One of the aspects of the home people most commonly take for granted is their roof. The fact that you take your roof for granted is not even really thought of until in the middle of a rainstorm, and you see a brown water spot forming on your ceiling. Now you have a problem.
For the common home and homeowner, roof leaks are normally caused by damaged or improperly installed shingles. Shingles most commonly become damaged from Hail, Wind, Extreme Temperatures, and people walking on your roof. Other causes for roof leaks can be an improperly sealed roof, i.e. bad roof vents and flashing.
Homeowners rarely think about their roof leaking until it leaks one time, then you quickly realize the importance of a professionally installed and maintained roof.
What are the Common Causes of a Leaking Roof
While damaged shingles headline the most common causes of a leaking roof, other problems like damaged flashing, poorly sealed skylights, and bad weather can also cause problems for you and your roof. Following this, we will go over each one of these problems.
Compromised shingles are one of the main reasons your roof will leak. By saying compromised, we mean the shingle was not properly installed or has deteriorated over time. Let’s talk about shingles being properly installed first.
The biggest mistake homeowners make is hiring some random roofing contractor to install the roof on their home. While we realize many homeowners have limited knowledge about shingles, roofs, and flashing. This doesn’t mean you can’t do your own research about reputable roofing contractors in your area. You can also ask your neighbors and friends about whom they would recommend as a residential roofer for their home.
You should be very skeptical of the roofing contractor that comes knocking on your door asking if you want your roof checked. A majority of the time these guys are bad news and are just out looking for an easy dollar. Storm chasers will usually show up at your home after a big storm, that involves hail, has passed through your area.
While the concern about your roof after a hailstorm is valid and definitely something you should think about, it would be in your best interest to call a roofing company that you have worked with, in the past.
The lifetime of an asphalt shingled roof is 10-15 years. This lifespan may be longer or shorter than this, depending on a few different factors.
Are there trees that hang over your roof? Do you properly maintain your roof? What is the weather like at your home? Each one of these scenarios and more can affect the lifespan of your roof greatly.
Friendly Tip: Don’t walk on your roof more than you have to, this can damage your shingles.
Flashing is a thin piece of metal that is used to direct water away from critical spots. Mostly used by a vertical object sticking out of the roof like a dormer, wall, or chimney. This flashing is bent in the middle and installed half on the dormer and half on the roof, helping to seal any openings there. Flashing is also used in the valleys of your roof to help with proper water runoff.
Damaged flashing causing a leaking roof can happen because of a couple of different reasons. Poorly installed flashing or poorly repaired flashing are two of the main reasons flashing will start to leak. Since flashing is such a thin piece of metal, it needs to be properly installed otherwise it will crack and let water in.
Damaged flashing can also happen because of humans or animals stepping on or catching their foot on a piece of flashing. This may bend or even break the flashing causing it to leak water.
Weather can also be a big reason why your roof flashing is leaking. If your shingles are not properly installed around your flashing, heavy rain and winter storms can cause moisture to pool up around the flashing causing your flashing to break down and crack.
Friendly Tip: Don’t try to fix cracked or bent flashing yourself, get a professional.
It is proven in history that people without roofs over their homes, don’t feel like they are secure or safe in their home.
A roof adds security that we often take for granted. When this security is taken away or even breached, we soon can start to feel helpless or uneasy. As humans, we need a warm, dry place to rest our heads and relax. The roof is an important part of this.
The weather does play a significant role in if your roof leaks or not. When there is a leaking roof, oftentimes the weather had a part to play. Severe weather can damage your shingles and flashing to the point where they need to be replaced or your roof is going to only leak worse.
Hailstorms have caused major damage to roofs over the years. Usually, a hailstorm is accompanied by high winds, this combination can cause your roof to be severely damaged to the point where you may have to replace your roof instead of just repairing it. This is where the age of your roof and the quality of the materials installed are sure to make a big difference.
You will also soon find out how “professional” your previous roofer actually was. Like we have said before, a professionally installed roof can be the difference of thousands of dollars in the long run.
Friendly Tip: Don’t hire “storm chasers” to check your roof. This is the term for “roofers” that knock on your door wanting to check your roof after a big storm.
Poorly Sealed Roof Valleys
The “valley” in a roof is where two different roof sections come together at a low point. This is a place where water will run down and if installed properly, will drain down into the spouting or other roof section. These spots on the roofs are highly volatile spots, in large part due to the amount of water that will flow through here.
Due to the high-water traffic here, the valley of the roof can often be a problem spot for roof leaks. The valley is also susceptible to damage if people are walking on it. It can be very easy to catch a shingle on your foot, and then you are dealing with a broken or messed up shingle that needs to be replaced.
While a valley in a roof may be more aesthetically appealing, it will be more susceptible to broken shingles or flashing which will lead to leaks in the roof.
Improperly Installed Roof Vents & Skylights
While skylights are nice for letting in natural light, they can so often be the reason why your roof is leaking. Whenever you interrupt a nice stretch of shingles with something like a skylight or a vent, you have to be sure that your roof is still properly sealed. Too often skylights aren’t installed properly, leading to a leak in the roof which can be a very expensive fix.
This is also another place where flashing is needed, it is just one more place for your flashing to become compromised over years of wear and tear. This is a big reason why skylights have to be replaced after years of use.
Roof vents are one of those things that you can’t get away from having to be installed. With the roof boots that are made nowadays, they can remain leak-free unless not installed properly. This is just another reason why your home’s roof shouldn’t be worked on by someone you don’t trust. Hire a roofing contractor with a good reputation.
If your roof is leaking in the vicinity of your chimney, then chances are you either have a cracked chimney or you are dealing with flashing that has become broken or deteriorated. A roof inspection from a professional roofer is a must, he can tell you what needs to be fixed and possibly fix it while he is there.
The roof inspection will also tell you if you need to get a chimney expert out to fix your cracked chimney.
Cheap Roofing Materials
Cheap roofing materials aren’t worth it! Just ask your neighbor who is having problems with his roof after only replacing it a couple of years ago. Any reputable professional roofer will tell you that your upfront cost may be more, it is worth it in the long run. While any shingles and flashing can become damaged, cheaper materials often wear down and break easier than the shingles we use.
This is exactly why we use GAF shingles. While they might be more expensive upfront, the high-quality materials can’t be compared to. When it comes to roofing materials make sure your roofing contractor knows that you want reliable, proven materials to be installed on your roof.
This can be the difference of you needing a new roof in 5-10 years instead of 15-20 years like the normal person. Remember the roof on your home is security to you, no one wants a leaking roof and especially not a new roof.
What to Do if Your Roof is Leaking
If your roof is leaking, don’t hesitate. Call a reputable roofing expert that you can trust. Get them to come to your home and do a roof inspection. Preferably, this would be done by a roofing contractor you or someone you trust has used before.
Don’t procrastinate fixing a leaking roof. The leak is only going to get bigger and cause more damage to your home.
Friendly Tip: Don’t hire someone you don’t trust.