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Most Common Causes of a Leaky Roof

One or more of these issues cause most roof leaks. Keep reading to know these issues and what to do if a leak appears...

Most Common Causes of a Leaky Roof
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Roofs are one of the essential parts of a home. They protect your family from harsh weather conditions and keep your investments safe. Unfortunately, most homeowners only realize they have problems on their roofs once roof leaks occur and water starts coming into their homes.

There are many reasons why roof leaks occur. But if you identify them early on, you can save thousands of dollars in significant roof repairs.

To help you save that amount, we've listed 20 of the most common causes of roof leaks. We've also included how to identify these causes before they lead to more problems.

Please note that climbing your roof by yourself can be dangerous and cause more damage to your roof. It is advisable to hire a professional roofing company to inspect your roof. Some companies, such as Affordable Roofing Systems, offer free roof evaluations, so you won't have to worry about the extra cost.

Flashing Problems

Roof flashing is the thin metal material that roofers install on the joints of your roof and below the shingles. If exposed, it can look like a long run of sheet metal. If concealed, they will have a rubberized coating on top.

The purpose of roof flashing is to direct water away from the most crucial areas of your roof. They are often sealed using tar. But over time, the sealant can corrode, exposing your flashing to rain and strong winds. Damaged flashing often features large cracks.

Annual checks are necessary to ensure your roof flashing is still intact and to prevent any moisture from getting into your roofing system.

Broken Or Missing Shingles, Tiles, and Slates

Since they are on the exterior layer of your roof, broken or missing shingles, tiles, and slates are easier to identify. Then, you'll just have to look up and check for different-colored patches on your roof. You might also find pieces of tiles, shingles, or slates on the ground around your house, especially after a storm.

Roofing Membrane And Underlayment Problems

Underlayment is the general term for a water-resistant membrane installed under your roof-covering material (shingles, tiles, metal, or slate). If the roof-covering materials are your first barrier against bad weather, the underlayment is the second barrier.

Underlayment often fails due to high temperature, moisture seeping through your roofing material, or improper installation. You'll know your underlayment is damaged if you see water stains or dark spots on your ceiling.

Wrong Choice Of Roofing Materials For Your Property's Structure Or Roofing Pitch

When choosing a suitable roofing material, one of the things you need to consider is your roofing pitch. Each roofing material has its pros and cons. And what works for a sloped roof might not work for a flat roof.

For example, asphalt shingles and slates are better on steep roofs because they promote adequate water drainage. However, if you use these roofing materials on a flat roof, there's a high probability of water seeping through their gaps and into your home.

When choosing a roofing material for your home, it's always best to consult a professional roofing contractor to ensure you use the suitable material for your roof pitch.

Improper Installation Of Fixings

Roofing nails and fixings not appropriately installed are another avoidable cause of a leaky roof. If the fixings are not driven in far and tight enough or driven sideways, it might work its way back up and protrude. In addition, when it rains, the fixings will serve as a direct route for the water to get into your roofing system.

This issue can worsen when your roof is poorly ventilated, making it a breeding ground for moisture. Protruding roofing nails or fixings must be taken out and their holes appropriately sealed.

Poor Roofing Or Attic Ventilation

You might have a condensation issue if you notice a strong, musty odor coming from your attic or water stains on your wall and ceiling. Attic condensation occurs when warm air rises to your roof space and meets the colder temperature from the outside, resulting in moisture formation. This moisture will have nowhere to go except the timbers in an attic with no proper ventilation. So other than roof leaks, you might also see mold or mildew in your home.

To prevent condensation, it is necessary to install proper roof ventilation, allowing excess moisture and warm air to escape. Improving insulation will also help draw water from the air and keep your attic at a consistent temperature.

Most Common Causes of a Leaky Roof

Improper Installation Of Skylights And Roof Vents

Skylights are a great way to allow natural light into your home, while roof vents help moderate temperature and prevent condensation in your attic. But if installed improperly, these fixtures can lead to a leaky roof.

Leaks from a skylight or roof vent are easy to identify. But take note that if leaks seem to be coming from the top of these fixtures, it might be more of a damaged flashing problem rather than the skylight or vent itself.

Clogged Gutters Or Downspouts

A well-functioning gutter and downspouts are essential in maintaining the health of your property. Their primary purpose is to help the water flow away from your home. So if you have clogged gutters and downspouts, the water might overflow and spill to the side of your home. Other than roof leaks, blocked drains can also lead to structural and foundation damages and mold and mildew.

This problem is easy to identify because not much water flows through your downspout during rain. Regularly inspecting your gutters for twigs, leaves, and other debris is a good practice.

Damaged Chimney

A cracked chimney and a damaged chimney cap are the most common reasons for a chimney to cause roof leaks. Signs of chimney damage include holes on the lid, paint peeling off, or bits of masonry falling off. You could also check if the mortar or flashing around the base of your chimney is damaged.

A damaged chimney is better off repaired by a qualified roofing company. It might be more expensive, but you can be sure that it'll be done right.

Ice Dams

Although very rare, Florida also experiences freezing weather. And when this happens, an ice dam can form.

