When you own a home, it’s important to know how to take care of it. That doesn’t mean you need to know how to fix everything little thing, but you will want to know how to recognize the signs of things like a leaky roof, broken water heater, etc. So, we’re here to help! We’ll go over the tell-tale signs of a leaky roof and the next steps you can take as a homeowner to fix the problem.
What are the Signs of a Leaky Roof?
The first signs of a roof leak are also your first sign to act fast. The last thing you want to do is put off a roof repair. Leaks can quickly grow and spread, and the longer that leak occurs, the more at risk you are for mold growth and other damages. So it’s critical to know what to look for, and how to diagnosis it quickly. For the most part, there are 6 tell-tale signs of a leaking roof that you can watch for.
- Damaged Shingles. If you notice any shingles that are curling, missing, warping, broken, or otherwise damaged, that can mean you potentially have a leak. Once that protective barrier of your shingles is broken, your roof becomes immediately susceptible to leaks and other damage.
- Clogged gutters and downspouts. If your gutters are clogged and water cannot properly run off your roof, that back-up can lead to leaks on the edges of your roof. Your gutters and downspouts are also critical components in allowing ice and snow to melt and run off your roof as well. The weight of ice dams can be a major contributing factor to roof leaks.
- Damaged or missing material around your chimney and vent seals. When your roof is installed, the contractors should be installing flashing around any roof structure to ensure a tight seal. Your chimneys, vents, skylights, and other places on the roof have seals that risk being susceptible to leaks. Thus the importance of flashing. If you notice flashing is damaged or missing near these areas, look into getting that replaced right away.
Roof leaks that are bad enough to show signs on the interior of your home should be fixed right away. There are a few signs that could indicate a leak and you’ll see these mostly in the attic or the most upper ceiling in your home (whichever is below the attic or roof).
- Dark spots on the attic floor or discoloration on the ceiling. Dark spots are a sign of moisture leaking through the leak in your roof.
- Sagging or bowing ceiling/walls. Sitting water can make your ceiling or attic floor sag down. This is bad because it will require quite a large repair of your ceiling, plus mitigation of any potential mildew and mold growth.
- Outside light shining through spots in your attic. Every so often you should head up to your attic and look for all of these signs, but also look to see if the sun is shining through. If the sun is shining through your roof into the attic, that obviously means there’s a crack or hole somewhere. Ensure it’s not a vent or other fixture, and temporarily block the hole as you set up repairs.
What is the Most Common Cause of Roof Leaks?
There are a few main factors that make up the majority of roof leaks in homes.
Your Roof Has Reached its Life Expectancy
Roofing materials have an anticipated life expectancy and an aging roof is at a higher risk of damage and leaks as the integrity of its materials goes down. If your roof is over 15 years old, it’s a good idea to have it inspected to determine how well the material is holding up and how much time it has left. The most commonly used roofing material in the country is asphalt shingles which need to be replaced every 15-20 years depending on climate and maintenance. So this is especially important if you have a basic shingled roof.
Damaged, Poorly Installed, or Missing Flashing
As we said before, flashing is a critical component to ensuring your roof remains free of leaks. If the flashing is not installed properly or not installed at all, your home is incredibly vulnerable to leaks along your chimney and air vents. However, flashing is incredibly easy to replace and can be done so often to ensure that tight seal.
A Cracked Chimney
A cracked chimney can also cause leaks into your attic via the seam or the sides of the chimney. The consistent freezing and thawing during the winter can cause the masonry to crack, and if a small crack gets into the chimney, it leads to bigger cracks if not repaired. These cracks then let in moisture and can cause bigger issues. You can sometimes tell that the chimney is cracked by your fireplace not working as efficiently as it should.
Poorly Sealed Valleys in the Roof
The valleys in your roof are another vulnerable seam that requires proper sealant and flashing to keep water flowing down appropriately. If you notice signs of a leak near those spots in your attic, check those valley seals first, and that could be a simple job to fix.
Of course, damage from severe weather is a major reason homes get leaks in the roof. Strong winds, hail, and debris can damage shingles and even blow them off, leaving your home completely open to moisture penetrating the roof. After any severe weather, it’s critical to check the roof for damage. Even small granule loss on the shingles can lead to leaks further down the road because it has compromised the integrity of your roof.
How to Fix a Roof Leak
If you notice any of these tell-tale signs of a roof leak, first attempt to contain the leak. Catch any further water or moisture using a bucket or other plastic dish that can contain it and keep it from getting anywhere. The more water getting in the worse it can get, even in very little time. For any sagging it’s actually a good idea to puncture the center of the sag so the water can release and not continue to drag down your ceiling, causing further damage. Water clean-up is far easier than structural damage repair.
You should also call your local roofer and they can often come tarp your roof in the meantime if the damage is severe enough to warrant immediate action. Most roofers will offer emergency tarping, especially after storms.
If the roof leak is small, it can often be an easy fix that requires removing a few shingles or flashing and replacing them with a few new ones. Bigger products requiring damage repair and replacement of large areas of materials require calling a professional.
For solid, reputable roof repair and replacement, make sure to call Cerdas Contractors. We handle any type of roof repair and will restore it to the shape it was before your leak. Give us a call at (804) 409-5945 —we look forward to helping you!