaged, it could cause a leak in your roof.  Also, if the vent isn’t properly installed with the proper flashing and underlayment, it can also cause a leak.

8.)    Skylight Issues

A skylight adds a romantic aspect to any room and provides additional lighting, but if the seal around the skylight deteriorates, a leak can occur. You may be able to detect this if the seal is dry or eroded. Further, if the skylight has been improperly installed, you will begin to see wet spots around the skylight.  Most skylights will eventually leak, so it’s something to check every year or so if yours are older.  It’s better to try and keep ahead of potential skylight leaks as they are quite difficult to repair and replace.  Be sure to call a professional if you think you have a problem.

Who Do I Call When My Roof is Leaking?

Nope, not the Ghost Busters. But if you even suspect that your roof is leaking you should call a licensed roofing contractor right away. Your contractor has most likely seen it all and can diagnose the problem with a quick inspection.  If your roof does have an issue, your contractor can give you a quote and timeframe for fixing it.

It’s very important to consider that you also may have a homeowner’s claim on your hands. It’s always a good idea to call your insurance agent to check if the repair is covered under your homeowner’s policy.

I Just Got a New Roof. Why is it Leaking?

There are quite a few reasons that your new roof could leak.  Occasionally, it could be because of faulty shingle installation.  This doesn’t necessarily mean that your roofing crew did a bad job though.  You have to consider that most of these guys are putting up various roofing products on many different roofing pitches and surfaces.  Each brand has slightly different procedures and requirements for installation, so again, it is possible that some of your items may have been installed incorrectly.  The good news is that when there is a shingle installation issue, the problems tend to occur around the same areas.  Surprisingly, these types of issues are usually easy to fix by your roofing contractor.

Where consumers tend to find the most issues with their new roof isn’t necessarily in the roof leaking, but in condensation building up in vents.  This can be especially true if you have a home that did not have proper ventilation and then a competent roofer comes in and fixes the issue.  It seems counterintuitive but making your roof better, can cause leaks inside.  The reason is that you aren’t really experiencing a leak, what you are experiencing is a pipe or vent building up condensation that leaks into your home.  The attic of your home should most closely resemble the outside temperature.  Just like setting a cup of ice water outside on a hot day, if the temperature change is drastic, that’s when condensation forms.  It is good to have your roof properly ventilated for many reasons and to fix this issue, your roofer usually can insulate the pipe or vent that is condensing, and the problem goes away.

There is one, real, issue that comes up for leaks on new roofs and that’s if you have improperly installed flashing or vent boots. Although you can have issues with all various types of weather, snow is the most likely to expose a problem.  Snow building up on a roof isn’t necessarily a problem, but when it begins to thaw the snow expands, backing up underneath shingles and vents causing leaks.  Some roofers don’t properly cover the downside of the vents. If your new roof is leaking, call the original contractor to come to inspect his work.  He should be able to fix the issue quickly.