Ice dams occur when ice lines the edge of your roof, preventing rain or melted snow from draining. The trapped water will strain your roof and can eventually seep through cracks or weak points. One tell-tale sign of ice damming is water stains on your ceiling and walls.

Damaged Roof Vents

Roof vents help remove excess moisture in your attic by allowing warm air to escape. Without proper ventilation, you might experience issues such as attic condensation, mold, and roof leaks.

There are different ways for a roof vent to cause a leak. Other than improper installation, it might also be due to cracks in the ducts or damage to the flashing that seals it. You'll know if you have a damaged roof vent when you see dark spots underneath the area where they sit, which means that moisture can get in.

Issues With Fascia Board Or Soffit

Fascia board and soffit prevent pests and water from getting into the underside of your roof. However, these roof parts will break down over time and become damaged. Moreover, clogged gutters can cause water to overflow and soften the materials used on your fascia board and soffit. This can then lead to rot and holes, which allow pests and moisture into your roofing system.

Most Common Causes of a Leaky Roof

Sealant Problems

Regular roofing sealant usually lasts for 5 to 10 years. However, when it reaches the end of its service life, it can become dry and brittle, leading to leaks. Sealant problems can also be caused by incorrect application, insufficient surface preparation, or too much joint movement.

Overhanging Trees

Having trees on your property is indeed excellent and beautiful. However, when tree branches start getting too close to your home, it can be a possible cause of roof leaks. Overhanging trees might lead to fallen branches, leaves, and other debris, especially during high winds and rain. When waste builds up, rainwater might not be able to flow off your roof. And branches falling might cause cracks on your roof shingles or tiles. Therefore, it's best to deal with overhanging trees as early as possible to prevent leaks from happening.

Pest Problems

One of the common causes of roof leaks is having pests and birds making a home on your roof. They often carve out an area of your roof and turn it into their den, which can exacerbate existing roof problems.

The best way to prevent pests and birds from making your roof their home is to keep it clean. Another is to prune overhanging trees, which serves as their highway from the wilderness and into your roof.

Punctures Or Pooling Water

With flat roofs, the common causes of roof leaks are punctures due to an impact and pooling water caused by improper installation. The punchers can create potential entry points for water. And the pooling water increases the pressure on the structure of the roof.

Hail and strong winds can create holes that cause a roof leak. So it's essential to check your roof for punctures and pooling after a storm and patch them up as soon as possible.

Rust And Corrosion In Metal Roofs

Rust happens when metal is exposed to oxygen and moisture. Rust on your metal roof doesn't immediately mean a leak. However, rust can spread if left unattended and eventually eat through your roof. Although metal roof corrosion is bound to happen, you can increase the life of your roof by applying a protective coating and dealing with rust immediately to prevent it from spreading.

Visible Holes Or Crimping In The Metal Roof

Metal roof holes and crimping are often caused by the impact of falling debris or foot traffic during HVAC installation. These roofing issues often need a professional to repair them. However, if done haphazardly, you might remove the protective coat from the other parts of the metal roof and cause more problems.

Issues With The Fasteners In Metal Roofs

Fasteners with rubber washers are used to hold the metal panels to your roof. If installed properly, the clasp and washer will seal any water out. However, if these screws are drilled in too tight, the washer might break, defeating its purpose of keeping water out. The same goes if the fasteners need to be prepared deep enough or drilled in diagonally.

Metal Roof Seams and Overlaps

There will be instances when metal roof panels overlap. These areas must be properly sealed; otherwise, a process known as capillary action might happen. Capillary action occurs when water flows through the narrow space between the two metal panels and into your house. Prevent this by ensuring that sealants are used during installation and regularly inspected to ensure that your metal roof panels are still in place.

Most Common Causes of a Leaky Roof

What To Do While Waiting For A Roofing Professional To Come In And Fix The Roof Problem Completely

Leaks can continue drip while you wait for a roofing contractor to come in. So here are some temporary fixes that you can apply. But remember that a professional is still needed to fix your roofing issues completely.

  • Cover the leak with a tarp. Ensure that your tarp extends over the edge of your roof so water will still flow down. Secure the tarp by tying it down or using nailer boards.
  • Use roofing tape. Roofing tape is a quick solution to cover a leak. It needs to be applied to the inside of your roofing material. And you should keep an eye on it to check if it's holding or if you need to use more tape.
  • Apply roofing mastic or cement. These products are beneficial if you have missing shingles. Just apply it over the leak and the surrounding area to prevent water from coming in.

Call Affordable Roofing Systems To Evaluate Your Roof And Solve Any Issues

Roof leaks can happen to anyone's home. Knowing the common causes of roof leaks can help homeowners identify the problem before it worsens. Additionally, scheduling regular maintenance to fix these issues before a leak occurs is still the best way to take care of your roof.

If you have problems with roof leaks or want to prevent them from happening, then Affordable Roofing Systems has you covered. Our services include roof maintenance, emergency repairs, and even roof replacement if needed. So call us today at (813) 542-8462 and get a comprehensive roof evaluation and a free quote!

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